Superintendent’s February Report

Superintendent’s Report – February 2022

As of Monday, February 28th, the 7-day COVID-19 test positivity rate for Cheshire County was 7.2%. When I wrote my January report the seven-day test positivity rate for Cheshire County was 18.8%%. As of Monday, February 28th we had 342 positive cases of COVID-19 identified in Cheshire County during the previous fourteen days. When I wrote my January Board report we had 1324 positive cases of COVID-19 in Cheshire County over the previous 14 days. We are indeed fortunate to be going the right direction after months of the Omicron surge.

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 200 known cases of COVID-19 in the District, 116 cases have been at Hinsdale Elementary School and 84 cases have been at Hinsdale Middle/High School. As of February 28th we had one active case of COVID-19 in the Hinsdale School District. The majority of positive cases in the Hinsdale School District this school year occurred in January.

We are now able to test our students and staff when necessary. Of course we would not test a student without written permission from a parent or guardian.

At 6:15 pm on Monday, February 28th the School Board intends to revisit our current COVID-19 policy and determine if we need to revise the policy in light of the recent announcement by our Governor concerning mask mandates.

We have continued to work with the Budget Committee and our public to better understand the 2022-2023 School District Budget. In response to a recommendation by the Budget Committee the School Board met on January 26th and further reduced the School District Budget by about $52,000.  At the next Budget Committee meeting the Budget Committee added a $47,000 cut to the budget. The School Board does not recommend this $47,000 cut to the 2022/2023 budget.  The School Board is hosting a Public Forum at 6:30 on Wednesday, March 2nd to answer any questions related to the proposed budget and to provide additional information to help clarify the School Boards’ proposed 2022/2023 proposed. budget The Hinsdale School District meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 12th in the Hinsdale Middle/High School Gymnasium.

Maria Webb has been hired as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent. Maria comes to us from Sullivan, Maine, where she served as the Administrative Assistant for Adult Education. Prior to her position in Sullivan, Maine she was an Administrative Assistant for the Special Education Department at Keene Middle School. Maria is a graduate of Smith College and has just moved back to the area.

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 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 we have spent about 2/3rds of our ESSER II allocation of $858.280.07.

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 intend to add the expense of two printers into the grant. We hope to add expenses related to an SEL out-of-district placement that is a result of the pandemic. We also hope to add expenses related to rapid COVID-19 tests, and expenses related to hiring a substitute nurse.  We have spent about 1/4th of our ESSER III allocation of $1,929,462.25.

2021-2022 District Goals

  1. 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.

Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment is working with our teachers and administrators to interpret the recent assessment data in order to better develop an effective action plan for improvement. She will share her recommendations for improvement in the coming months.

Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment has recently been trained in using the Professional Learning Community model to improve student learning outcomes.

 Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings. 

We have established a transition team that includes 5th grade teachers and middle school teachers. The team intends to meet 2-3 times a year.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

We are looking ahead to our 2022/2023 school calendar to determine if we can find more time for professional development without adding to the 180 student contact days.  Our administrators intend to propose a calendar that would include an early release day each quarter for the purpose of professional development for our teachers and paras.

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. We recently received a $250,000 five-year “Out of School Time Career Pathways Program Grant.”  Only four districts in New Hampshire received these grant funds. The largest district to receive this grant was Manchester and the smallest district was Hinsdale. This grant will assist students in attaining credentialing in high-tech manufacturing, science related fields, technology, engineering, and math related fields. This grant will allow our students to participate in paid internships while gaining skills and knowledge towards an industry recognized credential. Our grant program in Hinsdale will build upon our established Extended Learning Opportunity program and will help to implement opportunities that are not always available in our current Extended Learning Opportunity program structure.

  1. 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 regularity regarding our COVID-19 status. We update our COVID-19 Dashboard during each school day.

  1. 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.

 Our Director of Human Resources has been sending out an uplifting note to staff each Friday. Both principals are communicating regularly with staff and frequently including uplifting messages.

 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. The pandemic has been difficult for many of our students. Dealing with the unseen threat of COVID while continuing to regulate emotions and learning to work well with others has been especially difficult. This issue is nationwide.

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

We are working with NHLI to improve the PLC component of our organization. Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment has recently been trained in using the Professional Learning Community model to improve student learning outcomes.

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 one report of cyber bullying at HMHS which is still under investigation. We have had one substantiated incident of bullying in the HMHS since our January Board meeting. We had one substantiated 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. The chair of our Diversity Committee organized a workshop for staff. The workshop “Prohibited Concepts in the Classroom” was taught by a New Hampshire attorney who is familiar with the new state mandate.

  1. 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 the Hinsdale in-person learning model. We have used numerous examples of advertising sources in order to spread our message that we have jobs available and that Hinsdale is a great place to work. Unfortunately, we still have several job openings in the district.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. Each staff member has to log in monthly for training. The technology team is in the process of implementing document camera training for our teachers

  1. 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. Our business and administrator and I toured both buildings on January 4th and determined that we are fully using our available space. We are still doing our best to make certain our students are separated at least three feet.  Our custodians are separating desks whenever they see the desks are too close together.