Category Archives: Superintendent Blog

HMHS Information for Re-Opening School

HMHS Information for Re-Opening School Fall 2020 

This information is in addition to the Hinsdale Fall 2020 School re-opening plan summary previously posted on the school district web page www.hnhsd.org   

All Families will receive a letter on PowerSchool with packets mailed home on August 27.  The letter will provide the updated usernames and passwords that students will need for logging onto their laptops and Office 365. 

Parents must notify the school of their intention if they choose remote learning for their children by  

August 28, 2020.   Please call Karen Thompson at 336-5984 ext. 7861 

Students must participate either full access or fully remote.  Students who chose to begin the school year remotely will be required to maintain remote learning until the end of the first quarter.  Remote students will be welcome to begin full access learning at the end of the quarter should they choose to return to school.  

Remote students may still participate in sports following the return to sports guidelines posted on the district web page.  

Medical Screening will be performed on every student, staff member and visitor entering any school building.   

Facility Upgrades:  

HVAC air filters have been upgraded district wide from MERV 7 to MERV 11 to improve air quality and safety. 

iWave-C  Commercial air cleaners are being installed in the HVAC systems in both schools. These air purification systems purify the air supply killing mold, bacteria and viruses (tested to successfully reduce up to 99.4% of the COVID-19 virus particles in the air flow).    

Hiring of additional custodial staff to maintain strict cleaning and sanitation schedules.  

Decluttering and rearrangement of classrooms to allow for physical distancing. 

Purchase of UV Sanitation lights.  

Full Access in School: Students will: 

  • Arrive at either the front entry for buses, cafeteria entry for walkers and student drivers, or gym entry for parent drop-off. 
  • Be required to wear mask, which must be dress code appropriate. 
  • Have daily health screenings: Students with temperatures will not be admitted and will need to go home.   If your child has a fever, keep them home. 
  • Be admitted to building at 7:30, report directly to Advisory ClassroomPlease do not have students arrive at school before 7:30am.   
  • Carry essential learning materials and laptop with them, no locker use 

Remote Learning with Internet Access 

  • Parents meet via Zoom for training, Q & A 
  • Students log in to laptops on school campus initially (week of September 1) (Tech check).   
  • Students log in on Office 365 for each class on time and participate for the class period. Attendance will be taken. They do not need to log in to study hall.   
  • If a student is not in attendance, the school must receive a parent/doctor note. Please contact hmhsattendance@hnhsd.org   After two attempts to reach parents regarding unexcused absences, the SRO will become involved. 
  • Required Assessments will be scheduled, such as remote MAP testing or on-site SAT testing. 
  • Assigned work will be graded by teachers based on their criteria, and the late work policy will be in effect. 
  • Virtual meetings with teachers will required at least once per week. Individual in-person tutoring can be arranged at the school as needed. 

Remote Learning without Internet Access 

  • Parents arrange training in person, over the phone, or via Zoom. 
  • Students log in to laptops on school campus initially (week of September 1) (Tech check) 
  • Assignments and learning resources will be provided on a flash drive, which will need to be picked up and exchanged on a weekly schedule. 
  • Parent or student will need to call the school daily to check in and for attendance purposes. Please contact hmhsattendance@hnhsd.org   If you are unable to attend to school work for a day, the school requires a note from parent with the reason, per attendance policy.  If no contact is maintained, the school will attempt to reach out, and the SRO may become involved. 
  • If a student is not in attendance, the school must receive a parent/doctor note. After two attempts to reach parents regarding unexcused absences, the SRO will become involved. 
  • Required Assessments will be scheduled on-site, such as MAP testing or SAT testing. 
  • Assigned work will be graded by teachers based on their criteria, and the late work policy will be in effect. 
  • Phone conference meetings with teachers will required at least once per week. Individual in-person tutoring can be arranged at the school as needed. 

HES Information for Re-Opening School

Hinsdale Elementary Information for Re-Opening School 

This information is in addition to the Hinsdale Fall 2020 School re-opening plan summary previously posted on the school district web page www.hnhsd.org.    

Students Attending School: 

Arrival Changes (Bus) 

  • Students riding the bus will wear masks and seat in the window seat alone 
  • Bus drop off will now be in the back parking lot 
  • Temperatures will be taken before getting off the bus 
  • Entry points 
  • K/1 Door by Music Room in back 
  • 2/3 Cafeteria Entrance 
  • 4/5 Door by Music Room in back 
  • Arrival Changes (Car Riders) 
  • Car riders in grade PreK to 1 will be dropped off on School Street near the playground 
  • Temperature checks will be done before leaving the car 
  • Enter through the preschool door 
  • Car riders in grade 2 to 5 will be dropped off on the other side of the office and follow the same procedure 
  • Arrival Changes (Walkers) 
  • Walkers will approach a staff member for temperature check 
  • If okay they will be given a sticker and enter the building by the entrance they are assigned to
  • Dismissal Changes (Car Riders/Walkers) 
  • Car riders will be picked up on School Street with PreK to 1st by the playground 
  • 2nd to 5th on the other side of the office 
  • Caregivers should wait by their cars and have a mask on 
  • Dismissal Changes (Bus) 
  • Masks will be required 
  • Sit in assigned seat near the windows one per seat 
  • Those students getting off last will board the bus first 
  • During the school day 
  • Masks are required for all students 
  • Maintain physical distancing in class and all settings 
  • Hand washing will be done frequently 
  • Breakfast, Snack and Lunch will be in class 
  • Cleaning 
  • Flat surfaces will be cleaned three times per day 
  • Common areas will be cleaned midday by the custodian 
  • Deep cleaning will be done daily in PE, Art and Music class 
  • Deep cleaning will be done twice per week in all classrooms 

Remote Expectations for All HES Students with Internet and a computer 

  • Most instruction will be occur independently of in-classroom instruction (not live streaming). 
  • Participate in morning meeting as often as possible via Teams 
  • When participating via live stream 
  • During class or chat time remain on camera 
  • Wear appropriate clothing 
  • Turn off the TV and other electronic distractions 
  • Brothers and sisters should give you privacy 
  • Sit in a chair at a table or desk 
  • View any videos assigned 
  • Complete work in a timely manner and return it to the teacher by dropping it in the drop box at the school, through the Teams platform, or by taking a picture of it and emailing it 
  • Participate in a chat or email daily to record attendance 
  • Contact the school hesattendance@hnhsd.org or 336-5332  if you are sick and unable to participate remotely that day

