Superintendent’s Report – December 2020

Superintendent’s Report – December, 2020

As promised, the Hinsdale School Board wants to keep the school community updated on any changes in schedule or policies as they relate to the current pandemic as quickly as possible.  To that end the Board composed the following message that I am sharing with you.

“Due to high levels of absenteeism after Thanksgiving break, and in an effort to minimize community spread of COVID-19, students will be learning remotely immediately following the winter break. Remote learning will begin January 4th and go until January 15th. Students will return to in-person learning on January 19th after the Martin Luther King holiday.

  • If you are an in-class student, you may not “opt” to be remote on certain days.  If you are out of class for any reason that is not a COVID related issue, which has been reported to the school nurse, you will be considered absent for that day and may not participate in remote learning.  Any exceptions that need to be made will need to be discussed and approved prior to the event by the building principal and necessary teachers.
  • If you or anyone in your home travels outside of the New England states of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, you are required to self-quarantine for 10 days, starting the day of return to New Hampshire per the New Hampshire state travel restrictions.
  • If anyone in your home received a COVID-19 test due to symptoms or exposure to the virus, you must inform the school nurse.
  • If you have received a COVID-19 test and are awaiting results you must notify the school nurse.  Proof of a negative test must be provided, in writing, or a full quarantine period must be completed before you may return to school.  
  • School district quarantine guidelines will follow whatever is the current recommendation of the CDC.   These guidelines currently state that 10 days of quarantine are required after exposure as long as no symptoms arise during that 10-day period.
  • Families in the Hinsdale School District have the option to keep their child home to engage in remote learning.  It is our policy that if a parent chooses this option the child must remain remote until the end of the quarter.
  • As always, we will communicate any updates or changes as they happen.  This continues to be a very fluid situation for everyone, and we appreciate the effort of the entire community as we continue to navigate these challenging times together.”

Our overall enrollment continues to hold study.  We have about 10 more K-12 students in Hinsdale than we did at this time last year.

Please join me in welcoming Debbie Godin as our Hinsdale School District staff accountant. December 1st was her first day on the job as part of the Hinsdale School District team. Debbie comes to us from Athol-Royalston Regional School District in Massachusetts where she served for 15 years as payroll specialist. Prior to her position at the Athol-Royalston Regional School District she was the bookkeeper at Esleeck Manufacturing in Massachusetts. Debbie is familiar with our accounting software, however, please be patient with her as she builds an understanding of all our business systems including payroll, budget, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and benefits.  You can reach Debbie at ext. 7683 or at her work email which is dgodin@hnhsd.org.

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 high school counselor who has previously worked in the field of career development at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  He is working closely with our seniors to help develop their post high school plans. 

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

Our Director of Personalized Learning, who also serves as our Director of Remote Learning, has been focusing most of her time on the 20% of our students who are engaged in remote learning only. On November 30th we added about 15 students to the remote learner list. 

Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is leading the action plan to help coordinate a smooth learning transition between HES and HMHS. At present she had focused her effort on reading. She has reviewed our reading data and plans to develop a plan, that if implemented, should result in improved test scores in reading.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

Our Director and Personalized Learning and our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment are coordinating professional development opportunities 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 announced that a grant she had written in the fall was approved and should fund our effort to help us move forward with our PACE directive.

  1. Communication

Internal-Improve overall communication.

Our Board continues to frequently update the public as part of the new Communication Plan approved by the Board in September.  The new communication plan is driven by the need to more quickly and thoroughly communicate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

The School Board plans to meet with the Town Budget Committee in January.

  1. Culture

Promote a culture of kindness and open communication.

Our Director of Human Resources has been providing staff with mindful, positive mesages each week.

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.

The Behavioral Support Team in each school have been working on their building school wide behavior plans. Recently our District Behavioral Support Team Steering Committee agreed to recommend that $10,000 be placed in the 2021/2022 budget to fund our effort to reach this goal.

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

We are planning to use grant funds again next year to continue to support our Professional Learning Communities.

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 zero incidents of bullying at HMHS and two incidents of bullying at HES since our last Board meeting.

Support the development of a diversity plan that can be integrated throughout the district. The Diversity Team is currently reviewing one complaint regarding a situation that allegedly occurred with a HMHS student.

 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 still have five para positions that remain unfilled. Thanks to Board action we now have four long-term substitutes that are being used to help meet our social distancing guidelines.

  1. Financial

Support ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner. The administration is not recommending adding staff for the 2021/2022 budget. The Para Negotiations Committee is meeting frequently with the Hinsdale Support Staff Association leadership in order to draft an agreement to present to the Board and, if approved by the Board, to present to the District voters in March of 2021. Holly Kennedy and Sean Leary are the Board representatives on Para Negotiations Committee.

Work with the administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue. We anticipate another grant as a result of federal budget action. This grant will be the third grant resulting from the federal response to financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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. Our Business Administrator is presenting his estimate to the Board each month.

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 first meeting with the Budget Committee is scheduled for January.

  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. We are focusing our efforts on providing the needed PPE and frequently sanitizing our buildings.

  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.  Due to the number of students who are engaged with our remote learning model we are currently focusing on finding grants funds to support the technology needs for remote learning.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

We continue to provide the training that is needed to meet the needs of our remote learner.

  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.

We are currently doing a great job of utilizing our building spaces for instruction.