Friday, May 28, 2021

May 28 Blog Post

Week #35 of face to face instruction within the Gorham schools is in the books!  JUST TWO WEEKS REMAIN OF SCHOOL!  Such an exciting time! I am thinking back to August of last summer remembering that after all the work we put in to open our schools up was done, I hoped and hoped and hoped we could get at least 3-4 weeks of school in before COVID forced us to go fully remote again.  Look at us now! Thirty five weeks in and never looking back!  What a journey!  What precious TIME WITH STUDENTS we have had!  It hasn't always been perfect...but what last spring showed us most is the importance of being physically together, the importance of supporting and caring for one another, the importance of perseverance, and the importance of community!  There is no doubt in my mind that Gorham has one of the best communities in the state!  We have proved it time and time again this past year!  I for one am happy to be celebrating the end of another successful school year in Gorham with all of you!

As always, I like to share a few pictures from the past week to help give folks a sense of what has been happening in our schools.  Check it out - but know - it is literally just a snapshot!





With the end of the year soon approaching there is much to share - so let's get to it!


GORHAM SCHOOL DEPARTMENT FY 22 PROPOSED BUDGET UPDATE
Hopefully many of you have had a chance to read the most recent full page add in the Gorham Times to help catch you up to speed on this topic.  If not, perhaps you have been able to check out the information found on our website (CLICK HERE)?  Or maybe you were able to review the brief "one pager" that I sent out earlier this week seen below?

When you look at the language in red above, you might be wondering what all that means.  What additional money?  If there is additional money why can't we just approve of the budget now with those amounts and reduce taxes now?  Valid questions indeed...let's see if I can give the quick "cliff notes" version...

First - it is important to understand the timelines required to pass a school's budget.  The School Committee approved of the School Department budget back in April, but that definitely is not the final step in the process.  A school's budget must be approved by the School Committee (or Board), then it has to be approved by the legislative body for the school.  In some cases - like RSU 14 for example - that "legislative body" is actually the taxpayers that live in the district.  In that example, the taxpayers come together in a big district wide budget meeting to approve of the budget.  In the case of Gorham, our "legislative body" is the Town Council.  This is similar in Scarborough, South Portland and other municipal school departments.  In Gorham, this vote is scheduled to take place on June 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Council's first face to face meeting in over a year (to be held at the municipal center and broadcast live on GoCAT).  At this phase of the approval process, the "legislative body" can make changes to the proposed amounts.  They can increase or decrease the overall budget.  Whatever is approved by the "legislative body" then must be brought forward to what is called a "budget validation referendum".  Here is where all of you (the public) come in!  The voters in the community of Gorham have to approve of the overall budget or "validate" the approval of the legislative body (in this case the Town Council).  All of this then, has to line up to the state's scheduled election day of June 8.  So when you think about process and posting requirements, etc.  you can see - it takes a while to pass a school budget, a process that typically begins in November of each year!

Second - now that you understand the overall timeline and process, its kinda easy to understand why we can't include these potential new funds in the approval process right now.  See, Governor Mills just recently announced this proposed change to her original state biennial budget proposal (CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE).  The Maine legislature has not yet approved of their budget.  Now, there is no question in anyone's mind that this proposal will pass.  It is just a question of whether or not the proposal passes with 2/3 approval (which would allow it to be emergency legislation and go into effect immediately once passed) or whether the budget is approved by a majority (which would then go into effect 90 days after it is passed).  EITHER WAY...considering that today is May 28, and that the Town Council's budget vote is June 1 and the validation vote is June 8...it is clear that the state will not finally approve of the revised budget proposal until AFTER our process has already been concluded for approval of the Gorham Schools FY 22 Budget.

But don't worry - we have a plan to ensure that once these additional funds are approved and state subsidy amounts are adjusted to include these new funds - we are able to utilize them directly to offset taxpayer expenses in FY 22.  Through collaboration with the School Committee and the Town Council, we have added an item onto the June 1 Town Council agenda that would allow us to use any additional funds received from the state in that fiscal year to go directly to offsetting taxpayer expenses.  This mechanism will allow us to move what we anticipate to be an additional $1.16 million dollars in state subsidy directly into our revenue streams, thereby REDUCING LOCAL TAXES BY THAT SAME AMOUNT.  We estimate that by doing this we would decrease the expected mil impact of the school's budget to the taxpayers of Gorham by -$0.65.  This would actually reduce taxes in Gorham as the projected mil rate impact from the Schools would be -$.08.

Bottom line...the proposed FY 22 Budget was approved unanimously by the School Committee in April, 2021.  The School Committee developed this proposed budget to meet the needs of the children in our community.  After the Pandemic year we've all had, there is no question that the needs of our children have grown and that we must be prepared to support them.  This proposed budget does just that while doing its best to balance those needs with the overall needs of our community.  And thanks to the commitment of Governor Mills to fund schools across the state at 55% the end result of this year's school budget approval process may very well be a reduction to local taxes!  Good news indeed!

I WOULD ENCOURAGE FOLKS TO TUNE INTO THE JUNE 1 TOWN COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING AND TO PERUSE THE INFORMATION SHARED ABOVE REGARDING THE PROPOSED FY 22 SCHOOL BUDGET AND THEN GET OUT TO VOTE ON JUNE 8!  

As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I'll do my best to answer (heather.perry@gorhamschools.org).  Thank you!

VOICES OF HOPE - SPECIAL SURPRISE THIS SATURDAY


Hopefully folks have been following this incredible docu-series on the topic of chemical dependency impacting our communities.  The Gorham Schools (along with 5 other area school systems) has been very much involved in the planning, and development of this program as a means of helping our community to better understand the deep complexities associated with this disease.  The five participating systems are Gorham, Bath, Scarborough, Windham, and Yarmouth. The efforts of this group have led to the creation of a 12 part documentary series called Voices of Hope...The Rugged Road to Recovery.

