Friday, September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020 Superintendent's Blog Update

Good afternoon and Happy Friday to everyone!  It's been another great week here in the Gorham Schools!  

Here's just  a few pictures of folks taking advantage of some of our outdoor learning spaces as a way of showing just how creative our teachers are being in making sure our learning environments are engaging and safe for all our children!  THANK YOU Again to all who contributed to helping make these spaces available for our students across all five schools!


Ok, lots to let's get to it!


First, I just wanted to remind folks that parents and community members can always log onto our website and click on the "COVID-19" Tab at the top of the page and then click on "Active COVID-19 Cases  Summary" to see how many active cases may (or may not) be in our schools at any given time.  This summary sheet is updated DAILY Monday through Friday.

Second,  I wanted to be sure and let folks know that IF there is a positive case where potential exposures  MAY have occurred at any of our schools or programs there is a specific protocol that we must utilize.  This protocol has been  created by the Maine Department of Education in conjunction with  DHHS and CDC.  I am sharing THIS LINK to those protocols now.  Please note that there are two blank template letters at the end of the appendices.  One letter would go out to the whole community while one letter would go out only to those who may have been directly exposed to a positive case.  These two letters and the summary page on our website will be the way I officially communicate information to the public regarding COVID-19.  If you "hear through the grapevine" other information...well please know that is likely not accurate information.

My intention is not to overwhelm you by sharing this information (because it is pretty "thick").  Instead, my intention is to make sure you know that these protocols exist and that our school nurses, nurses aids and administrative teams are well versed in following them and that if you aren't hearing this information directly from us - you should probably suspect its accuracy.  We are prepared for the possibility of an outbreak in our schools and we will communicate effectively using these protocols if one occurs.


I wanted you to know that we have updated the schools re-opening plans to provide a little more detail on the types of information that will be used to make decisions regarding potential decisions to move between our Red, Yellow, and Green models.  You can review those changes by CLICKING HERE and going to page 55 to read more.

Also, we have added a new feature to our COVID-19 web page.  Its a new "Live Q&A DOCUMENT" focused on answering some of the more "frequent flyer" questions we've been getting at our schools regarding what to do if... as it relates to COVID-19.  The document is linked off the district's main page under the COVID-19 tab.  I also linked it HERE for your convenience.  


A message from our School Nutrition Director, Michael Sanborn below...

The Gorham School Department is providing breakfast AND Lunch FREE for all families through the month of December, 2020.  These meals are funded by the USDA.

By providing these meals, we are hopeful that this program will help  STRETCH your household food budget.  If you have struggled or fell behind on bills during COVID-19, this can free up some funds to help your family get caught up.

School meals are time saving and convenient and they are available on in school days (without pre-ordering) or on virtual learning days and may be picked up at Village Elementary School and Great  Falls Elementary School from 10:00 - 10:45 a.m.

School meals use local products and help sustain the local economy and create jobs.

Having school breakfast and lunch can make the school day feel more normal and we all need a little normal in our lives right now!

School meals are fun, kid-friendly, economical, convenient & healthy!

For more information visit our School Nutrition Website LINKED HERE.

We hope your children will join us for school meals every day, Monday through Friday!

-  Michael Sanborn, Director School Nutrition


Please CLICK HERE to view a letter sent to parents/guardians earlier today for a great update.


So just before COVID hit in March of 2020 I hope you remember us making a big announcement about a new partnership with USM that will allow students who wish, to earn up to 24+ college credits through USM before they graduate from Gorham High School.  This new  partnership was the result of more than 2 years worth of work and an incredible accomplishment for GHS, for our students and families, and for USM.

Update on Partnership with USM

We are very excited to update everyone on our work to expand early college opportunities for GHS students.  You may recall that we announced last March a brand new partnership with the University of Southern Maine where our students can earn 30+ college credits, which is just about the equivalent of their freshman year of college.  This is an incredible opportunity for our students to save a lot of money on future college costs. Taking college classes in high school also builds our students’ aspirations and helps prepare our students for life after high school.

