Superintendent’s Report October 2020

Superintendent’s Report – October, 2020

I am proud to work with our Hinsdale staff members who have shown a tremendous level of dedication and commitment to providing quality education for our students, even during a global pandemic. Our first six weeks of managing both remote learning and in-the-classroom learning continues to impress me. Our students are indeed fortunate.

We are still in an enviable position regarding the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.   As of October 22nd, we have had no students or staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19.

In order to support community voting on Tuesday, November 3rd and make voting as safe as possible for everyone, voting will be conducted in the HMHS gym this year.  Due to the number of people using the school campus, this will now be a remote learning day for all students.  Learning packets will be provided in advance for those elementary school students that need them.

There are some additional changes to the Hinsdale School District 2020-2021 school year calendar.  In order to give the staff proper time to prepare for the start of the school year, with the challenges of combined in class and remote learners, two of the scheduled teacher workshop days were shifted to the start of the year before classes began. Due to this change March 15th and May 28th are now regularly scheduled class days for all staff and students.

With the end of the first quarter approaching, we have learned that there will be a high number of students shifting from remote learning to in class participation.  While we are thrilled that these students and their families are confident in our preparations for in class learning, this does require that we make some changes to accommodate many additional in class students.  To allow staff the proper preparation time to manage this new shift in remote and in class learner percentages, and also to allow for extended proper deep cleaning of our school to keep them safe for all, Friday’s, beginning on October 30th, will now be an early release day for all students.  HMHS students will be dismissed at 12:20 and HES students will be dismissed at 1:00.

The school board has created a policy to offer clarification on what the protocol would be should there be a positive COVID-19 test result within the school district. Learning will immediately be switched to remote for all students and staff for a minimum of 10 school days. The school board and administration will then work closely with state officials to determine when it is safe to return to in class learning. Communication with the school community would be a high priority should a switch to remote learning due to a positive test result were required.

Due to extreme caution, there has been a high instance of students and staff absenteeism as people quarantine or receive COVID testing to insure the safety for the school community.  This is not due to actual COVID cases, but the policy put in place that anyone exhibiting any possible COVID symptoms follow these protocols as a precaution.  To date there have been no positive COVID cases within the school community.  If at any time the absenteeism of students, staff or administration reach a level that negatively impact the ability to insure safety of all and provide quality education to our students we will switch to remote learning until the we are confident that attendance is at appropriate levels. This determination would be made at the school building level, elementary or HMHS, and may not necessarily affect the entire district.

We have been working on becoming a leader in the state regarding Performance Based Competency Assessment, (PACE). Our Director of Personalized Learning recently received notice that we are awarded a grant of up to $40,000 to be used for professional development related to PACE.

Our first CARES Act Grant for $179,000 has been approved by the NH Department of Education. Our Governor recently appropriated approximately $115,000 for the Hinsdale School District to help us cover COVID related expenses. Our administration is meeting on October 21st to begin preparing a list of items that would qualify.  This list would be submitted to the School Board for approval at their meeting scheduled for November 4th.

We continue to develop action plans to follow in order to accomplish the expectation described in the 2020/ 2021 Board Goals.

The 2020-2021 Hinsdale School Board Goals are as follows:

  1. Curriculum and Instruction

Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.

We recently hired a school counselor substitute who has previously worked in the field of career development at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.

Our Director of Personalized Learning continues to work with our students to ensure their learning is personalized as much as possible. Most of her time recently has been devoted to overseeing our remote learning program. We currently have about 20 percent of our Hinsdale student body engaged in remote learning.  We hope to use our recent PACE grant of $40,000 to help our instructors do an even better job of personalized learning.

Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction is leading the action plan to help coordinate a smooth learning transition between HES and HMHS.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

Most of our staff have recently received training in suicide prevention.  We have recently completed some assessments in reading and math. We are in the process of determining professional develop to address some of the deficits we have found in the data.  We are in the process of setting up professional development for PACE related adjustments to curriculum and instruction.

PACE-All grade levels will move towards performance assessment and enhanced personalized learning.

Our Director of Personalized Learning recently completed a grant that will help us move forward with our PACE directive.

2. Communication

Internal-Improve overall communication.

External-Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community in the following ways:

Continue to hold a minimum of two community forums during the school year.

Maintain a presence on other committees, boards and through attendance at community events in town.

Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

  1. Culture

Promote a culture of kindness and open communication.

We recently sent thank you messages to all staff. Our Director of Human Resources has sent out about one message a week since the beginning of the school year to help support our staff in the areas of physical and emotional health.

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

Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We plan to use our PLC’s to help pivot to remote instruction for all students whenever necessary.

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 incidents of bullying at HMHS or HES since our last Board meeting. 

Support the development of a diversity plan that can be integrated throughout the district. Our diversity team has completed a diversity complaint form. This team has also made recommendations regarding the current Board Diversity Policy. We hope to present these recommended changes to the Board at the November Board meeting. 

Acknowledge the diversity of student accomplishments in all areas. We have a team in the process of developing an action plan to better celebrate student accomplishments, especially as the celebration illustrates diverse members of the student body.

  1. Personnel

Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.

We seem to have managed to hire high quality staff even though we are hampered by the COVID pandemic. We are having difficulty finding enough substitute teachers and have five para positions unfilled.

  1. Financial

Support ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner. We are just starting to enter budget requests for next year. At present, I have not heard of any request to add staff to the staffing numbers in the current budget.

Work with the administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue. We have been approved for several grants since our last Board meeting.

 Work with the administration to present a warrant article to rebuild the expendable trust funds. We have not formulated an amount to recommend to the Board.

Work with the Administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.

Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding and expenditures and continue to provide detailed backup information for the budget. Our Business Administrator will lead the effort related to this action plan.

  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 and staff are safe. Our HMHS assistant principal is leading the effort in this area. The NH Governor spoke publicly on October 6th to his hope of providing more funding from the State to Districts to enhance safety.  Our Facilities Committee has a priority list, based on our most recent safety audit, that we are ready to use in order to make certain we are not left behind if the funds are made available on a first come, first served basis.

  1. Technology

Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.

Our Director Technology and her team are preparing the budget requests necessary to complete the final year of our 5-year Technology Plan.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

We continue to provide training that is needed, especially if we pivot to fully remote instruction.

  1. Facilities

Twice yearly School Board tours of all school buildings –1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.

Fully utilize all building spaces.

Currently we are fully utilizing our available instructional space. We anticipate that with the expected return of approximately 30 students at the beginning of second quarter we will need to be even more creative relative to the use of our available instructional space.