Sippican Grateful for Safe Start

            In addressing the October 13 meeting Marion School Committee Vice-Chair Nichole Daniel thanked the Sippican School faculty and staff and Old Rochester Regional administration for its efforts in getting the 2021-22 academic year off to a safe and healthy start.

            “We know that COVID isn’t going anywhere,” said Daniel, referencing a discussion earlier that day with Committee Chair April Rios, who was unable to attend the meeting. “It’s hasn’t been easy for anybody, and many of us are right there in the trenches with you so we know how that is going, so we wanted to acknowledge that.”

            Daniel also thanked the Sixth-Grade Parent/Guardian Group for all of its fundraising efforts and School Nurse Meagan Morais for “all of the hard work she has done and all the hard phone calls she’s had to make, the COVID testing, and the fun things she’s had to do this year, all that while still maintaining that love and care for our kiddos.”

            Daniel said that, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, sometimes people take for granted the day-to-day care that Morais gives at Sippican.

            After Christina Bonney from the Sixth-Grade Parent/Guardian Group spoke to the committee about fundraising plans, and the committee voted to approve three ideas presented and any ideas previously approved in the ORR District.

            Sippican students’ last mountain classroom trip was held in 2019, and Bonney reported that prices have increased to the point where the group is not committed to pursue it but consider alternative activities.

            Discussing fundraising methods, Bonney said that a computer tool being explored would set up secure websites that are pop-up compliant for students to use to request donations and connected to that activity would be three acts of kindness chosen by the students. “They’re not necessarily being paid to be kind, but they give back to their community regardless of whether they’re raising any money,” she explained.

            Raise Craze, the computer fundraising platform, guarantees that 90-percent of the funds raised will go directly to the cause, and students’ financial ability will not deter their participation, according to Bonney.

            The selling of cupcakes and/or donuts and the purchasing of gift cards carrying structured incentive plans are also being considered. No timeline has been established as of yet for the fundraising activities.

            ORR Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson reported on his presentation to the Joint School Committee on ORR’s Accelerated Road Map Vision 2023 and specific targets to hit by the end of year four of the five-year plan.

            The committee, which had reviewed the draft of Sippican School’s two-year School Improvement Plan, voted to approve.

            Before the vote, Sippican School Principal Marla Sirois reviewed the plan, highlighting project-based learning assignments focusing on literacy in the areas of remedial, informational, and communication technology.

            Year-one projects will be shared with grade-level audiences and showcases will reflect on the overall ORR vision for 21st Century Learning.

            Nelson updated the committee on the Sippican School egress project, an emergency plan for a second route out to Route 6 that was not completed during the summer due to a delay in bids for the project. That work is now underway with an anticipated completion date of December 31.

            Sirois told the committee that features including student suggestions will be added to the playground when it is restored after the egress work is completed.

            In her Principal’s Report, Sirois highlighted work being done to reach out to families to foster a sense of belonging in keeping with district goals and to encourage school attendance. She reported a 95-percent attendance for the month of September; Grades 4-6 were above 97-percent.

            Sirois welcomed back teacher Erin Kirk.

            Buttonwood Park Zoo representatives brought animals to present for students’ learning.

            Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Howie Barber delivered documents relating to the summary FY21 report and revolving account activities for all of FY21 and first quarter for FY22 (July 1 through September 30, 2021).

            Of the approximate $6,300,000 school operating budget, all but $24,000 has been spent and, according to Barber ,will be transferred back to Marion’s free-cash account.

            Breakfast and lunch counts are much higher for the 2021-22 academic year.

            The committee also received a report from Barber via Gene Jones, the facilities manager, on the building updates. Air purifiers have been installed in every classroom at Sippican School. Barber also told the committee that a meeting would be held later this month in which FY23 capital needs will be reported.

            In his Central Administration Report, Nelson called the air purifiers “an important piece of the puzzle for us,” noting that positive reports on air quality have come in.

            ORR’s COVID-19 testing operation in concert with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is up and running.             Nelson reported 23 COVID positive tests to date at Sippican, including 13 cases in isolation as of the meeting and noted that safeguards are being strictly followed.

            He credited Jones and Food Services Director Jill Henesey for their diligence in ensuring student safety since the Boil Water Order that was still in effect for the Town of Marion entering the October 18-22 school week.

            Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Jannell Pearson-Campbell provided a snapshot of current happenings, including professional development opportunities for ORR faculty and nursing staffs.

            A full day of professional development is scheduled for Friday, November 12, when district teachers will be engaged in activities relating to project-based learning, responsive classroom, and dyslexia.

            Michelle Smith reported on Building and SMEC subcommittee meetings and encouraged listeners to support the Building Subcommittee’s goals at the October 19 Town Meeting.

            The committee entered executive session to discuss collective bargaining strategy and compliance with federal law and only returned to public session to adjourn the meeting.

            The next meeting of the Marion School Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, December 1, at 6:30 pm, and the next JSC meeting is set for January 20.

Marion School Committee

By Mick Colageo

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