MSAD #51 District Newsletter - March 7, 2024

From the Superintendent

porterThis segment continues a multi-part series around the Science of Reading, an approach being adopted by MSAD 51. Last week, I introduced the concept of a 'Reading Rope' whereby research suggests that students read using a blended approach of interwoven skills, including word recognition skills like phonics, decoding, and sight word recognition. Research around literacy acquisition now suggests that all children need practice with the alphabetic code along with meaningful engagement with books in order to become successful readers. We also know that children who struggle with reading beyond grade 3 are more likely to have broader academic needs as they get older. Understanding the brain research around reading is of critical importance to help our students be successful in school and in life .

This segment focuses on language comprehension and the skills that help readers become increasingly strategic in the way they connect with what they are reading. Comprehension begins long before children learn to read for themselves; it actually begins as they are learning to speak and use language, the basis for later reading development. Comprehension also begins formation as children are read to and use text cuing to help make meaning, such as pictures and voice intonation to process and connect words with their own construct of these words.

Comprehension of written words is developed through four main ways: background knowledge (text that reinforces and/or introduces students to content area learning); vocabulary (definition of words in order to inform the entirety of text); language structures (how words are arranged in text); and literacy knowledge (exposure to a variety of rich and meaningful text and genre). Language comprehension is our goal for all students as they progress as readers, and this can be attained by ensuring students reach automaticity with their literacy skills.

On a different note, I presented the 2024-25 recommended budget to the Board of Directors on March 4, which begins the public  process of deliberations around next year's budget. You can keep up-to-date on the budget process at

Also on March 4, the Board approved the Equity Plan, which is a culmination of many years of conversations and work around equity in our school community. This plan seeks to:

  • define what equity means in MSAD #51; 
  • emphasize student voice and feedback; 
  • provide more staff training around equity-related topics; 
  • prioritize equity-related data reporting and response; and
  • envision equity as a continuous and adaptable process rather than a temporary or static one.

Jeff Porter

Eva Dews, “Survivor”

DJ Seaver, “The Beauty of Music”

Vi Walsh, “Modern Satanists”

Congratulations to Eva Dews, DJ Seaver & Vi Walsh for receiving Honorable Mentions for their impressive artworks in the Maine Region Scholastic Art Awards competition!

Notices from the Office of the Superintendent

COVID Information Update

Please find below the most recent CDC guidelines for Respiratory illness such as COVID, FLU, RSV, and a COLD. There is no longer a five day mandatory isolation for those who contract COVID.

  • Step 1: Stay at home. As much as possible, you should stay home and away from others until at least 24 hours after both:
    Your symptoms are getting better overall, and
    You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication).
  • Step 2: Resume normal activities, and use added prevention strategies over the next five days, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, enhancing your hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses. People can choose to use these prevention strategies at any time. Since some people remain contagious beyond the “stay-at-home” period, taking added precautions can lower the chance of spreading respiratory viruses to others.

If you are concerned about getting infected with a respiratory virus:
Masks can protect wearers from breathing in infectious particles from people around them. They can be especially helpful when:

  • Respiratory viruses are causing a lot of illness in your community.
  • You or the people around you were recently exposed to a respiratory virus, are sick, or are recovering
  • You or the people around you have risk factors for severe illness.

Transportation Update

We are pleased to inform you that on Monday, March 11, our bus runs (32, 18, 12, & 8) will return to normal. The majority of our drivers who were out have been able to return to work. In addition, we have hired two additional drivers. In order to address our own bus driver needs and the statewide shortage, several times a year we offer free training classes for those who would like to get a license to drive a school bus. Our district is one of a limited number of Federal certified and registered bus driver training centers in the area. Currently there are 22 people participating in the class. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you, our students and our transportation department for your patience and perseverance as we navigated through our busing situation.

Superintendent's Report

Click Here to view the latest Superintendent's Report.

Stay Connected 

Click on the icon above to connect with MSAD #51.
Find all the ways MSAD #51 shares information here.

MSAD #51 Board of Directors Information

All meetings will take place at 6:00 pm in the Gyger Room at Greely High School.  For those of you unfamiliar with that room, the Gyger Room can be accessed from the GHS parking lot (the side without the electronic sign).

March 18 - Workshop

Remember you can watch our meetings on YouTube LIVE (

Update from the Board of Directors

As is true for many of our neighbors, we have been following the discussion regarding affordable housing in Cumberland closely. With the town voting not to move forward with this project, we wanted to address a few topics related to the school district.

First, the site proposed for the affordable housing project on Drowne Road was not presented to the school district as a location for the school. The District is also aware that the original bequest of the land related to the affordable housing project noted that the land should be used for educational purposes. Since that time, this bequest has been litigated, and the town has used the land for several purposes, including town hall, the town forest, solar fields, and a dump. The district has no plans to challenge the Town of Cumberland on the use of the land and does not believe MSAD #51 has any claim of ownership or use over the land.

Over the past five years, as we seek a solution to increased enrollment and overcrowding, the District has reviewed dozens of sites and considered at least six parcels of land or designs in depth. Each of these, including a parcel on Stiles Way (close to Drowne Rd), was reviewed by the District, its architects, the building committee, and the board, and determined not to be optimal for a new school for several reasons including proximity to railroad tracks and the presence of wetlands and protected resources. Currently, there are two feasible designs and locations before the Board: 80 Gray in North Yarmouth, or on the existing campus in Cumberland. On March 18th, the Board will vote to move forward with one of these locations and concept designs. We are committed to providing appropriate education space, long term flexibility, and responsible stewardship of our capital resources at a cost that respects the residents of our host communities. At this time, the board has no plans to pursue other locations, including the Drowne Rd property, for a new school.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Superintendent Porter.  

Leanne Candura
MSAD #51 School Board Chair

Meeting Dates, Agendas & Minutes
Board of Directors Meeting Videos

Community Partners

Our Community Partners are strong supporters of various areas of the school.  Without them, our students would not have many of the wonderful opportunities and experiences that they receive.

Spring Greely Gear 

Trivia Nights


Community Notices

Community Notices are not affiliated with MSAD #51.  Please contact the organization directly with any questions.  For a full listing of Community Notices, please click HERE.

GMS Ultimate Frisbee (Grades 5-8)
2nd Annual Golf Scramble

Useful Links

Employment Opportunities

MSAD #51 Website

2018-2023 Strategic Plan

District Calendar

GHS Athletics Schedule

Greely Center for the Arts Events


If you would like something included in our weekly newsletter, please send a brief write up with title along with a JPEG or PNG image of your flyer (if applicable) to Melissa Porter for approval. The deadline each week is Sunday. Any requests received after Sunday will be reviewed for possible submission in the following week's newsletter. All approved submissions will be posted on the district's website.

Not all items in this email are MSAD #51 sponsored programs. If you need more information, please contact the group or organization that is sponsoring the event.

Maine School Administrative District #51
357 Tuttle Road, PO Box 6A, Cumberland, ME 04021
Contact Us   |   207.829.4800