Bad weather forces SAD 61 to juggle schedule

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Old Man Winter appears to be grumpy these days, dumping a mixed bag of weather onto the Lake Region, seemingly putting a long-awaited springtime on hold.

With reports calling for rain, sleet and a snowfall that could reach five inches, SAD 61 Superintendent of Schools Al Smith laid out Monday night how the district would respond during the school board’s meeting.

First off, Smith noted that since many SAD 61 roadways are dirt, many area road commissioners reported that they would hold off plowing, if they could, to preserve already soft and torn up travel ways.

Secondly, district officials were concerned about icy roads and the safety of many teen drivers.

Already over the limit as far as snow days, Smith looked for guidance as to how to make up time missed.

“We’ve received good feedback from parents regarding adding an hour onto the school day,” Smith said. “Although it has been hard on the little ones.”

Smith proposed to extend the day on Monday and Wednesday next week (April 10 and 12), and add an hour onto Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the first week following the spring break (April 25, 26, 27).

While some parents might think a longer day is better than using a Saturday as a makeup, LR senior Mallory Strain thinks differently. She and other students felt the longer day created focus issues, and some teachers seemed to run out of steam.

“They were really tired and stressed out,” Strain said. “As someone in the play, it didn’t work well. I would suggest not to do it again…Do what you have to do.”

Superintendent Smith sees finding a solution that works for everyone is difficult.

“It’s damn if you do and damn if you don’t,” he said.

Smith suggested at the high school level, the extra time could be used for students seeking help in certain subject areas, rather than extending classroom periods.

The school board went with the extended days suggested by the superintendent.

In other school board news:

Family first. For Dorothy “Nina” Stoddard, the decision to resign from the school board wasn’t an easy one.

But, as a single mother, it was the right decision for her and her family, Stoddard told fellow school board members Monday night. She cited that night meetings proved difficult.

“It was a hard decision, but a decision most parents would make,” she said.

Stoddard’s term was to expire in 2018. Bridgton Town Manager Bob Peabody said selectmen could seek out an individual who would fill out the final year of the term.

Bridgton has five members on the school board. Cindy LeBlanc’s term runs out this June. Other Bridgton representatives are Debra Albert, Karen Elder and Karla Swanson-Murphy.

Life-changing. For many students who participated in the Adaptive Ski Program at Shawnee Peak this winter, it was “life-changing.”

During a short video presentation to the school board, students made brief comments — “It made me feel very good,” “I was proud to participate” and “This experience made me feel good about myself because I learned to ski” — about the program as fun-filled pictures rolled across the computer screen.

SAD 61 Special Services Director Lisa Caron introduced the staff — Kristen Curley, Carla Lutricuso, Michael DiBiase and Josh Arris — who worked with students, and also mentioned Russ Graham, director of the adaptive ski program at Shawnee Peak, for their efforts.

Sweet tune. Ralph Hull, who lives near Boston, is donating a Samick Baby Grand piano — a $4,000 value — to Lake Region High School’s Music Department.

Nice gestures. Sebago Elementary has received a $330 donation from Hannaford Helps Schools, and $300 from Loon Echo Trust to be put toward Spark’s Ark school program and a visit to the Audubon Society for Grade 3 students. SES also received $300 for Potter Academy to purchase another set of Digiblocks.

At a previous board meeting, Songo Locks School Principal Cheryl Cline noted that 12 winter coats for students in need were donated by the family of Seth and Thomas Gilmore-Merritt, specifically Andy and Marcia Gilmore and Kathleen Browne.

More green. Stevens Brook Elementary School keeps growing its fund to build a greenhouse on school grounds. Teacher Liz Shane organized and led a fundraising drive, selling discounted cards to Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s, which netted $1,257 for the greenhouse fund.

Graduation change. After holding high school graduation on a Sunday for the past several years, next year’s seniors will celebrate their big day on a Saturday, June 9.

Graduation was moved to a Sunday years ago to avoid conflicts with some championship sports events, primarily the state track and field championships.

Personnel. Sarah Ayres was approved as a long-term substitute social studies teacher at Lake Region Middle School, effective April 10, replacing Nina Spizuoco. There were 13 applicants, three were interviewed.

Carinne Haigis was approved as an English/Language Arts teacher at Lake Region High School for the 2017–18 school year, replacing Faye Levasseur, who is retiring. There were 29 applicants, four were interviewed.

Kayla Larsen was approved as a long-term substitute teacher at Songo Locks School, effective April 12, replacing Marie Meserve. There were 17 applicants, three were interviewed.

Paula Grace was approved as a long-term substitute Grade 4 teacher at Songo Locks School, effective March 27. Ms. Grace was subbing in this position.

Maria Giampetruzzi has resigned as a special education technician at Songo Locks School, effective March 27.

At the previous board meeting, Superintendent Smith reported that there were 40 applicants for the high school assistant principal job, and a committee started to conduct interviews last Thursday, March 30.

Coaching moves. Nathaniel Germond was approved as a varsity lacrosse assistant coach. He played four years in college, was a varsity coach at Bonny Eagle, Gorham and Westbrook.

Drew McLaren as a middle school boys’ lacrosse coach, and Loralee Leach as the eighth grade girls’ lacrosse coach.

Gary Colello as a seventh grade girls’ softball coach, and Seth Johnson as the eighth grade girls’ softball coach.

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