by Janet Schultz
The Lewiston-Porter Board of Education meeting opened with a festive atmosphere featuring holiday songs performed by a number of fifth-graders. Then for one minute, a silence hung over the room as tribute was paid to the victims and survivors of Newtown, Conn.
Lewiston-Porter's reaction to the violence in Connecticut was handled in a manner that was befitting the district.
First, all recognitions of students at the board meeting were made prior to Superintendent Chris Roser's comments on the events in Newtown. Once those students had left the room Roser explained how school was handled on Friday and Monday as events and news spread.
At the high school and middle school, there was a moment of silence and a statement made by the respective principals. At the Intermediate Education and Primary centers, the administration felt that it was the parent's choice if they wanted to discuss the incident with their children.
Counselors were available in each building for any child that might have required it.
"All hands were on deck," said Roser. "However, we wanted a normal routine in the classes.
"We posted our guidelines on our website and explained what things were being done. When we became aware of the situation on Friday, our crisis intervention team met and they also met again on Monday morning."
The letter is still posted on the website.
"It was a good day of school, we found parents were judicious in what they told or didn't tell their children," Roser went on.
"There was lots of dialogue on Connecticut," said High School Principal Paul Casseri. "We have a strong administrative team and information was put out there so we could support each other.
"It was very difficult these last few days," concluded Casseri.
"We reassured both parents and children that we are a safe campus," said Roser.
At Lew-Port, each building has limited access through the main door, all others are locked, and visitors must buzz and identify themselves prior to entering.
Roser also explained there are state and national requirements on safety drills, lockdown, lockout and shelter-in-place situations.
"However, we are always looking at ways to create an even better and safer campus," said Roser.
An excerpt from Roser's website letter to parents and guardians of Lew-Port reads:
"Nothing is more precious or dear to us than the children and young adults we are entrusted to educate and protect. We take that sacred trust seriously and responsibly. Working together, we will continue to strengthen that sacred trust and bond which make our nation and American education a beacon of hope and excellence to the world."
In other news
•The plans for a new recreation/community/senior center in the Town of Lewiston have the Lewiston-Porter School District looking to sell off property on the front side of the high school.
The district has been negotiating with the town and have come up with a $5,000 per acre price tag.
In that light, the board heard a letter of intent that it would present to the Town of Lewiston that would outline conditions of the sale.
Most important is the board's ability to approve the plans and specifications for the building. There would be a restrictive covenant that limits the building to recreational purposes and parking for a specified number of vehicles. It would also allow for district use of the building for instructional and practice purposes from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The board of education will ask for right of first refusal. In the event the town would discontinue use of the property, it would be returned to the school district or be demolished.
Other issues addressed are acceptable access points so that traffic to the school is not inhibited, a lighted parking lot from dusk to dawn for safety and having the town responsible for relocating school signage.
While a formal vote was not required, the board gave Roser the approval to finalize the letter in order to start negotiations with the town.
Once negotiations are complete, there will be an open time period during which residents of the district could ask for a referendum, even though it is not required by law.
•In order to control the number of school lunches being charged, the board of education approved a policy that allows no charging of school lunches for adults and high school students (grades 9-12); up to two reimbursable meals can be charged in the middle school (grades 6-8) and up to three in the elementary school (K-5).
The policy permits any student who uses up his allotted charges and has no lunch to be provided with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or cheese sandwich and milk, which will be charged to the student's account.
In addition, students may no longer charge snacks and no snacks will be sold to a student with a negative balance on his account.
"This is to put a control on the charges, which have amounted to $20,000 over the past few years," said Roser.
•Budget workshops have been scheduled, beginning on Jan. 29, 2013, and continuing Feb. 5, 12 and 26; March 5, 12 and 26, and on April 9. All meetings are open to the public and are subject to change.
The board is scheduled to adopt the 2013-14 budget on April 16 with a "Meet the Candidates" night scheduled for May 8; a public hearing on the budget May 14, and the annual meeting and vote on May 21.
•The board heard a report on the fall sports from Scott Townsend, athletic director.
•The board accepted the donation of $1,000 from the Lewiston-Porter Alumni Class of 1987 and $210 from the Music Boosters to be used for the purchase of music stands and music stand racks.