January Superintendent’s Blog

Superintendent’s Blog – January 2020

December was a festive month in the Hinsdale Schools.

Thankfully, I was able to attend a great Hinsdale Elementary School band and choral concert on Thursday, December 12th. The HMHS gym was filled to capacity with adults who, from the sound of their applause, truly enjoyed the concert.

We held numerous holiday related events that were meant to help remind our students and staff that we care about each and every person in our organization, and that kindness is integral to our Hinsdale school culture. Beginning in late November staff posted what they were grateful for on our employee Yammer account.  In December, Hinsdale Elementary students placed gratitude ornaments on trees when they did something kind. Small groups of HES students sang holiday songs in the hallways of both buildings in mid-December. Also in mid-December we had a small group of students playing ukuleles in the hallways and we had one student play holiday music on a violin for several classes. Our director of human resources organized a holiday finery contest with winners in both the staff and student category. About 50 people participated by dressing in holiday finery and several times that number participated by voting for their favorite holiday finery outfit.

On Wednesday, December 18th I was able to help my wife teach her volunteer Hinsdale Elementary School Book Club. We reviewed the popular graphic novel “Smile.” On January 8th each student in the book club received an autographed copy of my wife’s new graphic novel, “Cub.” All the books taught during the book club, as well as my wife’s new book, were provided to the students as a gift to keep, at our expense.

Many of our new Board committees are scheduled to meet in January. All our Board committees are open to the public. Our Open Enrollment Committee meets on January 8th at 5:00 pm.  Our Student and Staff Safety Committee meets at 3:00 pm on Monday, January 13th and our Behavior Support Team meets at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, January 29th.

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.

As of January 7th we already have more than 30% of our seniors admitted to a college or university.

As part of our effort to develop a budget that supports our Board goals we have added oversight of the standardized test assessments to the job description of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction beginning in the fall of 2020.  Most districts link curriculum, instruction, and assessment as that combination is indicative of best practice.

  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 School Board met with the Town Budget Committee on Wednesday, January 8th in an effort to provide the Budget Committee with the rationale and justification for the proposed 2020/2021 School District Budget. We value the cordial relationship we have with the Hinsdale Budget Committee. The Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, currently serves as the Board’s representative to the Budget Committee.

  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.

The Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team recommended we partner with the New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports beginning in the 2020/2021 school year. This recommendation was unanimously approved by the School Board at their regular December Board meeting. We have included $10,000 in our 2020/2021 proposed budget to be used for staff training, student support, and parent support regarding this effort to improve student behavior.

Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction continues to spend one day each week at the Hinsdale Elementary School where she works with elementary teachers to support their effort to improve student learning.

We have had one reported incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Elementary School since our last Board meeting. The reported incident was not substantiated. We have had no reported incidents 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 a one unfilled para positions.

We continue to make progress regarding the development of high quality professional learning community teams.

  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 again on Wednesday, January 8th. The committee is considering an open enrollment option and a tuition agreement option.  With Board approval, the committee hopes to share our progress with those who attend our District Meeting under the article that references committee reports. Our Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, also chairs the Open Enrollment Study Committee.

  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 Facility Committee continues to work on determining a cost/benefit priority list regarding the list of recommendations made in the recent safety audit for Hinsdale Elementary School and Hinsdale Middle/High School completed by Homeland Security. So far we have not identified any grant funds that are available through the State to assist our efforts. The last time we received a Homeland Security audit we were able to write grants to secure 80% of the cost of safety upgrades. Once the Facility Committee prioritizes the recommendations, the recommendations will be shared with the Board in hopes of Board adoption. The Facility Committee next meets on Friday, January 17th at 2:15.

  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.

We are currently implementing the third year of our five-year Technology Plan. Funds to add our 8th grade and our 12th grade students to the one-one initiative are included in our 2020/2021 School District Budget, as was identified in year four of our Technology Plan.