Thursday, May 28, 2020

Thursday, May 28 Blog Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone.  Can't believe May is already gone! Busy let's get to it!  Here's my update for Thursday, May 28!   Onward and upward my friends!

CORRECTION  From Previous Post

I just wanted to acknowledge a necessary correction from my post on Tuesday.  In that blog post I included the following image along with an outline of why we will likely need to be considering wearing face coverings when school re-opens in the fall.

It has come to my attention, and I have since verified that the percentages that are listed on this image are NOT ACCURATE and cannot be verified.  For this I apologize.  However, the statement this image is making - the fact that wearing face masks/coverings decreases the potential of an infected person spreading  the virus is actually well documented and supported by the CDC (see this link  to learn more).

So I do apologize for sharing information that was not verified in the form of the percentages...however I still think  it is important to note that the message is still very much a verified fact and again - I only share any of this for the sole purpose of asking parents and others to think about this topic and be prepared to make decisions later this fall as to whether or not you are going to be willing to wear face coverings if the school is required to mandate that folks do.  I am not saying yet that we will be requiring this...just that I believe that there is a strong likelihood that we may be forced to do so by the you will want to have thought about in advance.

Update on Proposed FY 21 School Budget

First, if you missed the meeting last night and would like to watch it, feel free to catch the conversation using THIS LINK (Password: 3p%#P2VY ) for the recorded meeting.

To make a 1.5 hour meeting "short"...after discussion and debate, the Gorham School Committee voted 5-2 to approve of a newly proposed FY 21 school budget that brings the mil impact to taxpayers down to 0% for FY  21.  The newly approved FY 21 proposed budget would make the following changes from the originally proposed FY 21 budget:

1.  It Reduces the following general fund expenditures:

  • Reduce amount paid to Town of Gorham to only include anticipated increases in summer insurance accrual amounts.  Those amounts are estimated to be $70,000.00 for FY  21.  Therefore we would reduce $80,000.00 from this originally proposed expenditure.
  • Reduce 1 Ed. Tech. III from Special Education - $35,000.00
  • Reduce Technology Maintenance Lines by $20,000.00

2. It Reduces the proposed CIPS (Capital Improvement Plan) budget by $252,000.00

3. It Adds to the designated fund balance revenue by $310,000.00

These three items combined would reduce the originally proposed FY 21 School budget impact by a total of $697,150.00 which would bring the new projected FY 21 mil impact to 0%.

I will be writing a letter to the Town Council on behalf of the School Committee to make them aware of the newly proposed FY 21 budget figures in time for their consideration when they vote to approve of the Town's full municipal budget on June 16, 2020.  Please stay tuned and feel  free to reach  out with any questions!

Continued Work on Re-Opening Plan Development - UPDATE

The work to develop a comprehensive plan to re-open the Gorham Schools continues.  Right now, I am working closely with District Leadership Team members, and their school level leadership teams to try and narrow in on the top 3-4 Level II scenarios that we want to consider moving forward with.  If you recall, the Level I plan involves a continuation of distance learning and the Level III plan involves a fairly "traditional" operation of our schools.  It is the Level II plan, which is a hybrid model, that is creating the most work for us at this point in time.  Within this Level II plan we will have face to face instruction occurring with some students while other students are continuing distance learning because we may be placed in a situation whereby we are able to operate our schools, but not at full capacity in order to maintain stricter social distancing and sanitization protocols.

I will be sending out a survey to all staff members today that asks them to weigh in on the options we've identified thus far  in an attempt to identify the top 3 scenarios we may want to dive more deeply into for our planning.  Once those top 3 scenarios are identified, I will then be sending out a survey to  all parents/guardians late next week (probably Thursday) to ask your opinions on these top scenarios in order to help us nail down the ONE we will move forward with for planning purposes.  This isn't to say that this one scenario may not change as this constantly moving pandemic seems to change all the time...but it is to say this would be the scenario we focus our future planning on.  In this same survey I will likely be asking some other questions of parents that will assist  me in continuing to mold a plan that will work for the Gorham community moving forward.