Remote Expectations for All HES Students with no Internet and no computer 

  • The school will purchase a written curriculum and materials for you to follow with your student 
  • Return all completed work to the drop-box 

Remote Expectations for All HES Students with only a computer 

  • The school will provide you with assignments, videos, and other resources on a flash drive 
  • Return the work on the due date assigned on the flash drive and put it in the drop box or exchange it in the main office 
  • Assigned work will be based on the essential learning for each grade level and graded by teachers based on their criteria  

For all remote students  

If you don’t contact us for an absence we will do the following 

  • Office staff will attempt to contact you on the first absence 
  • Administration will attempt to contact you on the second day 
  • The School Resource Officer will contact you after the third day 
  • For five (5) consecutive absences a DCYF call will be made 
  • There will be bi-weekly check ins with our Director of Personalized Learning (Mrs. Karen Thompson) 
  • There will be a weekly check in with the teacher either virtually or by phone 

August 2020 Superintendent Report

Superintendent’s Report – August 2020

We are very busy planning for the reopening of schools for our students on Tuesday, September 8th. We have established an implementation team for our Hinsdale Elementary School reopening plan and an implementation team for our Hinsdale Middle/High School reopening plan. Our HMHS principal is leading the implementation team at Hinsdale Middle/High School and our HES principal is leading the implementation team at our elementary school.  Board member Kaylah Hemlow and I are regularly meeting with the leadership of the Hinsdale Federation of Teachers in order to better coordinate the process we use to safely reopen our schools. In addition, Board member Holly Kennedy and I are meeting with the leadership of the Hinsdale Support Staff Association to assist in our cooperative effort to reopen Hinsdale Schools.

Our new Facilities Manager, Shawn Lee, has developed a new inspection check list, by zone, that our custodians will use to ensure appropriate cleaning as we prepare for the reopening of our schools for students. We are also in the process of improving air filtration in our classrooms and are installing devices to reduce the possibility of a spread of any virus in our schools. Our Facility Committee meets on Friday, August 21st and most items on our agenda are related to safely reopening our schools.

Our Director of Human Resources, Ann Diorio, is regularly meeting with the school nurses to review the process of ensuring a safe reopening. This team is also acquiring the needed personal protective equipment for the reopening of our schools.

Our transportation providers have been notified and it appears we will be able to fully accommodate those students that need school transportation.  Based on our parent survey many more parents than usual plan on transporting their children.

At our August 5th Hinsdale Schools Administrative Team meeting the preliminary development of action plans were discussed for the 2020/ 2021 Board Goals.  It was decided that we would attempt to draft an action plan for each goal at our first A-Team meeting following school reopening.

The 2020-2021 Hinsdale School Board Goals are as follows:

  1. Curriculum and Instruction

Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.

Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.

Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

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

  1. Communication

Internal-Improve overall communication.

External-Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community in the following ways:

Continue to hold a minimum of two community forums during the school year.

Maintain a presence on other committees, boards and through attendance at community events in town.

Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

  1. Culture

Promote a culture of kindness and open 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

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

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

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

Acknowledge the diversity of student accomplishments in all areas.

  1. Personnel

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

  1. Financial

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

Work with the administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.

Work with the administration to present a warrant article to rebuild the expendable trust funds.

Work with the Administration to proactively monitor the fund balance

Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding and expenditures and continue to provide detailed backup information for the budget.

  1. Security

Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our building are secure and our students and staff are safe.

  1. Technology

Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

  1. Facilities

Twice yearly School Board tours of all school buildings –1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.

Fully utilize all building spaces.

June 2020 Superintendent Report

Superintendent’s Report – June 2020

As I write this report I am reminded that today is the 100th day since the first cased of COVID-19 was reported in New Hampshire. There is little doubt that the pandemic has led to a sudden pivot in the education experience we provided for our students. In less than an hour after our successful District Meeting on March 14th we started planning for what many thought would be a few weeks of remote learning. Well, three months later we still have much planning to do in order to safely provide education for our students in the fall. We anticipate COVID-19 will still be a determining factor as we consider bringing at least some of our students into our buildings.

Thankfully our staff have been working hard to develop an overarching plan that could be implemented regarding any of three scenarios.  The three scenarios include: remote learning 2.0, a traditional building based learning plan which will include mandatory social distancing, and a blend of remote learning and traditional learning.

Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Karen Craig is leading a School Reopening Steering Committee. This committee receives input daily from our numerous PLC’s regarding developmentally appropriate recommendations for reopening schools in Hinsdale. Our two school nurses and two parents serve on this committee. Of course the plan for each grade and individual subjects may look very different. We also have established subcommittees that are working on plans for transportation, meals, and general safety protocols. We are working with our athletic director regarding a recommendation regarding fall sports. A report which will included recommendations is expected from the steering committee prior to the July 22nd Hinsdale School Board meeting.

So far the only Department of Education in a New England State that has published guidance related to school reopening is Massachusetts. The preliminary Massachusetts guidance includes the recommendation for a class size of no more than 10 students. All students and staff would be required to wear a mask.

I am requesting that the Board make a decision regarding school reopening by August 5th and we communicate that decision to parents and staff on August 6th.

The 2019/ 2020 Board Goals are as follows:

2019-2020 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
  • Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

Five Hinsdale students have recently changed their mind and now plan to attend a 2-year college rather than a four-year college. Two Hinsdale students have recently decided to take a gap year rather than attend college in the fall.

4-Year College: 32%

2-Year College: 26%

Workforce: 39%

Military: 3%

  1. Communication
  • Internal
    • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings – 1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.
  • External
    • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding a minimum of two forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town.
    • Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

Our Board Communications Committee is focusing on our communication with school families. We will certainly need a high level of communication with our school families as we work together to develop a reopening plan that will meet the needs of all involved.

  1. Culture
  • Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior code, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community.
  • 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 have had no reports of bullying since our May Board meeting. We are using time next week to begin our social emotional learning initiative.  Eric Mann will provide some training to our staff using the Zoom platform. We are extremely fortunate to have well established PLC groups.  The work of our PLC groups is crucial as we attempt to develop a successful plan for reopening.

