Superintendent’s Report – August 2022
Our students returned on Tuesday, August 30th for their first day in class for the 2022/2023 school year.
Our elementary school open house on Monday, August 29th was well attended with about 80% of our HES parents in attendance. In addition, our sixth grade open house on Thursday, August 25th was also well attended.
Numerous search committees met over the summer to help select the best candidates for our many openings. We have made 19 new hires over the summer. To date our new hires include the following: Second Grade Teachers Michel Pion and Kassandra Anderson, Kindergarten Teacher Pam Bressett, HES school counselor Morgan Braniff, HES paras Vanessa Johnson, Whitney Reed, Cassandra Barry, Jessica Seymour, and Amy Avery, HMHS principal John Barth, HHS counselor Matt Azzaro and HMS counselor Joe Smith, HMS case manager Kara Garvey, HMHS full time substitute teacher Alicia Muller, HMHS Spanish teacher William Frazier, HMHS paras Kim Whelch and Kleay Steever, technical support specialist Connor Martin, network support administrator Shawn Wood, and manager of human resources Sarah Tatro.
The unemployment rate is as low as it has been in more than 50 years, and as a result it has become increasingly difficult to fill all our open positions. We opened the school year with some positions unfilled. Current openings include: substitute teachers, HES math interventionist, HES math instructional coach, Title I tutors, HMHS science teacher, HMHS literary interventionist, school psychologist, and HMHS part-time van driver.
On August 11th, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released updated guidance for COVID-19 in schools and child care settings. Last school year, the Hinsdale School District followed CDC guidance and plans to continue to do so for the 2022-2023 school year. The guidance advises to stay home when sick. Those with the following symptoms should stay home:
respiratory or gastrointestinal infections
fever (temperature greater than 100 degrees F)
Testing is recommended as soon as possible for people with symptoms. The schools will not be conducting tests this year, but will have tests available for families to test at home. Parents are asked to please contact the school if their child tests positive. For attendance purposes, please email a picture of a positive test with the date and student’s name. If the student’s test is negative but with symptoms, please email a picture of the negative test with student’s name and the date on it.
All the recommended steps for HVAC systems in the Hinsdale School District have been taken. We also plan to open windows as much as possible.
The district will teach and reinforce proper hand washing or use of hand sanitizer especially during key times of day such as snack and meal time. We will also emphasize proper covering for coughs and sneezes.
Surfaces will be cleaned once a day. If a person with COVID-19 has been inside a school within last 24 hours, the space will be cleaned and disinfected.
Quarantine is no longer recommended for people who are exposed to COVID-19.
If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least five (5) days and isolate from others in your home.
If you had COVID-19 symptoms please follow this guidance:
• Day 0 of isolation is the day of symptom onset, regardless of when you tested positive.
• Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started.
You may end isolation after Day 5 and return to school – wearing a mask – through Day 10 if:
• You are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and your symptoms are improving
If you still have a fever or your other symptoms have not improved, continue to isolate until they improve. If you had moderate illness (shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing), or severe illness (you were hospitalized due to COVID-19), or you have a weakened immune system, you need to isolate through Day 10. If you had severe illness or have a weakened immune system, consult your doctor before ending isolation. Ending isolation without a viral test may not be an option for you. If you are unsure if your symptoms are moderate or severe, or if you have a weakened immune system, talk to your healthcare provider for further guidance.
Last school year we had 246 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Hinsdale School District. We had 135 reported cases at HES and 111 at HMHS. Federal data show that the highly transmissible BA.5 sub-variant of the omicron coronavirus strain now accounts for almost 82 percent of all new infections. BA.5 is the variant that is responsible for President Biden’s recent infection. The virus mutation has increased from less than 1 percent of new cases at the beginning of May. There have been 124 new cases of COVID-19 identified in Cheshire County over the past 14 days.
A lawsuit was filed in June that contends New Hampshire’s education funding formula is inequitable to taxpayers. The lawsuit contends that the state’s failure to adequately fund education results in local property tax rates that vary widely from town to town and place an undue burden on towns with lower tax bases. The case is similar to the ConVal lawsuit, and is scheduled for trial in early 2023. The new lawsuit emphasizes tax rates as opposed to per-pupil funding. One talks about the real cost of educating our students. Whereas the other talks about how we raise that money.
Our Legislature passed numerous bills into law this past session. Some of the most impactful new state laws include:
A law which establishes a committee to study teacher shortages and recruitment incentives.
A law which removes school staff approval as a requirement for converting an existing public school to a charter school.
A law that creates an independent office of the advocate for special education to ensure schools comply with disabilities laws and serve as a point of contact for students with disabilities and their families.
A law that creates an office for “right-to-know” complaints.
A law that demands all schools create a site-specific school emergency operations plan and submit the plan to the director of homeland security by October 15th each year.
A law that requires a performance audit of the department of education freedom account program beginning in October of 2023.
A law that states no federal firearms related law that is inconsistent with NH firearm related law shall be followed.
A law that establishes a Legislative Oversight Committee to oversee the development and implementation of state education accountability programs.
A law that requires a child’s parent or guardian to provide written consent for any medical or dental treatment provided in a school setting.
A law that requires the local School Board ensure that their physical education courses and their health education courses focus on the importance of exercise and wellness.
A law that demands that any school employee who knows of or suspects a cybersecurity incident within their information systems shall immediately report such an incident to the New Hampshire Department of Information Technology.
A law that states that all students prior to graduation receive a grade of 70% or better on the 128 question civics naturalization examination. A district may develop a localization competency assessment and request approval by the state.
A law that demands all NH K-12 Schools Boards include a student Board member. The student Board member does not vote and does not participate in non-public sessions but has the same authority and status of the other Board members.
A law that prohibits the School District to require a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. In addition, employees cannot be required to test for COVID-19 more than once a month.
A law that requires Districts to allow all NH students who are eligible to receive special education services to access those services up to age 22. Previously those services ended at age 21.
A law that establishes a position of education freedom account administrator in the NH Department of Education.
A law that provides support services for military connected students. The services include access to licensed counseling and psychological services.
A law that requires local schools not be more restrictive to non-public, charter school or home educated students.
A law that adds civics, government, economics, geography, history, Holocaust and genocide education, art, music, personal finance literacy, and logic/rhetoric to the requirements for an adequate public education.
A law that requires all students in grades 6-12 receive a student ID that includes the name and telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline printed on the back of their ID card.
A new Special Education Parent Advocate office to be established in the NH Department of Education.
A law that requires school Boards to provide public comment periods at Board meetings for no less than 30 minutes.
A law that establishes an extraordinary need grant for schools to be established by the Commissioner each year.
A law that states distance education shall not count as part of the 180 calendar days of a school year.
A law that requires schools to offer a Holocaust and genocide education program to begin no later than 8th grade.