AUBURN — School Committee members Wednesday approved changes to the administration’s Memorials and Testimonials Policy, adding more specific wording on what is and is not allowed in schools.

They also approved minor changes to the Public Participation at School Committee Meetings Policy and the Naming of School Facilities Policy. 

Committee members approved revisions on first reading to the Memorials and Testimonials Policy, renaming it the Memorials Policy and reformatting almost the entire policy. The changes stipulate that the School Committee will approve requests for honoring or remembering a person or event.

Assistant Superintendent Sue Dorris said there are few differences in the proposed changes compared to the current policy and it is better aligned with Maine School Management Association’s policy.

Changes stipulate that memorials can be permitted in schools at the discretion of the school principal. Those displays will be temporary and removed in a timely manner to be offered to the family of a person who died.

Requests to memorialize a person or event in yearbooks, at graduation ceremonies and other activities cannot detract from scheduled classroom or school activities. It also cannot detract from the celebration of student accomplishments. Such events or activities will be at the discretion of the school principal.

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School administrators will need to balance memorializing or commemorating a person or event with avoiding creating an atmosphere that glamorizes a traumatic event or self-destructive behavior.

There is wording outlining memorial scholarships and the process for the district to accept items in memory of an individual or event. It also stipulates that deaths will not be announced or memorialized on announcement or message boards.

Committee members approved revisions on first reading to the Public Participation At School Committee Meetings Policy, taking out a clause that allows members of the public to submit requests to have items placed on the School Committee agenda.

Members of the public can still make requests to the School Committee chairperson to have items placed on the agenda and the chairperson and superintendent will have final say in determining if the items will be placed on the agenda, Superintendent Connie Brown said before the meeting.

Another change in the policy deems positive or complimentary comments toward school personnel as not permitted during public comment period at meetings.

Committee members also approved changes on first reading to the Naming of School Facilities Policy that include striking the sentence at the end that says, “The process to select a new name will be consistent with the procedures followed in naming a new school or facility.”

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It also strikes part of the policy stating the superintendent or designee will announce the call for suggestions and process for naming a facility through the media and through building communications.

The new wording only states that the superintendent or designee will announce the call for suggestions and the process of naming a school facility but does not specifically state through which means the superintendent will make that announcement. Instead, plans for announcements will be part of the process established by the committee formed to solicit name ideas, according to Dorris.

In other matters, Brown announced a timeline for committee budget meetings through March. Feb. 28 will the be the initial budget presentation and look at costs for all schools. Other meetings are scheduled Wednesdays at 6 p.m. until March 20 to consider all aspects of the budget.

The committee might meet March 27 if necessary.

The committee will meet with the City Council on April 1 to discuss the budget and capital improvement projects.

School Committee Chairwoman Pamela Albert announced members of the Superintendent Search Committee include herself, School Committee members Pamela Hart and Pat Gautier, school administrators Scott Annear, Ben Wilson and Celeste Beaudet, school staff Peter Robinson, Marissa Moreau and Meghan Laprise, and community members Angela Delorme, Morgan Harper and Lauren Neujhar.

Brown announced last fall that she would retire at the end of the current school year. She has served since July 1, 2020.


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