GHS students can choose from more than 15 courses at GHS and many more at USM where they have the potential to earn college credits.  Please click the image below (or this link if that doesn't work) to see the news story that aired last March about our new partnership with USM:

We are excited to report that, given current enrollments in these Advanced Placement and dual enrollment classes and classes at USM, GHS students are positioned to earn over 2000 college credits.  Given that the current cost of a USM credit is $281, our students collectively have the opportunity to save over $550,000.

Please note, however, that these credits are not a given.  To earn these credits, our students need to perform well on Advanced Placement exams, CLEP exams, or earn a particular grade in a class.  The data here represents the potential of what we hope will become the norm for our students, but we are mindful, given that this is our first year implementing this new program and given we are facing many challenges due to the current pandemic, we may not reach this lofty goal this year.  Based on our students’ performance in previous years, however, we are confident our students will do very well.

I know it is sometimes difficult to see the "good news" out there right now - so wanted to make sure to share it - especially when it is this good!  Thank you GHS Admin., teachers, and student support services as well as USM for making this incredible program possible for our students!  GO RAMS! - and yes - GO HUSKIES! 


At their September 1st meeting, the Town Council unanimously approved placing a question on the Nov. 3rd, 2020 ballot for a bond totaling $5,689,000.00 on behalf of the Gorham School Committee.  This potential bond, if approved, would fund six much needed Capital projects.  Those six projects are outlined below:

Project #1:  GMS HVAC Heat Pump Upgrades and Repairs - $2,265,000.00

Project #2:  Narragansett Expansion Project - Phase II - $1,423,000.00

Project #3:   Narragansett Bus Loop and Sidewalk Upgrades and Repairs - $351,000.00

Project #4:  Middle School Sidewalk Repair - $300,000.00

Project #5:   Field Lighting Safety Repairs for Competition field, baseball, softball and tennis fields  - $1,275,000.00

Project #6:   Necessary Civil Engineering Costs to support project designs

I will  be sharing more detailed information on each  of these projects over the course of the next few blog posts.  

For today's blog post, I wanted to share some pictures to demonstrate the need for TWO of the  projects listed above.  To me, pictures usually are worth 1,000 words!  Please click below to view a shared google folder of pictures for each

Project #3:  Narragansett Bus Loop and Sidewalk Upgrades and Repairs.  - this project will repair and replace pavement and curbing in the Narragansett Bus loop area which as you can see by viewing the pictures is in need of some TLC.

Project #4:  Middle School Sidewalk Repairs. - this project will repair the sidewalks in front of Gorham Middle School.  Again,  pictures show  it all...but bottom line, the current condition of the sidewalk is becoming a safety hazard for members of the public, students and staff as they enter the building.

I'll  share more pictures and information regarding the other projects in upcoming blogs!  Stay tuned!


The group met again last night and we are making excellent progress!   So much so  that we have  SOME  OF OUR PAGES READY for folks to join if you are interested.  I have linked those FaceBook pages below...but please know if you don't see your school/grade level listed - that just means they are working to finalize their pages and I'll get links out to folks once they are ready to begin.   In the meantime, I didn't want to slow down the work by holding back on the others!  

Remember, these Facebook pages are created by and coordinated by PARENT VOLUNTEERS representing each school.  The purpose of these pages is to offer a platform whereby parents can help parents through these most difficult and unique times by sharing resources, posting important information, and just supporting one another.  The group has worked hard to establish some common "norms" and expectations for the use of these pages.  I have embedded them below so you can review before clicking on the links.  


Those PARENTS/GUARDIANS who participate in this shared community will…

  • Treat each other KINDLY using the characteristics of  our schools  code of conduct:  Honesty, Compassion, Courage, Respect and Responsibility,.

  • Understand that the resources and pages provided are done so by volunteers who are doing  the best they can to provide a helpful service to our community during these difficult times.

  • Share helpful resources  that other families may find valuable in helping them to navigate COVID-19.

  • Understand that it is your responsibility to vet the resources provided by other parents on these pages.

  • Communicate needs to the coordinator of each site who will do their best to respond and/or share with Superintendent of schools to find additional resources and supports.

Those PARENTS/GUARDIANS who participate in this shared community will NOT…

  • Use the page as a political forum for debate on ANY topic.  Debates are not allowed.

Moderators and/or page administrators reserve the right to remove posts that don’t align

with these established norms/guidelines.

