Superintendent’s April 2021 Report

Superintendent’s Report – April 2021

“The recently passed $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” includes $2,045,578 for Hinsdale schools. We were told that the ARP grant will be open for us sometime in late May. A major focus of the grant includes catch-up learning for students. It is likely that the funds from the American Rescue Plan must be spent by September of 2024 but we have not received the official word regarding a “spend by date.” Any of the funds in our allocation that are not spent when the grant window closes will go back to the state for reallocation to other New Hampshire school districts.

We will have a draft overview to present to the Board regarding the areas of expenditure we are recommending for the $857,000 ESSER II grant that was recently opened to us. The $857,000 “Response and Relief Supplemental Act” passed by congress in December also focused on catch-up learning.  Those funds must be spent by schools by September 2023.  After September 2023 any funds remaining in our grant account will be returned to the state to be reallocated to other school districts. As we prepare to expend these grant funds available to us we are trying to create efficiencies that will have long term benefits to the District. In addition, we are working to ensure that we are not obligating the District to any costs after the grant funds are exhausted.

In addition to addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, and children with disabilities​, the grants may also be used for the following:

Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the Hinsdale School District that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and children with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment. ​

Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students and children with disabilities.

Providing information and assistance to parents ​and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment.

Administering and using high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable, to accurately assess students’ academic progress and assist educators in meeting students’ academic needs, including through differentiating instruction. ​

Implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students.

Providing mental health services and supports for students and staff.

Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.

School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs. ​

Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement. ​

Activities to address the unique needs of low-income students.

Training and professional development for Hinsdale staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases. ​

Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of the Hinsdale District.

Tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education. ​

Currently the Hinsdale administration is recommending the areas of expenditure for ESSER II to include about $106,000 for technology, $170,000 for special education needs, about $60,000 for summer instruction, about $87,000 for substitute teachers, about $85,000 to replace our copiers, about $25,000 for professional development, about $120,000 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and about $13,000 to manage the grant.

We seem to have a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19 weekly.  As of April 26th the seven-day positivity rate for Cheshire County was 1.6 percent. The 14-day average number of new cases for Cheshire County is 14.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court sent the ConVal school funding case back to the Cheshire County Superior Court for a full trial. The lawsuit claims that the state does not fully fund a constitutionally “adequate” education. The American Civil Liberties Union and the New Hampshire School Boards Association signed in support of the suit. The ruling means school districts will have to wait months or years for a resolution of the lawsuit.

Congratulation to the Hinsdale Girls Varsity Basketball Team. The team won the State Championship for 2021.  In the championship game Colebrook was up 22-8 at the end of the first quarter and looked unstoppable. Undoubtedly, Colebrook was a talented team but as the game unfolded the Hinsdale girls clearly never lost the faith that they would prevail. There was no sense of panic, but rather a focused strong confidence that when the final buzzer sounded Hinsdale would have the championship win. The heart of the team was firmly anchored in the belief that they were better prepared and that, thanks to their coaches, were willing to put in whatever effort that was needed to win the game.

The Hinsdale Coaches include: Terry Bonnette, Sam Kilelee, and Chris Roberts. The Hinsdale players include: Kleay Steever, Addy Nardolillo, Brooke Pagach, Megan Roberts, Delaney Wilcox, Lilee Taylor, Lily Briggs, Olivia Pangelinan, Audrey Martin, Angelina Nardolillo, and Aleah Owen.

We continue to work to meet the 2020/ 2021 Board Goals.

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

  1. Curriculum and Instruction

We are considering many options that would help us achieve catch-up learning which could all be funded from the ESSER II and the ESSER III grants. We are recommending the formation of a task force to help with a strategic plan and with the expenditures related to the implementation of the strategic plan. Hinsdale administration recommends the following positions be included on the task force: two Board members, director of personalized learning, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, HES principal, HES teacher, HMHS teacher, reading specialist, HMHS principal or assistant principal, special education administrator, and library media specialist. If the Board approves the task force make up, we would bring names for the Board to select from to the May Board meeting.

Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

We would ask that this goal area be included in the work of the task force.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

There are many examples of needed training that should be grant fund eligible. Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment is focusing on professional development opportunities to be accomplished over the summer.

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. Once again newly available grant funds should help us achieve this end. The $250,000 grant managed by Karen Thompson should help us achieve this goal. Both the ESSER II grant and the ESSER III grant could also be used to help provide meaningful professional development in the area of personalized learning.

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

Our Director of Personalized Learning is managing a $250,000 grant that was recently approved which should fund our effort to help us move forward with our PACE directive. Our Director of Personalized Learning and our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment are working with the leaders at the New Hampshire Learning Initiative to create meaningful professional development for our staff. This professional learning could also be funding through ESSER II and ESSER III grants.

  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.

We would need to provide a public hearing regarding the ESSER III grant prior to agreeing to our grant priorities.  We could hold the public hearing just prior to our regular Board meeting in May or June.

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

Due to COVID-19 community events have been limited but beginning with this summer community events should be similar to those that took place in 2019 and not 2020.

Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

Board members serve on several town committees.

  1. Culture

 Promote a culture of kindness and open communication.

Our Director of Human Resources has been providing staff with frequent wellness related updates. She continues to coordinate donuts and coffee in the staff rooms on Friday afternoon as appreciation for the difficult work our staff is accomplishing during this trying time.

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. The District Behavioral Support Team is scheduled to next meet on Wednesday, April 14th.  Board member Kaylah Hemlow chairs the Behavioral Support Team. Under the ESSA II grant and the ESSER III grant Social Emotional Learning is a priority. The ESSA II grant of $857,000 will provide additional training and resources as needed through September 2023.The ESSER III grant should provide Social Emotional Learning support through September of 2024.

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 reported since our last Board meeting.

Support the development of a diversity plan that can be integrated throughout the district.

We intend to bring a new Diversity Plan to the May Board meeting. The plan will emphasize our effort to acknowledge the diversity of student accomplishments in all areas. The administrative team plans to endorse a plan at our administration meeting scheduled for May 5thth. Our Director of Student Services chairs our Diversity Committee.

  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 have several 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.  The Para Negotiations Committee has come to an agreement with the Hinsdale Support Staff Association leadership. This agreement has been approved by the Board and ratified by the HSSA.  The Hinsdale Town Budget Committee also approved the agreement.

Holly Kennedy and Sean Leary are the Board representatives on Para Negotiations Committee

  1. Financial

Support ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.

We cut personnel by 3.4 positions in the budget that was approved by the Board and the Budget committee.

Work with the administration to present a warrant article to rebuild the expendable trust funds. 

Given the personal hardships in our community, that were a result of the current pandemic, the Board chose not to present a warrant article to rebuild the expendable trust funds this year.

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. Recently Board representatives have met with Budget Committee leadership regarding anticipated revenue.

  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. We have available grant funds to cover our needs. In addition, FEMA has just announced another round of funding for schools. Our Director of Facilities recently procured a free pallet of PPE for the Hinsdale Schools.

  1. Technology

 Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year technology plan.

Due to the number of students who are engaged with our remote learning model we are focusing on identifying the 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.  We will soon be able to use grant funds for additional training and are planning quality summer professional for any staff member who wishes to participate.

  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. The Board Chair, Sear Leary, toured HES on Friday, March 26th.

Fully utilize all building spaces.

We are currently doing a great job of utilizing our building spaces for instruction as evidenced by our ability to provide in-person instruction five days a week.