  1. Personnel
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We recently hired two district administrators to replace retiring administrators Alan Putnam and Karen Craig. Alan and Karen will both retire at the end of the June. First, we hired Catlin McLaughlin as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Catlin is certified in New Hampshire as a curriculum administrator, principal, and a middle school math teacher. She comes to us from SAU 44 in Northwood, NH.  She was employed in Northwood as Director of Curriculum. Prior to her work in Northwood, Catlin served as K-8 instructional coach for mathematics for Reading Public Schools in Reading, Massachusetts. Catlin will have an office on the second floor at HES. Catlin plans to spend some time with Karen Craig over the summer in order to become more familiar with Karen’s work, especially her work regarding our preparation for school opening in the fall. Second, we hired Shawn Lee as the Director of Facilities. Shawn has been in the construction field for 23 years. He spent 11 years as Project Superintendent for Baybutt Construction in Keene where he managed personnel and subcontractors on large-scale commercial construction projects. For the past seven years Shawn has owned and operated Integral Construction where he managed personnel including subcontractors. He has significant experience creating preventive maintenance schedules. Shawn currently serves on the Hinsdale Facility Committee and has served on the Hinsdale Building Improvement Committee.  The Building Improvement Committee provided the budget and the oversight for the new addition to the Hinsdale Elementary School. Shawn plans to spend some time with Alan Putnam in order to better understand the work flow and to meet our custodial and maintenance personnel.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
  • Work with administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.
  • Work with the administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Work with the administration to present a Warrant Article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

We are working hard to conclude our current year expenditures while trying to access grant funds that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We still haven’t received our CARES Act grant but we have been promised $188,678.  We have been told we should have access to the funds any day.

  1. Security
  • Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students are safe.

Our Director of HR has continued to procure PPE from the State.  Since we still don’t know what our opening will look like it is difficult to estimate our needs. However, it is likely that staff and students will be required to wear a mask. We also intend to provide frequent temperature checks, needed hand sanitizers and face shields. Our Director of Human Resources is working with the nurses and office staff to develop safety protocols appropriate for school reopening.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data governance plan.

We are currently implementing the third year of our five-year Technology Plan. Funds to add our 8th grade and our 12th grade students to the one-one initiative are included in our 2020/2021 School District Budget that was passed on March 14th. We hope to access CARES Act funds that will allow us to purchase additional school computers.  At the next Board meeting I will present a proposal to use $37,468 from the CARES grant to purchase some staff computers and computers for the second, third, and fourth grade students.

 

May 2020 Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent’s Report – May 2020

Thanks to all Hinsdale staff who have demonstrated a tremendous focus on our joint commitment to provide Hinsdale students with the best education possible in this incredibly trying time. Also thanks to all those who have worked to maintain our additional essential services, including our student meal program, our business functions including payroll, all the additional technology support that has been needed in this remote learning/working environment, all our end-of-year obligations managed by our administrative assistants, our custodians who have been sanitizing the areas of our buildings that are common to our guests and our employees, and the search committees that have been working to keep our hiring process for the 2020/2021 school year on schedule.

Our teachers and paras have been incredibly patient as they have tried to make remote learning work for every student.  Unfortunately, many students are without access to high speed internet and as a result are running into obstacles that compromise their learning progress. Approximately 15% of our students have no access to the internet. In addition, 91 of our students only have a smart phone to work with at home. We had hoped to provide some relief regarding available hardware for our students by using funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act, but as of May 26thth we still haven’t received the funds promised to the Hinsdale School District. Another complicating factor, in regards to remote learning, is that many of our parents are working from home which has significantly reduced the band width available for our students due to the number of devices competing for available band width. Another complicating factor is the lack of an opportunity for long term planning due to the speed of our pivot to remote learning.  Many of our staff thought the stay-at-home order would last for a few weeks. Given those factors it should be of no surprise that remote learning in Hinsdale is losing some of the fidelity we depend on in order to maintain an accurate assessment of individual student learning progress.  I am fearful that for many of our students the loss of a strong learning environment, supervised by trained staff, will be a burden that will be very hard to overcome.

Most of our parent partners have tried hard to create a great home learning environment but it has become apparent that some of our parent partners are exhausted and with warmer weather it will likely become even more difficult for them to maintain a quality learning environment for their children. In addition, some parents are facing economic hardships further complicating their ability to maintain the learning support their children need.

The Hinsdale Federation of Teachers Executive Board proposed we shorten our remote learning year with the last day for students on Friday, May 29th.  I support the request to move our last day for students to May 29th. The Hinsdale School Board agreed with the Hinsdale Federation of Teachers Executive Board proposal which effectively ends our school year for students on Friday, May 29th.

Obviously, the sooner we can get back to our traditional classroom learning model the better. At the earliest, we will have a physical classroom experience ready to go for students on the first day of classes scheduled for August 26th.

However, if we are directed to hold traditional classes in August our school environments would likely look very different. Unless our students and staff are vaccinated we would mandate social distancing.  Even though there are eight vaccines approved for clinical trials, it is unlikely a vaccine will be ready for wide spread distribution before next winter.  Therefore, we are developing a detailed plan that would both ensure staff and student safety and would reinforce parent confidence. There are so many questions we are trying to answer. Some of the questions that quickly come to mind include the following: How would lunchtime work? How would recess work? Do protocols for special education change? What steps would we take to ensure mental health? How would after school programs work?  Would we prioritize getting elementary school students into classrooms first since they need the most supervision

Other possible scenarios for the opening of school  include the continuation of remote learning or a blend of remote learning with traditional building based learning.

We plan to use some of our staff workshop days, after remote instruction ends for this year, to accomplish the planning needed for all the above scenarios. Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction is leading  a School Reopening Steering Committee.  The steering committee intends to involve all stakeholders including the parents in the proposed plans we will need prior to the staff leaving for summer break.

We have a track record of being out front of the personalized learning experience initiative.  In order to prepare for a personalized learning experience for each student we will need to do a group overview of the progress made over the past few months and to determine the best strategy for catch-up learning. Certainly current year instructors for each student will need to work with the instructors scheduled to work with that student in the fall if we are to realistically help the student catch up during the first few months of the school year.  It is clear to me that we have much work to do before the summer break begins for our staff.

As of May 26th we are still waiting a decision from our Governor regarding the status of summer school this year.

The 2019/ 2020 Board Goals are as follows:

2019-2020 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
  • Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

As of March 3rd we already have more than 67% of our seniors admitted to a college or university. We have one student planning to join the Armed Services and we have 30% of our seniors planning to join the workforce. At present, 20% of our seniors will graduate with a certification. Examples include the following certifications: LNA, EMT, Fiber Optics, and OSHA. As of May 5th our HHS counselor is unaware of any change in plans made during the last few months. However, she suspects that many students are waiting until June to make final plans for the fall.

By order of the Governor, the State is not mandating State tests for our students this spring.

  1. Communication
  • Internal
    • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings – 1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.
  • External
    • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding a minimum of two forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town.
    • Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

We have two new Board members of the Communication Committee, Sean Leary and Kaylah Hemlow.  At present, the Committee is focusing their support on our class of 2020 and on school families.