Voices of Hope continues this weekend with episode 5 at 7pm on Ch. 13. 

Gorham Savings Bank is sponsoring this episode and graciously donated a 60 second advertisement spot to the Gorham Schools.  Dr. Record, Eliza Kenigsberg, Adam Parvanta and several of our GHS students worked to put together a really incredible showcase of what the Gorham Schools are all about.  PLEASE TUNE IN TO HEAR WHAT OUR STUDENTS HAVE TO SAY!

To see the "surprise" advertisement you will need to watch the program live.  If you are interested in watching previous episodes, you can view them here:  https://voicesofhopeandrecovery.org/

DEFINITELY WORTH THE WATCH!

INFORMATION ON VACCINATIONS FOR CHILDREN 12-18

I wanted to share some additional information that I recently received from the Maine CDC regarding COVID 19 vaccines for children.  I found it very informative...CLICK HERE to review.

GMS AWARDED $100,000 "DON'T QUIT" GRANT!

The following announcement was shared from the Maine Department of Education earlier this week:

Augusta, MAINE – Today, Governor Janet Mills and fitness icon Jake (Body by Jake) Steinfeld, Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils (NFGFC), announced three Maine schools have won a state-of-the-art $100,000 DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center. The multi-million dollar DON’T QUIT! Campaign has selected Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School in Deer Isle, Gorham Middle School in Gorham and SeDoMoCha School in Dover-Foxcroft for new fitness centers in recognition of their commitment to the health of their students.

“The last year has proven just how important investing in the health of our students is to keeping our state strong,” said Governor Mills. “I congratulate these deserving schools on being selected to receive a state of the art fitness center and I thank them for their commitment to the health and well-being of Maine children. These centers would not be possible without the generosity of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils and Mr. Steinfeld and I thank them for their investment in the children of Maine.”

“We had an overwhelming response from elementary and middle schools throughout the great state of Maine. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of Governor Mills, who helped make this campaign a huge success by putting the health and well-being of children first,” said Mr. Steinfeld.  “Three schools really embodied our mission of building a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.  I’m thrilled to announce that Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School, Gorham Middle School and SeDoMoCha School are all being awarded a brand new $100,000 DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center. Congratulations to all, we look forward to visiting these three schools during our ribbon cutting ceremonies this fall!”

Each fitness center is financed through public/private partnerships with companies like The Coca-Cola Company, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Wheels Up and Nike, and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. Fitness in Motion provides all the fitness equipment, which is manufactured right here in the United States. The foundation’s goal is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.

These state-of-the-art DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers will be unveiled during ribbon cutting ceremonies this fall. This year, the NFGFC program will have completed 40 states and will make its way into all 50 states in the coming years.

For more information about the National Foundation, visit www.natgovfit.org.

CONGRATULATIONS GMS!  GO RAMS!

P.S. - I had the pleasure of getting to watch the video that our students worked on as part of the grant application submission process.  I thought it was worth sharing!  VERY CONVINCING!  Who could say "No" to these students! Check it out!

GHS GRADUATION AND SENIOR CONVOY PLANS!

First of all - CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GHS CLASS OF 2021!  What a year it has been!  

- First we weren't sure we COULD start school this fall in a face to face environment...

-  Then we took away your ability to be FULLY together as a class by splitting you up into an A/B cohort...

-  Then we took away your ability to gather together and do some traditional "stuff" like the first day parking lot breakfast showing off those awesome senior t-shirts...

-  Then we limited your ability to participate in clubs, activities and sports...

-  Then we couldn't do things like live and in person National Honors Society Inductions, or Scholarship night, Awards Night, etc...

-  Then we didn't do snow days...

-  Then we couldn't do Prom...

This list could unfortunately go on...but I think that it provides the appropriate backdrop to my next statement!  We are all so proud of you and what you have accomplished in spite of a world wide pandemic!  You never let it stop you from doing the things you were passionate about!  Yeah, maybe you had to figure out a way to do these things differently - BUT YOU DID!  You played basketball with masks on!  You created live radio plays!  You tackled issues around social justice!  You zoomed into classrooms!  You celebrated and honored each other's accomplishments!  I dare say that YOU taught US (Teachers, staff and administrators) a great deal about what it means to be resilient.  You showed us what it looks like to not let things like global pandemics stand in the way of your goals!  To be honest, through your example, teachers, staff, and administrators had no other choice but to follow suit and do the same!

So once again - CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GHS CLASS OF 2021!  I have great faith you will succeed in anything you endeavor to undertake - you've already proven it!☺

We will be honoring our 2021 graduates on Sunday, June 13 at 4:00 p.m. (weather permitting) with a graduation ceremony to be held outdoors on the GHS competition field.  We do have plans in case of inclement weather that have been shared with families by Mr. Jandreau if the need arises.  

Gorham High School, in collaboration with Gorham Project Graduation, the Gorham Police Department and the Gorham Fire Department will also be honoring our graduates in a graduation convoy, which we hope will become a new tradition here in Gorham started by our 2020 graduates!  The convoy will commence at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 13th beginning at the Gorham Industrial Park and conclude at Gorham High School.  Graduates will be joined by their families for the convoy in their cars.  The convoy will follow route 25 and Main Street from the Industrial Park through Gorham Village.  The convoy will turn left onto South Street and enter the Gorham High School Campus via Morrill Avenue.

WE INVITE MEMBERS OF OUR GORHAM COMMUNITY to line Route 25 and Main Street, South Street, and Morrill Avenue to cheer and wave signs that celebrate our seniors.  We ask that participants and spectators refrain from throwing candy or other items, either from vehicles in the convoy to spectators or from spectators toward the convoy.  

Please note that, at the conclusion of the convoy, seniors will be dropped off at GHS for a closed event.  There will NOT be a public fireworks display as there was last year.

