Message May 16, 2016

We received RFQs from 8 architectural firms interested in working on a concept design for the Performing Arts Center.  A subcommittee of the facilities committee has narrowed the list to 4 firms that will be interviewed in the near future as part of the selection process.  Once an architect is hired, a building committee will be formed to begin development of a concept design.

The finance committee approved up to $135,000 in funds under Policy DJ to support minor renovations at MIW that will take place over the summer to reconfigure internal space and create additional classrooms, small group areas, and offices.  The district has been working with architect Steve Blatt's office to design these spaces and is interviewing two local contractors for the project.

The district budget meeting will be held this Thursday, May 19 @ 7pm at GHS.  Registration begins at 6:30pm. This meeting is open to all registered voters in Cumberland and North Yarmouth.

The Evening of Excellence was held last week, recognizing students at GHS who excel academically.  Awards were given to students with high honors, book awards for academic achievement in the content areas, and world language awards.  A school-wide art show was also part of the festivities, showcasing so many beautiful student creations.

Last week, the SAD's finance committee met with the Town of Cumberland's finance committee to discuss capital projects and timelines for potential projects on the horizon.  It was a productive meeting with both groups sharing future plans and asking questions about implications of anticipated facilities work.  

In case you haven't seen it yet, the annual paper version of the Ranger Connection was mailed last week to every household in the district.  Many thanks to Ashley Caswell in the Development & Community Resources office for her work on this project.

Students in Bob O'Neill's 9th grade science class designed and launched their own model rockets.  A focus on precise mathematical calculations, with special attention to velocity, was learned prior to launching the rockets.  

MIW has a new school song, many thanks to music teacher Jen Caton and all of her young students in grade K-3. The school held an assembly last week to try out their new song's lyrics.  

This week, all students in grades 4-5 will be taking a bike ride through the Cumberland Town Forest as part of their physical education classes.  PE teacher Becki Belmore arranged this bike trek for her students in cooperation with Maine Winter Sports as a culminating event to the curriculum around bike safety, including safe and responsible riding.

Our annual Staff Recognition event is this Wednesday @ Val Halla to say thank you to our staff who have been with the district at decade-long service increments, as well as honor our retirees and those achieving National Board certification and graduate degrees.  We also will be awarding the Glendine Bunker Award and our new MSAD #51 Employee of the Year award.  Last week, Board chair Martha Leggat, Ashley Caswell, Scott Poulin, and myself took the five finalists for Employee of the Year out for a special lunch off campus.  Next week, we will be recognizing our third-year teachers as they transition from probationary to continuing contract status.

The GHS service learning class has been working on securing a new bottle filling station for the high school gym.  This is being funded through athletic advertising, many thanks to Eliza Miller and the athletic advisory committee. Thank you Don Foster and Frank Coffin for installing this new addition.

It's that time of year again:  The Greely Prom is this Saturday night @ Ocean Gateway.  I wish all of our students a fun-filled night that is full of safety and great memories.

Message May 2, 2016

The FY 17 budget was approved 8-0 on May 2 by the MSAD #51 Board of Directors.  The budget stands at $34,959,382 with a variance of $1,182,543, or a 3.50% increase over the current year.  The tax impact reflects a 1.1% increase in both towns.  For the owner of a $350,000 home in Cumberland, it means an increase of $70/ year and for the owner of a similar home in North Yarmouth it equals an increase of $66.50/year.

Please help!  We have had several recent reports of drivers passing school buses with their flashing lights loading or unloading children.  This is a significant safety concern that continues to provide a challenge to our students and bus drivers.  Please pass the word about the importance of stopping a safe distance from all school buses with their red lights on.
I had an opportunity to visit 10 classrooms across the district last week.  In each one of them, I was struck by the engagement of our students and the talent of our teachers and staff.  It reminds me how fortunate our students are to have such dedicated staff in all of our schools and departments.  Please join me in recognizing the MSAD #51 staff during this national Staff Recognition Week.  Take a moment to thank your child's teachers, administrator, ed. tech., school office secretary, bus driver, cafeteria worker, custodian, nurse, librarian, guidance counselor, coach, and any other staff member your child is connected with.

Congratulations GHS 2016 National Merit Scholarship Finalists

Andrea Bryant
Abigail Israel 
Harry Pershing
Matt Pisini

Congratulations GHS 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar Semifinalist

Matt Pisini

Congrats Lions Club community service award winners Calvin Soule, Jaime Coyle, Brad Spoerri, Evan McCarthy, Samantha Kane, and Alyssa Lovering. 

Greely students visited the State Capitol last week and were honored for their work in the Visual and Performing Arts.  In addition to student art work, the GHS Madrigal Singers and Jazz Combo band played for Maine's First Lady Ann LePage.

We are making a change in how our top-performing seniors are recognized.  In the past, the top 10 seniors have been announced each year.  Starting this year, we will be recognizing the top 10% of the senior class each year. This is because of the variability in class size from year to year, which creates an imbalance proportionally based on a class's size.  This change will create more equity and fairness in our recognition of academic standing.

We had our first meeting of the Pre-K task force last week.  The group settled on these outcomes for the work to be completed over the next 6 months:
  • Needs Assessment, including a status check, inventory of current programs, and data review.
  • Define the feasibility of offering public pre-K in the district.
  • Define the scope of programming once feasibility has been established.
  • Define the plan for implementation moving forward, should the task force recommend this.
A flexible target date of November 2, 2016 has been set to update the Board of Directors as to the work of the Pre-K task force.  The Board will make the final decision about a public Pre-K program based on the recommendation of the task force.