Important Notice from Superintendent of Schools

September 28, 2015

Dear MSAD #51 Families,

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on two timely issues that are of immediate concern to our school community.

First is a follow-up to the unexpected passing last week of an 18-year-old senior who attended Greely High School.  The state Medical Examiner's office has confirmed that the death was a suicide.

I have been struck by the incredible response that students, staff, and the community have made in light of this traumatic event.  I wish to give special thanks to GHS Principal Dan McKeone and Assistant Principal Jayme Jones, the K-12 guidance counselors, and K-12 social workers.  Their leadership and efforts have helped to provide comfort to our grieving high school. Thank you also to the senior class and student council for their organization of a candlelight vigil that provided compassion and support for each other and the entire school community.

Inevitably, when these kinds of incidents occur, there is an attempt to explain or rationalize what happened in order to create meaning.  I would caution that our community remain focused on taking care of our youth, and not be distracted by needless and potentially harmful assumptions or rumors. We must stand strong and proud for our students, staff, and school community.

Suicide is a serious problem among young people.  There is not one answer or explanation for its occurrence.  It is situational and unique to the person involved.  But there are warning signs in many cases that can help prevent suicide from taking place.

Click here for Suicide Prevention Resource

Click here for Warning Signs

My second communication is around viral meningitis.  Several cases of meningitis have surfaced in southern Maine schools over the last two weeks.  There have been no cases in our district at this point.  However, you may want to talk with your child about how this illness can be transmitted and how to reduce exposure to it.

I have included a fact sheet below for your convenience, including symptoms of meningitis and ways to safeguard against this contagious illness.  If you have further questions about this, please contact your child's health care provider or feel free to contact your child's school nurse.

Meningitis Info Sheet

Message September 14, 2015

The first couple of weeks of school are behind us and so are a number of well-attended events so far, including the MIW annual welcome back picnic and the GHS open house. School has started on a smooth note as students and staff settle in for the year ahead.

Strategic Plan Update:
  • The pathways program has identified most of the students who will be served.
  • 6-12 grading and reporting committee membership has been identified.
  • Implementation of the new version of Everyday Math K-5 has begun.
  • New tech program for 504 plans (Acuity) has been rolled out to track and monitor all 504 plans in the district.
  • Membership for the 6-12 late start ad hoc work group is almost complete.
  • New ed. tech. protocol in place to better assess whether or not a student requires ed. tech. support before making this decision.
  • Facilities committee has begun developing 5-year plan.
  • Evaluation initial stakeholder group continues to meet to define how student assessment will interface with the evaluation instrument.
  • Prep work for building Alumni connections has been completed.
  • Strategic Plan was presented to all staff at opening day.

We received our ACT scores with the percentage of ACT-tested students ready for college-level coursework.  

College English Composition:  100% readiness for college-level work (state 85%)
College Algebra:  86% readiness (state 66%)
College Social Science:  86% (state 68%)
College Biology:  75% (state 59%)
Readiness in all 4 content areas:  68% (state 47%)

Students in Denise Allen's IB Sports, Medicine & Health Services Class had their resting metabolic rates and other biometric data measured with CardioCoach Technology on loan from Central Maine Conditioning Clinic. This equipment and testing is typically reserved for elite athletes. Robert Brainerd, owner of CMCC in Auburn, has provided our students access to the equipment, testing, and supplies on site at GHS at no cost. Students came in early before school starts on an empty stomach for this testing. Students were given personalized reports of physiologic data to use as we study related curriculum content. Below, GHS student Alex Wetmore sits for testing.

We have 35 students who are enrolled in vocational programs at PATHS and WRVC this year.  The experiences offered by our vocational providers is critical in helping some of our students achieve their aspirations.

Over the last month, the district has been the recipient of the generosity of 26 organizations in the community that have donated collectively $2,800 in athletic advertising.  Many of these organizations have given to the district in the past and are renewing their donation, while others are new donors.  Thank you to all of these supporters!

The GHS Madrigal singers, under the direction of teacher Sarah Bailey, opened up the Sea Dogs game recently with a rendition of the national anthem.  The Madrigals represented Greely well as they graced the stadium with their talented voices.

Superintendent's Message September 3, 2015

We opened the school year on Wednesday on a smooth note with 2,041 students in grades K-12, up from the projected 2,016 students.  This represents no change in our enrollment from the 2014-15 year.

MIW:  571
GMS 4-5:  307
GMS 6-8:  496
GHS:  667

I would like to recognize Phil Blake and Larry Lare at the transportation department for earning the district a flawless state inspection for our 28-vehicle bus fleet.  This inspection report is unheard of in most districts and speaks volumes of our excellent mechanical skills at the bus garage.

Sally Loughlin and myself met with consultant Reed Dyer from Great Schools Partnership to plan district-level policy and communication work around proficiency.  In October, Reed will be joining us to present an update to the Board on proficiency work, including looking ahead at policy implications and communication avenues with parents and community members.

Many thanks to all of our maintenance and custodial staff members for their hard work over the summer in prepping our facilities for students and staff.  Routine annual maintenance includes cleaning, painting, floor refinishing, repairing items like bulletin boards and white boards.

Special thanks to Scott Poulin and Don Foster for overseeing a number of projects this summer, including completion of 160 work orders and ensuring that the district-wide Energy Project was completed successfully.  Siemens Industry will be presenting a concluding report to the Board later this fall on the energy project.

  • Water fountain replaced.
  • Old sinks and counter tops replaced in about 15 classrooms. 
  • Air exchange units in classrooms steam cleaned.
  • Playground area paved for 4-square and hopscotch, replacing dirt that was tracked into building.
  • Oil tank was removed due to natural gas installation.
  • A broken 1,000 lb. air conditioning coil in the grades 4-5 wing was replaced.
  • Locked cabinets in the nursing offices were installed.
  • Mold abatement in the elevator shaft, staff room, and OT room was completed due to the broken air conditioning coil leaking.
  • Pool was drained and repairs made, including a complete check of the pool vessel.
  • Gymnasium floor was sanded, lined, and refinished with a new Rangers logo painted in center court.
  • The parking lot in front of the library and pool repaved, several storm drains rebuilt, and the old yellow traffic calming fence was removed.
  • 10 new parking spaces were added as a result of the repaving and redesign of the access road.
  • Floors in downstairs pool locker rooms resurfaced.
  • Wall outside gymnasium repainted with school colors.
Welcome to our 35 new staff members (pictured below).  We have hired a talented and highly qualified cohort of teachers and support staff members who demonstrate the ideals outlined in our Strategic Plan.  To support our new staff, we have invested in a new orientation program that specifically assists staff in their 1st year of employment in the district.

I would like to thank Karen Campbell for her service as the Board of Directors chair for the last two years.  She has provided steady leadership for the Board during multiple transitions and has proven to handle this important leadership role with skillfulness and grace.  Thank you, Karen!

I wish to welcome Martha Leggat as the new chair of the MSAD #51 Board.  Martha steps in after service on the Board as vice chair last year as well as chairing the strategic planning committee in 2014-15.   Bethany Hanley steps in as the new vice chair after involvement on several Board committees, including chairing the communications committee.  Finally, I would like to thank Pete Wilson, who recently resigned, for his service on the Board over the last two years, serving on several committees and providing valuable input to the district.