Below is an image showing the convoy route...WE WOULD LOVE TO SEE THE COMMUNITY OUT SUPPORTING OUR SENIORS! (Red dot is GHS, Blue dots indicate the route that will be taken from the industrial park).


CHANGE IN A/B SCHEDULE FOR GHS

Just wanted to make sure GHS students and parents saw this recent announcement regarding the change of A/B days for the last few weeks of school at GHS...

END OF YEAR ACTIVITIES TO BE AWARE OF...  

* June 2 - Senior Scholarship Night, 6:00 p.m. via zoom.

* June 7 - Gr. 9-12 Vaccine Clinic #2 (1/2 GHS students)

               -  Great Falls 5th Grade Celebration Parade (5:00 p.m.)

               -  Parent Information Night on IXL (summer online learning software, 6:00 p.m.)

* June 8 - K-12 Virtual Step Up Day!

               - VOTING DAY - GET OUT AND VOTE!

* June 9 - Vaccine Clinic #2 (All GMS and 1/2 GHS)

               -  GMS 8th grade celebration parade (5:00 p.m.)

* June 10 - Last student day, students dismissed on Early Release Schedule

                -  Village 5th Grade Celebration Parade (2:00 p.m.)

* June 11 - Last staff Day

                -  Narragansett 5th Grade Celebration Parade (12:00 noon)

* June 12 - POSSIBLE rain date for GHS Graduation (1:00 p.m. if announced)

* June 13 - GHS Graduation (4:00 p.m.)

- Note:  Each of our schools have other activities going on as well.  Best place to keep up with the various "happenings" is by visiting each school's website at: www.gorhamschools.org 

GORHAM MEMORIAL DAY PARADE IS BACK!

The Memorial Day parade is back in Gorham this year!  Check out details by going to the Gorham Recreation website LINKED HERE.  Parade will be held on May 31 at 11:00 a.m.

GET INVOLVED - GORHAM ATHLETIC BOOSTERS!

Want to get more involved in helping our GMS and GHS athletic programs?  Check out the flyer below for more information on how!


GORHAM YOUTH SUMMER CAMP INFORMATION!

Still looking for things to do this summer with the kids?  Check out the flyer below and LINKED HERE for more information on youth summer camps being offered!
BAXTER MEMORIAL LIBRARY SUMMER READING PROGRAM INFORMATION!
Just got the following information from Baxter Memorial Library regarding their summer H.E.A.L. Program (Healthy Eating and Living).  Check out their website to learn more! 



GORHAM BUSINESS EXCHANGE & GORHAM ATHLETIC BOOSTERS ANNUAL GOLF SCRAMBLE!

Each year these two Gorham Powerhouse groups combine forces to put together an incredibly fun time aimed at raising funds to support GHS student scholarships and the Athletic Boosters.  This year's scramble is coming up on June 18...check out the flyer below and LINKED HERE for more information!




In closing, I wanted to wish everyone a great long weekend and to take a moment to help remind folks why we have a long weekend at all.  

Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead.  It is a day to honor those who given the ultimate sacrifice to our country.  Let's all make sure to remember why we have that extra day off while we are enjoying our bbq's and other family events this weekend.  We are all blessed to live in such an amazing community, an amazing state, and an amazing country thanks to those sacrifices!





Friday, May 21, 2021

Week #34 of face to face instruction with just three weeks to go...my how this school year has flown by!  So hard to believe we will be breaking for the summer soon.  As usual, just wanted to share a few photos from the past week in our schools.  Clearly our students and our staff are enjoying SAFELY moving closer to a sense of normalcy in our learning environments...optimism is most definitely in the air!  Our students and staff continue to do AMAZING THINGS!  

P.S. - Yes the superhero picture (top right) and the picture of our flower crowns (bottom left) are Gorham Staff Members hamming it up with their students! ☺

PROUD TO BE A RAM!

Lots to talk about so I'm gonna get right to it this time!  Here goes!

COVID 19 RELATED UPDATES

There has been a lot of new information over the past week on this front, so I'll do my best to condense the information into sections... 

First Section - I wanted to give a huge shout out to Maine Health.  Their staff partnered with our staff earlier this week to vaccinate a little over 350 students at GMS and GHS on Tuesday during our school based vaccination clinics.  The clinics were a huge success!  Parents/families who may still be interested in having their child(ren) vaccinated can sign up for vaccinations at several local clinics.  A great resource is the Maine's vaccination homepage which can be found by CLICKING HERE.  You can also go directly to Maine Health to register your minor child for a vaccine.  CLICK HERE for their website.  If you still want to learn more about vaccinations for children ages 12-18, a great resource there is a recent informational video produced by the Maine Department of Education on Pediatric COVID 19 Vaccinations.  


Second Section - I wanted to make you aware that the Maine Department of Education, on this past Monday evening sent out an updated School COVID 19 Guidance document reflecting recent changes announced by the Governor and how those would impact our public schools.  A few key points I wanted to make clear:

1.  The Governor's allowance for individuals who have been vaccinated to not wear masks indoors DOES NOT APPLY TO SCHOOLSAll students and staff must still wear masks when inside of our schools.

2.  The Maine Department of Education is now removing restrictions that students/staff wear masks outdoors.  We will implement this change effective Monday, May 24, 2021 across all schools at all times when students/staff are outdoors. Students/staff will now be allowed to remove masks whenever outdoors regardless of physical distancing.  HOWEVER, when on the playground, or in other outdoor learning environments students are encouraged to remain active and not sedentary.  If students clump together and stay together in close proximity without much movement, they will be encouraged to EITHER break up the group, spread out, or put their masks up.

3.  The Maine Department of Education is now allowing students to remove masks for any instructional activity that takes place outdoors (i.e. Phys. Ed., chorus, band, science classes, etc.).

