Message August 26, 2016

We are excited about the approaching school year.  Students begin classes in grades 1-12 on Wednesday, August 31.  Kindergarten's first day is Tuesday, September 6.

A reminder that school start times have changed:

2016-17 School Day
2016-17 Wed. Early Release
Greely High School
8:00 AM-2:30 PM
8:00 AM-1:30 PM
Greely Middle School 6-8
8:00 AM-2:33 PM
8:00 AM-1:33 PM
Greely Middle School 4-5
8:45 AM-3:15 PM
8:45 AM-12:30 PM
Mabel I. Wilson School
8:45 AM-3:15 PM
8:45 AM-12:30 PM

First up on our list is school buses.  They carry our community's most precious commodity - our children!  Please slow down, be patient and allow the bus drivers the space and time they need to successfully transport our students from home to school and back. Remember, too, that passing a stopped school bus is a criminal act, and it is also extremely dangerous.  If you have new or inexperienced drivers in your home please take a moment to speak with them about the dangers of passing a stopped school bus.

Secondly, we need to be concerned about crosswalks.  They are important all the time, but especially during the school year and near our school campus.  Students may dart out between cars and they may not be as tall as the vehicles they are moving between, so extra vigilance is critical.

Lastly, we absolutely must watch our speed in and near the school zones. These zones of slower speed exist to allow for more reaction time and shorter stopping distances in the event a child runs out into the road and to accommodate for all the cars turning into and out of our school lots.  I realize 15mph might seem slow, but the zones are short and in reality the few extra seconds it takes to traverse our school zones at lower speed is a small price to pay when compared to the potential heartache and pain of an accident.

Your Police Department will be deploying signs, cruisers and officers to the area of our schools in an effort to help promote safe driving and safe pedestrian habits when school gets back underway on the 31st.  We hope to see you out there setting a good example!
Volunteer Crossing Guards Needed!

The Town of Cumberland is seeking safety-minded volunteers to assist our community's children crossing to and from school in the Tuttle Road and Main Street areas.  Volunteers would be asked to serve mornings and/or afternoons for approximately one hour on school days.  A background check is required.  If interested, please contact Chief Charles Rumsey at the Cumberland Police Department at 207-829-2210 or

Good news at GHS with regards to student course failures in 2015-16.  The number of course failures dropped 35% last year and 50% over the last two years, thanks in part to the continued emphasis on RTI interventions and the removal of CP2 level courses.

Spanish teacher Margaret Corral returned with a group of students from a trip to Guatemala over the summer.  She writes, ¨The Guatemalan people showed us the true beauty of the human spirit in their amazing resilience in the face of suffering. They were so kind, genuinely grateful and joyful.¨
Greely students were able to help with the following while on the trip:

1) completed a home for a 10 person family, which included plastering the concrete block walls inside and out and pouring the cement flooring, 
2) began and almost completed entirely the foundation of a home for another couple and their 6 daughters which included much digging and moving hundreds of large rocks, concrete bricks and buckets of liquid cement 
3) installed 9 efficient and safe stoves in different homes 
4) worked with 45 children each afternoon teaching them English, doing crafts and playing games.
5) put together and distributed 10 water filtration systems.

Once again we have great reason to be proud and know that our students are developing into model global citizens and ambassadors.   

The students are: Lucy Corral '21, Maria Campbell '19, Andrew Graham '17, Will Hall '17, Henry Campbell '17, Shannon Flaherty '17, Katie Bacall '16, Wyatt Kilburn '16.

Thank you to all of our MIW volunteers: 130 volunteers donated 2,714 hours, saving the district $62,600 in 2015-16.

The state DOE informed us today that our evaluation system plan that was submitted in the spring was approved.  Many thanks to the initial stakeholder group and subsequent steering committee, both led by curriculum director Sally Loughlin, for the exhaustive work completed to bring our district into compliance on this law and provide a solid evaluation system for our teachers and administrators.  

In July, I had the opportunity to join fellow Maine superintendents Dominic DePatsy (Saco) and Betsy Webb (Bangor) in Washington, D.C. at the Legislative Advocacy conference, sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators.  We met with our congressional delegation and had face-to-face meetings with U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poloquin.  Major national educational issues focused on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation, reducing paperwork for special education, greater access for early childhood education, eliminating burdensome nutrition requirements, and reducing unnecessary and unfunded mandates from the federal government. 

Dominic DePatsy, Sen. King, Betsy Webb, and myself at the Senator's office, Washington, DC

Renovations at MIW have been completed. The school will have new space for a kindergarten classroom, GT classroom, social worker's office, assistant principal's office, learning support center, special education rooms, two small group pull-out rooms, and storage re-configuration. These new areas will substantially improve the available learning space in the school to meet the needs of increasing enrollment.  We have also been able to solve some of the security issues at the school by installing a window between the office and front foyer so that there can be visibility for the office staff when visitors are entering.

The Performing Arts Center building committee, chaired by Board member Gigi Sanchezhas met weekly since June to develop a concept design with architect Steve Blatt. The committee has made several substantial decisions that is moving the concept design forward.  A recommendation will be forwarded to the Board for consideration in early September.  The Board will then consider whether to place the PAC on the ballot for a November referendum.

GHS is implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in 2016-17. This will help us get much closer to 1:1 throughout the district, as we have budgeted lease purchases that will significantly increase devices available to students in grades K-6 (grades 7 and 8 already have 1:1 through the state's MLTI program).  Many school districts nationally and in Maine have adopted similar policies (or will be) in order to encourage students to bring their own devices for learning.  For those GHS students who do not have access to a personal device for school use, the school will provide one for them.  Currently, about 70% of all GHS students bring a device to school.

Did You Know?  If students are absent just 2 to 3 times a month, they can fall behind in reading and math, even starting  in kindergarten.  Missing school regularly can mean missed opportunities to build confidence, skills, and a habit of good attendance.  These are the same skills that will help each child succeed in college and their careers.