Dear Parents and Guardians,

On behalf of the Biddeford School Committee, Building Principals, and our more than 450 teachers and staff we wish to warmly welcome you back for another great school year.  The first days of school are August 29 for grades 1-9, and August 30 for grades 10-12. Our Kindergarteners start on September 5, and Pre-K begins around a week later, on September 13.

In order to ensure a smooth return to school and a successful school year for all, we wish to draw your attention to the information in this letter.

Bus Routes.  Bus routes will be published in the Journal Tribune.  They are also available on our district’s easy-to-use website, www.biddefordschools.me.  Simply navigate to “PARENTS & FAMILY” and click “Transportation Department.”  As you can imagine, the logistical challenges of safely transporting several thousand students each day are significant, and the process begins each year anew.  We kindly request patience and understanding in the first few weeks as our transportation office finely tunes our bus routes. In most Maine districts, the first few weeks of school bring unexpected bus delays…please plan accordingly and thank you again for your forbearance.  Many delays are simply beyond our control; road construction projects in general–and on South Street in particular–pose unique challenges to our bus fleet. Please communicate any challenges, concerns, or corrections to our Transportation Office at 282-0909.

In an attempt to help move traffic in the morning and in the afternoon through the South Street area the road will open for one way traffic.  In the am, the road will allow incoming traffic towards the school from 7:10 – 8:10. In the afternoon, the road will be open for outgoing school traffic from 2:10 – 3:10.

Communication.  We’ve worked hard in the last several years to strengthen school-to-home connections.  Between community events, public meetings, student productions, sporting events, conferences, etc., we’re doing more than ever to keep you connected.  Our clean, easy-to-navigate website contains many helpful resources, ranging from school calendars to curriculum resources to public governance documents.  Additionally, K-8 schools share an electronic “Thursday Folder” with resources for students and parents, and you’ll occasionally receive Instant Alerts about matters ranging from snow day cancellations to reminders about parent-teacher conferences.  9-12 schools send out consistent newsletters and Instant Alerts when appropriate.  But we need your help to stay connected–please make sure your contact information is up-to-date.  If you have a change of address, email, or phone number please contact your school’s office, or log on to the Parent Portal at www.goo.gl/MCuaBj.  

Waterhouse Field.  Mark your calendar–September 7th is opening night!  A ribbon-cutting ceremony will “kick off” a night of festivities at 5PM, including our first home football game of the season vs. Cony.  The 7PM contest will feature a magical halftime fireworks display, courtesy of Central Maine Pyrotechnics.

We can not thank the community enough for all the support this project has received.  It was just 18 short months ago that the bleachers at the field were condemned, the facility shuttered, and the future of Waterhouse uncertain.  Since then, hundreds of students, parents, school personnel, coaches, community members, local businesses, and committed volunteers have accomplished what once seemed impossible.  Waterhouse has been transformed into the premier multipurpose athletic venue in Southern Maine. New lights, sound system, scoreboard, bleachers, and turf are paired with improvements to accessibility, storage, efficiency, and security making Waterhouse a true showpiece. The costs of construction and renovation were at least halved by the many hands and many donations that have supported the work.  This project has truly been a community effort of the finest kind, and we could not be more proud of the city we serve.

Attendance.  As our teachers ready their classrooms and curricula, we wish to remind parents and students alike of the importance of regular school attendance and on-time arrival.  Even once-monthly absences have a profound impact on student outcomes. Encouraging regular school attendance is one of the most impactful ways that you can bolster the work we do in the classroom.  When you emphasize the importance of showing up, you’re doing so much to help your child develop healthy habits that last long past graduation.

Biddeford Education Foundation.  Our very own Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that we created two years ago in order to raise, manage, and distribute funds to enrich the educational experience for students in Biddeford.  Through partnerships with the community and district, the Foundation provides resources outside the normal school budget to augment teaching, encourage academic excellence, and maximize opportunities for students K-12. Last year the Foundation raised almost $20,000 for items outside the normal school budget, such as teacher mini-grants and STEM projects. One great example of how teacher mini-grants have a huge impact on student learning and building community is a recent project between our Middle School students and the Biddeford Food Pantry.  The full article can be read at www.goo.gl/UKtYut.  If you wish to get involved, visit the BEF under “ALUMNI & GIVING” on the district’s website.  

As we prepare to welcome 2500 students to our half-dozen buildings, our teachers and building leaders are mindful of the critically important work that we do each and every day in support of your children.  One of the wonderful things about education is the opportunity for us to begin anew each and every year, with recharged batteries, ready to make a positive impact on the lives of our community’s young people.  Our community is not without challenges–our rates of poverty and transience are high–but our great moral imperative is to help each and every student realize a level of preparation and success so that when they leave our care they thrive in the world.  That is our charge, we take it seriously, and we can’t do it without your help.

Yours in education,

Jeremy Ray                                   Chris Indorf

Superintendent                           Assistant Superintendent