4.  Requirements for indoor physical distancing for music and band have been reduced to 6 ft. - again, masks are still ALWAYS REQUIRED WHEN INDOORS.

5.  Rules for all other indoor learning continues to require a min. of 3 ft of physical distance UNLESS a school utilizes Pool Testing.  More on that in a minute, but in the meantime, know that the Gorham Schools will NOT be participating in Pool Testing this spring.  We are strongly considering/studying the possibility for the Fall of 2021.  If a school gets 30% participation in a pool testing program, physical distancing requirements are no longer applicable.  Again, more on pool testing momentarily.

6.  Regardless of participation in pool testing or not - 6 ft of physical space must still be maintained when students are eating.

Those are the highlights of immediate changes to our safety guidelines and protocols from the MDOE/MCDC - I'll do my best to keep you up to date if additional information is shared.  In the meantime, and as always - please reach out to your school's nurse or building principal if you have questions or need clarification on anything COVID protocol related.  Thank you!

Third Section - Just wanted to make clear that if your child has been fully vaccinated for COVID 19 they do not have to quarantine if they are a close contact to a positive case.  Fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days have passed since their second shot.  

Fourth Section - Just one more reminder to parents to please complete the daily health screener tool at home each morning before sending your child to school.  Remember, you DO NOT NEED TO SUBMIT the form to the school daily.  However, if there is a negative response to any of the screening questions, you should keep your child home and call the school's nurse and they can walk you through what to do from there.  

Fifth Section - Please remember that if your child is home due to symptoms or is home because they have tested positive for COVID 19, the school needs to know so that we can track the information and conduct contact tracing as needed.  Please call the school nurse if your child is home due to potential COVID 19 symptoms or is home waiting the results of a test, or has tested positive for COVID 19.  THANK YOU!

YOU HAVE HEARD ABOUT IT BUT WHAT IS POOL TESTING?


I wanted to provide a little information regarding pool testing and what it entails just because the Maine Department of Education, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC have talked so much about it recently in reference to schools.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Department of Education (DOE) has implemented a pooled PCR testing program, which is available to any K-12 school administrative unit, public or private, starting in May 2021 and through the 2021-22 school year. Pooled PCR testing is a more efficient way to test large groups of students and staff in schools on a weekly basis. Pooled testing involves collecting swabs from small groups of students, usually students in a class cohort or homeroom, placing the swabs in a common test tube, mixing several test samples together in a "batch" or "pool" and then testing the pooled sample with a PCR test for detection of SARS-CoV-2. If a pool's results are positive, the individuals in that pool will need to be tested using a rapid antigen test called BinaxNOW. The positive individual(s) would then be sent home to begin their isolation period.

There are several advantages of using pool testing in schools, but the two largest are: (1) If schools get 30% of the student population to participate, the Maine Department of Education will eliminate physical distancing requirements for students although students would still have to wear masks while indoors and students would still need to remain 6 ft apart when eating; and (2) If schools get 30% of the student population to participate, individuals who may be in a "pool" with a positive result, but who test negative and remain asymptomatic after a BinaxNOW test conducted at school would not have to quarantine as a close contact to the positive case.

As with most things, there are also several disadvantages of participating in the program.  First is that it requires additional staffing capacity and coordination with the testing company to pull off testing of every classroom, every week.  Another disadvantage is that although Maine DHHS pays for the testing service, it does NOT pay for the additional staffing capacity needed to operate the program.  Another disadvantage is that there are concerns regarding confidentiality.  For example, if a classroom participates in pool testing and a negative result occurs and then there is a follow up BinaxNOW test conducted and immediately "Johnny" is asked to go home...that kinda gives it away who tested positive for COVID 19.  

There is certainly much to consider before "jumping in" to pooled testing (pun was intended there - so feel free to giggle) as a school or as a school district.  That is primarily why we will take the time to more closely consider this option over the next several weeks in order to make decisions about whether or not we want to consider using pooled testing this coming fall.  A lot can certainly change - as we all well know by now - in just a few short months!  Bottom line on pool testing in the Gorham Schools for now is to please "stay tuned" for more information.

In the meantime, If you are interested in learning more about pool testing, a great place to start is the Maine Department of Education's FAQ sheet LINKED HERE.  

REMOTE LEARNING PROGRAM INFORMATION FOR 
FALL 2021



I had sent this information out in a separate email earlier this week, but wanted to make sure parents/families were able to review the information, so I am repeating it again here purposefully. . . 

To: Gorham Schools Parents/Guardians

From: Heather J. Perry, Superintendent of Schools

Re: Overview of Full Remote Instruction Services for School year 2021-22


Dear Gorham Parents/Guardians, 


The Gorham School Department believes strongly that the best instructional environment for students to learn is offered in our classrooms. We are excited about our ability to open schools in the Fall of 2021 to full 5 day per week programming for our students across grades K-12.  The Gorham School Department recognizes, however, that there will be a few students who will not be able to access in-person learning for the 2021-22 School Year due to compromising medical conditions that warrant minimizing exposure to COVID 19.  Because of this, we will be offering a fully remote learning program to only those students who are determined to be medically unable to attend school in person because of the risk of exposure to COVID 19.


This consideration would be made through either our Response To Intervention (RTI) team, Section 504 Team, or Special Education (IEP) Team after a referral for consideration is made by the parent/guardian to the school principal.  Once a referral packet is received, the appropriate team will convene to discuss the concerns for the student, and determine if there is a need for additional accommodations or whether a fully remote program is in their educational best interest.  Again, the district always has the goal of having students attend in-person instruction as the least restrictive environment.


In order for this referral to be considered, the following will need to be completed prior to meeting so that the team has the appropriate full information to consider:


Step 1:  The parent/guardian of the student(s) or an adult student completes the “Referral Form”.


