TURNER — School Administrative District 52 directors Thursday night hired a strategic planner to help chart goals for the next five years and heard about an improving school bus driver situation. 

Superintendent Kimberly Brandt said Friday that the district had been short as many as seven bus drivers, but in two weeks hopes to whittle that to four.

“We have some custodial and maintenance people who also have bus driving licenses (and) they like their work, but they have been wonderful about stepping up to drive buses for us,” she said. Dan Labrie, the new transportation and facilities director, “recently got his own bus license; he has actually been driving some sports teams.”

Also at the meeting:

• Razell Ward, director of adult education, told the board she’d like to have more space to expand programs or add new ones, potentially around certified nursing assistant work or technology.

“We simply don’t have the space for them,” Brandt said. “Attendance is good, we do very well in the adult program here, but she feels like attendance would go up if we could offer some more of the programs she’d like to do.”

Ward’s report is usually given in January, Brandt said, but the timing was moved up “as we’re considering a possible bond project, we want to make sure we’re considering all of our needs across the district.”

She said Ward and Labrie are talking about potentially offering a bus driving course through adult education.

“I thought that was really great thinking about different ways to approach this shortage that we know a lot of people are experiencing,” Brandt said.

• The board hired Mary Jane McCalmon as a strategic planning consultant to help set goals for the next five years, with her work to wrap by the end of the school year and the contract not to be more than $10,000.

Just what those goals will be around is wide open and where the discussion will start, Brandt said.

“It is everything,” she said. “What is it we’re doing with our current course offerings? With our current rigor? We know from research students graduating now are going to have many jobs in their lives and we don’t even know what those jobs will be at this point because the rate of technology is moving so quickly, so we have to identify some of those really important skills students are going to need to have no matter what their lives look like and their jobs look like.”

• Tripp Middle School Principal Gail Marine told the board that the school would be moving to the Triple C Conference for sports.

“This will bring us more teams to play with,” Brandt said.

• Brandt also said Leavitt Area High School Principal Eben Shaw has been invited to speak at a panel later this month at the Maine School Management fall conference related to welcoming and respecting all students.

“You don’t get recognized for that for one big decision, that’s a lot of little decisions over time to make sure we’re being welcoming,” Brandt said. “Eben made such a decision last year that the full staff supports: We’re moving to all green graduation gowns.”

In the past, students have been offered green or white robes with most girls traditionally choosing white and boys green. She said the board first heard about the change two weeks ago.

“We really want to have a unified class, so we’re going to move to all green to make sure everybody feels part of the group and is comfortable,” Brandt said. “When you look at it, here’s the Class of 2019 in a sea of green. We’re looking forward to that change.”

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MacKenzie Treadwell smiles at Justin Day as the pair march into the June 2018 Leavitt Area graduation at The Colisee in Lewiston. (Sun Journal file photo)


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