OK, with this in mind then...below are the links to the pages that are ready to start "rolling"... I will post the others in my next blog when they are ready!


Well that is enough information for this blog!

Please know that I am taking a much needed vacation next week - so my next blog post will be on October 2nd! Enjoy your weekends!

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 10 Superintendent's Blog Update

Good afternoon everyone!  I just wanted to say THANK YOU for a WONDERFUL opening of schools this past week.  I am sure we all would have liked our opening of school to be more "normal" (and not to mention 5 days per week vs. the hybrid model)...but with the rules we had to work within and  the plans we created...I have to be honest - our opening this year far surpassed my expectations!  Staff were eager to get started and willing to do whatever was needed for students, students were excited to return to school and parents/family members were patient and flexible as we worked through our new systems!  There are still "tweaks" that need to occur - but I couldn't be more PROUD to be a GORHAM RAM right now!  Here's a few pictures from each school showing some of our happy students as they really are worth 1,000 words!

Narragansett Elementary:


Village Elementary:


Great Falls Elementary:

Gorham Middle School:

Gorham High School:

Now onto some quick  updates to keep parents/guardians informed of what's happening in our schools and community!

MPA and Fall Sports

Just yesterday the MPA released a statement in conjunction with DHHS and MDOE letting  us know that guidelines have been adopted that allow for fall sports  to be administered  following CDC guidelines.  This will allow for statewide competition in golf and cross country, and regional competitions in soccer and field hockey (no statewide playoffs).  Football and Volleyball  will not be played formally this fall, however there is conversation that Volleyball may be moved to a later time and that football m ay be able to be played competitively  if it is flag football.  

At our School Committee meeting held on  Wednesday night, the School Committee reviewed plans for our fall sports programs under "plan A" and "plan B".  You can view the slide presentation by CLICKING HERE.  What this means is that for those activities approved by MPA and MDOE/CDC to be played this fall under the new guidelines we will go  forward with those activities under "Plan A"...for those not approved (i.e.  Volleyball and Football) we will go forward with these programs under "Plan B".  Bottom line is that we will be offering all of our high school fall athletic programs either under the new MPA guidelines or under our "Plan B" Guidelines.  

Additionally, we will be operating our GMS programs under a "Plan B" model whereby we look to provide skills based activities and/or intramural types of activities for our student athletes at these grade levels.  

Please reach out to our Athletic Director, Tim Spear ( if you have specific questions.


Please CLICK HERE for a link to an overview of the Gorham Founders Festival that will be taking place THIS WEEKEND in Gorham.  All events will follow physical  distancing rules and state guidelines and will include a parade, fireworks, and  self guided historical tours.  Fireworks are at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday at the old horse race track (off 202 Nar. street).  Parade on Sunday begins at 3:00 p.m. Parking is off the municipal lot near ball park road.


The CDC has requested that the following  types of face coverings NOT  be worn as they actually intensify the aerisolized spray due to their filtration system and can spread the COVID-19 virus at greater distances because of the concentration of air flow.   Here is a  link to the CDC information on this and a picture of the type of mask that SHOULD NOT be worn is  below.  If your child has this type of mask, please know we will be asking kindly that they be removed and replaced with one of our spare masks.  Thank you for your continued patience as information continues to change!


If you haven't already completed your Free/Reduced lunch form and you wish to access it online to send to our SNP folks, please do so!  It is VERY IMPORTANT that we have these forms completed...not just for lunch mind you!  Did you know that state school subsidy is partially based on our F/R lunch information?  Did you know that our Title I, II and Local Entitlement funding streams through the federal government is also partially based on our F/R lunch information?  

Please CLICK HERE  to learn more about our online form!

Please make sure to complete your forms and get them back to our School Nutrition Program!  If you have questions,  please reach out to  


Families who are participating in our fully remote learning program should have had contact with each of our school's remote learning coordinators.  Just in case, I'm listing each below along with their email address so you can reach out if you have any questions!

Great Falls Elem. - Darren Choate (
Village Elem. - Valerie Carpentier (
Narragansett Elem.  - Kaitlin Flanders (
GMS - David Palmer (
GHS - Jeff Burnap (

I would really love to have parents/families who are willing please share photos of  your incredible work  with our  online program.  I want to  be sure to celebrate  this learning just like we celebrate the learning of our students when in our schools...but I need your help to send pictures!  Please feel free to email me anytime with your pictures ( and  I'll be sure to post and share on our social media accounts!  