Step 2:  The parent/guardian of the student(s) or an adult student reaches out to their licensed physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or mental health clinician to complete the “Remote Instruction Consideration by Physician Form”


Step 3:  The parent/guardian of the student(s) or an adult student completes the “Authorization to Release/Exchange Information with Gorham School District Form”


Step 4:  The parent/guardian of the student(s) or an adult student returns the forms found under steps 1-3 to the School’s Principal.


Step 5:  The school’s nurse will reach out to the student(s) licensed physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or mental health clinician to discuss possible accommodations that may be preferred to full remote instruction.


Step 6:  The school’s nurse, guidance counselor, principal or the student’s case manager will reach out to schedule a meeting of the school-based team and family to discuss the referral, considerations, and impacts to make a decision on the need for remote instruction and develop a plan as needed.  Note:  These meetings will take place in Mid-June and/or Late August, 2021.


Families who are considering referring their child(ren) for full remote programming for the Fall of 2021 should first review the “Virtual Learning Programming Overview” that is the first page of the appendix documents found in the order listed below:


Appendix A:  Virtual Learning Programming Overview

Appendix B:  Referral Form

Appendix C:  Remote Instruction Consideration by Physician Form

Appendix D:  Authorization to Release/Exchange Information with Gorham School District Form


As always, if parents have any questions, please reach out to your child(ren)’s building principal.


Thank you,


Heather J. Perry, Ph.D

Superintendent of Schools


PARENT OPEN FORUM ON MONDAY NIGHT!

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Record and I will be hosting the final open parent forum for K-12 parents of the 2020-21 School Year THIS MONDAY NIGHT (5/24/21) starting at 6:30 p.m.  

Do you have questions about vaccinations?  Do you have questions about mask rules?  Do you have questions about summer programming?  Do you have questions about what next school year will look like?  Do you have questions about our proposed budget?  If so - this meeting is for you!  Dr. Record and I look forward to seeing you!  Here's the link information:

Join Zoom Meeting https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/89355371462?pwd=N2svdkxOT1JhNDMyT2ZYVHNCaytOZz09 Meeting ID: 893 5537 1462 Passcode: 168094

THANK YOU MRS. ROY AND GHS SPANISH STUDENTS!

I had a great time visiting Mrs. Roy's GHS Spanish class while they were on a field experience earlier this week.  Students from Mrs. Roy's class walked down to Azul Tequila in downtown Gorham to practice their Spanish skills in a real world way! Students had to read and order their meals entirely in Spanish!  I had some great help from students who translated for me to select what I wanted for lunch.  Another student then actually placed the order for me entirely in Spanish!  We even ordered something for Dr. Record!  We both ate well that day!  THANK YOU STUDENTS for being so patient and kind in helping me as I most definitely DO NOT speak Spanish!

Thank you to our wonderful community partners at Azul Tequila for working with Mrs. Roy and her team to make this great learning experience possible for our students! 


GORHAM FOOD PANTRY FOOD DRIVE TOMORROW!

For those interested, just wanted to make you aware that the Gorham Food Pantry will be holding a food drive TOMORROW.  Check out the flyer for more details below!



ART FAIR WEEKEND OF JUNE 5 SPONSORED BY GORHAM VILLAGE ALLIANCE

Are you looking for something to do the weekend AFTER Memorial Day?  This event looks like a great way to get out there and get a little culture!  Check out the flyer below for more details!



That's enough information this week.  Next week I'll focus a bit more on the proposed FY 22 School Budget and a reminder to get out there and vote on June 8 as well as all the fun year end activities our schools have planned!  

In the meantime I wanted to leave you with a poem to help keep you motivated for the last three weeks of school.  No question this year has been a year of historical challenges...we have accomplished so much and come so far TOGETHER through this Pandemic!  I'm sure coach Tanguay and Coach Caterina would agree its always at this point in the race that we all have to dig just a little deeper to make sure we finish strong!  Let's all make sure to remain focused on "sprinting" to the finish line of this historic year TOGETHER!  GO RAMS! 

Enjoy your weekends!  See you back at it again on Monday! ☺













Friday, May 14, 2021

Week #33 of face to face instruction has come to a close in Gorham.  Hard to believe it folks, but we really only have just 4 weeks of school left before we put the 2020-21 School year in the books!  Scary yet exciting all at the same time!  As I often do, I wanted to take a moment and just share some photos from the past week from our schools...

Its been a great week of learning - no question!

Now, on to some other updates!

CONGRATULATIONS TO DR. BRIAN PORTER, GORHAM'S NEW ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS!



You can CLICK HERE for the full press release, but in an abbreviated version - The Gorham School Department is proud to announce that Dr. Brian A. Porter, Ph.D. will serve as the new Assistant Superintendent of the Gorham School Department, beginning July 1, 2021.  Dr. Porter has been the Principal at Village Elementary School in Gorham for more than 20 years!  His loyalty and commitment o the students and staff in the Gorham Schools over time is unmatched and greatly valued.  He leads with compassion, caring, and a focus on strong collaboration to problem solve and get things done!  We so very much look forward to welcoming Dr. Porter to his new position within the Gorham Schools!  Congratulations Dr. Porter!

GOV. MILLS EASES MORE RESTRICTIONS, BUT THEY DO NOT APPLY TO SCHOOLS - AT LEAST NOT YET!

The Mills Administration yesterday updated its public health protocols under the Moving Maine Forward Plan. Effective May 24th, Maine will:
  • Lift all capacity limits and requirements to physically distance in all public outdoor settings.
  • Lift all capacity limits in public indoor venues. Physical distancing requirements are also eliminated, except in settings where people are eating or drinking and therefore would be removing their face covering – such as indoor restaurants, bars, dining areas in camps or in congregate living facilities, and break rooms.
  • Face coverings must still be worn in public indoor settings.
PLEASE NOTE:  This should not be interpreted as applicable to school settings.  The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Department of Education will separately update school-based protocols.

