All posts by Wayne Woolridge

March 2, 2016

Superintendent’s Report – March 2016

In addition to the progress we made during the past month toward our Board goals we also made significant progress in regards to safety.

On February 3rd both Hinsdale Elementary School and Hinsdale Middle/High School had a school security site assessment completed by Steve Allen of the State of New Hampshire Department of Safety: Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Both sites assessments were at no charge to the district.

I received the results of both assessments on March 1st. The administration hopes to create an executive summary of the assessments prior to the Facility and Maintenance Committee meeting scheduled for March 25th.

On February 23rd Marcello D’Alessandro, Joe Boggio, Ann Freitag, Ann Diorio, and I met with two members of the Southwest Regional Planning Committee (Mari Brunner, Planner; Liz Kelly, Planning Technician), as well as Brooke Bennett, Healthy Monadnock 2020 School Champions Coordinator, to determine next steps related to our partnership with the “Safe Routes to Schools” program. We agreed to several next steps, including the following:

  1. 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.
  2. Participate in the upcoming “National Bike to School Day,” May 4, 2016. The group recommended this day be a “Walk and Bike to School Day” in Hinsdale.
  3. The Southwest Regional Planning Committee staff will attend the PTSA meeting on April 5th in order to give an informational presentation about Safe Routes to Schools.
  4. Southwest Regional Committee staff will have a booth at the Hinsdale Celebration of Learning event on April 12th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in order to share information about Safe Routes to Schools and Healthy Monadnock 2020.
  5. Southwest Regional Planning Committee staff will conduct traffic studies on Brattleboro Road, School Street, and Prospect Street sometime in May or June.

We have made significant progress toward our Board Goals during the past month.

  1. Goal: Develop a strategic plan, based on data, to address the long range needs of the district.

I met with Hinsdale Elementary School parents at the March 24th PTA meeting. The focus 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. The parents who attended the PTA meeting were supportive of the transition. With the addition of multi-age classrooms we should be able to more effectively manage our space restrictions at least for another year.

In early April I hope to meet with Mr. Boggio and the Board Chair to determine the best makeup for a Hinsdale Elementary School Building Improvement Committee.  If the Board approves the committee representative structure at the April meeting, I would bring the list of nominations for the Hinsdale Elementary School Building Improvement Committee to the May Board meeting for final approval.  Ideally, the Hinsdale Elementary School Building Improvement Committee will have drafted a recommendation or recommendations for the Board to consider at the September 2016 Board meeting.

  1. 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.

The Board’s Negotiations Committee and the HFT Negotiations Committee have agreed on a new contract that –if approved at the District Meeting– will improve our ability to hire and retain high quality professional staff.  The three-year contract has been approved by the Board, the HFT, and the Budget Committee. Tom O’Connor and I recently spoke to the HES staff and the HMHS staff concerning the contract and the other two articles on the Warrant. All the comments made by staff were supportive.

  1. Goal: Provide a continuum of instruction at all ability levels, preschool through grade 12.

All of our eleventh grade students took the SAT on Wednesday, March 2nd.  The results of the SAT assessment should be available in June.  The collective data will be valuable for our staff and even more valuable for our students. Beginning this year, the SAT is the New Hampshire State Assessment for high school students. Our freshmen and sophomores have taken the PSAT. Our third through eighth grade students will be taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment in May. The SAT, PSAT, and Smarter Balanced Assessment are all lined up with the “College and Career Ready Standards.” Hopefully assessments of these standards will help determine individual student growth related to proficiency in English language arts and math from 3rd through 11th grade.

One extremely successful program at HMHS, that is part of our college and career ready approach to individualized student learning, is our extended learning opportunity program. On April 5th Fred Bramante will be visiting with students involved in our extended learning opportunity program at HMHS to talk about with them about their extended learning experiences.   He will end his visit with a presentation to our HMHS staff. Mr. Bramante was recently charged by the Governor with the responsibility to lead New Hampshire’s first full-scale education reform effort since 1919 – competency-based learning. Prior to his appointment by the Governor, Mr. Bramante had been the Chairman of the New Hampshire State Board and the longest serving member of the State Board of Education in New Hampshire history.

