Superintendent’s Report – Febraury 2017

We continue to make progress toward our annual Board goals.

2016-2017 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
  • Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Maintain continuity in instruction between the school buildings
  • Set up an end of year review with the new curriculum coordinator.

We are continuing to add extended learning opportunities for our Hinsdale students.  We are working hard to make certain our coursework and assessment of learning is individualized for each of our students and that emphasis is placed on competency attainment, rather than seat time for all students.

School counselor Paula Brault is continuing to work with our seniors on college placements.  83% of the students in the Hinsdale 2017 graduating class have now been accepted into a college for the fall semester.

A group of Hinsdale teachers will soon begin the fine arts revision process this coming summer.  Other curriculum areas scheduled for summer work include: health and physical education, and science.  We are currently working to improve the continuity of instruction between our school buildings in the areas of music, math, writing, and technology.

  1. Communication
  • Internal
    • Periodic school board tours of all school buildings
    • Work with Administration to maintain the momentum from the community forums, current social media presence and other initiatives
  • External
    • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding regular community forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town.
    • Improve relationships with town governing bodies

The Hinsdale Elementary School Building Improvement Committee held a successful public forum on Thursday, January 26th. The Building Improvement Committee was established in April 2016 by the Hinsdale School Board in the hope of finding a workable solution to the fire safety problem first identified in 2012.  In 2012 the Hinsdale School District was notified by the Hinsdale Fire Chief that our elementary school was out of compliance because we had first grade classrooms on the second floor. These students did not have direct egress to the upstairs fire escapes.  Our appeal to the State Fire Marshall’s Office in 2013 provided a one year waiver. Growing enrollment in grades pre-K, K and 1 has compounded our problem. We currently have 58 kindergarten students, 47 first grade students and two sections of preschool, with just four actual classrooms on the first floor. This has forced us to use our Library and other rooms that are not meant as classroom spaces for classrooms.

Hinsdale was the only district that made the building aid application deadline for 2017, meeting a July 1st deadline and a September 1st deadline, gaining approval from the Building Aid Committee in November and the state board of education in January. The BIC shared the plan with the community at an October 5th public forum and again on January 26th.  The Committee intends to offer one more public forum and members of the Building Improvement Committee are speaking to numerous groups in town.

We have worked hard to keep our proposed building expansion plan as inexpensive as possible. To begin with, we received the acre of land next to our elementary school from a local supporter of our schools, Smokey Smith.  We were able to find other district land Mr. Smith agreed to take as a trade.  The Committee recommended a building expansion plan to the Board that includes three first grade classrooms, three kindergarten classrooms, a music room, and an art room.   All the rooms are on the first floor. The estimated cost of the proposed building expansion is $3,750,000. The School Board has voted unanimously to approve the plan. However, The Board agreed to only raise and appropriate up to $1,500,000 from local taxes.  The additional $2,100,000 would have to come from the state in the form of building aid.  We met with all our state Representatives and our State Senator on December 20th. As a result of information shared that day, including a tour of our elementary school, our State Senator, Jay Kahn, sponsored Senate Bill 192 which if passed would guarantee sufficient state aid to fund the project. Board Chair Holly Kennedy, Hinsdale Elementary School Principal Joe Boggio, Building Improvement Committee Chair and Board member Jim O’Malley, and I are scheduled to testify before the Senate Education Committee on February 7th in support of Senate Bill 192.

In addition to State funding we are actively searching for grant funds and individual donations to reduce the costs of the building project to be raised from local taxes and from State building aid.  The Hinsdale School District applied for emergency funds from the State Fire Marshall’s office.  The New Hampshire Department of Education has set aside $2,000,000 from the current year to accommodate a favorable decision from the State Fire Marshall’s Office.  At present, it appears that we will not receive emergency funds.

The Building Improvement Committee intends to offer another public forum prior to the Bond vote scheduled to occur at the District meeting on March 18th, 2017.  The membership of the Building Improvement Committee includes Board members, Hinsdale Budget Committee members, parents, teachers, local business leaders, our elementary school principal, our business administrator and the Hinsdale Superintendent.

On the evening of February 6th my wife and I will teach “Call it Courage” to our Hinsdale 4th and 5th grade parent/child book club. “Call It Courage” is the story of a boy who tries to overcome his fear of the sea.  The novel won the Newbery Medal for Excellence in American children’s literature in 1941.  We are scheduled to teach “Smile” on Monday evening, March 6th. “Smile” is a story of a sixth grade girl who finds out what friendship really means. “Smile” is a graphic novel and a New York Times Editors’ Choice.

I have attended a Hinsdale Budget Committee meeting, and a Hinsdale Select Board meeting, since our January Board meeting. I also attended the Boys’ Varsity basketball game on January 20th.

  1. Culture
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community.
  • Support and promote anti-bullying practices and ensure policies are being followed.
  • Superintendent will spot check the bullying logs and report regularly to the board.

We have 12 active PLCs currently operating in the Hinsdale School District.  We are looking at our schedule to see if we can add opportunities for additional Professional Learning Communities.

We continue to implement our new social curriculum.  Although it is early, the logic of our programming shift is sound and we expect to see a reduction in the number of confirmed incidents of bullying in the district.  We are evaluating the results of our parent survey and plan to use the results of the survey to help inform the dialogue at the Board Forum on Bullying scheduled for the spring.

Since our last Board meeting we have had two cases of confirmed bullying.

  1. Personnel
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.

 

We intend to make every effort to get contracts to our professional staff by April 10th with the understanding that each recipient of a contract sign his or her contract and return it to the director of Human Resources by April 15th.  As a consequence of the April 15th deadline we anticipate increasing the size of the pool for the positions open for the 2017-2018 school year.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner
  • Work with the Administration to proactively monitor the fund balance
  • Annual review of eligibility for the free lunch program under the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Receive detailed backup information for the budget.
  • Warrant article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

We continue to closely monitor our fund balance and at this time anticipate a surplus.

We are working with our State Senator and State Representatives to increase state revenue for the next two years. There are several bills that seem to have some traction and would collectively add several hundred thousand dollars to our anticipated revenue. The most significant funding source is the approximately $2,100,000 that the district would receive in the form of state building aid.  Of course if the Bond article fails to gain a 2/3rds affirmative vote needed the $2,100,000 in State revenue would disappear.

  1. Security
  • Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students are safe.

Since our January Board meeting we worked to enhance safety at both the administrative team meeting and at the central office team meeting.

  1. Technology
  • Align the district budget to support the 5-year plan recommended by the Hinsdale District Technology Committee.

The Board has approved the funds needed in the FY 2018 budget needed to implement the first year of the five year Board approved technology plan.