I just wanted to get that information out there before people got too excited about what these new changes may or may not mean for schools.  Clearly things are moving forward in Maine, which is awesome, but let's keep in mind that we all still have to be careful.  COVID 19 is still very much in our communities. With all of our end of year celebrations coming up for students and families, I would hate for anyone to have to miss out due to either contracting COVID 19 or due to close contacts and the requirements to quarantine that still very much exist.  Let's enjoy these renewed freedoms...but still be careful as we do!  I would also be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to once again STRONGLY ENCOURAGE all eligible children and adults to get vaccinated.  Check out the Maine CDC Vaccination site for information on how!

FY 22 PROPOSED BUDGET INFORMATION PRESENTED TO TOWN COUNCIL DURING JOINT WORKSHOP ON TUESDAY NIGHT

The Gorham School Committee presented an informational slide presentation to the Gorham Town Council regarding its proposed FY 22 School Budget on Tuesday night.  It was a great meeting with lots of good information about what is contained within the proposed school budget, what our priorities were, and how COVID 19 has impacted this year's proposal.  You can learn more about our proposed FY 22 budget by CLICKING HERE.  I would also encourage you to review the slide presentation by CLICKING HERE or the meeting video by CLICKING HERE.  

Next steps in the process are (1) for the Town Council to vote on the proposed school budget which will take place on June 1, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.  You can access the meeting by going to the Town's website and clicking on "Minutes and Agendas" and finding the agenda for their June 1 meeting.  The zoom link is always located at the top of the publicly posted agenda.  (2) for the public to vote via referendum to approve of the proposed FY 22 budget.  This will be done at the polls on June 8, 2021 so please get out to vote!


ASPIRE GORHAM MAY NEWSLETTER READY FOR VIEWING!

   

In this edition, two of our incredible GHS students are spotlighted - Senior Emily Paruk and Sophomore Faith Connolly.  Definitely worth the read...we have such talented students!  CLICK HERE to read the Aspire Gorham newsletter for May!

GORHAM HIGH SCHOOL CELEBRATING THE END OF ANOTHER INCREDIBLE SCHOOL YEAR!
Of course all of our schools celebrate the end of a school year.  We do this to honor the accomplishments of our students and their families across grades K-12.  But there is something about the end of year celebrations at the high school that are just unmatched.  It is probably because at this age, these young adults are finally coming into their own.  They are learning and growing and writing their own "Future Stories" and we are all lucky enough to be able to witness this as they are "putting pen to paper" figuratively speaking to begin to create their own life stories. 

We have such incredible students.  Whenever I walk into the high school, I say good morning to students. Guess what,  they actually say good morning back too!  And even better, they more often than not do it with a smile behind those masks!  I've had high school students in meetings where you wouldn't guess that they were high school students because they spoke so well, so passionately about a given topic.  Our Gorham students represent us so well.  

Our students, especially our high school students have been through a lot this past year and a half.  Last year's seniors (class of 2020) at least had a partial year's "normal" experience.  This year's seniors (class of 2021) have had a full year of dealing with our new Pandemic world.  Our high school students have not let this get in their way of accomplishing great things and in savoring every moment of time they had together while at school!  They've managed to safely pull off successful athletic seasons in the fall, winter and spring!  They've managed to still have band/chorus even if it was outdoors at times.  They've managed to put on concerts and plays.  They have managed to earn hundreds of early college credits.  They have attended school physically and virtually.  They have met the challenges that COVID 19 has thrown at them with their heads up, and their shoulders squared.  Their strength of character astounds me.  They are most definitely worth celebrating!

To celebrate them, we have the following events occurring over the next few weeks:

*. Academic Awards Night - May 25
*. Senior Celebration - May 28
*. Scholarship Night - June 2
*. Graduation and Project Graduation on June 13

Please join me in giving a shout out to all our students for a job well done this past Pandemic school year...but especially to our GHS students, and even more especially to our GHS seniors - the class of 2021.  Your resilience, your passion, your caring continues to amaze me!  Kudos to you all!

MAY IS LYME DISEASE AWARENESS MONTH

You only have to go outside to enjoy the beautiful weather Maine has to offer once and return with ticks to understand the importance of understanding how to prevent Lyme disease.  This month is Lyme Disease awareness month and the Maine Department of Education has created some great resources for educators and families to help better understand what Lyme disease is, how it is spread and how to prevent it.  Do those frequent tick checks and check out the resources provided by MDOE by CLICKING HERE!

UPCOMING MAY OPEN PARENT FORUM 

This will be the last monthly open parent forum for the 2020-21 School Year!  The forum is scheduled for Monday night, May 24, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.  Please come to ask your questions.  Do you want to know more about what we are thinking for Fall 2021 re-opening?  Do you have questions about summer programs?  Would you like to ask a question about our proposed FY 22 budget? You name it - the time is yours! Zoom link is below:

Join Zoom Meeting https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/89355371462?pwd=N2svdkxOT1JhNDMyT2ZYVHNCaytOZz09 Meeting ID: 893 5537 1462 
Passcode: 168094 

VOICES OF HOPE:  THE RUGGED ROAD TO RECOVERY SERIES EPISODES 1&2 NOW AVAILABLE TO VIEW

Almost all of us know someone who has been negatively impacted by chemical dependancy.  SEED (Students Empowered To End Dependency) was formed two years ago to add the voice of students to help understand this disease.  The Gorham Schools has contributed to the work of this organization that has recently produced a series of video stories that I believe are powerful and definitely worth the watch.  If you are a parent who may be struggling to have important pro-active conversations with your child on this important topic, these videos may be a helpful tool for you to use!  Definitely worth the watch!  Here's the link:


New episodes of the documentary can be viewed every Saturday at 7pm on WGME Ch. 13.

