June 2020 Superintendent Report

Superintendent’s Report – June 2020

As I write this report I am reminded that today is the 100th day since the first cased of COVID-19 was reported in New Hampshire. There is little doubt that the pandemic has led to a sudden pivot in the education experience we provided for our students. In less than an hour after our successful District Meeting on March 14th we started planning for what many thought would be a few weeks of remote learning. Well, three months later we still have much planning to do in order to safely provide education for our students in the fall. We anticipate COVID-19 will still be a determining factor as we consider bringing at least some of our students into our buildings.

Thankfully our staff have been working hard to develop an overarching plan that could be implemented regarding any of three scenarios.  The three scenarios include: remote learning 2.0, a traditional building based learning plan which will include mandatory social distancing, and a blend of remote learning and traditional learning.

Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Karen Craig is leading a School Reopening Steering Committee. This committee receives input daily from our numerous PLC’s regarding developmentally appropriate recommendations for reopening schools in Hinsdale. Our two school nurses and two parents serve on this committee. Of course the plan for each grade and individual subjects may look very different. We also have established subcommittees that are working on plans for transportation, meals, and general safety protocols. We are working with our athletic director regarding a recommendation regarding fall sports. A report which will included recommendations is expected from the steering committee prior to the July 22nd Hinsdale School Board meeting.

So far the only Department of Education in a New England State that has published guidance related to school reopening is Massachusetts. The preliminary Massachusetts guidance includes the recommendation for a class size of no more than 10 students. All students and staff would be required to wear a mask.

I am requesting that the Board make a decision regarding school reopening by August 5th and we communicate that decision to parents and staff on August 6th.

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.

Five Hinsdale students have recently changed their mind and now plan to attend a 2-year college rather than a four-year college. Two Hinsdale students have recently decided to take a gap year rather than attend college in the fall.

4-Year College: 32%

2-Year College: 26%

Workforce: 39%

Military: 3%

  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 Board Communications Committee is focusing on our communication with school families. We will certainly need a high level of communication with our school families as we work together to develop a reopening plan that will meet the needs of all involved.

  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.

We have had no reports of bullying since our May Board meeting. We are using time next week to begin our social emotional learning initiative.  Eric Mann will provide some training to our staff using the Zoom platform. We are extremely fortunate to have well established PLC groups.  The work of our PLC groups is crucial as we attempt to develop a successful plan for reopening.

  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 recently hired two district administrators to replace retiring administrators Alan Putnam and Karen Craig. Alan and Karen will both retire at the end of the June. First, we hired Catlin McLaughlin as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Catlin is certified in New Hampshire as a curriculum administrator, principal, and a middle school math teacher. She comes to us from SAU 44 in Northwood, NH.  She was employed in Northwood as Director of Curriculum. Prior to her work in Northwood, Catlin served as K-8 instructional coach for mathematics for Reading Public Schools in Reading, Massachusetts. Catlin will have an office on the second floor at HES. Catlin plans to spend some time with Karen Craig over the summer in order to become more familiar with Karen’s work, especially her work regarding our preparation for school opening in the fall. Second, we hired Shawn Lee as the Director of Facilities. Shawn has been in the construction field for 23 years. He spent 11 years as Project Superintendent for Baybutt Construction in Keene where he managed personnel and subcontractors on large-scale commercial construction projects. For the past seven years Shawn has owned and operated Integral Construction where he managed personnel including subcontractors. He has significant experience creating preventive maintenance schedules. Shawn currently serves on the Hinsdale Facility Committee and has served on the Hinsdale Building Improvement Committee.  The Building Improvement Committee provided the budget and the oversight for the new addition to the Hinsdale Elementary School. Shawn plans to spend some time with Alan Putnam in order to better understand the work flow and to meet our custodial and maintenance personnel.

  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 working hard to conclude our current year expenditures while trying to access grant funds that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We still haven’t received our CARES Act grant but we have been promised $188,678.  We have been told we should have access to the funds any day.

  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.

Our Director of HR has continued to procure PPE from the State.  Since we still don’t know what our opening will look like it is difficult to estimate our needs. However, it is likely that staff and students will be required to wear a mask. We also intend to provide frequent temperature checks, needed hand sanitizers and face shields. Our Director of Human Resources is working with the nurses and office staff to develop safety protocols appropriate for school reopening.

  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 that was passed on March 14th. We hope to access CARES Act funds that will allow us to purchase additional school computers.  At the next Board meeting I will present a proposal to use $37,468 from the CARES grant to purchase some staff computers and computers for the second, third, and fourth grade students.