Fixture upgrade bright idea for SAD 61

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Switching to LED lighting appears to be a very bright idea.

Andy Madura, director of Transportation, Maintenance and Food Service, estimates that SAD 61 will save $14,000 to $15,000 yearly by changing classroom light fixtures to LEDs.

SAD 61 has entered an Efficiency Maine program to switch out existing lighting to the more energy-efficient, cost-effective LEDs. The district pays for the installation of the 2,070 fixtures. Since the project must be completed by a specified time to achieve maximum savings, Madura will put a few other scheduled projects on the back burner to use earmarked funds to pay for the lighting upgrade.

Madura noted that installation work will be done during evening hours, thus the changeout will not cause disruption to instructional time.

In other school board news:

Superintendent speaks out. As the next state education budget surfaces, Superintendent Smith actually caught the attention of some state officials regarding how the current funding formula hurts SAD 61.

At a public hearing in Augusta last week, Smith was one of 70 people on the docket scheduled to speak. He was #25. Smith talked about how the formula shortchanges the district, and offered a couple of options for state officials to consider. He was surprised by officials asking him a few questions, knowing there was a strict time frame to follow that day. Smith is hopeful that interest might spark more future dialogue about possibly changing the funding formula.

More time on their hands. When SAD 61 extends the school day by one hour the weeks of March 13 and March 20 to make up snow days, each building principal will use the extra 60 minutes a little differently.

Stevens Brook Elementary Principal Cheryl Turpin said the extra time will be used in specific content areas — Monday, reading; Tuesday, writing; Wednesday, math.

Principal Kirsten Goff will utilize Lakes Environmental Association as a resource with Alanna Doughty expanding science work with children.

At the middle and high schools, each period will be extended by 10 minutes — meaning LRMS will go from 50 to 60 minute classes, while LRHS will go from 75 to 85 minute periods.

LRHS Principal Erik Good noted that five minutes will be added to the first period of the day to allow more time for announcements, etc. while 10 minutes will be added to the acceleration block — a period in the middle of the day which allows students to meet with teachers to seek additional help.

With buses on the road later in the day due to the extension, Casco Director Phil Shane wondered if SAD 61 could get the word out to motorists to be aware of children being dropped off later than normal.

Shane pointed out that student drop-off will occur as the heaviest flow of traffic returns to the Lake Region.

Age, not a factor. When it comes to hiring coaches, age can’t be a factor.

In wake of several highly-publicized cases in the Greater Portland area which high school coaches are accused of having sexual relations with student athletes, Casco Director Phil Shane wondered if an age limitation should be considered when hiring new coaches.

Superintendent of Schools Al Smith cautioned members of the Personnel Committee at their Feb. 27 meeting citing the equal opportunity law and rights of applicants to not be discriminated against based on age.

Athletic Director Paul True noted that finding coaching applicants can be difficult. He added that most younger and inexperienced coaches are typically not head coaches, but assistants, which gives them a chance to be mentored by more experienced coaches. If he has concerns regarding a younger individual applying for a coaching position, True consults the superintendent.

True also noted that the Maine Principal’s Association requires head coaches be at least 20 years of age or older.

Smith plans to confer with the district’s attorney to determine if there is any way to address this issue other than how SAD 61 currently operates.

Quicker return to play. Directors gave first reading approval to a few changes in the academic eligibility policy in regards to participating in sports and other extra-curricular activities.

Currently, a student failing more than one class is ineligible, meaning he or she may practice, but are not allowed to participate in games or performances.

Eligibility is restored when a student produces a verified grade report indicating that he or she is passing all but one course.

A change is if a student submits work that cannot be graded within 24 hours of submission due to a teacher’s other responsibilities and that ungraded work is the only barrier preventing the student from becoming eligible, then the teacher must verify that all outstanding work has been submitted but not graded and the student will be deemed eligible again until the next eligibility check restarts the process.

Numbers on rise. With the town studying the possibility of withdrawing from SAD 61 (a new proposal has been submitted to the school district and is under review), Sebago Elementary student population numbers continue to rise.

Principal Goff said that 2015–16, there were 77 students. Then, the figure jumped to 82 at the start of this school year, and now stands at 92.

Goff also reported that as part of the school’s 100th day celebration, students collected 376 items to be donated to the town’s food pantry.

Personnel. Three resignations were accepted — Paul Maddocks as a special education technician at Songo Locks School, effective Feb. 23; Amy Boclair as a special education teacher at Stevens Brook Elementary, effective at the end of the school year; and Katie Dargie as a day treatment support technician at Songo Locks School, effective March 2.

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