I continue to work with  an INCREDIBLE group of volunteer parents who are helping  me to organize community support Face Book Pages that Gorham families can join and use to help one another navigate these difficult times together.  As a community one thing Gorham has always done well is support one  another and now is no different!  These pages will allow for families to offer up assistance in areas of child care or tutoring or other resources and for other families to access these community based resources.  

Each page will be moderated by a Community Support Coordinator who has graciously agreed to volunteer to conduct these services.  Each Coordinator is a parent here in Gorham who represents a specific school and age group.  Pages will be developed for:

-  Great Falls, Village and Narragansett Elementary Grades K-2 (3 pages)
-  Great Falls, Village and Narragansett Elementary Grades 3-5 (3 pages)
-  GMS grade six
-  GMS grade seven
-  GMS grade eight
-   GHS grades 9-12

These pages will be announced by the end of this month so please stay tuned  and be thinking how you too can help support other families in Gorham!


Just wanted to make sure folks knew that our school committee meetings are now back in person.  We are now meeting at the GHS MPAC for both our "regular" and "workshop" meetings.  We are holding them att this location to allow for ample space  for members of the public to join us if they'd like.  Meetings are  open to the public...just wear your mask and follow physical distancing guidelines!  You can also view our meetings via live streaming via GOCAT.  Here's the links for how to access School Committee information on meetings moving forward:

CLICK HERE for links to all public meeting agendas and packet information.
CLICK  HERE for the live streaming site from GOCAT.


Be sure to check out our school websites!  LOTS OF GREAT INFORMATION there for parents!  You can find each school's website by going first to our district website ( and then clicking on "Schools".  Find your school and surf around to see all the awesome information about what is happening and reach out to your building principal with questions!

I think that is enough information for now...once again - THANK YOU ALL for an incredibly positive opening to our school year this year.  We have much work to continue to do...but it was so awesome to finally get our students back after such a long break!  As I close, I just want to share an image from Village Elementary School Staff that I think speaks volumes towards our district's commitment to  our students and to our  staff.  The image below captures a list of five simple goals created by the Village Elem. School Staff.  I know the staff from  our other schools have created similar lists and have similar priorities/goals.   I  share  this because I think these goals can also be the goals of our entire community as we continue to navigate this new COVID-19 world together.  Check them out...think about them...and ask can we all work together to actualize them in support of our children!  

Have a great weekend everyone!  See you next week!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

September 3 School Opening Update

Well Tuesday is the day!  We are so very very excited to have our students returning to us even under these very different conditions.  It's been a historic summer for public schools in Maine and across the country but we are FINALLY HERE and eager to see our extended family members again. 

There is LOTS of information to let's get right to it!  I've bolded sections so you can skim around as needed.  Here goes!


If you haven't already seen it, YOU SHOULD...we've "condensed" the tons and tons of information that was shared over the course of the summer into one web resource of the can  CLICK HERE to  view or you can always go to our district website ( and then at the top of the screen click on the "COVID-19" tab and that will get you there too!  

You will want to bookmark this page  and pay special note to the link on the right side entitled:  "Active COVID-19 Cases Summary"...beginning on Sept. 14 we will update this link every Monday with information so that parents can track any active cases of COVID-19 at any of our schools.  Please know that we fully expect that at some point this fall there will likely be some  active cases at our schools.  This should not be cause for significant alarm.  We have put many many many safety protocols in place to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 while here at school even if there were an exposure. If there is an exposure we will be communicating quickly and effectively with each child's family member to let them know what to expect and what to do in that event.  Our nurses and clinic aids are well trained and are well connected to supports at both the MDOE and CDC levels to help any family navigate our safety protocols effectively.

You can find a comprehensive overview  of our safety procedures by going to our Pandemic Operations Plan and scrolling through each domain's safety procedures.  You can also find a comprehensive overview of our student/family guidelines for the reopening of schools by CLICKING HERE.  We are right here with you every step of the if you have questions, please reach out to your building principal and they are there to help!  