My goal will be to present a STILL DRAFT plan to  the School Committee that will be shared with staff and parent/guardians more fully prior to the end of the school year so that folks can begin to wrap their heads around what things MAY look like when school opens this fall.  This plan will  clearly still be DRAFT as it is my hope to take this initial plan and to share it with a community stakeholder advisory group/task force to really dig deeply into over the summer in order to finalize details before the beginning of the upcoming school year.

I just wanted to give you an update to let you know the work continues and to let you know to be looking for an IMPORTANT SURVEY to come out on Thursday next week that I would strongly urge folks to participate in to help inform our ongoing planning processes.

I will continue to keep you informed as this work progresses...but also wanted to share something with all of you that I have shared with the DLT as we have struggled so far through our planning, especially for the level II option.  That  is this...

The decisions we have had to make, and the decisions we will have to make are not optimal.  Optimal education is daily face to face instruction with highly qualified teachers who care tremendously for their children.  As we look at development of our re-opening plans we continue to try to do the best we can for ALL students making sure everyone (staff, students, parents, and community members) are safe and healthy, which may mean we will continue to operate in "less than optimal" conditions from time to time.

And one more that I thought I should share as a continued "guidepost"  as we work our way through these unprecedented times together...that is this:

As Schools Prepare for the coming year, remember ...

A "Dunk and Discuss" Reminder

As I mention that we are working to create an initial draft of our re-opening plan...I thought it would be prudent to remind parents that I have an open meeting planned for tonight with no agenda, but ample opportunity for parents to log on and ask questions!  I will host a "Dunk and Discuss" meeting later this evening at 6:30 p.m.  Login information is below...

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 828 3623 2033
Password: 919679

Incredible Transition Activities - K-5 Examples

Last week I shared some of the incredible transition activities that are going on at Gorham Middle School.  This week, I wanted to share some incredible examples of what is happening at our K-5 schools.  If you are a K-5 parent, you probably already know that our teachers across all three schools got together and created slide show presentations for each grade level team.  These slide shows were aimed at helping students and parents get to know their new teachers for the coming year and to understand what the expectations for their new grade level might be.  At this time, specific classroom placements have not been made (those will be announced later on June 12 for the virtual step up day) so grade level teachers got together to introduce themselves and  share this important information.   These slide presentations were followed up with open Q&A sessions via zoom with any parent/guardian that wished to attend.   I have to be honest...I am a little worried that this new way of helping students to transition from one grade to another may be so good - expectations may be to do this every year regardless of a pandemic or not!☺

Here  are examples from Village Elementary School.  Again, each school did them - but I didn't want to take up too much  space!

7th Graders share their "Self-Talk Mantras"... AWESOME!

Our teachers and students continue to amaze me in the ways in which they are learning during our little  distance learning journey together!  I wanted to share this particular example of learning with all of you because I thought - we could all use a little "self talk mantra" right now in these trying times.  What's that saying - "from the mouths of babes..."?  Check out these important messages from our young learners!

GHS Yearbook Dedications Held Today!

Now before anyone asks...seniors will be getting their yearbooks next week when they pick up their caps and gowns...Mr. Jandreau is currently working to develop a plan for other students to get their yearbooks soon and he'll put that information out there to families asap.

I just wanted to send along a congratulations to our two GHS retirees who were honored today by yearbook staff and to the GHS staff member who the yearbook was dedicated to this year.  First the retirees...

And now a huge congratulations to Sarah Drury.  The 2020 GHS yearbook is dedicated to her! 

Resources for Parents on Gardening - A Great Way to Learn and Grow (pun intended) For the Whole Family!

I found these great resources from the Maine Department of Education and thought I'd share:

Gardening has multiple benefits that reflect the dimensions of health such as physical activity, stress reduction, nurturing feelings, social connections and economic benefits. There has been a positive uptick in people’s interest in gardening during COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders. If you are a gardener you know what we are talking about! If you are a novice and have already planted your garden, awesome and good luck! If this sounds interesting, but you are thinking you are too late; don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to start your garden and enjoy it all summer long!

Gardening can ground us when we are feeling unstable or life is uncertain. We encourage you to explore the wide variety of possibilities gardening has to offer. You can venture into creative flower gardens and landscaping enhancements around your home or plant a vegetable garden that will allow you to reap the benefits. Gardening can be a great family activity allowing members sharing in the process or use it as a quiet meditation spot. Following are websites to explore and support you in your gardening adventure.

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