December 2019 Superintendent’s Blog

We have made significant progress towards improving student and staff safety. Recommendations regarding an effort to improve our response to emergency situations were approved by the Hinsdale School Board on November 13th. Recommendations that were approved by the Hinsdale School Board include the following: Information will be sent to families specific to an emergency situation with priority given to families involved in the incident prior to an “all call.”  In the event of an emergency an alternative location, with all the necessary technology, will be required of all SAU personnel. Incident Command will communicate directly with the Public Information Officer. The Public Information Officer will disseminate information to the School Board, Superintendent, school receptionists, all additional Hinsdale School District personnel, the Windham Regional Career Center, our bus company, our ELO drivers, parents, and the community. In addition, going forward school receptionists will field all incoming calls and will respond as directed by our Public Information Officer.  Our list of students and their families will be updated in our student management system monthly.

Our staff have worked hard to prepare a 2020/2021 budget that will address the needs of our students. This budget reflects the priorities as defined by the Hinsdale School Board Goals. Certainly our ability to provide the best possible education for Hinsdale students depends primarily on the quality of our staff.  In order to keep highly qualified and effective staff, especially in a time of full employment, we must make every effort to provide a culture of trust and the financial support they need to do effectively to their job.

The budget the administration is presenting to the Board on Wednesday, December 4th includes one new faculty position at our elementary school and no new positions at the Middle/High School. Class size concerns and the makeup of the classes in our incoming fourth grade were the two most significant factors leading to the decision to recommend an additional section of fourth grade for 2020/2021.

We have tried to combine two positions at HES for the past two years but have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we needed to go back to an earlier staffing pattern to best meet the needs of our elementary students.

The Board has asked the administration to look ahead to anticipated retirements over the next few years and to do our best to plan for the transitions. The budget we are presenting to the Board for 2020/2021 includes our best attempt at strategically planning for the anticipated retirements.

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 2020/2021 proposed budget reflects support for PACE training including the effort to validate our performance assessment protocol. Our proposed budget also includes more support for staffing to oversee the coordination of collaboration of instruction between the buildings. The budget also provides additional support in the areas of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

  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.

The Hinsdale School Board and the Hinsdale Budget Committee are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 8th to discuss the proposed 2020/2021 School District Budget.

  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.

On November 20th the Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team voted 10-0 to recommend that the Hinsdale School District partner with the New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports for the 2020/2021 school year. The administration placed $10,000 in the 2020/2021 budget to pay for the support that will be provided to students, staff, parents, and the community as we develop an infrastructure to support this effort.

We recently established a HMHS Student and Staff Safety Committee.  The following staff have agreed to serve on this committee: Ann Freitag, Tom Ronning, Tim Fleming, Sarah Burgess, Tim Benson, and Karen Thompson. I will also be serving on this committee. At our first meeting we plan to elect officers and begin the work on a mission statement and goals.  Our first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 11th at 3:00 pm.

We have had two reporting incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Elementary School since our last Board meeting. Both reports were substantiated. We had one alleged incident of bullying at HMHS since our last Board meeting. That alleged incident is still under investigation.

  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 one unfilled para positions. We are making some progress regarding our pool of substitute teachers. We currently have 25 substitutes on our call list.

Our Director of Human Resources has organized a December holiday finery contest.  Everyone who participates gets a medal, in this kinder version of the “ugly sweater” contest.

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 will not be ready to make a recommendation to the Board in December.  However, it seems unlikely that we will need a Warrant Article that deals with this matter on the March 2020 District Warrant. We are next scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 8th.

  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.

The Hinsdale School District Facility Committee recently reviewed the security audit information spreadsheet, created by Jim O’Malley.  We are considering the cost vs risk benefit of each item. The Facility Committee next meets on Friday, January 17th.

  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.

Our proposed budget supports the fourth year in our five-year Technology Plan. Our technology staff continue to meet with staff to successfully implement our new data governance plan.