You can CLICK HERE to find the school calendar with A and B days delineated.  One change to note is  that November 3 will be a  fully remote day for ALL STUDENTS due to elections.  We have been asked by the Town of Gorham to use our schools for polling  sites as  they needed more space to be able spread out and physically distance folks for this important election.  Therefore, November 3  will be a fully remote day.  Students who are in Group B will have their face to face instruction day later that week on Friday,  November 6.  


Parents can  find updated transportation routes for  Elementary and Middle School/HS  bus runs for both A and B days by CLICKING HERE.  On any typical year we ask parents to please be flexible as we work through the first few weeks of these complex route schedules...and this is not a typical year.   We will be asking for an extra level of patience from parents with the timing of our routes and with pick up and drop off procedures for the first few weeks of school.  We have had to basically re-do every procedure in these areas and although we feel confident in our planning and preparation - there is nothing like the reality of having to put those plans and procedures into action to find out the kinks and quirks - and  that we will!  We will work hard during those first  few weeks to make sure these things are all ironed out and operating smoothly, but until then we ask  for your kind patience and communication.  


There are lots of great resources and information regarding our School Nutrition program on our website.  Here's a few highlights I thought you might want to check out in preparation for the opening of school if you haven't already seen them:

Lunches available on at home days!

Pay Pam and how to Pre-pay  for lunches!

* Menus

Free/Reduced Lunch Application - Now ONLINE!

* Contact information if you have questions - reach out!


Here is where we need to make an adjustment from our original plans, so please read carefully!  As you recall,  our original plans were to use a symptoms checker AP from a company called Frontline.  We have been working with this company for the past 5 weeks and were able to open up the symptoms checker AP with our staff this week.  Our staff have been able to download the AP and it is working on the user end as  expected, but we are  still having difficulties on  the back end with pairing the data up in a way that allows us to print  a  report that can be used by our nurses and aids to follow up with folks who either indicated they had a symptom or who did not complete the form.  Because of these continued back end problems that we are still looking to rectify we have decided NOT to send the AP out to  families YET.  Instead, we will use a "Plan B" for the first few weeks  of school as we ensure the back end functions of this AP are fully operational  before releasing.   

Our "Plan B" is to use google forms. So here's what each family should expect for the first few weeks of school:

1.  A google form will be sent out each night via our School Messenger System to each Parent of either our A or B groups across grades K-12.

2.  Parents of either A or B groups attending school each morning  should open their emailed google form and complete it for EACH STUDENT before going to school.  If parents wish to allow their son/daughter in grades 6-12 to complete the survey they can, but it will be emailed to each parent.

3.   We are asking that forms for students in grades K-5 and 9-12 are completed each morning by 8:00 a.m. and forms for 6-8  students are completed each morning by 7:00 a.m.  

3.  Clinic Aids at each school will download results of the surveys each morning in order to prepare a summary report that will be delivered to each school's office.  This summary report will identify which students/families did NOT complete the survey so that these students can be "flagged" for  follow  up if they  arrive at school  that morning.  This report  will  also indicate students who may have had symptoms so that individual phone calls can be made to these families during the course of the day to follow up and check in.

So this is the system we will use for the first few weeks of school as we work to finalize preparations for the  symptoms checker AP  that will be sent out when ready.  I  will let folks know when that is and  be sure to provide detailed guidance on how to download the AP when we get to that point.

As I will be saying  frequently throughout the course of this year  - we truly appreciate your patience as we work out these new systems!  


I'm sure many of you have been following recent events and evolving  information regarding the MPA and their ability to have finalized and approved guidelines to begin a shortened fall athletics season.  This work has been constantly evolving and changing but I wanted to give you all an update on where things stand  today and what the Gorham Schools plans are moving forward with these important programs for our students.  Here goes:

*  On Thursday, August 17, MPA interscholastic committee voted to approve of updated guidelines that  would allow all fall  sports to go forward and that were more in  alignment with the CDC's community sports guidelines.

*  On Tuesday, Sept. 1, DHHS responded to MPA letting them know that they still had concerns regarding these guidelines and their alignment with the newly updated community sports guidelines.