ALL MAINE SCHOOL NURSES ARE NAMED SCHOOL NURSES OF THE YEAR BY GOV. MILLS

This has been a tough and difficult year for everyone - no doubt.  EVERYONE has had to step up in our schools to make this school year even possible, let alone the success that it has been!  One group in particular that has stepped up is our school nurses.  Pouring over daily screening data, communicating with parents, answering questions, guiding staff, contact tracing, helping everyone to navigate the ever changing CDC rules and so much more!  We could not have made it through this school year without our nurses!  I want to join Gov. Janet Mills in thanking all our school nurses and naming them all nurses of the year!  Check out the video message below from Governor Mills.  Melissa, Collette, Carrie, Alicia, and Joyce...you most definitely deserve it!  GO RAMS!


ONE LAST PUSH - FUN EVENT TOMORROW!

Just wanted to remind folks of the Gorham Outdoors Bike and Bow event scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, May 15).  Check out the flyer below for more details and keep track of all their events on their website:  https://gorhamoutdoors.org/events



Well that's it for this week's message!  I look forward to next week's vaccination clinics at GMS and GHS.  I also look forward to another incredible week of instruction across all our schools.  PROUD TO BE A RAM!  










Friday, May 7, 2021

May 7 Blog Post

Week #32 is in the books and what an incredible week it was!  You would think it was planned that the first full week of four day per week of instruction for students in grades K-8 just happened to coincide with Teacher Appreciation Week!  I wish I could take credit for that strategic thinking...but I can't!  It was just sheer luck...but what a gift it was for our teachers to have their students - all their students - with them during this wonderful week full of appreciation and thanks for our incredible educators!

During the April break, I asked parents to respond to a quick survey using one word to describe our incredible and talented teachers!  Over 400 parents responded!  Below is a wordle created using the words of parents to describe Gorham educators...and I must say - I couldn't say it better myself!


Its been an amazing week!  Our Teachers deserve it!  THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR OUR STUDENTS, ALL YOU ARE DOING, AND ALL YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DO!  OUR TEACHERS ARE SIMPLY INCREDIBLE! GO RAMS!

GORHAM SCHOOLS ANTI-ASIAN RACISM STATEMENT

I realize, this topic is in stark contrast to the opening of this blog.  Moving from the uplifting topic of Teacher Appreciation Week to the much more serious topic of Anti-Racism is not an easy or natural shift.  However, it is a very necessary one as I discovered earlier this week when I became aware of an Anti-Asian racism incident involving students right here in our community.

I will not go into the details of this incident as it is confidential.  Please know it is being addressed and addressed well.  However, the issue was serious enough to give me great pause and to consider the need to make a clear statement on this topic as the leader of this incredible school district.  As our schools continue to tackle head-on, issues regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion one of the things I have learned most of all is that silence does not address the issues that need to be addressed.  Silence simply creates a void that is all too often filled with hate.  Speaking out and breaking that silence fills that same space with love, kindness, and understanding and it is in this vein that I share the statement below with all of you on behalf of the Gorham Schools.

The Gorham School Committee and the Gorham School Department reject ALL forms of racism.  In holding with the mission/vision of the Gorham Schools which speaks to a vision of ensuring that "ALL students are prepared and inspired to take on the complex challenges facing our current and future world", The Gorham School Committee, The Gorham School District Leadership Team, and the Gorham School's Staff express unequivocal support for Asian and Asian American students, staff and community members.  We express dismay and disgust at the increase in Anti-Asian racism and violence that continues to play out across our country.  The pandemic has brought a surge of Anti-Asian hate and violence in America, including right here in Maine, right here in our own back yard.  We reject racism, xenophobia, and nativism, and stand with those who have been harmed by all forms of Anti-Asian incidents.  These racist attacks must stop.  In our school community, people of ALL racial identities should feel safe, welcome, and respected for who they are.  We can all make a difference and I urge us all to become more self-aware and to speak up when we hear any language that is discriminatory or demeaning.  We all have a role to play in speaking up and filling the silence with love and kindness rather than hateful words or actions.  Let's come together as a community to stop Anti-Asian racism and all forms of racism.   Our community is a strong and caring community and what keeps it it that way is our continued commitment and willingness to address the challenges we face head on and to constantly strive to be better tomorrow than we were today.  We all have a role to play.  I encourage us all to continue to play it.

Sincerely,

Heather J. Perry, Ph.D

Superintendent of Schools, Gorham, ME.

FY 22 PROPOSED BUDGET WORKSHOP MEETING WITH TOWN COUNCIL ON TUESDAY NIGHT

The Gorham School Committee will be meeting jointly with the Gorham Town Council for our annual budget workshop meeting.  This meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.  Zoom information is below.  At this meeting, the School Committee will present its proposed FY 22 School Department Budget to the Town Council and provide an opportunity for the Town Council to ask questions in order to gain clarity and understanding about what is contained within the proposed budget.  

At its April 14 regular meeting, the Gorham School Committee approved of the FY 22 proposed budget by an unanimous vote of 7-0.   The School Committee then issued a 112 page Budget Booklet to Town Counselors for their review.  This joint budget workshop meeting will present the highlights of that proposed budget. 

Although the meeting will be a workshop meeting (that will not involve public comment) the meeting is open to the public to view.  It is a very informative meeting and I would encourage those who are interested in learning more about what the proposed FY 22 School Budget accomplishes to tune in!  

Next steps in the process will be a public hearing on the proposed school and municipal budget scheduled for June 1, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.  At this meeting, the Town Council will vote on the proposed FY 22 School Department Budget.  The results of that vote will then be brought to a public referendum scheduled for June 8, 2021.

As always, if ANYONE has ANY questions regarding the proposed FY 22 School Department Budget, please feel free to reach out to me via email (heather.perry@gorhamschools.org).

Here's the link to the joint budget workshop meeting with Town Council:

Webinar ID: 830 0115 8370
Phone # for audio: 1-929-205-6099 

LET'S GET VACCINATED! SCHOOL BASED CLINICS COMING SOON TO GMS/GHS! 


