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On June 7, 2019, the Appropriations committee approved $1,180,000 for the next two years.

Executive Director’s Report
June 20, 2019

In preparing to write this monthly report, I am thrilled to share with you some exciting news. On June 7, 2019, the Appropriations committee approved $1,180,000 for the next two years. As you may recall, we were slated for 2 years of flat funding which would have been catastrophic for our organization. The original request was for $1.8 million dollars and included staffing for two new regional centers, one in the Waterville/Winslow area and one in Brewer. Only the Brewer site will be supported in the amount of $250,000 per year, for two years. At the board meeting, I will share a detailed presentation on the actual allotment.

On June 11, 2019, the House and Senate passed LD 642 (Kindergarten Readiness Bill for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children). This is another shining example of Maine leading the nation. Accolades go to MECDHH/GBSD’s Director of Statewide Education and Family Service, Karen Hopkins, Dr. Regan Thibodeau, and Dr. ?? Spitz for their hard work in constructing this bill.

The matter involving the request for relocation has been resolved. Our K-5 program will return to East End Community School the fall. Appreciation to Director of Mainstream and Deaf Education Programming, Rebecca Falbo, for her continued commitment to students and hard work in exploring alternate options in surrounding districts.

Union contract negotiations are underway. Representing the board is a strong team comprised of Cathy Murphy, Mike Pulsifer and myself. We hope to reach an agreement by our August 1 meeting.

On June 17 all MECDHH/GBSD staff at will convene to share in the celebration of a terrific year and share both professional and personal successes and milestones.

Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs
Rebecca Falbo, Director

East End Community School

We are winding down the year. Last night East End Community School had a Celebration of Learning. For our part, we hosted an “Author’s Tea”. Our students made their own books and read/signed them to their parents. We had a wonderful turn out, including a new refugee family whose deaf child is not in our program.

We are looking forward to summer school on the island. Most of our students will be attending.

It looks as though we will be at East End Community School again next year. OJ and Rebecca will have a meeting with Portland Public Schools administration on Thursday, June 13 to finalize the Memorandum of Understanding.

 

 

Portland High School

School is out for those students who have finished their exams! As you know, three students graduated this year. Their summer plans include working and/or “loafing around” until college starts.

We have two new ninth grade students joining us in the fall!


This guy’s big accomplishment this month was going to Starbucks and ordering his own drink – all by himself (with staff at a distance, of course). A life skill, indeed!

Enjoy your summer!! Thank you for all of your support!!

 

 

 

 

 

Statewide Education and Family Services
Karen Hopkins, Director

The Statewide Educational Services Department had an incredible year. I am writing this report from Denver as I wait for the next leg of my trip to China. It is such an honor to be representing our organization and our country. We are hopeful that we can share the wonderful programs our team has developed and make positive changes in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing children throughout their country.

We are now providing direct IFSP and IEP services throughout the state of Maine and our team is growing! We are thrilled that we have been able to hire new staff to join us this summer and early in the fall. They will add to our existing team of extremely skilled and dedicated staff. Every staff member in our department has worked extremely hard this year and the growth in students shows this commitment. Thank you to each and every one you!

Mackworth Island Preschool

Mackworth Island Preschool currently has an enrollment of 30 children, 18 DHH/IEP children and 12 hearing peers. We are finishing the year with our “Things That Grow” unit. The children love all the awesome science activities the teachers have planned for them! We are going on as many island walks as possible, too, with the beautiful weather. Sometimes on the walks, the children each take a scavenger hunt list on a clipboard to search the island for different items. It is so neat to see them exploring!

We will have a 4-week ESY program again this summer running July 9 through August 1. Two of our academic-year teachers, along with a few of our current educational techs, will be teaching. Summer programming on the island is always so much fun! A big thank you to the staff who are willing to share their time during the summer break!

We have finished our Kindergarten transition and annual IEP meetings for this year! Phew! It’s been a busy two months! Each member of the preschool team really stepped up and did an outstanding job presenting information. Now we have the fun of planning for our annual Graduation/Family Potluck on June 13 from 4:30-6:00PM. It will be a bittersweet day for all of us but we are so proud of all the children have accomplished and will miss them as they move on to Kindergarten!

Public School Outreach

Currently, the department is getting requests for Extended School Year services, which are usually for the following:

  • Student Direct Instruction
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing classroom with Teacher of the Deaf
  • Speech Language service
  • IEP/504 and Transition Meetings
  • In-Service training for school personnel

At this point, we have been able to fill all of the requests for ESY programs and will set up contracts for these services. The school districts have been very understanding and supportive of our process. Our services during the regular academic year are still free with the exception of the Kids Like Me program and interpreter services that districts contract with GBSD.

