August 6, 2020Executive Director’s ReportOwen J. Logue
Hopefully everyone is healthy and had the opportunity to find time to relax with family and friends this summer.
Your Leadership Team has been working incredibly hard over the summer to address the many requests from the Maine Department of Education. In your packet you will see a document specific to each district’s requirement outlining 3 different scenarios as to how we will prepare our return to school; a COVID-19 Return to Work Guidelines document that will provide greater clarity to everyone; and a revised document covering MECDHH/GBSD’s enrollment criteria.
Each county will be presented a directive in the form of a color: ‘green’ is full return, ‘yellow’ is a hybrid return (combination of live and hybrid instruction) and ‘red’ is a return that is entirely virtual. Given the fact that our K-12 academic program is located in Portland and our pre-school is situated in Falmouth, it is highly probable that we will be designated ‘yellow’ given the high community contagion. We have been working closely with the Portland Public School to sort out the optimal learning experience for our students. None of this will be finalized until mid-August which makes it incredibly challenging to say the least. Adding to the complexity of all of this is the restriction around van transportation. According to CDC guidance, vans are only allowed to transport 2 students and one driver. An exception will be made if we have a pair of siblings, then we can increase to 3 students. Nonetheless, this poses incredible challenges to our transportation company (Luce transportation). We are offering parent’s the option to transport their child and we will provide mileage reimbursement.
We have finalized our host family arrangement with Lisa and Jeff Lederer to become our first ever host family for two of our Portland high school students. Rebecca Falbo, Director of Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs, and the Executive Director finalized our Memorandum of Understanding with Portland for the coming school year.
In June, Kim Matthews was approved to succeed Rebecca Falbo as Director of Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs. However, due to an unforeseen family emergency, we will be delaying her appointment until January, 2021. She will have until October 1st to determine if this remains a feasible option for her and her family. If not, we will conduct a national search for this position as well as Karen Hopkins’s current position. Rebecca Falbo has graciously agreed to return on August 1st for 4-days a week until the end of December.
As you are aware, one of our most pressing agenda items is to make major revisions to chapter 304. Our team has worked very hard on this project and are moving in the right direction. We have co-sponsors for the bill in place and have the full support of Erin Frazier, State Director of Special Education. She and Jill Adams, Executive Director of Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC) have agreed to host a statewide stakeholders meeting (virtually) on August 12, 2020. It is hoped that this rewrite of Chapter 304 will be ratified in January 2021.
On August 3, 2020 the Leadership Team will convene on Mackworth Island for the entire day to solidify the proposed budget for our next biennial budget request for 2021-2023. We also will frame out our staff professional development sequence to be held August 24-27th which will likely be held virtually. During that time we are committed to devoting an entire day around racial inequality.
We look forward to our upcoming meeting.
Owen J. Logue, Ed.D.
Operations and Human ResourcesCathy Murphy, Director
Business and Human Resources
We have hired Elena Ivanovsky as an Accountant III to replace Therese Rouleau who retired July 31st. Elena comes to us fresh out of school with a Bachelor’s degree and two years of experience working in the Accounting field. She has proven to be a quick learner and we are lucky to have her with us. We are still searching for a Payroll/Human resource specialist. Doreen Spear who held the position for over twenty years also retired July 31st. This position has been much more difficult to fill, as the level of expertise to do school finance and HR is different than that of most payroll positions. Until we have a candidate I will be fulfilling all the payroll and HR needs with assistance from Elena.
Our public audit is almost complete. During the week of July 20th the auditors spend all five days doing a “virtual audit”. It was quite tedious due to the volume of documents which had to be scanned and emailed to them. Almost all questions were answered via email. It was a strange experience, but par for the course these days. I believe it went well, although I have yet to see a draft of the audited financial statements.
I am also about to begin our biennial budget for the fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The plan is for me to have a budget for you to approve at the September board meeting. It then will be submitted to the Department of Education for their review.
Rich is currently in the process of upgrading our phone system, which is well past due. We have made significant gains on getting almost all of our servers hosted off-site. This should help tremendously with Rich’s work load, and, provide us some security as it will not be “just Rich” who is available to work on our servers if they are having issues.
Phil Sleeper has been on the job as Maintenance Supervisor for almost a month. He and Bill Rix have been working closely together in order to help Phil gain familiarity with the island, our buildings and our systems. Bill also retired July 31st. The crew has been working hard to maintain the landscaping and we have been able to get to maintenance projects which are overdue. An example is updating many windows that leak and addressing gutter issues on the mansion.