  1. Culture
  • Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior code, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community.
  • 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 have had no reports of bullying since we implemented remote learning.

  1. Personnel
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We have hiring committees that have already completed their part of the hiring process for several positions. We will have two candidates to recommend to the Board at the May meeting.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
  • Work with administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.
  • Work with the administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Work with the administration to present a Warrant Article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

We are working hard to conclude our current year expenditures while trying to access grant funds that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We still haven’t received our CARES Act grant.

  1. Security
  • Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students are safe.

Our security needs have changed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our Director of HR has worked hard to procure PPE from the State.  We anticipate needing much more for the fall, including up to a dozen scanning thermometers.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data governance plan.

We are currently implementing the third year of our five-year Technology Plan. Funds to add our 8th grade and our 12th grade students to the one-one initiative are included in our 2020/2021 School District Budget that was passed on March 14th. We hope to access CARES Act funds that will allow us to purchase additional school computers to be used by students who do not have computers at home and are struggling to keep up with our remote learning plan.

Superintendent’s Report April 2020

Superintendent’s Report – April 2020

It seems like an understatement, but much has happened since our March Board meeting.

A safe environment for our employees is of paramount importance. Toward that end we have used a new cleaning machine, we purchased a few months ago, to deep clean and sanitize our buildings.  Each morning our custodians sanitize the spaces that were used the day before. In addition, the custodians frequently sanitize the commonly used surfaces we have identified such as the outside door handles to each building. The outside door to the SAU building is sanitized hourly, as we frequently have guests that need to access the SAU building. Overall we have dramatically reduced the number of staff who enter all our buildings. Whenever possible we are using Zoom meetings to handle our necessary meetings. For example, our case managers, and special education administrators are using Zoom meeting to meet with our case managers twice a week.

Thankfully the Hinsdale School District is promised approximately $200,000 as part of the Cares Act, which passed Congress on March 27th. As a result of the new funding law, each District in New Hampshire will receives about 82% of the amount we received this year in Title 1 funds. Title 1 funding is directly related to our free/reduced lunch count. This is another example of the importance of our free/reduced lunch count total.

We are currently implementing the second phase of our remote learning plan which began on Tuesday, March 31st. We continue to provide continuous learning opportunities for students through remote learning but are focusing our remote learning activities four days per week (Tuesdays-Fridays). Mondays is now a planning day for teachers to work on outreach, preparation, or attend to other needs as they arise in a remote instruction and learning environment.  Our remote learning plan continues to be responsive to parent and student feedback and is more respectful of the demands on families as they face issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students continue to receive weekly assignments. We have established recommended guidelines for maximum student commitment each day. The guidelines are as follows:

Pre-K: 30 minutes

K-1: 45 minutes

Grades 2-3: 60 minutes.

Grades 4-5: 90 minutes.

Grades 6-12: 30 minutes per teacher for a maximum of three hours per day.

We are trying to be attentive to the social-emotional needs of our students. Considerations to that end include:

  • Focus on essential learning for students — “Less is More”
  • Be flexible and ready to adapt when needs arise
  • Emphasize relationships in this new learning environment
  • Extend grace to all in these unique and trying times

The NHIAA has cancelled athletics until May 4th.  Practice is scheduled to begin on May 4th and events including games and tournaments are scheduled to begin on May 13th. Of course this schedule is subject to change.

Our Hinsdale After School Programs has implemented a remote learning plan. The HASP Remote Learning began on March 23rd. There was no specific guidance given to us by the State regarding HASP remote learning but an excellent plan was development thanks to the HASP staff members under the direction of our program director. They began creating packets for students enrolled in HASP on Monday, March 15th.  They met with grade-level teachers to determine the best lessons for the HASP students prior to developing the 133 packets, one for each HASP K-5 student. The projects included a focus on STEM activities. Many of our Hinsdale paras helped with this project.

The Director of HASP is organizing numerous professional development opportunities for her staff.  She is using Pro Solutions training to create nine to ten lessons with DHHS’s Health and Safety training.  Staff members will receive a certificate of attendance for each workshop which can then be uploaded to the state’s professional registry.  She is also working with ACROSSNH to provide “After School Basics” for HASP elementary school staff.  This “live” training would provide staff with necessary training to obtain their Direct Service credential with the State of New Hampshire in After School Programming.

The 2019/ 2020 Board Goals are as follows:

2019-2020 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
  • Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

As of March 3rd we already have more than 67% of our seniors admitted to a college or university. We have one student planning to join the Armed Services and we have 30% of our seniors planning to join the workforce. At present, 20% of our seniors will graduate with a certification. Examples include the following certifications: LNA, EMT, Fiber Optics, and OSHA.

By order of the Governor, the State is not mandating State tests for our students this spring.

2. Communication

  • Internal
    • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings – 1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.
  • External
    • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding a minimum of two forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town.
    • Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

Our School Board joined the Budget Committee and the District voters at the 2020/2021 School District Meeting on March 14th, 2020.  The majority of votes approved the budget article of $14,150,937.  The majority of voters also approved the transfer of up to $75,000 into the Expendable Trust Fund on June 30, 2020.

  1. Culture
  • Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior code, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community.
  • 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 have had no reports of bullying since we implemented remote learning.

Our Hinsdale School District Anti-Discrimination and Diversity Plan is on hold at this time but we plan to work on the plan as soon as we find more time. The objective of the plan is to help our students appreciate and respect a diverse school culture. The plan will include guidelines, protocols and procedures intended to prevent, assess the presence of, intervene in, and respond to incidents of discrimination. The Plan will be submitted to the Board for approval in September of 2020.

  1. Personnel
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We have submitted ads for our 2020/2021 openings. We hope to have hiring committees for administrative positions to the Board for approval for the May Board meeting.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
  • Work with administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.
  • Work with the administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Work with the administration to present a Warrant Article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

At our Annual School District Meeting on March 14th the District voters passed our proposed operating budget. In addition, the voters passed Article 3 on the School District Warrant which will add up to $75,000 to our School District Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund.

  1. Security
  • Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students are safe.

At our most recent Facilities Committee meeting proposals were approved to add four new speaker locations to the high school and ten new speaker locations to the elementary school. The Facility Committee also approved several cameras that would improve the surveillance of areas in and around our schools. Given these recommendations were listed in our most recent Homeland Security Audit it is highly likely state or federal grant funds would cover 80% of the costs for the speakers and cameras.  With Board approval the administration would submit the request for these items to the State as soon as funds are made available.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data governance plan.

