Superintendent’s Blog November 2019

Superintendent’s Report – November 2019

We recently had a great meeting with all our area legislators. Hinsdale administrators and Hinsdale Board members, Holly Kennedy, Sean Leary, James O’Malley, and Kaylah Hemlow met with all our State Representatives and our State Senator on Friday, October 18th.  Our state representatives present included Lucy Weber, Paul Birch, Cathy Harvey, and Mike Abbott. Our State Senator Jay Kahn was also present.  The Hinsdale Select Board Chair, Mike Darcy joined our discussion, at which time we outlined our concerns, primarily related to state funding. All our State Representatives and our State Senator are sympathetic to our concerns.

Although not certain, it appears that the Hinsdale tax rate on the taxable property in town is likely to drop. A significant portion of that drop in the local property tax rate can be attributed to the work done during the last legislative session by state elected officials.  As your superintendent I am so thankful that the continued shifting down of costs, associated with the state responsibility to fund an adequate education, has finally stopped. However, this change is only promised for this year and next year. It will be up to those elected officials who begin their work on a state budget in January, 2021 to create a law that honestly provides the constitutionally mandated state revenue needed to fund an adequate education for each student regardless of where the student resides in New Hampshire.

The current state budget includes $500,000 to fund a commission to study the current education funding formula, determine the real cost of an adequate education, and how best to pay for it.  Our Senator Jay Kahn has a prominent role on this commission. Hopefully, the work of this commission will result in law that better reflects our constitutional mandate regarding the state contribution to the revenue needed to provide an adequate education for each student in New Hampshire. Hopefully this new law that reflects real costs of providing an adequate education will be effect prior to the time we build our 2021-2022 budget.

We recently established a task force to review the recent incident where explosive devices were discovered in the Indian Acres neighborhood of Hinsdale. The task force has met several times and has created a list of recommendations, that if implemented should improve our response to similar events in the future. These recommendations will be included in the Board packet for the Board meeting scheduled for November 13th.

We continue to make progress on our Board goals. The 2019/ 2020 Board goals are as follows:

2019-2020 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive personalized 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.

Our teachers are working in professional learning community teams to develop performance tasks that line up with our grade level expectations. There was a lot of progress made during our October workshop day on Monday, October 14th. Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction organized the October workshop day and has outlined the progress made in her Board report.

Our ELO program continues to work on ensuring the grade level expectations and subject specific expectations are being met through our individualized student ELO experiences.

Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction coordinated communication among the Hinsdale 5th and 6th grade teachers of English language arts in an effort to improve the level of the continuity of the curriculum between the buildings.

  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.

We are currently working with the town to explore funding options to assist Hinsdale families with children who are too young for school. It is hoped that the School District and the Town could cooperate regarding seeking grant funds to help families prepare their children for school. Our Title 1 coordinator, the Director of the Hinsdale Afterschool Program, and Board member Kaylah Hemlow are working with the town to develop this early childhood program.

  1. Culture
  • Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior code, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.
  • 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 monthly to the board.

In October the Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team collected survey student behavior data from 58 Hinsdale staff members. There were 36 questions on the survey and the results were shared with a New Hampshire expert in social emotional learning and school-wide behavior support systems. The recommendations were shared with the Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team at their most recent meeting on Wednesday, October 23rd.

We have had six reporting incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Elementary School since our last Board meeting. Five were substantiated. We had one reported incident of bullying at HMHS since our last 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 currently have four unfilled para positions. We also currently have a shortage of available substitute teachers but we are making some progress regarding our pool of substitute teachers.

Our Director of Human Resources has organized a November program that focuses on kindness, gratitude, thankfulness, and happiness. We continue to work to establish a culture of caring in the Hinsdale School District. We are hopeful that this program will lead to happier more productive employees, who will want to continue to work in our schools.

Thanks to our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, the work of staff including our principals, our professional learning communities continue to improve. We contend that our strong culture of PLC’s will lead to employees who will enjoy working with their colleagues more than is typical in schools and ultimately will lead to an improved quality of education for our students.

We continue to provide regular para meetings at Hinsdale Elementary School and at Hinsdale High/Middle School.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
  • Work with administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.
  • Work with the administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Work with the administration to present a Warrant Article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

The Board’s Open Enrollment Study Committee met with our school district attorney on Wednesday, November 6th. We are considering options and are planning to have a recommendation ready for the December Board meeting. We had several questions for our attorney including the following: questions about the application process, questions concerning the criteria for selection, and questions concern existing contracts. Our next meeting is scheduled for December 4th at 5:00pm in the SAU Conference Room.

  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.

Facility Committee member and Board member James O’Malley created a spreadsheet of the recommendations made in a safety audit for Hinsdale Elementary School and Hinsdale Middle/High School.  The safety audit of the Hinsdale School District was completed over the summer by Homeland Security. Board member O’Malley’s spreadsheet allows for the Facility Committee to easily rank each recommendation by cost and impact. The Facility Committee next meets on Friday, November 15th.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data governance plan.

On Friday, October 18th our Director of Technology and our Network Administrator attended an all day workshop, “Schools, Technology and the Law. Sessions included the following: HB 1612 Compliance and Considerations, Privacy and the Use of Online Educational Services, New Hampshire Laws Impacting Schools, Managing School-Run Social Media, Employee Use of Social Media, and Student Use of Social Media. Our Director of Technology shared an overview of the workshop with our Administrative Team on November 6th.