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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Flewelling

Minutes of March 21, 2024

MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ MEETING OF March 21, 2024

 

Current Board Members- 

        North Berwick-  Lauren Janousek, Kate Whalen, Joshua Tabor

                           Berwick- Travis Doiron, Elva Lovejoy, Peg Wheeler

                           Lebanon- Victoria Travers, Jeridene Basko, Nancy Neubert




Executive Session Pursuant to 1 M.R.S.A §405(6)(B) Expulsion of Student 

Postponed until March 26, 2024

         

A meeting of the Board of Directors was held in person in North Berwick, Maine on March 21, 2024 at 7:00pm with all members attending in person. 


There were approx. 220  in the audience.


Mr. Tabor  made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Wheeler  to postpone the executive session. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Public Input:


Vote to extend public input to 30 minutes rather than 21 minutes. Ms. Wheeler made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Whalen to extend the public input to 30 minutes. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Vice Chair Ms. Nancy Neubert of Lebanon read the public input statement.


Sophie Larson of North Berwick. Ms. Larsen spoke to the hiring practices of women by the District. Ms. Larsen noted that the date was March 21, 2024. Twice the board has discussed whether the District should hire one sex above the other rather than the best person for the job. That attitude is not just outdated and illegal but ill-fitting but unbecoming for your station as directors of a public institution. Ms Larsen goes on to say that half her students are women and cannot be served by the attitude that they don’t deserve a fair shot at a career simply because of their gender. Ms. Larsen turned to the topic of Art and Humanities. Ms. Larsen spoke how the arts impact everyday life and the specialists who develop the skills of our young artists should not be cut. Ms. Larsen asks the Board to support the arts, music and Physical Education in our schools and not to make any cuts and ask our citizens for the funds to support students whom the Board serves first.  


Jon Hall parent, teacher and longtime resident of North Berwick. Spoke of his immigrant family history and Jewish persecution. After attending recent Board meetings Mr. Hall wanted to speak to three things, one misogyny a Greek word being derived from the hatred of women and it’s an aversion prejudice towards woman. Mr. Hall states that he has heard on multiple occasions, misogynistic statements by members of the Board. Additionally he spoke of xenophobia an aversion or hostility to disdain or fear of foreigners. Mr. Hall’s time ran out. 


Heather Koelker, parent, wife of Noble High School School Resource Officer, graduate of Noble High School, employee of the District, and resident of North Berwick. Ms. Koelker shared her background and her support of the school social workers, counselors in the schools. Ms. Koelker spoke of the challenges today’s students face compared to 17 years ago when she began her career in education. Ms. Koelker gave an overview on how guidance counselors and social workers support students, who are struggling, so they have the same access to an equal education as their peers. Students’ struggle with mental health, homelessness and food insecurity. Ms. Koelker believed that every person at the meeting wanted what was best for each student. 


Charles Galemmo a resident of North Berwick. Mr. Galemmo worked for 12 years teaching Culinary Arts at York County Community College. Some of the best students he had came from Noble High School. These cuts being discussed will impede students' abilities to get the jobs to further this economy. As responsible adults, citizens need to do the right thing and see that kids are properly educated. 


Andrea Tiberio resident of Lebanon. Ms. Tiberio shared her story of her family and the journey her son has had and continues to have in MSAD 60. This journey has included the support of all aspects of the special education department. Cutting any positions would be detrimental to any child that needed specialized instruction or extra support to be successful in the school setting. 


Kate Sheldon and her daughter Kimmy of Berwick. Ms. Sheldon shared her support for the best education for the students while being fiscally responsible. Ms. Sheldon spoke on behalf of Mary Hurd Academy and FLEX. 


Greg Pannier of Berwick, father of last year’s Valedictorian and current 6th grade Flex student. 

Mr. Pannier says the best thing about FLEX is that he has a 12 year old son who loves school. And that’s a miracle! The myriad of techniques in order to reach all of these students is important. More concerned about what will happen if we can’t continue the program. If he has to pay more in taxes he will give more money to keep programs.


Osma Kastner, a student from Berwick, shared her positive experiences in EXCEL. Individualized education is important because class sizes have increased and teachers are trying to keep up with all different levels of learners. Classes should be where everyone’s needs are met. 


Brian and Ellie Arsenault, residents of Lebanon, shared their support of the FLEX program. Their daughter has been very successful and has increased her ability in all of the areas including time management and academics. The teachers are supportive, goal oriented and motivate her to produce work to her fullest potential. The loss of this program will be detrimental to the students. 


Cassidy Kastner is a student at Eric Knowlton School. Cassidy spoke of his positive experience in EXCEL. 


Hilary Perreault, of Lebanon, shared testimonials on the Noble FLEX program. Teaching the students to be curious, creative, flexible and inclusive. 


Tonya Noyes, parent, employee and Berwick resident. Ms. Noyes shared her duties within the library and the STEAM program. 


Jeremy Kasten, parent from Berwick. It is often best to not react to foolish behavior but sometimes it is necessary to reign it in. The normal business of keeping our schools running has been sidelined. Over and over I have watched a few assume that they are speaking for the many. The work of the Board itself is death by a 1000 budget cuts. No one is spending your money irrationally. They are trying to offer a quality education to all of our students. Mr. Kasten went on to speak about a Board member that commented that the problem is when we, “water all the flowers” meaning students. Mr. Kasten went on to say that society demands with laws that everyone is watered and treated with respect, dignity and met at their level. The prior notion is callous, dangerous and frankly illegal. It is not “Noble School Board” appropriate. The oath is to serve the students not to the folks that elected you. 


