Superintendent’s Blog – January 2018

Superintendent’s Report – January 2018

On Friday, December 15th area legislators met with Hinsdale administrators as well as Hinsdale Board members Sean Leary and Jim O’Malley. We discussed upcoming legislation. It was clear that the legislators present were sympathetic to our concerns related to the current State revenue shortfall to Hinsdale and its impact on our local tax rate. The largest loss of revenue from the State is due to a cut in June of 2017 of $100,000 to our stabilization grant.  We have set a 2018 tentative date of Friday, December 14th for our next meeting with our New Hampshire legislators.

As we prepare our budget for the review by the Hinsdale Budget Committee we noticed that in Cheshire Country many communities similar to Hinsdale have been hit hard recently by the combination of a State revenue shortfall and a decrease of the total of taxable property values in their community. For example current tax rates among like communities in Cheshire County are as follows:

In Keene, the tax rate is $37.22 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In Troy, the tax rate is $34.19 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In Winchester, the tax rate is $33.30 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In Jaffrey, the tax rate is $32.97 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In Sullivan, the tax rate is $31.80 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In Hinsdale, the tax rate is $30.41 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In Marlborough, the tax rate is $30.17 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In addition to absorbing the State revenue shortfall the Hinsdale School District is assuming costs associated with the opioid crisis. Our out-of-district costs have risen dramatically and 2/3rds of those students being assigned to an out-of-district placement are court ordered, primarily due to issues related to substance abuse in the home.  Hinsdale continues to stand out as a district that acquires a high percentage of State and Federal grants to offset local taxes.

On December 15th the Hinsdale Facilities Committee toured the Hinsdale Middle/High School.  The Committee recommended a plan to replace the tiles that had been popping up in the HMHS hallway. The Committee inspected the cracks in the bleachers and after investigating an odor emanating from a drain in the second floor boys’ restroom, recommended a potential solution. The facilities Committee also discussed our safety grant and recommended a plan regarding the implementation of LED lights. The Facilities Committee is in the early stages of composing a five-year Capital Improvement Plan to be considered by the full Board sometime this spring.  Items currently being considered include the following: HMHS boiler, HES gym floor, HES roof, HMHS bleachers, HMHS gym windows, soccer field fence, parking lot behind HES, and replacement vehicles.  The Facilities Committee does not recommend any of these projects be included in our 2018/ 2019 budget.

To date our HES addition/renovation project is on time and under budget. On Wednesday morning December 20th Mr. Boggio, Mr. O’Connor, Mr. Putnam, our project manager, and I met with the Hinsdale Building Inspector. The meeting was productive and there were no surprises.  The building inspector, Mr. Lawrence, agreed to try to be available when needed.

Our Hinsdale Construction Committee also met on December 20th. We reviewed the timeline and determined next steps. We also reviewed the specifications outlined in the bid package prepared by MacMillin.

Our Project Manager, with the help of Joe Boggio, Alan Putnam, and Steve Fecto led dozens of potential bidders through the Hinsdale Elementary School grounds and the HES building on Friday, December 22nd.

The Construction Committee is scheduled to review the construction contract at 10:00 am on Tuesday, January 30th.

The Hinsdale School Board is scheduled to meet at 6:00 pm, January 30th to hear a recommendation for a construction contract. Our Construction Manager will be at the meeting to assist with answering Board questions. Prior to that meeting our District attorney and District Insurance carrier will have had an opportunity to review the contract.

We recently received an Award of Excellence from PresenceLearning. Our award was one of twelve given across the country for use of live, online speech-language therapy and psychoeducational services to help support students with special needs. I applaud our Director of Student Services for demonstrating sound stewardship of District resources while meeting the needs of students who need speech or psychological services.

On December 14th I attended the 2nd-5th grade holiday concert which filled the HMHS gym. The excellent concert led by our elementary school music director Jessica Mahoney included “Jingle Bells” played by Hinsdale School District staff members.

I also attended a Hinsdale boys’ basketball game and a Hinsdale girls’ basketball game in December. Both teams look to be playoff bound. I also attended the heart-felt ceremony honoring Tony Fecto’s contribution to Hinsdale athletics.

We are making progress towards the 2017-2018 Hinsdale School Board Goals. 

2017-2018 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. 

As of December 20th we had 55% of Hinsdale Seniors accepted to at least one college.

We have completed our transition toolkits for our special needs students.

Thanks to a grant written by our Media Specialist, Victoria Davis, Hinsdale students will be participating in Robotics competition this coming year.

  1. Communication 
  • Internal 
  • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings. 
  • External 
  • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding a minimum of two forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town. 
  • Improve relationships with town governing bodies. 

The Board Communications Committee plans to organize a community forum this coming winter. At present the topic of the forum will likely be related to bullying

A joint meeting of the School Board and the Budget Committee is being scheduled for January, 2018.

We experienced about a 90% attendance rate at our HES open house.

Our PTSA has enjoyed improved attendance recently.

Our after school program has had personal contact at the end of the day with approximately 100 families.

We are beginning to use smart phone messaging to reach our parents. We are have started with parents of students currently involved in athletics.

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

We are continuing to strengthen our Professional Learning Community culture.

We are continuing to see a decrease in incidents of bullying.

We are in our second year of our District-wide social emotional learning curriculum implementation. At present, it appears that the social emotion curriculum is showing positive results. We plan to report out on the data points at the May or June Board meeting.

  1. Personnel 
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students. 
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community. 

We are providing instructional coaching workshops for our new teachers with our KtL coaches taking leadership roles.

The Board has approved an agreement between the Hinsdale School Board and the Hinsdale Support Staff Association. If the agreement is approved by the voters at the Annual District Meeting we should improve our rate of retention and our ability to hire high quality staff.

  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. 
  • Formulate a written facilities capital improvement plan.  

Our recently modified Facilities Committee is meeting on the third Friday each month at 2:15. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 19th. The committee hopes to create a capital improvement plan to recommend to the Board during this school year.

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

We have recently submitted two security grants to the State. We anticipate a notification of approval at any day, at which time the Board would be asked to accept the grant funds.  Our School Resource Officer Marcello D’Allesandro, our Director of Technology, Debbie Trabucco, and our Business Administrator Tom O’Connor have all participated in the grant application.

  1. Technology 
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the District Technology Committee. 
  • Formulate a written technology capital improvement plan.   

The first year implementation of our five-year technology plan continues to go well. We have included the costs associated with the second year of the five year plan in our 2018/2019 School District Budget.