Superintendent’s Report – January 2021
I am grateful that, unlike most districts in New Hampshire, our enrollment has remained at pre-pandemic levels. As a consequence, we are better positioned to avoid a serious revenue shortfall related to per-pupil funding from the State. We are, however, in a position to lose funding related to our free/reduced lunch count. Early on in the pandemic all school districts received a waiver to expand access to free and reduced lunch for students to make sure that students in need could receive free school meals. Once that waiver occurred there was little incentive for our parents to fill out forms related to qualifying for free/reduced lunch. Just like the vast majority of school districts in the country. State Senator Jay Kahn recently sponsored a bill that would allow districts to use free/reduced numbers from the fall of 2019 in order to hold districts harmless for changes in free/reduced numbers that are a result of the pandemic. Senator Kahn argues that true eligibility for free/reduced lunch has likely increased this past year, not decreased.
In addition to the Bill to improve our free/reduced lunch revenue there is an LSR (887) dealing with state disparity aid for FY 2022 and another LSR (1052) for disparity aid for FY 2023. Both of these Legislative Service Requests will likely become Bills over the next few weeks. As written LSR 887 would add about $490,000 in State disparity aid for the Hinsdale School District next year.
The State is expecting to receive significant revenue for schools from the Federal Government. A few days ago President Biden proposed a bill to Congress that includes $130 billion in dedicated funding for K-12 schools and another $350 billion in state and local aid designed to help districts cope with the budgetary fallout of the pandemic. Additionally, the president wants to use FEMA disaster relief funds to reimburse schools for personal protective equipment and plans to devote additional resources to screening, testing, and tracing programs for schools. While those proposals will need Congressional approval, reopening guidance plans have already been set in motion through an executive order establishing a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse.
Also, in the Hinsdale School District we are expecting about $180,000 over the next month from the stimulus bill passed by Congress in December.
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:
- Curriculum and Instruction
Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
We are working closely with our seniors to help develop their post high school plans. There are still many questions regarding the status of post-secondary learning options but at this time most colleges plan to open in the fall in a more traditional on-site learning environment. Some students are waiting for a more definitive determination of in-person learning before they commit to paying for their first semester.
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. Her remote learning group of students frequently change but so far I am confident our remote students are getting a high quality education.
Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.
Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is creating a strategic plan which, if implemented, should help coordinate a smooth learning transition between HES and HMHS.
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 wrote a grant that was approved in the late fall and should fund our effort to help us move forward with our PACE directive.
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 has met with the Hinsdale Budget Committee twice in 2021 and intends to meet again with the budget committee on February 1st.
Promote a culture of kindness and open communication.
Our Director of Human Resources has been providing staff with frequent wellness related updates. Our administrative team plans to devote time at their February 17th meeting to work on this goal.
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. The District Behavioral Support Team met on January 27th and has set their next meeting date of April 14th to continue to coordinate this effort. Board member Kaylah Hemlow chairs the Behavioral Support Team.
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 zero 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.
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.
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 has come to a tentative agreement with Hinsdale Support Staff Association leadership. Hopefully this tentative agreement will be approved by the Board and ratified by the HSSA. 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 receiving an addition $180,000 in the next month as a result of the stimulus bill passed by Congress in December. 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 third meeting in the past month with the Budget Committee is scheduled for February 1st.
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.
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.
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.