Custodian Bob Curtis walks through the renovated cafeteria Monday at Waterville Junior High School. The room features a new floor, new ceiling tiles, paint and LED lighting. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

WATERVILLE — Joan Phillips-Sandy got two accolades Monday night — she was unanimously reelected chairperson of the board of education and the city dedicated its annual report to her.

Joan Phillips-Sandy Morning Sentinel file photo

A 23-year member of the Waterville Board of Education, Phillips-Sandy, who represents Ward 3, attended the meeting virtually, not knowing her husband, Bob, son, John, daughter, Mary, and Mary’s son, Julian, also were attending, virtually.

Former City Manager Michael Roy announced the annual report was dedicated to Phillips-Sandy at the Waterville Board of Education meeting Monday.

Phillips-Sandy said she was “incredibly surprised” by the announcement.

“I appreciate it tremendously,” she said.

The livestream of the meeting kept breaking up, but contacted later Monday night, Roy said that every year it is difficult to choose someone to dedicate the annual report to because there are so many deserving candidates.

“The selection this year was much easier because Joan’s record of long service and distinguished service stood out from all the other names we had on the list,” Roy said.

He said her many years of service to the schools was reason enough for her to be chosen for the annual report dedication, but on the city side, she has done a lot for which she has not officially been recognized. She was one of the key people who helped form the Waterville Main Street movement, and she was first director of the Maine International Film Festival and continues to support that longtime festival every year, according to Roy.

“That long, long service above self … is what made her an easy choice this year,” he said.

Phillips-Sandy has served a year as school board chairperson after succeeding Sara Sylvester. Sylvester resigned from the board last year.

Meanwhile, board member Pam Trinward, who represents Ward 7, was unanimously reelected board secretary Monday. City Clerk Patti Dubois administered the oaths of office to board members Greg Bazakas, Ward 2; Maryanne Bernier, Ward 4; and Elizabeth Bickford, Ward 6.

The meeting was held at Mid-Day Cafe at Mid-Maine Technical Center at Waterville Senior High School, and those who did not want to attend in-person were able to watch the livestream.

A newly painted lighthouse is part of the decor at the new expanded learning center at Waterville Junior High School in Waterville. Students have moved into the center which was formerly the shop. School custodian Bob Curtis passes at the left. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Before the meeting, the board took a tour with city councilors of renovations done at Waterville Junior High School using COVID-19 relief funds.

The renovations included an expansion of both the school cafeteria and Lighthouse Program, with that work including ventilation and improved spaces for social distancing. The Lighthouse Program is a special needs program geared primarily for students with serious behavioral issues.

School Superintendent Eric Haley and Finance Director Paula Pooler said before the tour that the school district received three COVID-19 grant allocations to renovate school facilities, including a $721,000 CARES Act grant, $1.83 million in an initial COVID-19 Relief Fund grant and $1.92 million in a second COVID Relief Fund grant. The funds have to be used for matters related to COVID-19, including sanitation, ventilation and developing spaces that allow for social distancing, according to Pooler.

Other renovations completed with the funds include expansion of the Waterville Senior High School cafeteria, which will be the subject of a tour at the next board meeting. That high school tour also will include a visit to the former Area Resource Center which was transformed into the special education department for the district. The renovations allowed for development of individual offices where parent-teacher meetings can be held and the parents do not have to travel through the building to get to that department since it has access to the outside.

“We had too many people teamed up in one office room,” Haley said.

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