Thursday, May 14, 2020

Thursday May 14 Blog Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone!  Another sunshiny day in Maine!  I hope you are all safe and well!  Let's get to the update!  Here goes!

K-12 Transition Plans Presented to Gorham School Committee

At last night's Gorham School Committee meeting, each of our K-12 building principals presented their more detailed and specific plans for the activities that they are working on to assist students in transitioning from the end of this school year into a new school year via distance.  These plans focus on the "bigger" transitions such as students moving from 5th grade at our elementary schools to our 6th grade at GMS or students moving from 8th grade at GMS to 9th grade at GHS and of course, for our students who are graduating this spring and moving on to their postsecondary experiences.  Additionally,  specific plans were shared for transitioning those students who are having to move from Great Falls and Village Elementary School to Narragansett Elementary School for the 2020-21 school year due to our changes in attendance zones.  Finally, "smaller" plans were also shared for how we are working with each grade level to move to the next year even though those transitions may not be as "big" as the others.

I am going to link in each Principal's "one pager" that was shared with the School Committee last night.  Please know there is A LOT of information on these please try not to get overwhelmed if you click on them.  Each Principal will be sharing details of these plans with all of you as parents using their weekly messaging so they will help "chunk out" the information in bite sized pieces.  I just wanted everyone to get a sense of the scope and work that is being undertaken by all our staff across the district to ensure that ALL OF OUR STUDENTS are positively supported as we work to celebrate and close out one incredible year and prepare to open another.  If you have specific questions about transition plans, I would encourage you to please reach out to your building principals - I've included their email addresses  below next to each link.  Here are the links:

Great Falls Transition Plans (
Narragansett Elem. Transition Plans (
Village Elem. Transition Plans (
Gorham Middle School Transition Plans (
Gorham High School Graduation Plan - Updated (

As you can see by clicking on these plans - a SIGNIFICANT amount of work is being done by our teachers, support staff, and by our school and district leadership team to make sure that appropriate transition events are taking place so that our students can successfully celebrate the past year and the incredible things they have accomplished while simultaneously gaining a "peak" into the future and learning about the expectations for the coming year.   Again, if you have questions, please reach out to building principals who can help to provide more details!

Update on Proposed FY 21 School Budget Approval Process

The Gorham School Committee presented its FY 21 Proposed budget to the Town Council on Tuesday night.  You can click on the materials from that meeting by using the links below:

FY 21 Proposed Budget Booklet
FY 21 Town Council Budget Presentation
FY 21 Town Council Q&A Document

Overall the meeting went very well with lots of great discourse and feedback being provided to the School Committee.  As you might imagine, the topic that took up the most "air time" involved the uncertainties associated with the coming fiscal year due to the largely unknown impacts of COVID-19.  The Town Council and School Committee discussed this at length and there was broad agreement on the fact that we need to do what we can to mitigate costs to taxpayers in these uncertain times.  Although not voted upon (because this was a workshop meeting) there was guidance given to the School Committee to go back to see if there is any method in which we could make additional changes to our proposed budget that might bring us closer to a 0% impact on the mil rate for taxpayers.  Based upon our current proposed budget that would mean a change, either through reductions in expenditures or additions to revenues in an amount of $707,000.00.  I will be working with our district leadership team and our school committee on this task over the course of the next few weeks.  I have full faith that we can get to where we need to be on the proposed FY 21 school budget with minimal impacts to staffing, which I'm sure everyone agrees is very important!  As a school committee, we will likely be spending considerable time on this subject at our upcoming workshop (or special) meeting to be held on May 27 at 7:00 p.m. so please stay tuned.

"Operation Feed Gorham" and the Gorham Food Pantry

If anyone finds that they lack the resources to secure food you can  visit the Gorham Food Pantry on Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.  Additionally, any family in Gorham can participate in our Operation Feed Gorham program.  This program serves breakfast and lunch remotely each day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:00 - 1:00 p.m. at four of our five school sites (all sites EXCEPT Narragansett).  You don't need to call ahead, you can just stop by and pick up a meal if you need it.  If you are in need of this service and can't stop by the satellite locations, please contact

"Operation Feed Gorham" programming will continue through June 16.  We are discussing the POSSIBILITY of operating food service programming this summer for school aged children and their families but we are waiting on  final funding information before making a final determination.  Please stay tuned.

A Reminder on Balance

Its been a while since I last messaged on the importance of this point and with the sun shining ever so brightly students likely getting very very tired of their "screen time" (bet you never thought you'd hear that feedback from your kids)...I think it is important to send out a quick reminder.  I'll do it in the form of a story that I heard the other day from a parent.  Here goes...

A parent of three children ranging in ages from a freshman in high school to a 7th grader at GMS to a 2nd grader in one of our elementary schools chatted with me the other day...she said initially with the "newness" of everything things were going relatively well and that they had settled in to a nice routine, however recently (like over the past week as the sun has shone a little more and the weather has improved) she has noticed that her children are now fighting among themselves more, they don't want to do as much of the work, and they are basically "over it" was the specific term she used.  She was very frustrated - not because anything that the teachers were doing was being done differently or wrong, but that the conditions in her own home seemed to have changed and now what  once was working, is no longer working!

I share this story because it is real.  It is real for ALL OF US...parent, student, teacher, administrator...everyone.  The balance that we focus on is the constant...everything else should be the "variable"...what that balance means can be different from one week to the next...but the timeless search for it is the constant.  I will repeat once again what I have said many a parent if you are too often being placed in a position where you are having to choose between being a "teacher" and being a "parent"...please choose the parent when you have to and know we are here to support that choice.  When we finally figure out how we are opening schools...a core component of that will be focusing on making sure we identify where your children are in their learning and what specific and focused interventions need to be provided to them to get them where they need to be by the end of the 2020-21 school year.  I have full faith that we can and will be able to provide these interventions as the year progresses next for now - "sanity" and "family" and the social/emotional health of you and your family are paramount to our academic concerns.  As a final reminder, I share a quote that was posted early on in the pandemic closures to help drive the point home.  It is just as true today as it was on April 17....

That's it for this blog post...I know short this time right?  Well with your leftover time...I'd encourage you to feel free to skim back through older posts to remind yourself of the resources and information that has already been shared.  Amazing how as time goes by...things that were reviewed once, take on different meaning for you later!  Reflection is always a good practice - when you have time! 

In closing...I wanted to share one of my favorite all time poems shared by one of my favorite all time poets!  Its called "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou.  I thought maybe her reading might offer up just the right amount of fortitude for folks to end the week on a positive note!  Enjoy!

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