South Portland parents sought for school task forces

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The School Department is looking for eight parents to serve on three study groups that could lead to major changes within the district.

Superintendent Suzanne Godin said there are no specific qualifications to serve on the study groups, other than being a parent of a South Portland public school student.

“We’re looking for parents because they have a vested interest,” Godin said.

The parents are needed to study three proposals considered, but put off, during the last budget cycle: a consolidated middle school, pay-to-play activity fees and outsourcing custodial services.

Each group will also include School Board members, school administrators and staff.

Perhaps the biggest job will be given to the Middle School Task Force, which will be asked by December to recommend to the School Board a time line and structure for reducing the cost of middle school programming.

The district wants four parents to serve on that committee, two from Mahoney Middle School and two from Memorial Middle School.

The district nearly closed Mahoney Middle School during the last budget cycle, but tabled the plan when parents said the district was moving too quickly and without enough planning.

Meanwhile, Godin said the district has submitted applications for state construction funds for both middle schools. The district hopes to build a consolidated middle school at the Mahoney property on Wescott Road.

Godin said South Portland is one of about 76 applicants competing for only $100 million in funds – enough to fund one high school and one middle school.

“Next summer, we hope to hear where (the schools) are on the list,” she said.

Two parents are needed to serve on a Co-Curricular Fee Task Fore, which will explore options for reducing costs of after-school programs and other funding options. Those options could include instituting a pay-to-play structure in South Portland. That committee must report to the board by October.

Two parents are also needed to serve on a Custodial Services Task Force, which will develop recommendations by November for reducing the cost of custodial operations through either workforce reduction or outsourcing of services.

The board had originally planned to appoint committee members at a June 14 meeting, but a lack of interest forced a delay until July 12. The groups are expected to begin meeting shortly thereafter.

Godin said if the district receives more interest from parents than there are spots available, the board will simply choose names out of a hat.

Anyone interested in serving should contact Maria Sorenson at 871-0555.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]