  1. Goal: Develop a budget and a technology plan that supports all aspects of the district. 

Title IIA grant funds have been set aside to compensate committee members who will work over the summer months to develop a technology plan that supports all aspects of the district.

  1. 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.

In order to continue to build trust and improve two-way communication with the community, since our last Board meeting I attended the Hinsdale Elementary School PTA meeting, attended several basketball games, spoke at both the HES and the HMHS staff meetings concerning the 2016 Warrant, spoke to the Hinsdale Elementary School staff regarding the implementation of “Professional Learning Communities” in our schools, where I provided an overview of the major tenets of a Professional Learning Community, spoke briefly at a HES student assembly, and read to three classes.

In addition, I have posted my March Board Report and my District Annual Report as a blog under the Superintendent section on the District web site.

Annual Report

Superintendent’s Annual Report 2016

As we developed the 2016-2017 budget, we needed to face the unfortunate reality that state funding is being dramatically reduced and healthcare and retirement costs are rising. Our challenge was to provide optimal education for all students in the face of serious fiscal constraints. Thankfully, the Hinsdale School District is part of an engaged community that understands and appreciates the value of a quality education and — in the toughest of times — has come out strongly in support of school district budgets.

In addition to the 2016-2017 budgetary challenges, we are facing the ongoing issue of school safety. We all remember too well the Columbine and Virginia Tech tragedies, and our hearts are still aching for the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut. Obviously, the district’s first priority is providing the safest environment possible for students and staff. To that end, we are undergoing a safely and security audit provided by the New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security. While we can’t anticipate any issues the audit will reveal, we will move quickly to fix any problems identified by Homeland Security. We are also working with the “Safe Routes to Schools” program to help us provide recommendations to our families and transportation providers regarding improving safety for our students on their way to and from school.

We have successfully managed the initial move to the College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core). The standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate from high school fully prepared for what follows. This means that our students will be held to a national standard, that the opportunities for our students to align their education with their peers across the nation should result in a better prepared nation of learners introduced into real-world environments. In May of 2015, our 3-8 grade students, and our 11th grade students, took a College and Career Ready Standards assessment to determine a starting point for our student growth model. This assessment is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Key features of the Smarter Balanced Assessment include:

  • Writing component for every grade
  • Questions and performance tasks that require students to demonstrate skill in the areas of research, writing, and problem-solving
  • Accessibility and accommodations for students at all ability levels
  • Our current Board goals are as follows:
  • On August 1, 2016, we will make the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA allows for more local control than NCLB. Under ESSA we are encouraged to report progress on goals developed locally. Fortunately, the Hinsdale School Board has already developed quality Board goals.
  • The next challenge related to the adoption of the College and Career Ready Standards is to make certain all our students make significant growth in proficiency as measured by the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
  1. Develop a strategic plan, based on data, to address the long range needs of the district.
  2. Develop and support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, highly qualified staff who are innovative, dynamic, and dedicated to the success of all students.
  3. Provide a continuum of instruction at all ability levels, preschool through grade 12.
  4. Develop a budget and a technology plan that supports all aspects of the district.
  5. Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community through ongoing, open communication and a culture of openness among the board, administration, staff, students, parents and the community.

As noted in our first goal, the Board intends to develop a strategic plan this year. At the community forum on January 27, 2016, the Board began the process of compiling community input that will be of help in the creation of a strategic plan. One of the topics we discussed at the forum had to do with a building issue at the elementary school. The Board will decide this spring if this issue should be included in our strategic plan.

We are in the process of implementing a new evaluation system for our staff. We still have a few adjustments to make but the model is sound. Staff members have completed their Professional Growth Plans; evaluations and self-assessments are taking place on a regular basis. When completed, the new evaluation plan will incorporate student assessment data as an element of the evaluation.

I believe a quality education is more important to our children’s future than ever before. Therefore, our responsibility to do what we can to ensure that our students receive a quality education is greater than ever. During my first month as your superintendent, it became clear that Hinsdale is a remarkable school district that has the strong and enthusiastic support of the community as well as a talented, dedicated staff overseeing the education of Hinsdale students.

On behalf of the Hinsdale School District, I would ask the community to continue to show its support by attending the District Meeting on Saturday, March 12th at 9 a.m. in our middle school/high school gym.

Respectfully Submitted,

Wayne Woolridge, Superintendent of Schools