Holly Dupuis of Berwick, spoke of the March 14, 2024 School Board meeting you will hear a member say (at 46 minutes and 50 seconds), “do we have our priorities right? Or are we trying to water every plant in the garden, if you water every plant in the garden you get problems”. She continues to say that a principal can be heard replying (47 minutes 55 seconds), “I understand your analogy about how we water every single plant but I will not look at a parent and say your plant is not worth it”. Ms. Dupuis reminds the Board they are here for our schools, our teachers, our children. When you create the budget, it must be for the students and their needs which 100% means watering every single plant in this garden.


Sarah Boucher, resident of Lebanon and alumni of Noble. Education has changed over the past 30 years. Ms. Boucher spoke of her child’s positive experience with the FLEX program.  


Amanda Kimball, a parent and resident of Berwick. Ms. Kimball spoke of her children’s different educational experiences. She went on to share her concerns potential cuts might have on the education and well being of students. 


Tammy McCormick, PE teacher at North Berwick Elementary School and a South Berwick resident.  Spoke of her schedule and that “free time” is filled to support students and staff. She shared her response to a reduction in her building that will impact what will be offered to students. 


Caryn Smith, Berwick resident and North Berwick Elementary School Art Teacher. Spoke that her job is more than teaching about colors, painting and drawing. Specialists emphasize on how to be a well rounded learner. Skills that students develop are applicable to all facets of their lives. 

Ms. Smith went on to list all the additional offerings that will be lost to students, should the specialist positions be consolidated. 


Minutes:


Ms. Janousek  made the motion and it was seconded by Mr. Doiron to accept the minutes of the February 15, 2024 meeting as amended.  All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Ms. Whalen  made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Neubert to accept the minutes of the March 7, 2024 meeting as amended.   All members voted in favor except Mr. Doriron who abstained and the motion passed. 


Ms. Wheeler made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Whalen to accept the minutes of the March 14, 2024 meeting as amended. All members voted in favor except Mr. Doiron who abstained and the motion passed. 


Noble Flex Presentation

The Noble Flex Program presented an overview of their students’ educational journey. 

Presenters were: Amber O’Neill, Director and Social Emotional Learning Coach, Sarah Abbot the English Language Arts and Social Studies Learning Coach and Robert Kendall the Math and Science Learning Coach. Mr, Kendall explained the grades 5-8 Project Based Learning model FLEX uses. Flex has independent assignments but also focuses on building relationships and essential skills for everyday life. 


Employment:

Resignation:


Audrey Williams, Grade 6 English Language Arts Teacher at Noble Middle School.  Ms Wheeler made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Neubert to approve the resignation of Ms. Williams. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Alaina Betts, Grade 8 Math Teacher at Noble High School.  Ms. Wheeler made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Neubert to approve the resignation of Ms. Betts. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Christiane Allison, Special Education Director. Ms. Wheeler made the motion and it was seconded by to approve the resignation of Ms. Allison. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Celebrations:

Athletic Director, Aaron Moore, updated that Maddox Jordan placed 15th in the nation for the 800 meter. Ryan Moran, who is a Race Walker, finished int he middle of the pack at Nationals. Kudos to athletes, coaches and parents. 


Ms. Wheeler made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Whalen  to add a second public input. 


Leanne Wurtz, a teacher and Berwick resident. Ms. Wurtz spoke in favor of the assistant principal roles, math coaches, and the keep those things that will directly and positively impact our students.


Jean, a resident of North Berwick, asked about a Facebook post and if the Board Members approved the post. She states that the post is singling out some members and creating a divide. 

We can’t allow the minority to speak for the majority. 


Jessical Pearson of Berwick, shared her concerns for various cuts for next year. Ms. Pearson understands cuts are never made lightly but is concerned about the rationale that was discussed at the last meeting. Everyday teachers are asked to meet the needs of the whole child, all while doing their best to educate each unique student. She continued that while adding a few kids to each class may seem logical on paper, a few kids can  make a huge difference for a teacher's ability to be effective. Ms. Pearson went on to state the importance of every teacher, specialist and ed tech makes. 


Mark Rouillard of North Berwick, shared his thanks to the students who spoke tonight and to the teachers who are here that help and push these students. Mr. Rouillard isn’t against teachers and wants them to have more money. What he wants to see is a cut of the budget. He thought that the board should get rid of “woke ideology” and get back to the curriculum. There are people who can’t buy food or afford heat. Save in ways without sacrificing your children 


Dana Hook, of Berwick, shared the positive experiences of his child who attends the Vivian Hussey School. He provided his reasoning why STEAM is an important aspect of education and should be emphasized. 


Mr. Mark Capalbo of Lebanon and a graduate of Noble High School. Mr. Capalbo feels like the school failed him. There were no hands-on opportunities like students have today. He feels that cutting these opportunities would be a mistake. Mr. Capalbo doesn’t think the lowest paid employees should be cut. 


Mr. Ken Dutch, shared a job shadow application of a student who is working well with him. He’d like him to have a text book and/or safety glasses. 


Adjournment: 

Ms Whalen made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Wheeler  to adjourn the meeting. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Adjourned at 8:36 pm. 


Respectfully submitted,

Audra Beauvais



Moved into the budget workshop

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