Superintendent’s Report – February 2019

On Tuesday, February 5th the Hinsdale Budget Committee held their public hearing on the School District Budget. After hearing from the public the Budget Committee voted to recommend the operating budget that had been approved by the School Board. The Budget will appear as the First Article on the School District Warrant to be decided at the Annual School District Meeting at 9:00 am on Saturday, March 16th.

The second article on the Warrant is the three-year teacher contract. After hearing questions and comments from the public the Hinsdale Budget Committee voted to support this article. The article, if passed at the Hinsdale School District Meeting in March, would add $117,396 to our overall school district budget for 2019-2020.  If passed, the owner of a $100,000 house would pay approximately 83 cents per week to support our teachers cost-of-living increase.

The budget that the School Board presented to the Budget Committee included a long list of cuts from our 2018/2019 budget.  If the budget and the teacher contract, that was approved by the Hinsdale Budget Committee on February 5th, were approved at the Hinsdale March Annual District Meeting the impact on the tax rate is estimated to result in an overall decrease in taxes on the school side.

All our Hinsdale legislators are working hard to improve the level of anticipated revenue from the State.  Hinsdale State Representatives include Lucy Weber, Paul Birch, Cathy Harvey, and Mike Abbott.  Our State Senator is Jay Kahn. Senator Kahn serves as Chair of the Senate Education Committee.  He also serves on the Senate Finance Committee.

There are many positive signs related to increased revenue from the State for at least the next two years. For example, legislation regarding Stabilization Aid, which had been cut by about $200,000 over the past two years, looks to be rolled back to 2016 levels by the legislature this session.

Another area of revenue shortfall that the legislature looks to restore this session is Special Education Aid, a state revenue stream that is currently reimbursing Hinsdale at only 70.228% of the funds that are required by law.  Payments are prorated based on the shortfall appropriation and paid in the fiscal year after the expenditures were incurred. Over the past decade there has never been any catch up on prior years’ shortfalls.  Currently it appears that the legislature will pass a law this session requiring the State to meet current obligations.  The current legislature recognizes that, as with all the other unreimbursed State mandates, the erosion of this aid results in an increase in local property taxes.

In addition to restoring Stabilization Aid and Special Education Aid the legislature this session is debating the restoration of the State contribution to the employee retirement system.  Our employer contribution to the retirement system in the 2019/2020 budget is expected to exceed $850,000.

Also there are several bills that would increase per student adequacy funds for regular education students, students who are enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program, and kindergarten students.

Hinsdale staff have continued to work on the 2018-2019 School Board Goals.

2018-2019 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.
  • Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

As of February 6th, 53% of the Hinsdale Senior Class has already been accepted into at least one college. Currently 10% of the Senior Class is planning to join a branch of the military.

Our Hinsdale High School counselor, Paula Brault, reports that “two of our students will be completing their LNA coursework and licensure this spring (who are both planning to go on in the medical field while they work as an LNA).”  She also reports that “four students will be Certified Fiber Optic Technicians through their two-year work at WRCC (Career Center).  Other students who attended the career center have certifications such as CPR, Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), and one will have the ability to sit for the Vermont State Firefighter I exam with one additional course needed beyond graduation.”

The Professional Development Needs Assessment Survey completed this past spring was used to develop our plan for the April 22nd professional development day. Technology, the development of quality performance assessment tasks, and behavior management best practice are some of the areas of focus.

The principals at HES and HMHS report that we have made progress providing students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles. Teams at HES have used a Response to Intervention model to provide data-informed individualized student instruction.

  1. Communication
  • Internal
    • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings – 1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.
  • 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.
    • Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

Our School Board, business administrator and our cost center managers have met with the Hinsdale Budget Committee three times in an effort to provide the necessary budget justification for the 2019-2020 School District Budget.  We also outlined the justification for the teacher contract with the budget committee on two occasions. The Budget Committee voted 9-1 to recommend the budget that had been approved by the School Board. The Budget will appear as the First Article on the School District Warrant to be decided at the Annual School District Meeting at 9:00 am on Saturday, March 16th.  The second article on the Warrant is the three-year teacher contract. The Hinsdale Budget Committee voted 8-2 to support this article. The article, if passed at the Hinsdale School District Meeting in March, would add $117,396 to our overall school district budget for 2019-2020.  If passed, the owner of a $100,000 house would pay approximately 83 cents per week to support our teachers cost of living increase.

The School Board held a Public Forum on January 31st to allow residents to ask questions about the expenditures in the 2019/2020 proposed budget, and to discuss issues related to state and federal revenue.  There were approximately 30 people in attendance at the forum.  All five members of the Hinsdale School Board made informative presentations related to various budget items.

  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 have had four reported acts of bullying at HES since our last Board meeting. We had one alleged act of bullying at HMHS since our January 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 continue to provide quality PD for our staff.  Our afterschool support meetings as well as our individual support for new teachers adds a level of support not common in many New Hampshire schools.  Also, our recent professional development for our administrators regarding teacher teams helped promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive professional learning community.

  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.

The Public Hearing regarding our budget and proposed teacher contract on Tuesday, February 5th went well.  The Board and administration have done an excellent job of reaching out to the voters in order to satisfactorily answer their questions.  Our Business Administrator has worked very hard to satisfactorily answer all the questions from our Budget Committee as well as the questions from our public at the recent Hinsdale Budget Committee School Budget Hearing and at the School Board Budget Community Forum.

  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.

Our School Resource Officer, Marcello D’Allesandro, is led a table top drill on Tuesday February 12th at the Hinsdale Police Department. The drill also include Hinsdale school district administrators, Hinsdale Police Chief Faulkner, and four officers from the Hinsdale Police Department.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.

We are continuing to plan for the implementation of the third year of our five-year Technology Plan. Our seventh grade and our eleventh grade students are scheduled to be added to the one-to-one computer initiative next fall.

Our Director of Technology is in the process of creating a compliance plan regarding the new data governance legislation, HB 1612. This new law mandates information security for every school district. The statue require all school districts conduct a comprehensive information security risk plan. Complying with the new law by the deadline of June 30th, 2019 will involve all Hinsdale staff, not just the Director of Technology and her staff.