As we continue to hear good news on the COVID 19 vaccination front...I wanted to take a moment to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE all eligible individuals in Gorham to get vaccinated.  Currently, individuals ages 16+ are eligible to become vaccinated and word on the street is that the FDA will soon approve ages 12+ for the Pfizer vaccine.  You can continue to work with providers such as Northern Light, Maine Med. to schedule a vaccine or there are also now many opportunities to simply "walk in" to clinics in the area for your vaccination.  The best way to find out how to get vaccinated remains to EITHER directly contact your Primary Care Physician OR to go to the Maine CDC's vaccination website.

In preparation for and in anticipation of the approval of the Emergency Authorized Use of Pfizer COVID 19 vaccine for youth ages 12-15, the Gorham Schools has begun working with Maine Medical center to provide school sponsored vaccination clinics to encourage eligible students to become vaccinated.  We are working to schedule clinics at both GMS and GHS.  Right now, tentative dates (subject to change) are set for May 19 and then again for June 9.   MORE INFORMATION WILL BE COMING SOON FOR PARENTS OF ELIGIBLE GMS AND GHS STUDENTS!  For now we have scheduled a parent information night with members of the Maine Med. Vaccination team for Thursday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m.  This meeting will occur via zoom and details will be emailed to families next week along with other pertinent information.  For now, if you are interested, please hold the date in your calendars!

Some young people may ask - why should I get vaccinated?  COVID isn't as serious for me because of my age.  Well, here  are just a few things the experts from the CDC and other leading medical fields are saying to help answer that question:

*  COVID 19 is a respiratory illness with long lasting effects that are still widely unknown.

*  The more people are vaccinated, the less likely COVID 19 is to spread and the more quickly we can get back to "normal" activities.

*  Broad vaccinations will mitigate impacts of COVID 19 variants.

*  When you are fully vaccinated, you no longer have to quarantine if exposed to a positive case.

Of course, the choice to get vaccinated or not is a personal one...but one I would strongly urge young adults and families to make.  I am now fully vaccinated as I know many of our teachers are as well and the emotional weight lifted alone was enough for me to know I made the right choice for me!  Please stay tuned as more information will be forthcoming within the next week or two regarding possible school based clinics!  In the meantime, stay safe everyone!  Keep wearing those masksKeep washing/sanitizing those hands...and Keep that physical distance!

P.S. and if for no other reason than to get me to stop reminding you to do those three things above...please strongly consider getting vaccinated!☺

SUMMER IXL ONLINE READING AND MATH PROGRAM

Last summer we offered a new software system called "Exact Path" to interested parents to work with their students online in the areas of math and reading to offset potential pandemic related learning loss.  This was a voluntary program.  We have received a good amount of feedback on the use of this program through the summer and over the course of this past year and have decided to move in a slightly different direction for the coming summer.

This summer, we will be offering all families in grades K-8 the use of the IXL online learning platform for reading and math.  This is a much more user friendly and intuitive program that students are actually already used to using as we often use it in our regular classrooms.  Students will be allowed to take home their devices for this purpose over the summer.  Parents can elect not to use the program, to use it just a little, or to use it a lot.  It will be completely up to each family.

For those parents who are interested we have the following information for you!

Stay Sharp this summer with IXL!  IXL is a personalized learning platform that will be available to K-8 students throughout the summer to reinforce learning in the areas of reading and mathematics. 

An overview, and usernames/passwords will be shared with families prior to the end of the school year. 

In addition, we'll be offering a parent information night on Monday, June 7th from 6:00-7:00 pm.  Here's the zoom link - save the date!

GHS SENIOR EMILY PARUK THANKS TEACHERS WITH ORIGINAL POEM


If you haven't yet take the few short minutes to listen to GHS Senior Emily Paruk's original poem of appreciation to teachers...it is definitely worth the watch!  THANK YOU EMILY for sharing your talent with us!

Check it out!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Z7CBvDAZw

MORE EVENTS FROM GORHAM OUTDOORS!

From Jason Tanguay:

I wanted to pass along a couple of events going on the next two Saturdays.

This coming Saturday, May 8th will be a yard sale on the lawn of Robie gym. The Gorham Rec Department will be selling for pennies on the dollar sporting equipment and other outdoor equipment, but they are also looking for donations. If you have been cleaning out your attic / garage, then you might look to see if you have sporting or outdoor equipment and/or bikes you would be willing to donate to the yard sale or donate to the Gorham Outdoors club. I have attached a flyer here with more details.

The following weekend on Saturday, May 15th will be a fun event called Bike and Bow. It is a competition combining mountain biking on a trail that has some obstacles to navigate along with archery. You can find more information on the attached sheet below. This is the first event of this kind so join us for the fun!  Information sheet attached HERE and seen below...
 


A FEW OTHER QUICK REMINDERS!

1.  Reminder to parents and students - NWEA testing will be occurring across all Gorham Schools between May 10-28.  This year NWEA testing will serve a dual role...our own local assessment, but also the state's assessment this year will be the NWEA assessment.  Please make sure students are in attendance as much as possible during these times to limit the need for make up testing.  Remote families will work with coordinators to also participate!

2.  There will be no school on Monday, May 31 due to Memorial Day.

3.  June 4 will be an instructional day for students across grades K-12 due to Memorial Day earlier that week.  

4.  Tuesday, June 8 will be a remote learning day for all students across grades K-12 as several of our schools will be used as local polling places.  Additionally, June 8 will be a STEP UP DAY for all current on campus and virtual students K-12 (well technically K-11 right).  More detailed communications will be coming from your child's school...please reach out to your school's principal if you have questions.

5.  Last student day will be June 10.  This will be a HALF DAY of school for all students K-12.

That's it for this week's update.  Enjoy your weekends!