December 2021 Superintendent Report

Superintendent’s Report – December 2021

As I write this report on Wednesday, December 1st, the 7-day COVID-19 test positivity rate for Cheshire County was 8.6%. When I wrote my report one month ago the positivity rate for Cheshire County was 4.6%%. As of December 1st we had 629 positive cases of COVID-19 identified in Cheshire County during the previous fourteen days. When I wrote my Board report one month ago we had 359 positive cases of COVID-19 in Cheshire County over the previous 14 days.

Information on our COVID-19 Dashboard includes the total cases of identified COVID-19 in our School District each month since the beginning of the school year and the number of active cases by school in our District. Since the beginning of the school year we have had 73 cases of COVID-19 in the District, 41 cases have been at the Hinsdale Elementary School and 32 cases have been at Hinsdale Middle/High School.  As of December 13th we had eight active cases of COVID-19 in the Hinsdale School District.

The Omicron variant is likely to further complicate our ability to provide a quality education for our students during this pandemic. It appears that the Omicron variant spreads more easily than the Delta variant which now accounts for more than 99% of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

We are working to build a conservative operating budget for the 2022/2023 school year. Our cost center managers reviewed the draft budget on Wednesday, November 3rd, and on Monday, November 8th.  Our Finance Committee received the draft budget on Monday, November 8th and made several reductions. The School Board reviewed the budget on November 10th and made several reductions. The School Board met again on December 1st and made further reductions to the budget. The Board plans to review the the District budget again at their monthly Board meeting on Wednesday, December 8th. The Hinsdale Budget Committee plans to review the Hinsdale School District Budget at their meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 5th.

We continue to fund approved activities through our three ESSER grants. Our ESSER I grant (CARES Act) of $188,678.75 needs to be expended by September 30, 2022. To date we have expended funds from ESSER I for the following items: books to support remote learning, supplies to minimize spread of pathogens, storage for excess furniture, special education transportation, special education purchased services, and special education staff time, out of district special education tuition, substitute teachers, social worker assistant at HES, laptops for students and staff, increased internet bandwidth, webcams and related wiring. We have approximately $3,000 remaining in ESSER I. We hope to use the remaining $3,000 to purchase more masks.

We have a total allocation of $858,280.07 for our ESSER II grant (American Recovery Plan). These grant funds must be spent by 9/30/23 or the remaining funds will be distributed to other districts in the state. Our approved ESSER II expenses include the following: cleaning supplies, portable storage units, professional development with New Hampshire Learning Initiative, grant management, stipends for summer professional development, a social worker assistant, an increase in pay for substitutes, one full time substitute in each building, funds to offset Covid-19 related substitute costs, a COVID custodian, summer school staffing, copiers, Keys to Literacy training and coaching, laptops, smartboards, document cameras, offsite backup, general supplies, special education compensatory education staffing, a Life Skills Program paraprofessional, and out-of-district special education tuition and transportation.

To date our allocation for our ESSER III grant (American Rescue Plan) is $1,929,462.25. We have until 9/30/24 to expend these funds.  Any funds remaining after 9/30/2024 will be sent back to the state to be distributed to other districts. Our approved ESSER III allocation includes funds for library books and books for students to take home, a school district network upgrade, a social emotional learning program for the middle/high school and related stipends for teachers to become trained, after school tutoring and after school bus transportation, NH Dance Institute Residency program, job embedded professional development – teachers will be released for this while students work with contracted service provider on social emotional learning, a graduate curriculum and leadership program through Keene State College. In addition, we have hired a middle/high school math interventionist and a middle/high school literacy interventionist, a part-time literacy coach at Hinsdale Elementary School, behavioral services support program, funds to support an ESSER III grant manager and funds for an ESSER III grant accountant. We are still looking for a part-time math coach at HES. Several administrators are scheduled to meet with our ESSER grant manager on Monday, December 6th. During that meeting we intend to propose we revise the ESSER III grant to include a part-time nurse to assist in the administration of the rapid response COVID-19 tests. We intend to add the expense of two printers into the grant. We hope to add expenses related to Social Emotional Learning out-of-district placements that are a result of the pandemic. We also hope to add expenses related to rapid COVID-19 tests.

2021-2022 District Goals

Curriculum and Instruction

The team leader is our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Karen Thompson. Team members include our HMHS Principal, our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services and our HES Special Education Coordinator.

Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

 We have established a transition team that includes 6th grade teachers and middle school teachers. The team intends to meet 2-3 times a year. 

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

Our Professional Development Master Plan is due this year and our CIA Director is in the process of scheduling meetings to accomplish this state mandate.

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

We are using grant funds to contract with New Hampshire Learning Initiative to strengthen our efforts related to personalized learning.

Communication

The team leader is our Director of HR, Ann Diorio. Team members include our HMHS Principal and her assistant, our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services, our Director of Technology and, as needed, the Superintendent.  

Improve overall communication.  

We continue to update our community regarding our COVID-19 status.

Culture

The team leader for our Culture Goal is our HMHS Principal, Ann Freitag. Team members include our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services and our HES Special Education Coordinator.  

Promote a culture of kindness and open communication.

 We had 140 parents at the recent HMHS Open House which certainly improves our ability to provide better individualized communication.

 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. 

Our school behavior support teams and our district-wide behavior support team have been meeting regularly to facilitate the creation and implementation of a district-wide behavior plan.

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

We are working with NHLI to improve the PLC component of our organization.

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 had zero reports of bullying at HMHS since our November Board meeting. We had one substantiated report of bullying and one unsubstantiated report of bullying at HES since our last Board meeting.

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

Our Diversity Committee is working to revise our plan to make certain our plan is in alignment with House Bill 297 and HB 298.

Personnel

 The team leader is our Director of HR, Ann Diorio. Team members include our HMHS Principal, our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services and our HMHS Assistant Principal. 

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

 Even in this tight job market we have been able to attract the staff necessary to maintain our in-person learning model.

Financial 

The team leader is our Business Administrator, Jodie Holmquist. Team members include our HMHS Principal, our HES Principal, our Director of Human Resources and the Superintendent.

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

Our Business Administrator intends to meet with the above team members after the Budget is approved to debrief and to develop a budget development process improvement plan to be implemented in the fall of 2022.

Security

 The team leader is our HMHS Assistant Principal, Chris Ponce. Team members include our HES Principal, our Network Administrator, and our School Resource Officer.

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 fire chief has recently inspected our buildings and concluded we are meeting the expectations that are outlined in the law. The team is also pursuing grants to be used to enhance safety.

 Technology

The team leader is our Director of Technology, Debbie Trabucco, Team members include our Network Administrator and our Tech Support Specialist.

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

Our technology team is recommending a one-year extension of our five-year plan.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings

The technology team has implemented cyber security training for all staff. The technology team is in the process of implementing document camera training for our teachers.

Facilities 

The team leader is our Business Administrator, Jodie Holmquist. Team members include our Director of Buildings and Grounds and the Superintendent.

 Fully utilize all building spaces.

 We continue to use almost all our available spaces for our education program.