Superintendent’s Report – August 2017
As of Wednesday, August 9th, we have hired 14 new staff members and are almost fully staffed for the 2017-2018 school year. We believe our new hires will be a great addition to our strong team of educators in the Hinsdale School District.
Our new staff begin on Tuesday, August 22nd at 8:30 am in the SAU conference room, with a welcome by administration and those Board members who are able to attend, followed by two days of training.
We are providing a continental breakfast in the HMHS cafeteria for all staff from 7:45-8:15 am on Thursday, August 24th, and we will welcome all staff in the HES gym at 8:30. Our first day for students is scheduled for Tuesday, August 29th.
Numerous Hinsdale staff members participated in professional development workshops over the summer. In early August a team from Hinsdale Elementary School attended the New Hampshire Educator’s Summer Summit at the University of New Hampshire. Major strands included: “teaching for the future” and “how to improve literacy from birth to age eight.” In July a team of educators from Hinsdale Middle/High School attended the Competency-Based Learning Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire. The major stands included “personalized learning including extended learning opportunities,” and PACE – (performance assessment of competency education).” PACE for New Hampshire schools is an approved accountability system by the U.S. Department of Education. PACE is a “learning system designed to capitalize on the latest advances in understanding of how people learn. The goal is to structure learning opportunities that allow students to grapple with gaining meaningful knowledge and skills at a depth of understanding that they can transfer to new real-world situations.”
The Hinsdale Elementary School Building Improvement Committee has met seven times since our June Board meeting. In addition to our regular meetings several BIC members, as well as Facilities Committee member Sean Leary, met with the new Hinsdale Fire Chief on Wednesday, July 12th. As a result of the recommendations made by our new Fire Chief at that meeting we have asked our architect to include a gravel road from the employee parking lot on the south side of the elementary school to the north side of our proposed addition.
In late June we were informed that State funds were approved by the Legislature for our elementary addition/renovation project. A few days later Governor Sununu signed the State budget. The Hinsdale Elementary School project was the only school building aid project approved by the New Hampshire Department of Education and by the Legislature this session.
I would like to thank the Hinsdale School Board for supporting the recommendations made by the administration and by the Hinsdale Building Improvement Committee. I am appreciative of the hard work demonstrated by each individual on the 2016/2017 Hinsdale School District’s Building Improvement Committee. Those members include: Jim O’Malley-Chair, Steve Fecto-Vice Chair, James MacDonell, Joe Boggio, Sean Leary, Deb Carrier, Shawn Lee, Courtney Hodge, April Anderson, Kaylah Hemlow, Tom O’Connor, and Wayne Woolridge.
I would like to thank the New Hampshire School Board for unanimously approving our project, and the New Hampshire Department of Education Chief Engineer Amy Clark for helping though the application process. I would also like to thank Commissioner Edleblut for visiting our schools. He is a strong advocate of the Hinsdale personalized learning competency-based program.
Without the strong support of voters at the Annual District Meeting we would not have been able to garner the necessary support from the legislature. We also received strong support from outgoing New Hampshire Senator Molly Kelly, current State Senator Jay Kahn, and State Representative Mike Abbott.
Finally, I would like to thank Hinsdale resident Smokey Smith for helping us secure the necessary land to make this project possible.
The New Hampshire Legislature passed several bills this session that will impact Hinsdale School District. Bills passed into law this session include the following:
SB 101 An act relative to enrollment eligibility for regional career and technical education programs and relative to high school students participating in New Hampshire’s dual and concurrent enrollment program. This bill reduces the prerequisite for enrollment in a regional career and technical education center from having attended high school for 2 years to 1 year. The bill also establishes a Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Program, which will allow high school students to earn both high school and college credit for certain courses taught either at a high school or at a community college. When the course is taken at a community college, the state will pay a fixed tuition to the Community College System upon the student’s successful completion of the course. The law requires high schools to notify students and parents about the program. The Department of Education and the Community College System of New Hampshire are required to develop a model enrollment agreement and guidelines.
SB 45 An act requiring a course in civics for high school graduation. SB 45 amends
RSA 189:11 to require that a civics course shall be required for high school graduation. SB 45 also lists nine components or criteria that must be part of the civics curriculum. SB 45 becomes effective August 7, 2017.
SB 43 An act relative to non-academic surveys administered by a public school to its students. SB 43 amends RSA 186:11, IX-d to state that no student shall be required to volunteer for or submit to a nonacademic survey or questionnaire without written consent of a parent or legal guardian. SB 43 also creates an exception to the prior written consent requirement for the youth risk behavior survey developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
HB 233 An act relative to the submission of school emergency response plans. This bill requires: (1) a site-specific emergency response plan for each school; (2) that the plan be reviewed annually; and (3) that by September 1st of each year, the district submit to the NHDOE either an updated plan or a report that the plan was reviewed and is unchanged.
