Friday, September 24, 2021

September 24 Blog Post


It has been two weeks since my last blog and believe it or not, those two weeks were our first two FULL

weeks of school.  We’re definitely well into the swing of the new school year at this point.   We are moving

from the normal time spent early in the school year getting to know students, building relationships and

setting up classroom learning environments, to a larger and more intentional focus into daily learning

activities that are rigorous and engaging.  While we constantly remain focused on meeting the social

emotional needs of our students and in making sure that their learning environments are caring and

supportive – we also must ensure students are well prepared academically to be successful now and in

their futures.  Large responsibilities for sure, but ones we as educators here in Gorham take seriously and

are proud to bear.  You can probably see that in some of the pictures below showing what’s happening

in our schools over the past few weeks!

Before I launch into the more informative portion of this blog, I did want to take a quick moment to say THANK YOU to all our Gorham parents out there for your patience and flexibility with our transportation system the first few weeks of school.  It has taken us a little while, but with some changes made in shifting routes, and some changes made to our high school dismissal processes,  and a lot of hard work by our staff it looks like we have been able to get all of our dismissal times back into our targeted slots.  We are still making some smaller tweaks for efficiencies but where we are now is likely where we’ll be for drop off times for the year so you should be able to depend more readily on them and plan accordingly.  Again, thank you to everyone for your patience!

With that said, lots to share, so let’s get to it!


This November 2nd you will see a school bond question on the ballot.  This bond question is NOT your usual bond question because - believe it or not – this question is NOT going to be asking for any additional funds.  I know, weird right!  Here’s how the question will read:

“Shall the Town of Gorham be authorized to expend not more than $575,000 from the school capital reserve fund and not more than $244,900 from undesignated fund balance in addition to the $2,265,000 in funding from bonds approved by referendum in 2020 for the Gorham Middle School HVAC Heat Pump Upgrade and Repair Project?”

What is important to understand is that the GMS HVAC Heat Pump Upgrade was already approved via referendum in November of 2020. When approved, the total budget amount for the project was projected to be $2,265,000.00.  Unfortunately, due to significant changes to construction pricing when we put the project out to bid, the project’s lowest bid was over this budget amount by almost $500,000.00.  Because of this, we were unable to move forward with the project.  

Since then, we have re-estimated the costs for the project budget using current market conditions and an additional contingency of a little over 10% and concluded that in order to move forward with the project we would need a total of $3,084,900.00.  That would be $819,500.00 more than what we have been approved to expend by voters in November of 2020.

We have identified the funds necessary to move forward with the project WITHOUT adding to the overall bond request through a combination of the utilization of $575,000.00 from a newly established capital reserve account and the utilization of not more than $244,900.00 from undesignated budgetary fund balance.

However, we do not have permission from voters to expend any more than the original $2,265,000.00.  This is the purpose of the referendum question on the Nov. 2nd ballot.  This question basically asks Gorham voters if we can expend the higher dollar figure, knowing that we do not have to borrow any additional dollars to do so because we have identified already existing funds to make up the difference in costs.

The School Committee voted to approve moving forward with this request so that we can complete this important project.  The Town Council also voted to approve moving forward with this request.  If this question is approved, we will be able to move forward to complete this project.  If this question is not approved, we will continue to annually lose heat pumps and we may not be able to ensure the appropriate operations of our HVAC system at GMS for too many more years.

Please remember to get out and vote on Nov. 2! Thank you!


First, I wanted to thank those parents that participated in the Sept. 21 Open Parent Forum.  There were lots of great questions asked and hopefully, many answered.  A recording of the meeting is linked HERE if individuals would like to view it.


Just a heads up to parents that NWEA testing will begin the week of Oct. 4 and go through Oct. 29. This testing is used by teachers and administrators across the district to help determine where our students are in their learning in the areas of math and literacy. As you can imagine, while still trying to teach students in the midst of a Pandemic, this information is very valuable to us as educators. It helps us to know where our students are so that we can target instruction in a more focused manner that ensures we get all students to where they need to be. Please do what you can to assist the schools in providing for a successful testing experience by making sure students come to school if they can and by encouraging them to do their best while not placing too much pressure on them.

It is important to note for parents that these assessments are purposefully geared to challenge your students, but not to overly frustrate them. So if students come home feeling that they didn't do well...let them know that that is ok. The intent isn't for them to "do well" is for them to show us what they know, which sometimes may challenge them - all in a good way! Also know our teachers are right there supporting students as they participate!


Well it looks like my reminder to K-6 parents about the recent survey worked...we went from an original participation of just 190 parents to 580. A much better response rate - no question!

I am now digging into the data to determine what folks are thinking by school and by grade level and will go from there. It is going to take me some time to do this and to talk with nurses and others about what the best next steps are. Please know that as we discuss Pooled testing, we are discussing it both as a consideration for the near term and as a consideration for the longer term. We will need to weigh the potential +/- carefully, especially now that it seems vaccinations for our 11 and under populations may be on the horizon sometime near the end of October and/or early November time frame.

I will likely share survey summary information with families next week in between blogs and then let families know all the data that was used to make a final decision and what that decision is by the time I share my next blog. Please continue to stay tuned, and in the meantime - let's all continue to work hard to follow our key safety protocols:

1. Wear those face coverings when inside

2. Wash/Sanitize those hands frequently

3. Try to keep that 3 ft of physical distance whenever possible

Thank you.


We currently have 42 GMS 8th grade students participating in the Tech Start program in coordination with the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center. The program began on Tuesday, September 7. Students will participate in each of the programs offered by WRVC. Here is the list of programs.

  • Automotive Technology

  • Building Trades

  • Business Education

  • Commercial Truck Driving A & B

  • Computer Repair and Networking

  • Computer Science & Multimedia

  • Cosmetology

  • Criminal Justice

  • Culinary Arts

  • Early Childhood Occupations Education

  • Electricity

  • Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B)

  • Fire Fighting

  • Heavy Equipment Operations

  • Medical Occupations

  • Social Services

Initial feedback - STUDENTS ARE LOVING the exposure to these programs! They are able to see first hand what these career pathways are all about, helping them to better understand their own aspirations and learn meaningful skills as they go that will last a lifetime! GO RAMS!


At the beginning of a "typical" non-COVID school year we usually have about 95 substitutes enrolled in our system. When we began the school year in August, we had just 25! We currently have 41, which is better - but still not enough. We currently pay $100.00 per day for certified substitute teachers, and $95.00 per day for non-certified. You do not need anything more than a high school diploma, your CHRC (fingerprinting) approval from the state, and a willingness to learn to be a substitute teacher in the Gorham Schools. If you are interested, or know of others who are - please go to our website ( and click on "Human Resources" tab at the top and then on "Employment Opportunities" to find our substitute application. Please complete and submit! If you have any questions, you can call Rhonda Warren at 222-1012 and she can help you to walk through the online application process. We look forward to seeing your application(s) soon!

While I am mentioning subs, we are also looking to hire 2 lunch duty monitors per K-8 school. These positions are 2 hours per day Monday - Friday and will be paid at a rate of $18.00/hour. Please go to the same website outlined above to find and complete an application if interested!


We do not employ our own custodians in the Gorham Schools, however we work with an incredible company - GDI - to provide our custodial services. The folks that perform these roles and responsibilities, especially in our Pandemic world, deserve a medal, and certainly nothing lesss than a HUGE THANK YOU from all of us to them. Please take the time to thank and celebrate our custodians for all they do behind the scenes to make sure our schools are clean and safe! THANK YOU!


The Following message was sent out yesterday by Mr. Jandreau to all GHS students, but I wanted to make sure to share as well so folks got the information!


Due to the weather forecast for this weekend, we are postponing both the pep rally Friday and the Homecoming event Saturday evening.  Friday’s weather forecast is calling for rain and thundershowers.  Saturday may clear up in time, but the tennis courts will be soaked (they do not drain well), and the rest of the grounds where we plan to have other actives will be soaked as well.

Moreover, nearly all the athletic events scheduled for the end of the week have been moved due to the weather, and the fireworks planned for this week's football game have been postponed.  

We want Homecoming to be successful, so we are moving it to the week of October 10th.  The pep rally is postponed to Friday the 15th, the fireworks are postponed to the football game with Deering on Friday the 15th, and the Homecoming event is postponed to Saturday the 16th.

Any student who purchased tickets for the event can hold on to their tickets until October 16th.  Ticket sales will resume the week of October 10th.  Any student who unfortunately cannot attend on the 16th may see Mr. Rockett in the library for a refund.  

Thanks so much,

Mr. Jandreau


This program is one of our best kept "secrets"! Check out the flyer below to learn more about what Adult Education can do for you!


Their first fundraising event is coming up in early November! Check out the flyer to learn more about how you can help our special olympics program here in Gorham!

That's enough information for today. See ya next time on Oct. 8!


Friday, September 10, 2021

September 10 Blog Update

Two weeks of school in the "books"!  Although we've certainly had our share of challenges once again this year, it has been an incredibly positive opening of school here in Gorham!  We've got all our students back into our classrooms again, we've had parents and families in our schools for open houses, we have volunteers back in our schools, our athletic programs and after school clubs and organizations are back at it and the positive "buzz" across all our schools is palpable.  Here's a few images to capture the first few weeks of school...just know for each picture there are 20 more behind it!

After two weeks since my last blog there is lots to get to for I'll jump right in!  Here we go!

If you are the parent of a K-6 student here in Gorham, please click on the link below to watch a relatively short video I created to try and simplify what Pooled Testing is and why it MIGHT be beneficial for our K-6 students.

Once you have finished watching the video, you can click on any of the additional resources below to learn more.  

Once you feel like you know enough about Pooled Testing, PLEASE COMPLETE THE SURVEY LINKED BELOW IF YOU ARE A K-6 PARENT:


Please complete the survey no later than Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.  THANK YOU!


Over the past few weeks, we have had positive cases of COVID 19 associated with all our schools.  Clearly COVID 19 is still hanging around and it continues to be important that we follow our COVID 19 related safety protocols.  Our major safety protocols remain very similar to last year, which are:

1.  Wear your face mask whenever indoors.
2.  Wash/Sanitize hands frequently and
3.  Maintain 3 ft of physical distancing whenever possible

As a result of these recent cases, lots of great questions have come up from families that I thought would be good to share!  Below is a relatively brief "Q&A" sheet of the most common questions I have heard thus far.  I hope you find this information beneficial.  I would encourage you to reach out to your school nurses, building principals or myself if you have additional questions.  It is important that we all know what our safety protocols are, how contact tracing works, and what to expect so that we can best navigate this continued pandemic together and keep our children in school as much as possible!  

Question:  What determines a close contact?

Answer:  An individual has to be within 6 ft of a positive case for 15 minutes or more (cumulatively) and/or has had physical contact with a positive case.  Please note that we are still conducting contact tracing very much the same as we have for the past year.  This hasn’t changed.  What has changed is that there are now some specific exemptions for identified close contacts regarding quarantine rules.

Question: How Does Contact Tracing Work?

Answer: How we are required to conduct contact tracing protocols is outlined specifically in the Maine CDC's "Standard Operating Procedures" or the infamous "SOP" as we lovingly refer to it as. You can CLICK HERE to view the whole document...but I thought it might provide more context to show you how it works through a fictional scenario...

- We become aware of a positive case associated with a 3rd grader at Village Elementary school

- From communications with the parent we determine when the date was that symptoms began, or if asymptomatic, we determine the date of the positive COVID 19 test. Once we determine this date, we go back two days (either from onset of symptoms or positive test result) to determine the exposure period. In this fictional case, we're going to say the date was on a Tuesday, which means we would look back on Monday only because on Sunday the student was not in school (I hope).

- We then back track everywhere the student has been on Monday when he was last in school. This includes classrooms, cafeterias, buses, playgrounds, allied arts spaces, etc. We do this mostly through seating charts provided to us by teachers and/or through video cameras on buses, and also through interviews with adult staff and if older, with students themselves.

- Through this investigative process, we determine which individuals (students or staff) were exposed to the positive case for 15 minutes or more (cumulatively) and/or had physical contact with the positive case during the exposure period. This creates our close contact list.

- Once we determine the close contact list, we look at the possible exemptions for quarantine for those on that list. Are individuals vaccinated? Were they wearing masks and remaining 3ft or further away (see chart below on next question). When done, we now have a list of close contacts and then a smaller list from that one of who is required to quarantine and under what circumstances.

- We then call each parent of the students impacted and if staff are impacted we call them to to notify them that they are close contacts. It is during this conversation that we will often ask if the close contact has been vaccinated or not. If they have, we will often ask individuals to share a photo of their vaccination card. We will talk with parents/families so they are clear on what their child has to do and what is required to return to school if they quarantine, or if they don't have to quarantine from school, what other limitations may exist.

- Once phone calls are made, we follow up with letters for all close contacts.

- Once that is complete, a COVID Community letter is sent to all staff and families in the district.

- Nurses will update the active case summary sheet on the website and report all required data to the CDC.

I will share that we have recently gotten some feedback from K-5 parents that would like us to send a letter to classrooms impacted even if their child is not a close contact. We are working on updating our processes to include this new step, hopefully beginning next week.

It is important to note that EACH CIRCUMSTANCE IS DIFFERENT, although the rules for how we conduct contact tracing are the same...some situations have no close contacts due to timing, others may have a large number of close contacts, but not many quarantines due to exemptions. It is all dependent upon each unique circumstance...but the bottom line is that the process of contact tracing and quarantining is very clearly outlined in the SOP and our staff is very well trained on how to appropriately and thoroughly conduct contact tracing processes. Contact tracing and quarantine remain a very effective means of preventing the spread of COVID 19.

Question:  What are the rules that allow a close contact to be exempted from quarantine?

Answer:  If a person is vaccinated, they no longer have to quarantine, but should monitor for symptoms are are recommended to still get tested 3-5 days after the exposure.  If universal masking is in place and the close contact was NOT closer than 3ft from the positive contact and both were properly wearing masks the close contact would not have to quarantine from school, however they would be required to quarantine from extra/co-curriculars and outside functions.  They would also need to monitor for symptoms and would be recommended to get tested within 3-5 days of the exposure. If a person is participating in pooled testing they would also not have to quarantine from school related activities but would still be required to quarantine from community events.   See chart below from SOP for details:

Question:  Why doesn’t the masking rule work in areas outside of the classroom?

Answer:  Because the classroom is a cohort and when you move to other areas such as the cafeteria or buses, you are mixing cohorts. Additionally, in a cafeteria setting, you must remove your mask for a period of time to eat, which increases the risk of spreading COVID 19. Please remember, although it doesn't help with the contact tracing and quarantine piece, we have added air purifying units to each cafeteria as an additional layer of safety for all students.

Question:  What is different now in our cafeterias than what we experienced this past spring?

Answer:  Because last spring, we spread students out to 6 ft by eating in classroom areas we needed to pull a lot of staff to do this.  The only way we could do that was to pull ed. Techs and support staff for far longer periods of time than usual.  This meant that some students were unable to get required support services because our staff were tied up with duties.  This year, we are trying not to do that, and instead we are asking students to all eat in cafeteria settings.  We have reduced numbers of students per meal, but we are unable to have 6 ft. of distance between all students all the time.  Because of this, when there is a close contact situation, there are larger numbers of students involved.  Because K-5 students are not yet eligible for vaccines, and because they are not wearing masks while they eat, these students are required to quarantine.  Although it doesn’t help with the quarantine situation, we have added air purifying units to each cafeteria space to ensure that an additional layer of protection is provided to our students.

Question:  What is pooled testing and why are we not using it in Gorham at this time?

Answer:  Pooled testing is a prevention strategy that is being encouraged by the MDOE, DHHS and Maine CDC to use.  It involves weekly testing of defined “cohorts”.  A defined cohort - say Mrs. Smith’s first grade classroom would be tested each week...all swabs would be collected and placed in a single testing “pool”, allowing you to test larger numbers of individuals in a quicker time frame.  If any of the pooled tests come back positive, you would test each individual in the cohort with a Binex now antigen test to identify the specific positive cases.  The positive cases would be sent home to isolate and those remaining in the pool would be able to stay in class because they would have been “caught” prior to the defined “exposure period” would have allowed them to transmit the virus.  There are three major reasons why we haven’t moved forward with pooled testing in Gorham - at least NOT YET:

  1. We do not want to send any “mixed messages” to families that would encourage any family to send students to school when ill.  Families who think their children are being tested weekly might be more likely to send their children to school when symptomatic.  We have sent clear messages to parents - stay home if sick - period. We do not want to to do anything that would water down this message.

  2. Pooled testing only works if you have large numbers of participants in each cohort.  We are not sure how many families would participate - YET - that is the purpose of the survey above.  We would seek approximately 30% of each grade level as a target. We didn’t survey over the summer because we wanted to ensure survey participation to get the most accurate information.

  3. Masking is a universal strategy that works, especially in conjunction with physical distancing.  We know it works, because last year we proved it works.  We want to focus our attention on this mitigation strategy and not have people feel over confident that they can “let their guard down” because we have another strategy in place. 

Participation in pooled testing is not "off the table"...we are simply taking a more measured approach. As you can tell from the previous article - we are exploring the possibility of moving forward with pooled testing in grades K-6.


During the 2021/2022 academic year, the Gorham Schools (all five schools) will test our drinking water fixtures for lead in accordance with a new Maine law.  All fixtures in our school that are used for drinking or preparing food will be tested and results will be shared with parents, students and staff.

The rationale for this new law is that testing for lead will help us create a safer environment for our students, as lead exposure can result in serious developmental health effects, particularly in younger children who are more sensitive to the effects of lead.  

Lead typically enters drinking water from plumbing and/or water fixtures, which is they contain lead material, can dissolve into the building's water.  Lead rarely is found in source water, such as from a well or water district.

To be clear, our buildings have never had previous issues with lead, but as a result of this new law requiring that all schools be tested, we will be testing fixtures as required.  If you have any questions about testing in our schools, please reach out to

Thank you! 


Maine's Department of Health and Human Services is requiring that all Maine schools report their staff vaccination rates.  This edict was handed down just a few weeks before school opened in August.  Since then we have been working hard with our staff to develop a survey tool to collect the needed data and to then report it to DHHS.  The reporting module for DHHS opened on Sept. 1 and is closing TODAY, Sept. 10.  Data will be posted publicly on their website as of Sept. 15, 2021.  This will be a monthly reporting requirement that will be updated each month as we move throughout the school year.

I wanted to take a moment to share with all of you the results of our first series of data collection.  If you have any questions, please reach out.  THANK YOU!


I realize that we might have a few new families with us this year, and that at the beginning of each year is a good time to remind folks about how to access information for School Committee Meetings.  

The best place to go for information regarding School Committee meetings is our website.  If you go to our district website ( and then click on "About Us" you can then click on "School Committee".  I've linked that page HERE for your convenience.  Once there, you can click on the right hand menu to get all kinds of information as well as to view agendas, minutes, and public meeting packet materials.

All of the School Committee's regular meetings are also broadcast on GoCat.

If you have any questions about accessing information regarding the School Committee, please do not hesitate to reach out -


After two weeks of operations, working through some tweaks to transportation schedules, having a few positive cases of COVID pop up and just generally getting back into the swing of things, I thought it might be a good idea to host a K-12 parent public forum again.  No formal agenda, just an opportunity for parents to jump on to a convenient meeting via zoom, ask questions and get some quick hitting answers to help keep us all focused on doing what we need to do for our students and keeping things running smoothly and on a positive note!

Please feel free to join Assistant Superintendent Brian Porter and I on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. to ask any questions you may have.  We'll do our best to answer!   Mark your is below:

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 873 0458 5064 Passcode: 988628


As the Town continues to struggle with finding appropriate spaces to conduct elections while providing for required COVID 19 related physical distancing safety protocols, they have once again requested the use of the Great Falls Elementary School site as well as Gorham Middle School for polling locations this year.  

As you know, the town has used GMS for many years as a polling location.  In the past, as will be the case again this year, we have been able to keep GMS open to students while allowing our gym to be used as a polling location.  The physical structure of the GMS site and gymnasium space allows us to safely cordon off polling locations from student learning locations.  That will be the plan once again this year for GMS.

The physical plant at Great Falls Elementary School, however, does not allow us to safely cordon off the polling location from student learning locations due to the location of cafeteria spaces and the gymnasium in relationship to the main entrance.  Bottom line, because of the physical nature of the building, we are unable to do both elections and operate school safely on this day.  Therefore, we will be moving Great Falls Elementary School students only to fully remote instruction on Nov. 2 so that the building may be used by the Town as a polling location.

The GHS site will not be needed this year as a polling location because Shaw gym will once again be utilized for this ward's voting location.

Reminders will go out again as November 2 draws closer.  Hopefully this will be the last year we will have to make accommodations.  If this need continues to extend beyond that, we will likely need to consider closing all schools for elections and then just lengthening the calendar in June as a result.

I realize you are likely getting tired of hearing this from me, but Thank you again in advance for your incredible flexibility and patience as we all continue to navigate changing conditions in this Pandemic as a community.


I think most of us who were old enough to remember the events of that day can tell a story.  Twenty years ago I was a teaching principal at Bay Ridge Elementary School in Cutler, ME.  I had a grades PK-8 school of about 100 students.  I was teaching my 7th and 8th graders when I got a phone call from another teacher in the building saying I should turn on the TV and watch as it looked like a plan had hit one of the twin towers in NY.  At the time, I believed, and I think most others believed that what had happened was an accident.  I turned on the TV and watched with students.  Then the 2nd plan hit...and our worlds changed forever.  Those students may have just been 11 or 12 years old but they too immediately understood the gravity of what had just occurred.  We were awestruck.

What I remember then was my phone in my classroom started ringing off the hook.  Parents began calling wanting to withdraw their students for the day as they were worried about what was happening.  I remember one student quietly asking in the back of the room how many people might be in those buildings.  I remember students hugging one another and comforting one another.  I remember the horrible feeling of not knowing exactly what to say to assure my students that everything was going to be alright.  I remember a parent calling me to tell me that one of my students may have just lost their father in the crash.  She was in absolute tears.  I did my best to comfort her and talk through how we could support her family if that were the case.  Most of the rest of my memories are just blurs...but I'll never forget the feelings from that day.  Again, I'm sure many who are old enough to remember can't forget those feelings either.

We can all disagree on a lot of things.  But on that day - we were all AMERICANS.  We were all impacted by this tragedy - some more closely than others for sure - but we were all impacted.  On that day we mourned together and we still mourn together as we remember it.  

Please take a moment to remember this weekend.  

If parents are looking for resources...feel free to check out this site.  It is geared for teachers...but that's our first role as parents anyway isn't it!  Let's all remember those that were lost and what that day meant to us all then and still even now.  I know I will never forget.  Thank you.

That's likely enough information for can look for my next Blog post two weeks from now on September 24, 2021