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As I wind down my last two months in my role as Executive Director the focus has been on transitioning Karen Hopkins into her new role.

PDF of the Directors' Report here

December 3, 2020
Executive Director’s Report
Owen J. Logue

As I wind down my last two months in my role as Executive Director the focus has been on transitioning Karen in her new role. The transition has been going exceedingly well. Kaitlyn Millen will be on board in early December so much consideration has been made to assist her in learning all the nuances of her new job.

One of our highest priority is to revise Chapter 304 to provide clarity around not only the financial obligations of our organizations but delineating what we consider to be deaf related versus non-deaf related services. At the January's board meeting, Karen Hopkins and Executive Director will explain to the board the proposed revisions to this document. On October 29th, our leadership team met with the Department of Education's financial team to address potential barriers to our initial draft that included requiring districts to resume transporting students to our Portland and Brewer programs. It was determined that transportation remain as our obligation and the Department of Education would assure appropriate funding for this item. Erin Frazier, Director of Special Education, hosted a statewide stakeholders meeting with over 120 special education directors in which both Karen Hopkins and the Executive Director presented on the proposed Chapter 304. We received useful feedback and considerable support for this revision. The co-sponsors of this proposed bill, Senator Breen and Representative Pierce, met with the leadership team to go over the steps needed to be able to present the bill in next legislative session. We have also sought advisement on the components of the bill with representatives of Cumberland County Superintendents and received favorable feedback.

The Percival P. Baxter Foundation has embarked on an ambitious project through Rafi Nova to offer what is known as smile masks (clear visibility to lips). The goal is to fund 50 families with deaf and hard of hearing students and 50 school districts with professionals that work exclusively with deaf and hard of hearing students in our various programs as well as mainstreamed programs throughout the state. On November 13th Channel 13 News featured a story regarding Governor Mills' mask mandate. The focus of the news story was to look at how masks hinder access to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. The Rafi Nova initiative was explained during the interview.

Have a safe and wonderful time with your loved ones.

Operations and Human Resources
Cathy Murphy, Director

Business and Human Resources projects and improvements

  • Completed upload of FYE 2020 financial data to Department of Education NEO system
  • Reviewed auditors findings with accounting staff and have identified process improvements
  • Training of new staff continues
  • Preparing for year-end processing of W-2’s, 1099 and ACA forms
  • Revised course reimbursement protocol and presented to staff

Facilities projects and improvement

  • Ongoing additional daily cleaning due to COVID 19
  • Causeway shrubbery has been pruned back; signage on causeway has been replaced
  • CMP has been alerted of bulbs out on causeway and will be out to replace
  • Re-painting of ceiling in Executive Directors Office
  • Soundproofing Director of Early Education office
  • Mansion front entry repaired and mitigation of further damage
  • Need for replacement of steel beams under mansion porch has been identified and quoted
  • Preventative maintenance and preparation of snow removal equipment.

Maine Behavioral Health has informed us they will not be renewing their lease in January 2021.

Technology projects and improvements

  • Brightwheel phone/software application (used for staff and student health screenings, communication) has been integrated into our pre-school classrooms
  • Daily health screening system for all staff has been implemented
  • Expanded zoom functionality to accommodate various virtual needs
  • Purchased and distributed new MacBook Airs as part of our replacement program and remote demands
  • Added more functionality to Google Suite
  • Finalizing new phone system implementation

Statewide Education and Family Services
Karen Hopkins, Director

The Preschool currently has 20 students, 17 deaf /hard of hearing and 3 typically peers. This month we have been talking about Fire Safety and things we are Thankful for. Our preschool teachers are doing a wonderful job being creative with the children both in and out of the classrooms to maintain social distancing.

The staff of ECFS continues to meet the unique needs of children, families and school programs during the unprecedented times of a COVID pandemic. Services are best described as “hybrid” model. All birth to 2 services are still happening virtually, with the exception of a few children who attend full time day care or whose parents bring them to community locations for evaluations. Some direct, evaluation, and consultation services are being provided face-to-face at preschools and community locations for our older 3-5 year olds.

Staff have been busy with professional development opportunities that are accessible in our virtual world.  Some of these opportunities include Foundations Literacy, mandatory Child Development Services trainings, and online resources such as Hearing First. All Part C staff (working with families of children birth to under age three) also participated in a role play activity to practice use of the new Exploring Language and Communication Options Process documents. Finally, a congratulations was sent out to our own Amy Spencer who completed the final steps to obtain her Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certification.

During the month of November Public School Outreach saw increased requests for support regarding to assistive technologies and remote learning and more parents have been contacting our consultants for guidance. Majority of requests from parents for our consultants have focused on how to improve communication access and provide supports for their child with remote learning.

An observation was made that September showed that there has been increased program review/IEP-504 amends requests among public schools, families and other service personnel — our Teacher of the Deaf-Consultants are constantly on the go to provide additional resources.

Virtual Kids Like Me program with Maine Behavioral Healthcare has been successful as we’ve received positive feedback from a variety of  district personnel and parents—we are looking into changing High School session due to low turn-out and a survey will be released about that shortly.

ECFS and PSO has been working hard on developing  new electronic filing system that will support our referral process and our team to ensure that information is available at all times. During the month of December we are looking forward to establishing this new system with the new Director of Deaf Education.

The Portland and Brewer Site-based Programs are all doing an amazing job keeping up with COVID-19 requirements and keeping our staff and students healthy and safe. It is a huge job keeping up with ever changing requirements in these schools while educating our students.

All educational staff recently completed Foundation for Literacy training and staff are looking forward to continuing the Critical Consciousness training with Andrea Babin in December.We are excited for all the training we have been able to offer our staff this year!