PSO and ECFS had a staff professional development retreat on Mackworth Island on June 7. This was an exciting opportunity for both teams to be together and discuss strategies on how to make the departments more unified, stronger, and influence positive change within the school districts.

Since the last Board meeting we have filled one vacated position in the PSO Department. However, we do acknowledge that the Brewer region has a large population of students in need of services. We may have to explore solutions for that region if a regional program there is not established. The three PSO Consultants in this region have large caseloads but they’ve been wonderful with the students!

The PSO Department recently completed the Bedrock curriculum training. Feedback has been very positive, as PSO Consultants are comfortable with the techniques taught for Student Direct Instruction services, especially the literature and writing skills. Supported by Title 4 it was a great way to utilize the funds in a productive manner.

Early Childhood and Family Services
Corri O’Brion, ECFS Consultant

Last month our ECFS community of practice met and created a plan for welcoming additional specialists to the group. The decision is to welcome providers to our quarterly group meetings by adding an open forum.  The intent is to expand the pool of providers (i.e. speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers) with at least a base knowledge of working with children who are Deaf and hard of hearing and their families.

Our goal is to utilize the resources we have within our own current providers, and share our knowledge with interested providers and they can share their expertise with us, as well. The concept will allow us to meet the needs of children in areas of the state we would otherwise struggle to meet.  It also provides the opportunity for well-rounded, whole child perspective in our services.

Early Childhood and Family Services rounded out the year with seventy-three (73) referrals in the month of May.  Once again doubling from the month before. These referrals were a combination of both new and ongoing services. It is possible that much of the increase this month was a result of transition time in the school year.

With staff numbers being low, accomplishing the processing and servicing of this many referrals is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our team. It is an honor to work with people so willing to fill gaps when they appear and consistently support the general needs of one another. After such a busy spring, the timing of summer break is perfect! While our team will continue to see children throughout the summer months, they are encouraged to find the time to take needed breaks.

Business Operations and Human Resources
Cathy Murphy, Director

Facilities

Representatives from Cumberland County Emergency Management, the Falmouth Police Department, and the Falmouth Fire Department sat down with the maintenance crew and myself to address safety/security for our students and staff here on the island. We spent the morning discussing our emergency plans and touring the facilities. Our focus was on improving security in the preschool area and we received a number of recommendations. Their primary recommendation was to add a security camera at the entrance of the pre-school building, which we will install this summer.

Joe Sweet, a parent of a GBSD preschooler along with his colleagues from Idexx, and Samantha Waterhouse, a former student now working at Abbott, helped our crew beautify our island while enjoying a day outside doing spring cleanup. Joe and his colleagues transformed the grounds in front of the preschool area. Samantha Waterhouse did the same to the Rock Garden, which was a gift from the class of 1991. A mystery volunteer/employee weeded and cleaned the Peace Garden. We are so thankful for these volunteers and their employers who allow them a day away from work — this really lightens the load for our crew and the island becomes even more beautiful for all of us.

Business and Human Resources

We are preparing for the end of the fiscal year, rolling over the accounting software and preparing for the upcoming audit. Projects for the summer are implementing direct deposit for our interpreters, direct deposit of employee expense checks, and electronic delivery of paystubs as opposed to paper delivery.

Technology: Rich Foisy

Lock-Down Process
  • Setup of BeSafe accounts for the Fire and Police department. A PDF map of the campus, including occupancy details, has been documented and sent to emergency responders.
  • Due to frequent brownouts on the island, we installed low voltage line filters to protect door (5) security controllers.

End of year tech equipment roundup
  • Working with staff to collect MECDHH technology devices
  • Organizing devices for either reassignment, reimage, etc
  • Technology setups for events related to staff trainings, graduations and other events

Summer Projects
  • Disposal of antiquated devices
  • Maintenance of laptops, iPads, and other devices
  • Configure tech equipment for new staff
  • Prep old iPhones for trade-in
  • Setup new staff tech equipment, accounts, and office tech equipment

MECDHH/GBSD Maintenance Crew

Left to right:

Andy Oliver, 5 years at MECDHH, is a musician and enjoys riding his bike

Bill Rix, 3 years at MECDHH, likes to make/create games

Steve Kimball, 27 years at MECDHH, enjoys serving the church, genealogy, history and travel

Mike Geary, 2 years at MECDHH, enjoys fishing and travel

Caleb Drake, 3 years at MECDHH, likes to travel and scuba dive