2021 Chester School Board Meetings

Chester School Board Told Part Time Superintendent Search Is Underway
By Penny Williams   1-10-21

The Chester School Board met Wednesday, January 6, and the board was informed that the advertisement for the search for a Part Time Superintendent has been posted.

A portion of the advertisement that  can be found on the Chester Academy web site states: " Qualified candidates must have successful school administrative experience combined with a background in teaching. The ideal candidate will have experience in educational administration, personnel management and a strong understanding of school finance and budgets. An advanced graduate degree is preferred and a master’s degree is required. A New Hampshire Superintendent license or eligibility for license is necessary.

"The Chester School Board will offer a competitive contract with a regionally competitive salary, commensurate with qualifications and experience, along with a generous benefits package.

The deadline for submitting applications is January 29, 2021. Preliminary interviews are planned to begin by the middle of February 2021. The start date for this position is July 1, 2021. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, application, and at least 3 current reference letters to:
Superintendent Search Committee 22 Murphy Drive Chester, NH 03036."

Board Chair Royal Richardson reviewed the discussions leading up to this point. The Board decided back in December to do  the search in-house, using our their own personnel to conduct and manage the process. A search committee would be formed following past practices and utilizing existing experience from past searches for leadership positions. Superintendent Darrel Lockwood had informed the board former long time school board member Maria Veale was willing to volunteer to lead this effort on behalf of the Board. and he  recommended Veale lead the Screening Committee to be selected by the Chester School Board to identify the performance criteria for the position and evaluate candidates. The board approved this.

The Board will be requesting participation on the Screening Committee of volunteers from multiple categories: School Board members; members of Chester Academy Administration; SAU staff; Teachers and Para-educators; Support Staff Members; and up to two (2) parent representatives. The committee will reach out to members of the municipal government that frequently interact with the Superintendent for their feedback and input as well.  The formal search process for a new Superintendent will begin  this month.

Interested individuals should plan to submit a letter of interest to serve on the committee. These shall be due in the Superintendent’s Office clearly marked “Superintendent Search Committee” by the end of the business day on Friday, January 29th, 2021.
Contact information /Mailing Addresses:
e-mail: contact@sau82.org or US Mail: SAU 82 / 22 Murphy Drive / Chester NH, 03036

Richardson noted that in addition, the Chester School Board will host a public forum to gather information from the community regarding the characteristics they hope to find in a new Superintendent. This is planned to take place in the first week of February and information on that session will be provided in the next few weeks.

At the meeting Wednesday evening Lockwood said the advertisement has been posted on the web site and the advertisements sent out  to Educational Jobs, Indeed, and the School Board Association which will send out queries to New Hampshire and New England boards.

The  school is currently in Remote but the plan is to return to hybrid as of January 19. However, the Pre-school, Kindergarten, and first grade along with certain special needs students will have access to in-person instruction.

Principal Karen Lacroix reported that finding substitutes remains difficult but there are some possible hires. She told the board the Annual Spelling Bee continues virtually and she will give them the Chester Academy winner and runner up at the next meeting. The Annual PTA Reflection Contest  had a handful of participants and she announced congratulations to Joe Gustavson who won first place in the Intermediate Music Category. The MathCounts Competition will take place February 5 and 6 and she named this year's participants. The Jazz Club has started remotely with 14 plus students and a staff member is considering getting the Stock Market Club going once the school is back in Hybrid-Remote model.

Lacroix told the board the kindergarten enrollment continues to increase. The 56 they have enrolled increased by 2 new January entrants to 58 and she said there is likely to be 2 more during the 2021-22 school year that are already known. While there are less than 18 per class due to the telepresence she anticipates there will need to be some creative attention paid to this next year.

Richardson said the Superintendent continues to monitor the metrics and daily events and has recommended that the students return to school on January 19th in the Hybrid Remote Instruction Model rather than the Adapted-In-Person Instruction

The Chester School Board believes that it should have students back in the classroom as soon as is possible and practical. On January 5th the State of New Hampshire published the COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Plan Summary. Under Phase 2a of this plan K-12 School and Childcare staff will be eligible for vaccination. This is slated to begin in March of this year, Richardson explained. 

The USDA has extended free meals, breakfast and lunch, to all students until June 30, 2021. This includes all students, taking part in both our in-school and remote learning programs. Due to the current rate of participation, even with Federal reimbursement, the Chester Academy Food Service program is running in deficit for this fiscal year.

With the hybrid-remote school model continuing to be in effect, the District is offering expanded options for the meal services. For students that are learning remote the Food Services program is offering two options for meal pick-up: daily or bulk. Anyone interested in meal pick up should complete the available survey

The Board would like to encourage all of our eligible parents and families to take advantage of this program. For further information or questions, please contact the Chester Academy Food Services Director at sullivanl@chesteracademy.org.

The Proposed Budget for the coming School Year was delivered to the Chester Budget Committee prior to the end of December for their review and feedback. On January 4th, representatives of the School District attended the Chester Budget Committee Meeting where Superintendent Lockwood provided an initial overview and summary of the Proposed Budget for the Budget Committee members.

The Proposed Budget for 2021 – 2022 as presented to the Budget Committee is $13,503,823 which is an increase over the prior year of $683,906 or 5.33 percent. The Board was presented with several significant upward pressures when developing the budget. The impact of just two items (increased NHRS contributions and new Special Education Services requirements) total $412,249 or 60% of the increase.

In addition are the following pressures to the budget:

* The impact of COVID-19.

* Scheduling of approved Capital Improvement Plan projects - the Board made the decision to adjust the plan by addressing two projects this year and deferring the other projects into subsequent years, and removing those costs from the Budget. 

* The New Hampshire Retirement System mandated increased contributions

* A significantly increased demand for Special Education Services for our students, including necessary placement in Out-of-District programs.

* Scheduled increases in salary and benefits for staff members as per terms of existing Collective Bargaining Agreements.

The board plans to hold a virtual meeting on January 18, for work on the Warrant and the budget with the next regular meeting to take place on Wednesday, February 3.

The board discussed the Deliberative and noted there are several options for holding the meeting but many questions remain. At present a date of March 2 has been tentatively set for the meeting to take place.

How the meeting will be structured was discussed with several options said to be  available such as moving out of town and using Pinkerton Academy facilities; changing the date of the meeting and pushing it out some;  and, using the Chester Academy gym and cafeteria. This discussion will be continued before a final decision is made.

Principal Karen Lecroix indicated that finding substitutes is difficult.





























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