HB 275 An act prohibiting the inclusion of statewide assessment results in a student’s transcript without consent. This bill amends RSA 193-C:6 to provide that a student’s statewide assessment results shall not be a part of a student’s transcript.
An act relative to documenting the improvement of non-proficient readers. This bill amends RSA 193-C:3, IV(i) – the statewide assessment program goals – for third grade pupils and requires a school district to submit documentation to the department of education showing that the district has implemented a reading instructional program for third grade pupils who tested as “not proficient” on the reading component of either the statewide or locally-administered assessment.
HB 216 An act relative to educational assignments for pupils who have been suspended. This bill amends RSA 193:13, I(a) and now requires a school to make educational assignments available to the suspended pupil during the period of suspension. Though not specifically defined, “educational assignments” is intended to mean coursework and access to curricular offerings.
HB 166 An act relative to assessments administered to pupils in grades 3 through 8. This bill amends the schedule for a school district to administer the statewide assessment and requires a school district to develop and administer an assessment in those years in which the statewide assessment is not administered. HB 166 amends RSA 193-C:6 by removing the provision that students in grades 3 through
8 taken an annual statewide assessment test. Students will now take the statewide assessment test once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. In years that a school district does not administer the statewide assessment test, the school district will be required to administer a locally developed or other standardized assessment test.
HB 103 An act relative to school district policies regarding objectionable course material. HB 103 amends RSA 186:11, IX-c to now require that the school board policy relative to “objectionable course material”: (1) provide parents and legal guardians not less than 2 weeks advance notice of curriculum course material used for instruction of human sexuality or human sexual education; (2) address the method of delivering notification to a parent or legal guardian; and (3) to the extent practicable, a school district shall make curriculum course materials available to parents or legal guardians for review upon request.
HB 556 An act requiring schools to post the state telephone numbers to report child abuse and relative to criminal history records checks of school employees and volunteers. HB 556 requires each school and chartered public school to post a sign containing information on how to report child abuse or neglect to the New
Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division for Children,
Youth, and Families (“DCYF”). HB 556 also amends the requirements for criminal history records checks of school employees, volunteers, contractors, employees of contractors, and other educational staff.
With respect to posting the child abuse hotline information, HB 556 creates a new statute, RSA 189:72, which requires school districts to post a sign in each school in an area that is readily accessible to students. The sign is to be provided in electronic or printed form by DCYF and will contains the telephone number of the state child abuse hotline, as well as the pertinent website.
With respect to criminal background checks, HB 556 amends RSA 189:13-a, relative to criminal background checks. There are four significant changes that may impact school board policies and administrative practices relative to criminal background checks. First, Superintendents will receive more information. In place of a statement of the presence or absence of disqualifying convictions or a charge pending disposition of a disqualifying offence, Superintendents will receive a report on the criminal history records check conducted through state records and through the Federal Bureau of Investigation database that will include any misdemeanors and/or felony convictions and any charges pending disposition for any disqualifying crimes listed in paragraph RSA 189:13-a, V. The law continues to allow only the Superintendent to view the report. Following School Board policy, the Superintendent will have to determine whether a conviction for an offense which is not on the list of disqualifying offenses in statute, should nonetheless disqualify the applicant.
Second, the school board shall adopt a policy relative to hiring practices based on the results of the criminal history records check. Such policy may include language stating that any person who has been convicted of any misdemeanor or any of a list of misdemeanors may not be hired. Such policy may also include language stating that any person who has been convicted of any felony, or any of a list of felonies, shall not be hired. The change to law recognizes that in some cases there is evidence of conduct that, were sufficient evidence available, would result in a conviction for an offense that is made disqualifying by law, but that as a result of the character of available evidence the case may result only in a conviction for a lesser offense. A criminal conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt while most employment decisions require only that it be more likely than not that disqualifying conduct occurred. This difference in the standard of proof means that even where the individual was not convicted of the more serious crime, in some cases it will still be proper to disqualify the applicant.
Furthermore, some offenses not included in the statutory list of disqualifying offenses give rise to significant cause to find an applicant unsuitable. School
Districts will have greater access to information and greater local discretion as to what offenses and circumstances will be disqualifying. Federal antidiscrimination law still requires that the reason for treating an offense as disqualifying be job related for the position and consistent with business necessity.
Third, the District is required to conduct criminal history record checks for student teachers and interns, before the individual is placed, notwithstanding that the institution of higher education that individual is attending is also required to conduct a criminal history record check upon the individual’s enrollment.
Fourth, the law now also requires the District to conduct the criminal history record check on all individuals contracting with the District to provide services directly to students and for the employees of contractors who will be assigned within the District to provide services to students. The means that the District itself must conduct the criminal history records check on cafeteria workers, school bus drivers, custodial personnel or any other service provider who provides services directly to students, even though the individual is a contractor or employee of a contractor. For employees of a contractor, for example a school bus driver, it will no longer be adequate for the contracted school bus operator to just certify to the District that the driver’s criminal history record was checked and does not contain any disqualifying convictions or pending charges.