Superintendent Report – April 2016
I would like to thank all the voters who came to the District Meeting on March 12th and supported our annual budget. I am proud to work for a community that supports our young people. Given very few of our students are eligible to vote, our students are dependent on forward thinking community members who understand the significance of education and who will come to the Annual District Meeting to show their support.
Certainly the loss of jobs related to the closing of Vermont Yankee will have an impact on the ability of our graduates to find work in the area. In order to help our graduates find good jobs and/or create good jobs in the area we are writing a grant that, if approved by the Hinsdale Board and the federal government, would help our high school students improve their career preparation by increasing the enrollment of our graduates in credentialing and post-secondary education and by increasing job placements among participating business partners. There would also be a strand that would focus on the skills needed to start a successful business. Karen Thompson is working with an area grant writer to determine the best way to structure the grant application. Fred Bramante, who was the longest serving member of the New Hampshire Board of Education, has agreed to write a letter of support as part of our grant application.
Fred Bramante visited with our ELO students and spoke to the HMHS staff on April 5th. Mr. Bramante, a former State Board of Education Board Chair, is one of the foremost experts on competency based learning in the United States. Mr. Bramante spent three hours with us. During that time he met with administrators and with students who are involved in the ELO program. He also spoke with the HMHS staff. There was no charge to the District.
One bill being discussed in the New Hampshire House requires all high school students to take a half-credit course in civics. The content of the course must cover at a minimum: the duties and responsibilities of a citizen, opportunities of citizen participation and involvement in the governmental process, the structure and operation of government, the constitutional basis of our government, and the interaction between local, state, and federal government. The bill also requires a one-year course in the history of the United States and New Hampshire. We currently cover the curriculum that would be required if the bill passes with the exception of the New Hampshire history component. We cover New Hampshire history in the 4th grade but not again in high school.
The United States Senate recently confirmed John B. King Jr. as Secretary of Education. Secretary King had been a Commissioner of Education in New York State. He replaces former Secretary Arne Duncan. Secretary King led the effort to adopt the Common Core Standards in New York.
We have made significant progress toward our Board Goals during the past month.
- Goal: Develop a strategic plan, based on data, to address the long range needs of the district.
At our March 25th Facility and Maintenance Committee meeting the HMHS principal and the HES principal who, with the help of the Director of Technology and the respective building safety committees, had prepared executive summaries of the data provided by the recent Homeland Security Audit. After a lengthy discussion the Facility and Maintenance Committee determined a few of the “no cost” recommendations would be acted on as soon as possible. The Facility and Maintenance Committee items related to technology will be discussed and prioritized by a task force that will be charged with a comprehensive review of our use of technology within the district. The initial work of the task force is scheduled to take place over the summer. The cost related items related to HES would be deferred to the HES Building Improvement Committee. This committee is scheduled to begin meeting on May 10th. The cost related work needed at HMHS would be prioritized within the 2017 budget discussion.
- Goal: Develop and support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, highly qualified staff who are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.
Our new three- year contract should make our district more attractive to area candidates. Also, our business administrator and our director of technology are investigating computer programs that could be used to streamline the hiring process.
- Goal: Provide a continuum of instruction at all ability levels, preschool through grade 12.
Our third through eighth grade students have completed the Smarter Balanced Assessment. We should receive the Smarter Balanced Assessment data in early summer. Our focus will be to review this assessment data through the lens of student growth. Both the SAT and Smarter Balanced Assessment are now lined up with the College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core).
The Board Chair, Vice Chair, and I met with Hinsdale Elementary School parents at the March 24th PTA meeting. One focus area of the meeting was the proposal made by principal Boggio in which the Hinsdale Elementary School would implement three multi-age classrooms in the fall of 2016 and add a looping model beginning in the fall of 2017. With the addition of multi-age classrooms we should be able to more effectively manage our space restrictions for another year.
- Goal: Develop a budget and a technology plan that supports all aspects of the district.
The Director of Technology is forming a task force that will be charged with a comprehensive review of our use of technology within the district. Depending on the recommendations made by the task force the Board may decide to include technology in our strategic plan.
- Goal: Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community through ongoing, open communication and a culture of openness between the board, administration, staff, students, parents and the community.
I have posted my March and April Board Report and my District Annual Report as a blog under the Superintendent section on the District web site
To improve communication and to promote our great school district the Board Chair, HMHS principal, and I spoke to Walter Waiters, a producer from the Larry King In View Productions, on Tuesday, March 29th. We highlighted our school-community partnership, the HASP, and our ELO program. We are hopeful that we will be chosen by In View Productions for one of their “examples of what is working in public education” feature TV shows. In View Productions runs on several national networks including Fox News Network and Discover.
Our Safe Routes to School program has had a successful kick-off.
Next steps, include the following:
- Implement a spring forum on Wednesday, April 27th to take place in conjunction with the PTSA meeting. The focus of the forum will be to receive parent feedback about potential Safe Routes to Schools strategies.
- Participate in the upcoming “National Bike to School Day,” May 4, 2016. May 4th will be a “Walk and Bike to School Day” in Hinsdale.
- Southwest Regional Planning Committee staff will conduct traffic studies on Brattleboro Road, School Street, and Prospect Street sometime in May or June.
To get to know the community better and to give back to this great school community my wife, a New York Times bestselling author, and I, will with the Board’s approval, organize and run a parent/child book club for between 5 and 8 parent/child “couples” next year at Hinsdale Elementary School.
Hinsdale Parent/Child Book Club
Facilitators: Wayne Woolridge (Hinsdale school superintendent) and Cindy Copeland (NYT bestselling author/illustrator)
Purpose: To help foster a love of reading, to encourage parents and children to bond over the reading experience, and to help facilitate critical analysis and discussion of age-appropriate works of fiction
Members: Parent/child teams from Hinsdale who will commit to reading the assigned book together each month and gathering to discuss the book at a monthly meeting. Children may be from the 4th or 5th grade at the Hinsdale Elementary School.
Meetings: The book club will meet on the first Tuesday of each month in the library at the Hinsdale Elementary School, from September 2016 through May 2017.
Books: All books will be provided to the parent/child teams by Wayne and Cindy. Books will be chosen based on their appeal to both children and adults, and for their potential to generate lively discussion.
Principal Boggio is in support of the Book club. There will be no cost to the district or to the participants of the book club.