February 2020 Superintendent’s Blog

Superintendent’s Report – February 2020

In the last legislative session $500,000 was set aside to fund a commission that will study the New Hampshire education funding model and make recommendations to the legislature. There was no voiced objection from legislators to setting aside the $500,000 to do this work, suggesting legislators truly believe in the importance of the work of this commission.  The commission intends to hold 24 forums over the next several months regarding the system of school funding in New Hampshire, in an attempt to seek input from residents across the state.  The deadline for the commission report to the legislature is December 1, 2020. The recommendations made by this commission will likely have a long-term impact on our ability to fund a quality education for our Hinsdale students.

Shortly after meeting with our area legislators on October 18th our Senator, Jay Kahn, led the effort to create rules that should lead to the recovery of the Medicaid to Schools funds we were told we would lose due to a mid-year rule change. We were expecting to lose more than $150,000 in Medicaid to Schools reimbursement. The legislation that will allow us to maintain these funds is expected to pass soon by the legislature, and it has the support of the Governor.

In other legislation, it appears that going forward, credits through the “Learn Everywhere” program may only be authorized through the local School Board.

Many of our Board committees are scheduled to meet in February. All our Board committees are open to the public. Our Open Enrollment Study Committee meets on February 5th at 4:30 pm.  Our Student and Staff Safety Committee meets at 3:00 pm on Monday, February 10th and our Facilities Committee is scheduled to meet at 2:15 on Friday, February 28th.

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 February 5thth we already have more than 47% 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. Many school staff members and our School Board joined the Budget Committee at the Public Hearing on February 5th, 2020.  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. 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.  The Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team dissolved as their last official action on January 29th but not before passing a motion to recommend to our School Board a structure for a Behavioral Support Implementation Committee.

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 no reported incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Elementary School since our last Board meeting. For the second month in a row we have had no reported incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Middle/High School.

  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 four unfilled para positions.  We have engaged the services of a local area radio station to announce our openings to a wider audience.

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.

We are thankful for the hard work by our staff that resulted in a high percentage of grant funds this year. The Hinsdale School District continues to stand out as a district that acquires a high percentage of state and federal grants to offset local taxes. As a percentage of our expenditures, we typically procure approximately 10% more in grant funds than is common among New Hampshire Districts. Major grants for the current school year include: Hinsdale After School Program – $156, 688, Federal Title Grants used for reading, math, professional development, and technology – $418,472, special education and preschool grants – $185,183, our school lunch revenue which is mostly federal and state revenue is approximately $300,000, and state grants which include our per student Adequacy Grant, our Fiscal Disparity Aid and our Stabilization Grant total approximately $5,600,000. The total revenue we expect to procure this year from sources other than local property taxes is about $6,700,000. We are thankful for our business administrator who tracks these funds.  Our annual independent audits have been without a negative finding during my four years as your superintendent.

In another effort to add revenue from sources other than local property taxes, our Hinsdale School Board tasked an Open Enrollment Study Committee to consider options that would add tuition revenue from out-of-district students.  At our Annual School Board Meeting on February 5th the committee hopes to share information regarding an Open Enrollment Study Committee recommendation for a Hinsdale nonresident private tuition option that would be available to qualified nonresident students in grades 9-12. Our School Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, 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. Our Director of Facilities, our Business Administrator, our Director of Technology, our Systems Administrator our principals, and I met on January 27th to determine the costs associated with additional PA coverage and additional camera coverage. 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 approves the recommendations, the recommendations will be shared with the Board in hopes of Board adoption. The Facility Committee next meets on Friday, February 28th 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.