We are currently implementing the third year of our five-year Technology Plan. Funds to add our 8th grade and our 12th grade students to the one-one initiative are included in our 2020/2021 School District Budget that was passed on March 14th. The new Cares Act revenue will allow us to purchase additional school computers to be used by students or staff who do not have computers at home and are struggling to keep up with our remote learning plan.

 

Superintendent’s 2020 Annual School District Report

Superintendent’s Annual School District Report 2020

We have much to be thankful for this year. We also have much to be proud of this year. This year we are especially proud of our staff and students at Hinsdale High School. Hinsdale High School won a Best High Schools Award as determined by “U.S. News & World Report.” The U.S. News Best High Schools rankings include data on more than 23,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 17,000 schools were ranked on six factors based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college.

We are also proud that the Hinsdale Extended Learning Opportunity program was voted “Best Way to Introduce Students to Real World Jobs.”  More than 4,400 NH Business Review readers cast their votes to select this year’s Best of Business (BOB) Award.  Certainly the support of the School Board and the hard work of Karen Thompson and her ELO team of Cathy Johnson, Peter Hughes, Jodie Holmquist, Bonnie Trombly and the entire HMHS staff should be recognized for their effort to provide Hinsdale students with a high quality and truly personalized ELO program.  The Extended Learning Opportunity program started eight years ago at Hinsdale High School at the request of our School Board, many of the Board members who made that request are the same people that currently sit on our Board.  Students who participate in our Extended Learning Opportunities Program work with one of over 120 business partners in the Hinsdale area.  With the help of our ELO Director, our teachers and our counselors, each ELO student is matched with the business or organization that provides the best opportunity for the student to grow along a chosen career path.

We are also proud of the effort of Hinsdale Elementary School staff to secure the New Hampshire Children’s Literacy Foundation “Year of the Book” literacy grant of $25,000.  The Year of the Book grant includes several author and story teller visits. The grant supports family literacy events and special literacy programs. In addition, the grant provides funds for new books for classrooms, the school library, our Hinsdale town library, as well as ten new books for each child to choose. A Hinsdale Elementary School team of Joe Boggio, Kristine Dow, Abigail Storm, Christine Bowker, Mary Wissman, Brenda Kelly and Inder Khalsa wrote the application for the Year of the Book grant. The grant request also had the support of the Hinsdale Public Library.

We are incredibly thankful for our Hinsdale Education Foundation. In an effort to generate other sources of revenue, the Hinsdale Education Foundation was formed in March of 2017. The Foundation Board members raise money through fund raising programs, individual contributions, and/or business/corporate contributions in order to support our Hinsdale schools without adding to the local property tax bill. The Hinsdale Education Foundation’s most profitable fund raising event is the Annual Richard T. McCarthy Golf Tournament. The Hinsdale Education Foundation organized the charity golf tournament two years ago during which time the tournament has raised more than $15,000 to support our schools.  The third annual Richard T. McCarthy Golf Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, May 16th at the Northfield Golf Club. Retired Hinsdale Middle/High School principal John Hartnett is the tournament director.

For the second year in a row the Hinsdale Education Foundation has engaged every Hinsdale fifth grade student in creating a tile to be permanently installed in the hallway of the new addition. Members of the community and area businesses are asked to sponsor a tile. Hinsdale Education Foundation Treasurer, Frank Moriarty, is directing the tile project.

In the two years of operation the Hinsdale Education Foundation has funded 11 Hinsdale teacher grant requests which included science kits, garden beds, tuition for a Red Cross course for students pursuing certification as a licensed nursing assistant (LNA), a field trip for all fifth grade students to visit the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, a compost bin for the outside and a small worm compost bin for our preschool, a field trip for the third and fourth grade students to Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center, a field trip for our Extended Learning Opportunity students to tour the MET School in Rhode Island, all the materials needed to enable ELO students to build a green house on school property, funding for a Hinsdale After School Program homework hour, and fruit trees that will be planted on school grounds as an extended learning opportunity.

The officers of the Hinsdale Education Foundation are as follows: President, Jim O’Malley; Secretary, Steve Bonnette; and Treasurer, Frank Moriarty. Other Hinsdale Education Foundation members include Hinsdale School Board Chair Holly Kennedy and Hinsdale School District Clerk Ann Diorio. Check out the Hinsdale Education Foundation web site at https://www.hinsdaleef.org/

We are incredibly thankful for the generous community support we receive to fund our Hinsdale Schools. Sometimes that support is overwhelming.  For example, last spring the community funded $56,000 in scholarships for our graduates. In late December we were notified by a couple, who both graduated from Hinsdale High School, that they wished to donate $5,000 to help support our Hinsdale After School Program. The same couple also wrote a check to cover the unpaid school lunch balance for each Hinsdale student as of December 31st.

We are thankful that our state government has done a better job in supporting our Hinsdale schools. State adequacy aid increased slightly to $3,708 per student. This year we are also receiving more from the state for each student who receives free or reduced lunch. Currently, 41.9% of Hinsdale students are taking free or reduced lunch. We also received an increase in Fiscal Disparity Aid from the state and our Stabilization Grant was restored to 100% of the amount we received in 2012. In addition, kindergarten students now receive as much adequacy aid per student as students in grades one through 12.

We are thankful for our area legislators. Undoubtedly, much of our increase in state funding is attributable to the work done by our area legislators. Hinsdale administrators and Hinsdale Board members, Holly Kennedy, Sean Leary, James O’Malley, Jeana Woodbury and Kaylah Hemlow met with all our State Representatives and our State Senator in October. Our state representatives present included Lucy Weber, Paul Birch, Cathy Harvey, and Mike Abbott. Our State Senator Jay Kahn was also present.  The Hinsdale Select Board Chair, Mike Darcy, joined our discussion. We thanked our legislators for their efforts to secure an increase in state funding for Hinsdale students. We outlined our hopes concerning the 2020 legislative session. As your superintendent, I am thankful that the continued shifting down to the local property tax payer of costs associated with the state’s responsibility to fund an adequate education, has finally ended. However, the increase in state funding is only promised for this year and next year. It will be up to those elected officials who begin their work on a state budget in January, 2021 to create legislation that honestly provides the constitutionally mandated state revenue needed to truly fund an adequate education for each student regardless of where the student resides in New Hampshire.

The current state budget includes $500,000 to fund a commission to study the current education funding formula, determine the real cost of an adequate education, and how best to pay for it.  We are thankful that our Senator, Jay Kahn, has a prominent role on this commission. Hopefully, this study will result in new legislation that funds the real cost of providing an adequate education for each student prior to our School District Meeting in March of 2021.

We are thankful for the hard work by our staff that resulted in a high percentage of grant funds.  The Hinsdale School District continues to stand out as a district that acquires a high percentage of state and federal grants to offset local taxes. As a percentage of our expenditures, we typically procure approximately 10% more in grant funds than is common among New Hampshire Districts. Major grants for the current school year include: Hinsdale After School Program – $156, 688, Federal Title Grants used for reading, math, professional development, and technology – $418,472, special education and preschool grants – $185,183, our school lunch revenue which is mostly federal and state revenue is approximately $300,000, and state grants which include our per student adequacy grant our Fiscal Disparity Aid and our Stabilization Grant total approximately $5,600,000. The total revenue we expect to procure this year from sources other than local property taxes is about $6,700,000. We are thankful for our business administrator who tracks these funds.  Our annual independent audits have been without a negative finding during my four years as your superintendent.

In another effort to add revenue from sources other than local property taxes, our Hinsdale School Board tasked an Open Enrollment Study Committee to consider options that would add tuition revenue from out-of-district students.  At our Annual School District Meeting on March 14th the committee hopes to share information regarding an Open Enrollment Study Committee recommendation for a Hinsdale nonresident private tuition option that would be available to qualified nonresident students in grades 9-12. Our School Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, chairs the Open Enrollment Study Committee.

We are thankful for our positive working relationship with town government. We are currently working with the town to explore funding options to assist Hinsdale families with children who are too young for school. It is hoped that the School District and the Town could cooperate regarding the search for grant funds to help families prepare their children for school. Our Title 1 Coordinator, the Director of the Hinsdale After School Program, and Board member Kaylah Hemlow are working with the town on this project.

We are incredibly thankful for our staff who serve on numerous professional learning community teams and committees. One example that is new this year is the Hinsdale School District Behavioral Support Team. In October the School Board tasked this team to review survey data regarding Hinsdale student behavior. The survey data was reviewed by the team and shared with a New Hampshire expert in social emotional learning and school-wide behavior support systems. We are in the process of forming a staff committee in each building tasked with developing and implementing a Hinsdale student behavior improvement plan.

 The Hinsdale Facility Committee continues to work on determining a cost/benefit priority list regarding recommendations made in the recent safety audit for Hinsdale Elementary School and Hinsdale Middle/High School.  The safety audit was completed for no charge by Homeland Security. Over the past two years the Facility Committee has secured more than $100,000 in grant funds from the state for safety upgrades. School Board member Sean Leary serves as Facilities Committee Chair. Hinsdale School Board member Jim O’Malley also serves on this committee and has led the effort to prioritize our safety recommendations.

 We are continuing to plan for the implementation of the fourth year of our five-year Technology Plan. Our eighth grade and our twelfth grade students are scheduled to be added to the one-to-one computer initiative next fall.  We have recently implemented a comprehensive compliance plan regarding the new data governance legislation. This new law mandates a high level of information security for every school district. The implementation of this compliance plan has involved all Hinsdale staff.

In an effort to establish a culture of caring among our staff our Director of Human Resources has worked hard to create work place programs that foster a feeling of friendliness, goodwill, and familiarity among the staff. Our Director of Human Resources also leads our Hinsdale School District wellness program. Since we have worked to establish a culture of caring our level of staff retention has dramatically improved. Certainly staff retention benefits all our students.

Staff retention has been a Board goal for the past two years. I am thankful that our Board recognizes the importance of staff retention. We are indeed fortunate to have such a hard working School Board. All our Board members serve on multiple teams and committees. These team and committees typically meet monthly. In addition to district teams and committees our School Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, serves as a member of the New Hampshire School Board Association State Board. I was not surprised that in 2018 the Hinsdale School Board received the Magna Award from the National School Boards Association. The Hinsdale School Board was chosen as a first place Magna Award winner in the under 5,000 enrollment category.

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.  Having completed my fourth year as your Hinsdale School District Superintendent, I am more certain than ever that Hinsdale has a remarkable school system thanks to the strong and enthusiastic support of the community, our School Board, and the talented and dedicated staff overseeing the education of Hinsdale students.

On behalf of the Hinsdale School District, I ask that community members continue to show their support by attending the District Meeting on Saturday, March 14th, immediately following the Town Meeting, in our middle/high school gym.

Respectfully submitted,

Wayne Woolridge, Superintendent of Schools

February 2020 Superintendent’s Blog

Superintendent’s Report – February 2020

In the last legislative session $500,000 was set aside to fund a commission that will study the New Hampshire education funding model and make recommendations to the legislature. There was no voiced objection from legislators to setting aside the $500,000 to do this work, suggesting legislators truly believe in the importance of the work of this commission.  The commission intends to hold 24 forums over the next several months regarding the system of school funding in New Hampshire, in an attempt to seek input from residents across the state.  The deadline for the commission report to the legislature is December 1, 2020. The recommendations made by this commission will likely have a long-term impact on our ability to fund a quality education for our Hinsdale students.

Shortly after meeting with our area legislators on October 18th our Senator, Jay Kahn, led the effort to create rules that should lead to the recovery of the Medicaid to Schools funds we were told we would lose due to a mid-year rule change. We were expecting to lose more than $150,000 in Medicaid to Schools reimbursement. The legislation that will allow us to maintain these funds is expected to pass soon by the legislature, and it has the support of the Governor.

In other legislation, it appears that going forward, credits through the “Learn Everywhere” program may only be authorized through the local School Board.

Many of our Board committees are scheduled to meet in February. All our Board committees are open to the public. Our Open Enrollment Study Committee meets on February 5th at 4:30 pm.  Our Student and Staff Safety Committee meets at 3:00 pm on Monday, February 10th and our Facilities Committee is scheduled to meet at 2:15 on Friday, February 28th.

The 2019/ 2020 Board Goals are as follows:

2019-2020 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
  • Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

As of February 5thth we already have more than 47% of our seniors admitted to a college or university.

As part of our effort to develop a budget that supports our Board goals we have added oversight of the standardized test assessments to the job description of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction beginning in the fall of 2020.  Most districts link curriculum, instruction, and assessment as that combination is indicative of best practice.

  1. Communication
  • Internal
    • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings – 1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.
  • External
    • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding a minimum of two forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town.
    • Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

The School Board met with the Town Budget Committee on Wednesday, January 8th in an effort to provide the Budget Committee with the rationale and justification for the proposed 2020/2021 School District Budget. Many school staff members and our School Board joined the Budget Committee at the Public Hearing on February 5th, 2020.  The Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, currently serves as the Board’s representative to the Budget Committee.

  1. Culture
  • Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior code, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community.
  • 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.

The Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team recommended we partner with the New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports beginning in the 2020/2021 school year. This recommendation was unanimously approved by the School Board. We have included $10,000 in our 2020/2021 proposed budget to be used for staff training, student support, and parent support regarding this effort to improve student behavior.  The Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team dissolved as their last official action on January 29th but not before passing a motion to recommend to our School Board a structure for a Behavioral Support Implementation Committee.

Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction continues to spend one day each week at the Hinsdale Elementary School where she works with elementary teachers to support their effort to improve student learning.

We have had no reported incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Elementary School since our last Board meeting. For the second month in a row we have had no reported incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Middle/High School.

  1. Personnel
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We currently have a four unfilled para positions.  We have engaged the services of a local area radio station to announce our openings to a wider audience.

We continue to make progress regarding the development of high quality professional learning community teams.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
  • Work with administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.
  • Work with the administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Work with the administration to present a Warrant article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

We are thankful for the hard work by our staff that resulted in a high percentage of grant funds this year. The Hinsdale School District continues to stand out as a district that acquires a high percentage of state and federal grants to offset local taxes. As a percentage of our expenditures, we typically procure approximately 10% more in grant funds than is common among New Hampshire Districts. Major grants for the current school year include: Hinsdale After School Program – $156, 688, Federal Title Grants used for reading, math, professional development, and technology – $418,472, special education and preschool grants – $185,183, our school lunch revenue which is mostly federal and state revenue is approximately $300,000, and state grants which include our per student Adequacy Grant, our Fiscal Disparity Aid and our Stabilization Grant total approximately $5,600,000. The total revenue we expect to procure this year from sources other than local property taxes is about $6,700,000. We are thankful for our business administrator who tracks these funds.  Our annual independent audits have been without a negative finding during my four years as your superintendent.

In another effort to add revenue from sources other than local property taxes, our Hinsdale School Board tasked an Open Enrollment Study Committee to consider options that would add tuition revenue from out-of-district students.  At our Annual School Board Meeting on February 5th the committee hopes to share information regarding an Open Enrollment Study Committee recommendation for a Hinsdale nonresident private tuition option that would be available to qualified nonresident students in grades 9-12. Our School Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, chairs the Open Enrollment Study Committee.

  1. Security
  • Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students are safe.

The Hinsdale Facility Committee continues to work on determining a cost/benefit priority list regarding the list of recommendations made in the recent safety audit for Hinsdale Elementary School and Hinsdale Middle/High School completed by Homeland Security. Our Director of Facilities, our Business Administrator, our Director of Technology, our Systems Administrator our principals, and I met on January 27th to determine the costs associated with additional PA coverage and additional camera coverage. So far we have not identified any grant funds that are available through the State to assist our efforts. The last time we received a Homeland Security audit we were able to write grants to secure 80% of the cost of safety upgrades. Once the Facility Committee approves the recommendations, the recommendations will be shared with the Board in hopes of Board adoption. The Facility Committee next meets on Friday, February 28th at 2:15.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data governance plan.

We are currently implementing the third year of our five-year Technology Plan. Funds to add our 8th grade and our 12th grade students to the one-one initiative are included in our 2020/2021 School District Budget, as was identified in year four of our Technology Plan.

 

January Superintendent’s Blog

Superintendent’s Blog – January 2020

December was a festive month in the Hinsdale Schools.

Thankfully, I was able to attend a great Hinsdale Elementary School band and choral concert on Thursday, December 12th. The HMHS gym was filled to capacity with adults who, from the sound of their applause, truly enjoyed the concert.

We held numerous holiday related events that were meant to help remind our students and staff that we care about each and every person in our organization, and that kindness is integral to our Hinsdale school culture. Beginning in late November staff posted what they were grateful for on our employee Yammer account.  In December, Hinsdale Elementary students placed gratitude ornaments on trees when they did something kind. Small groups of HES students sang holiday songs in the hallways of both buildings in mid-December. Also in mid-December we had a small group of students playing ukuleles in the hallways and we had one student play holiday music on a violin for several classes. Our director of human resources organized a holiday finery contest with winners in both the staff and student category. About 50 people participated by dressing in holiday finery and several times that number participated by voting for their favorite holiday finery outfit.

On Wednesday, December 18th I was able to help my wife teach her volunteer Hinsdale Elementary School Book Club. We reviewed the popular graphic novel “Smile.” On January 8th each student in the book club received an autographed copy of my wife’s new graphic novel, “Cub.” All the books taught during the book club, as well as my wife’s new book, were provided to the students as a gift to keep, at our expense.

Many of our new Board committees are scheduled to meet in January. All our Board committees are open to the public. Our Open Enrollment Committee meets on January 8th at 5:00 pm.  Our Student and Staff Safety Committee meets at 3:00 pm on Monday, January 13th and our Behavior Support Team meets at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, January 29th.

The 2019/ 2020 Board Goals are as follows:

2019-2020 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
  • Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

As of January 7th we already have more than 30% of our seniors admitted to a college or university.

As part of our effort to develop a budget that supports our Board goals we have added oversight of the standardized test assessments to the job description of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction beginning in the fall of 2020.  Most districts link curriculum, instruction, and assessment as that combination is indicative of best practice.

  1. Communication
  • Internal
    • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings – 1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.
  • External
    • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding a minimum of two forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town.
    • Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

The School Board met with the Town Budget Committee on Wednesday, January 8th in an effort to provide the Budget Committee with the rationale and justification for the proposed 2020/2021 School District Budget. We value the cordial relationship we have with the Hinsdale Budget Committee. The Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, currently serves as the Board’s representative to the Budget Committee.

  1. Culture
  • Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior code, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community.
  • 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.

The Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team recommended we partner with the New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports beginning in the 2020/2021 school year. This recommendation was unanimously approved by the School Board at their regular December Board meeting. We have included $10,000 in our 2020/2021 proposed budget to be used for staff training, student support, and parent support regarding this effort to improve student behavior.

Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction continues to spend one day each week at the Hinsdale Elementary School where she works with elementary teachers to support their effort to improve student learning.

We have had one reported incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Elementary School since our last Board meeting. The reported incident was not substantiated. We have had no reported incidents of bullying at HMHS since our last Board meeting.