*  Yesterday, Sept. 2 Cumberland County Superintendents met to discuss how to proceed.  CCSA superintendents agreed to allow "Phase IV" of original MPA  guidelines to begin on Sept. 8  while we  awaited next steps from MPA.  "Phase IV" guidelines allow for coaches to begin meeting with student athletes for conditioning work under very specific and stringent safety guidelines.

*  Earlier  today the MPA announced a delay of ONE WEEK (from Sept.8 to Sept. 14) of the start of the fall athletics season to give them time to make additional adjustments  to their guidelines  so that they met requirements of DHHS  to proceed.

So what does this mean for Gorham???  Well, here is how we plan to proceed as the work between MPA  and DHHS continues to evolve...

1.  We will begin "Phase IV" opening for all fall athletics at the high school level on Sept. 8.  This allows for coaches to meet with small groups of athletes following very specific safety guidelines for conditioning work.  These programs will occur for our fall student athletes for all  fall sports between Sept. 8 - Sept. 11.

2.  On Sept. 9 Tim Spear (Athletic Director) and I will present TWO PLANS to the Gorham School Committee regarding how we want to move forward beginning Sept.  14.  What we are calling "Plan A" will be to move forward with MPA guidelines (as updated) and begin our fall athletic programs as outlined by the MPA beginning on Sept. 14.  What we are calling "Plan B" will be to move forward with operating our own  school based  intramural programs for our student athletes  at GHS also beginning on  Sept. 14.  Our plans are to operate intramural programs only at the middle school level and these plans will also be presented to the School Committee  on Sept. 9.

3.  Begin EITHER  "Plan A" or "Plan B" programming for our high school students on Sept. 14, 2020.


I have recruited an incredible group of parents who have volunteered to serve as "Community Support Coordinators".   Here's generally what this program is:

-  Volunteer parents who will operate closed Face Book Groups of other parents who wish to join.

-  Each FB group will be created to represent each school with a group for Great Falls K-2 and 3-5, Village K-2 and  3-5, Narragansett K-2 and 3-5, GMS grade 6, GMS grade  7, GMS grade 8, GHS grade 9, GHS grade 10, GHS Grade 11 and GHS Grade 12.  

-  You can view a summary of what we are proposing thus far for this work by CLICKING HERE.

-  Overall idea - parents supporting parents! 

We are organizing these pages now and hope to have them up and operational  by middle of September and grow from there together - so  please  STAY TUNED!


I wanted to make folks aware of the work we have going on  in our schools on this  important topic.  First, the Gorham School Committee's Policy Committee  is working to create a new "Anti-Racist" policy.  At this time a solid draft has been created and the policy committee is working with small groups of stakeholders to seek feedback before finalizing a first draft to send to the School Committee for first reading.  Two "readings" are required in order for a policy to become final...when it gets to first reading, I'll make sure to let folks know when that discussion will take place at the School Committee level so if folks have comments, they can certainly share them with School Committee members at that time.

The second piece I wanted  to make folks aware of are the components of my first goal for 2020-21 as Superintendent of Schools.   You can see all six of my core 2020-21 goals by CLICKING HERE.  The first goal  is the one that is focused on this topic.  I encourage folks to review the action steps outlined and to stay tuned for opportunities to engage in this  important conversation moving  forward.


On Tuesday, Sept. 1 the Town Council Voted unanimously (7-0) to approve of adding a bond question for  several school related projects on the Nov. 3 ballot.  the question will basically read as follows (Draft, so could change a little)...

Shall the Town of Gorham be authorized to borrow and expend up to $5,689,000.00  for the  following capital projects on  various public schools in the Town?

1.  GMS HVAC Heat Pump Upgrade and Repairs - $2,265,000

2.  Narragansett Expansion Project Phase II - $1,423,000

3.  Narragansett Bus Loop and Sidewalk Upgrades and Repairs - $351,000

4.  Middle School Sidewalk  Repair - $300,0005.  

5.  Field Lighting Safety Repairs for competition field, baseball, softball and tennis fields - $1,275,000

6.  Necessary Civil Engineering Costs - $75,000

I'll  be getting much more detailed information out to the public over the course of the  next  several weeks, but wanted to make sure this important topic was on  everyone's radar  even as we continue to concentrate on navigating COVID-19.


Just wanted to share a quick video message...please watch...pretty short!  PROMISE!

Here's the link: