Friday, June 10, 2022

June 10 - Final Blog Post For 2021-22 School Year!

What a school year it has been!  Ups and downs, challenges and celebrations!  

The 2021-22 School Year has had it all!  But over this past year, we have had far more to celebrate than anything else here in the Gorham Schools!  

Don't take my word for it...see it for yourself in the final set of pictures I share below (Since it is the last one, I shared twice as many pictures)!

Pictures sure do say 1,000 words! Now on to the important updates!

(After Town Council Vote on June 7)

It is always difficult to keep up with the proposed budget process this time of the year.  On Tuesday night, the Town Council voted to reduce the School Committee's proposed FY 23 school budget by almost $1.6 million dollars.  

It certainly wasn't the best of possible outcomes, but it also was not the worst.

The proposed budget now stands at $46,427,320.00 which is an overall expenditure increase of $2,159,177 over FY 22 or a 4.9% overall increase in expenditures.  This is down from the originally proposed FY 23 budget of an 8.46% increase.  You can view an updated "one pager" by CLICKING HERE to learn more!

As you know, the role of the School Committee is to make decisions, including budget decisions, that are focused on meeting the needs of the children of this community.  I believe the School Committee did a tremendous job in putting together their FY 23 proposed budget that was passed on April 13 by a vote of 5-2 in favor.  

The Town Council's role is to determine what level of funding the community of Gorham can bear. This is an equally important role, and one that at times can clash with the role of the School Committee to provide for the best interest of students.  The Town Council listened intently to our budget presentations, and they asked great questions to better understand the core components of our proposed budget, but at the end of the day what they felt the community could bear was less than what the School Committee requested by that $1.6 million dollars.

That same night, the School Committee then worked diligently to reduce specific items to meet this requirement. The reductions will have negative impacts, but the reductions have been made in a manner that minimizes these impacts to the best of our ability.  

Although we may not "like" this revised budget, it is a budget that I believe is workable.  It doesn't allow us to fully address the priorities we set out to accomplish in this process, but it does allow us to continue to move forward in meeting the needs of our students...just not as far forward as we had hoped.

The list of reductions that were made on Tuesday night are below.  

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have via email ( 

A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to our Administrative team members, and to our School Committee members in working so hard together to find ways in which we could maneuver this difficult budget process to a reasonable conclusion.  It is now up to the voters of Gorham to determine how we move forward.   Remember to get out and vote on June 14!

We have gotten THREE pieces of pretty darn good news recently regarding expanding opportunities for our high school students to participate in extended learning opportunities (ELO's).  The first I have already shared with you and was announced about 1 month ago.  That is that the Gorham Schools received a three year grant in an amount of $680,000.00 to expand pre apprentice and apprentice opportunities for our young adult learners ages 16-24 in four key areas:

1.  CNA
2.  CDL Drivers
3.  Early Childhood instructors
4.  Educator pathways (i.e. Educational technicians and teachers)

You'll be hearing more on this in the fall as we work with our partners (Gorham Adult Education, SMCC, USM, and others in this important work so stay tuned!

The second piece of good news was just announced on Monday of this week.  It is good news that comes from what was bad news.  It simply shows the resilience of our staff and leadership in problem solving and making sure our students are given the opportunities they seek to learn!  There is a little back story to this one so let me provide the context...

When students began signing up for courses at GHS this late winter and early spring, we had a very large number of our incoming junior class indicate that they wanted to participate in Career and Technical Education (CTE) learning opportunities at either Westbrook Regional Vocational Center ( WRVC) or Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS).  Our guidance counselors worked and worked and were able to "wheel and deal" to get many students into the programs they wanted, but at the end of the day we still had 35 juniors that we were unable to place in CTE programs at either WRVC or PATHS due to seat limitations.  We quickly determined we needed to find another way to provide these students with meaningful workplace learning experiences that were credit bearing.  An idea was born!

The vision entails enrolling these students into a semester long and/or year long internship program that would allow students to earn credits while participating in a workplace internship experience in partnership with area businesses.  We have operated this kind of program for smaller numbers of students over the past two years, but now was clearly the time to take this work to the next level for our students.  The biggest problem that needed to be solved was capacity!  We needed to add staff to coordinate these programs and guide students in ensuring these experiences are meaningful, both for them and for their business mentors.  We decided to apply for funding from the Maine Department of Education to expand our ELO programming.  Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO's) is a large umbrella term that encompasses any credit bearing work place learning experience.  This can range from internships to pre apprentice and apprenticeships to co-op programs and independent studies.

We were just notified on Monday that we received the grant award for $250,000.00 a year for the next two years to kick start this program!  We are so excited to be able to move in this direction and to find more opportunities for our students to experience meaningful, real world, authentic learning opportunities as a result!  More to come on this as we prepare to open the 2022-23 school year!

The third piece of good news we just became aware of on Wednesday.  The Maine Department of Education recently awarded the Jobs For Maine's Graduates (JMG) program a $6 million dollar award at the state level.  The goal of these funds requires that the state-wide JMG organization finds a way to pay 4,200 students each year a "paycheck" for 40 hours of work place learning experiences calculated to be $500.00 per participating student.  These hours can be earned in one week, or over the course of two weeks, or over the course of a whole year.  Because of our strong relations with JMG and because of our successful Aspire Gorham program and the already existing infrastructures we have built here in Gorham to support increasing these authentic learning experiences for our students - JMG made the commitment to Gorham High School that EACH AND EVERY MEMBER of next year's Junior and Senior class will be eligible to receive this $500.00 check payable directly to them as long as they can document these 40 hours.  Not only that, but they further committed that the Junior and Senior classes for the following year (2023-24) will ALSO be receiving these direct payments for their workplace learning experiences!  WHOOT WHOOT!

To be clear, this would issue each GHS Junior (about 200 students) and each GHS Senior (about 200 students) a direct payment for their workplace learning experiences in the amount of $500.00 each for the next two years.  That is an investment of $200,000.00 each year DIRECTLY to our students!  


All of this work aligns so very well with our Aspire Gorham program and our ultimate vision that eventually our student's high school will encourage that as juniors and seniors, our students have one foot in our buildings as learners, and one foot in the "world" as learners building their future own stories!  Whether that means internships and apprenticeships or that means independent learning opportunities or that means early college courses...we want our students experiencing their futures in meaningful ways while they learn!


Speaking of Aspire Gorham...our June newsletter is ready to view!  I encourage you to CLICK HERE to read more about this incredible work in Gorham!

Each year members of our Gorham School staff family retire.  It is part of our annual tradition to honor these retirees.  Often this is done more at the individual school level with a special presentation to retiring staff on our closing day of school.  

This year we have a pretty incredible class of retirees that I think bears being a little more public in our congratulations and in wishing them the absolute best as they hang up their ID badges and spend more time taking care of themselves and their families.

This year's retirement class represents OVER 323 TOTAL YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE GORHAM SCHOOLS!  Yes, that bears repeating...over 323 years!  Can you imagine how many THOUSANDS (not hundreds, but thousands) of lives these individuals have positively touched over the years?  I am awestruck by their dedication and by their impact to our schools and to our community.  Below is a list of our teacher and support staff retirees for 2022.  If you see any of these folks around town, please take a moment to say THANK YOU and wish them the best in their retirement as all of us do too!  

*. Dennis Crowe, Director of Technology - 14 years.
*. Bryan McManus, Bus Driver - 6 years.
*. Dave Palmer, 8th grade science - 18 years.
*. Joyce LaRou, School nurse at GHS - 24 years.
*. Laurie Kenny, 1st Grade Teacher, Narr. - 24 years.
*. Deb Noble, Special Ed. at GMS - 24 years.
*. Diane Knott, Gifted & Talented - 29 years.
*. Veronica Scontras, 6th grade math - 32 years.
*. Winston Barton, Libraria/Media Specialist @ Vill. - 35 years.
*. Rosalie Mosher, Kindergarten, Great Falls - 43 years.
*. Lona Tassey, 8th grade ELA - 47 years.
*. Deb Roy, HS World Languages - 47 years.

Student leaders at Narragansett Elementary School created a video series for each of the five components of our district Code of Conduct:  Respect, Honesty, Courage, Compassion, and Responsibility.  Great lessons for us all - so I thought I'd share!  Check them out!

Link to video: Respect Video
Link to video: Compassion Video
Link to video: Courage Video
Link to video: Responsibility Video
Link to video: Honesty & Recap Video


I'm sure our students don't want to know about this, but I'm thinking there may be some parents out there that are interested in knowing what is available for summer academic learning opportunities for Gorham students.  

CLICK HERE to view a list of these opportunities.


We are asking any parent of a K-12 student in the Gorham Schools for the 2022-23 School year to please complete the transportation survey below IF YOU WILL NEED ANY TRANSPORTATION TO OR FROM SCHOOL TO A LOCATION OTHER THAN YOUR HOME.  If you have already completed this survey you do not need to do it again.

Please reach out to your school's office if you have questions.  Here's the Survey Link:


2022 Summer youth music and theater camps sponsored by the USM School of music are open for registration.  Through these programs young musicians can strengthen their skills, confidence and experience that can be brought back to their school bands and choruses in the fall.  These summer programs give children an intensive week with their instrument, good instruction, ensemble playing, and fun with their musical friends.  Parents/Guardians and music teachers can learn more about these programs by visiting the website below.  

I happened upon this monthly calendar series as we were navigating our way through some of the most difficult parts of the Pandemic.  I've shared the link a few times before, but I thought perhaps folks might like to use these calendars this summer to keep some of these methods for creating "joyful moments" individually or as a family at the forefront of their minds while we take a little break from the more arduous academic learning of the regular school year.  Check out the link below if interested!  You will see June's calendar and then just scroll down to view other months!

It is always hard to truly put your finger on the impacts of one year of learning on individual students.  We measure academic achievement each year, we measure growth, we measure and we measure...but sometimes it is still hard to see.  

I've always believed one of the truest measures of our success as a public school system lies with our graduates.  What types of students have come up through our system?  Are they critical thinkers and problem solvers?  Do they know how to collaborate?  Are they prepared for success in whatever they choose to pursue?  

Each year I make it a point to attend as many of the celebrations as I can for our senior class BECAUSE this is where you get to see the "output" of our school system.  These 200 plus students.  What are their plans after graduation?  How do they hold themselves?  Do they demonstrate our Code of Conduct in their daily interactions with one another, with their families, with their community?  Are they ready to write the next chapters in their future stories?

I can say that by watching the class of 2022 over this past month, and before that, how they have handled themselves over the past few years through a global pandemic - that the answers to all these questions is an undeniable YES.  

From West Point and Tufts University to gap years and directly entering the workforce and everything in between.  I am proud of our 2022 graduates and the young adults they have become.  I look forward to watching them make a positive impact on this world as they have already made on this community.

Congratulations Class of 2022...GO RAMS!