Statewide Education and Family ServicesKaren Hopkins, Director
Statewide Education and Family Services
The SEFS department has been incredibly busy this summer! We have been supporting schools statewide in preparing for fall with extra precautions and access needs related to COVID-19. We have also been providing an incredible amount of services to children and families statewide.
ECFS shifted from the school year services to summer schedules. All ECFS consultants log extra contract days to serve the needs of their families of children birth to 3 and the extended school year services for their children 3-5 who qualify for summer services. In July, ECFS consultants logged over 47 hours with their younger families and over 33 hours with the schools and families of children 3j-5 years old.
Here are just a few specific details:
Mackworth Island Preschool
The preschool program has 12 children participating in our virtual ESY program. Some days have higher attendance than others with it being summer and with programming being virtual.
The team has developed a very fun, engaging curriculum this summer! They are offering three separate morning meetings each day, as well as, a whole group session. The whole group session is split into two sections. The first part is facilitated by our OT and involves movement activities. The second part is a bi-lingual, bi-model story.
The children have been learning and talking about camping, sea animals, fishing, shapes, and doing some very exciting cooking activities! We can’t believe there is only one week left!
The HRSA grant team has been working on a new video for families. This video will explain all language and communication approaches for families. This will involve MECDHH staff, community of practice providers, and families. The team HI is also getting ready to roll out its new website where all newborn to Kindergarten services and processes will be housed. This is such an exciting addition to our overall process. This team has been pulling all agencies, services and processes together into ONE statewide process for all Maine's deaf and hard of hearing children - stay tuned for the announcement soon!
Public School Outreach
Extended Year Services request was lower this summer compared to last summer—however we still have some PSO consultants who provided services through this summer. Our services ranges from SDI, consultation, interpreting and PCT. We are continuing receiving requests through the summer for the upcoming academic year and it has been challenging as we are navigating what the public schools’ instruction approach this fall as some have indicated that they will continue with distance learning, others are doing in person instruction and some are hybrid of both.
We are evaluating the bigger picture of how our Teacher of the Deaf consultants will continue their terrific and dedicated works with the students for this fall. We hope to have a comprehensive plan that aligns with the Governor’s guidelines/recommendations within a week or two!
At the end of the academic year our PSO consultants provided outstanding professional development among each other and other departments that wanted to join—those workshops included: Academic ASL, overview of variety Google program-tools that are available to enhance learning experiences, unilateral hearing loss and its impact on an individuals’ educational experiences, introduction to cued speech, phonetic-based reading skills and best practice of teaching writing skill. This truly shows that our staff are amazing and has so much to contribute to MECDHH community—we are fortunate to have a wide diverse of staff with different expertise!
The Kids Like Me program has been very popular among PSO students statewide and with Patricia Cook’s retirement—we had to figure out how this program will resume in the fall. It was a difficult decision but in order to abide everybody’s safety and allow the school system to navigate through the ‘new educational norms,’—we have decided to suspend the weekend KLM program until further notice. We will continue to offer weekly Virtual Kids Like Me program for elementary, middle and high school students—we are fortunate to establish a partnership with Maine Behavioral Healthcare’s Deaf/Hard of Hearing program as they have been motivated to provide more programming opportunities for our Deaf-Hard of Hearing youths. This is an exciting partnership as one of the most popular Virtual KLM program from Spring 2020 was led by MBH’s Deaf/Hard of Hearing unit.
The Summer Transition Program which was able to launch with wonderful collaborations among Maine Vocational Rehabilitation, Disability Rights Maine, Maine Behavioral and Healthcare, All Together Now and transition specialist from New Hampshire.
Two students from New Hampshire registered for this program and it has been amazing to see how everybody works together to provide those students opportunities to become confident with their future, advocacy skills and well-being.
As this is a pilot program to allow us see how we can make this program better in the long run; we realized that we want to keep this program available year round and provide trainings with Teacher of the Deaf so they can use this program with their students in Maine/New Hampshire during the academic year. Through this approach; we will be able to refine the program and possibly make it available national wide as we did get many inquiries from other states if they could join this summer.
Since the last Board Meeting we have one vacated position within the PSO Department which we were not able to fill in—Speech Language Pathologist.