  1. Personnel
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We currently have a one unfilled para positions.

We continue to make progress regarding the development of high quality professional learning community teams.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
  • Work with administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.
  • Work with the administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Work with the administration to present a Warrant article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

The Board’s Open Enrollment Study Committee met again on Wednesday, January 8th. The committee is considering an open enrollment option and a tuition agreement option.  With Board approval, the committee hopes to share our progress with those who attend our District Meeting under the article that references committee reports. Our Board Chair, Holly Kennedy, also chairs the Open Enrollment Study Committee.

  1. Security
  • Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students are safe.

The Hinsdale Facility Committee continues to work on determining a cost/benefit priority list regarding the list of recommendations made in the recent safety audit for Hinsdale Elementary School and Hinsdale Middle/High School completed by Homeland Security. So far we have not identified any grant funds that are available through the State to assist our efforts. The last time we received a Homeland Security audit we were able to write grants to secure 80% of the cost of safety upgrades. Once the Facility Committee prioritizes the recommendations, the recommendations will be shared with the Board in hopes of Board adoption. The Facility Committee next meets on Friday, January 17th at 2:15.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data governance plan.

We are currently implementing the third year of our five-year Technology Plan. Funds to add our 8th grade and our 12th grade students to the one-one initiative are included in our 2020/2021 School District Budget, as was identified in year four of our Technology Plan.

December 2019 Superintendent’s Blog

We have made significant progress towards improving student and staff safety. Recommendations regarding an effort to improve our response to emergency situations were approved by the Hinsdale School Board on November 13th. Recommendations that were approved by the Hinsdale School Board include the following: Information will be sent to families specific to an emergency situation with priority given to families involved in the incident prior to an “all call.”  In the event of an emergency an alternative location, with all the necessary technology, will be required of all SAU personnel. Incident Command will communicate directly with the Public Information Officer. The Public Information Officer will disseminate information to the School Board, Superintendent, school receptionists, all additional Hinsdale School District personnel, the Windham Regional Career Center, our bus company, our ELO drivers, parents, and the community. In addition, going forward school receptionists will field all incoming calls and will respond as directed by our Public Information Officer.  Our list of students and their families will be updated in our student management system monthly.

Our staff have worked hard to prepare a 2020/2021 budget that will address the needs of our students. This budget reflects the priorities as defined by the Hinsdale School Board Goals. Certainly our ability to provide the best possible education for Hinsdale students depends primarily on the quality of our staff.  In order to keep highly qualified and effective staff, especially in a time of full employment, we must make every effort to provide a culture of trust and the financial support they need to do effectively to their job.

The budget the administration is presenting to the Board on Wednesday, December 4th includes one new faculty position at our elementary school and no new positions at the Middle/High School. Class size concerns and the makeup of the classes in our incoming fourth grade were the two most significant factors leading to the decision to recommend an additional section of fourth grade for 2020/2021.

We have tried to combine two positions at HES for the past two years but have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we needed to go back to an earlier staffing pattern to best meet the needs of our elementary students.

The Board has asked the administration to look ahead to anticipated retirements over the next few years and to do our best to plan for the transitions. The budget we are presenting to the Board for 2020/2021 includes our best attempt at strategically planning for the anticipated retirements.

We continue to make progress on our Board Goals. The 2019/ 2020 Board goals are as follows:

2019-2020 Hinsdale School Board Goals

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ensure that all students receive personalized guidance regarding post-secondary education or career options.
  • Provide students with educational opportunities and learning based upon the student’s unique needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

Our 2020/2021 proposed budget reflects support for PACE training including the effort to validate our performance assessment protocol. Our proposed budget also includes more support for staffing to oversee the coordination of collaboration of instruction between the buildings. The budget also provides additional support in the areas of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

  1. Communication
  • Internal
    • Twice yearly school board tours of all school buildings – 1 tour during the school day and 1 tour when classes are not in session.
  • External
    • Maintain communication to promote a collaborative relationship with the community through a continued commitment to holding a minimum of two forums and maintaining a presence in other committees, boards and community events in town.
    • Maintain relationships with town governing bodies.

The Hinsdale School Board and the Hinsdale Budget Committee are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 8th to discuss the proposed 2020/2021 School District Budget.

  1. Culture
  • Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior code, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports a forward-thinking, professional learning community.
  • 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.

On November 20th the Hinsdale Behavioral Support Team voted 10-0 to recommend that the Hinsdale School District partner with the New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports for the 2020/2021 school year. The administration placed $10,000 in the 2020/2021 budget to pay for the support that will be provided to students, staff, parents, and the community as we develop an infrastructure to support this effort.

We recently established a HMHS Student and Staff Safety Committee.  The following staff have agreed to serve on this committee: Ann Freitag, Tom Ronning, Tim Fleming, Sarah Burgess, Tim Benson, and Karen Thompson. I will also be serving on this committee. At our first meeting we plan to elect officers and begin the work on a mission statement and goals.  Our first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 11th at 3:00 pm.

We have had two reporting incidents of bullying at Hinsdale Elementary School since our last Board meeting. Both reports were substantiated. We had one alleged incident of bullying at HMHS since our last Board meeting. That alleged incident is still under investigation.

  1. Personnel
  • Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.
  • Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We currently have one unfilled para positions. We are making some progress regarding our pool of substitute teachers. We currently have 25 substitutes on our call list.

Our Director of Human Resources has organized a December holiday finery contest.  Everyone who participates gets a medal, in this kinder version of the “ugly sweater” contest.

We continue to provide regular para meetings at Hinsdale Elementary School and at Hinsdale High/Middle School.

  1. Financial
  • Search for ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.
  • Work with administration to identify and secure additional sources of revenue.
  • Work with the administration to proactively monitor the fund balance.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the Budget Committee regarding any potential changes in funding.
  • Work with the administration to present a Warrant Article to rebuild the maintenance fund.

The Board’s Open Enrollment Study Committee met with our school district attorney on Wednesday, November 6th. We will not be ready to make a recommendation to the Board in December.  However, it seems unlikely that we will need a Warrant Article that deals with this matter on the March 2020 District Warrant. We are next scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 8th.

  1. Security
  • Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students are safe.

The Hinsdale School District Facility Committee recently reviewed the security audit information spreadsheet, created by Jim O’Malley.  We are considering the cost vs risk benefit of each item. The Facility Committee next meets on Friday, January 17th.

  1. Technology
  • Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year plan of the Future Technology Committee.
  • Support the development and implementation of a data governance plan.

Our proposed budget supports the fourth year in our five-year Technology Plan. Our technology staff continue to meet with staff to successfully implement our new data governance plan.