Shortly after the new Bangor School Committee members were sworn in after the November election, they started the important task of hiring a new superintendent. The Committee conducted a survey in early February to assist in creating a job description for the vacant Superintendent position that was held by Dr. Betsy Webb for 15 years before her retirement in October of 2020. The results from the recent survey indicate that the community is looking for a strong, well rounded professional to lead the Bangor School Department into the future.
According to the survey, respondents feel that student emotional well-being, student safety and student academic achievement are the top priorities of the next superintendent. When asked what issues were important to address, respondents wanted Academic Excellence to continue and Blue Ribbon Status to be achieved in all Schools. Safety concerns in regards to the current global pandemic as well as the continued effort to address racial and equity issues was also a priority.
The survey indicated that meaningful relationships with students, parents, faculty and administrators can be achieved through open communication and transparency from the new Superintendent. As school has changed because of the pandemic, parents and families are asking for more communication because they are not able to have access to schools like they did before. Talking to students, having public meetings, and being present and visible are important to the residents of Bangor and the surrounding communities that are served within the district.
Academic excellence and the vast opportunities provided to help promote growth in each student, as well as keeping the reputation of having good teachers, was the main focus of respondents when asked what they would like to maintain in the district. The opportunities that students have available to them in the Arts, STEM, athletics and extracurricular offerings in the Bangor School Department were highlighted often.
Significant challenges that respondents are requesting the new superintendent to address include bullying, mental health, racial issues, poverty and how the pandemic has impacted schools in the district. The challenges mentioned in the survey have been areas of ongoing training and growth over the past decade. Dr. Webb was the driving force in implementing many changes. Examples of her leadership and hard work are seen in the “See Something, Say Something” campaign to support students’ emotional well-being and to encourage reporting of concerns at the schools in the district. Four schools in the district achieved National Blue Ribbon status under her leadership. To increase communication efforts the BSD has implemented the Bangor app, multiple social media sites, regular newsletters, as well as hired a Communication Director under the leadership of Dr. Webb. “All students are encouraged to achieve at high academic levels and the BSD provides services to all students that aid in attaining student success and academic achievement. Our social workers work with students who are in need, and they connect them with internal and external resources such as the Good Shepherd Food Bank Backpack Program, free and reduced hot lunch, and the Bangor Fuel society just to name a few,” stated Patti Rapaport, Director of Pupil Services. The BSD is committed to furthering this work to ensure that all Bangor students are provided with a rich educational experience allowing them to achieve their highest potential.
The next step in the superintendent hiring process will take place on February 22 and 23, when the Bangor School Committee will hold two public forums to gather community feedback on expectations for the Bangor Superintendent. These forums will be hosted and moderated by Maine School Management (MSMA). The meetings are open to community members, Bangor School Department employees, students, and their families.