2020 Hampstead School Board Meetings

Hampstead School Board Presented with Multi Million Dollar Central School Plan Which Doesn't Include 60s Wing
By Penny Williams    12-9-20

The cost of the proposed construction and restoration plan for the Hampstead Central School (HCS) was revealed Tuesday night, December 8, during the School Board Meeting, at which time the board voted to move ahead with two Warrant Articles: One for the main project and a separate article for a 60s wing project.

The cost for the proposed plan for HCS is $9.07 million in a ten year bond. And that plan does not include the repairs and improvements to the 60s Wing of the school. That is a separate article that is slated to cost $1.16 million to come from the Capital Reserve Fund and an additional $950,000 that is in the school district's operating budget. The caveat to the budget amount is that Business Manager Geoffrey Dowd expects to be able to find grants and receive rebates for efficiencies that will be realized to offset the total amount.  However, the project cost is roughly $2,110,000.

The total of the two projects together amounts to almost $12 million. This is an increase of  almost $4 million dollars over the plan as presented as a single total package that included both the main restoration and construction project and the 60s wing project, back in 2019. The advantage is that the article for the 60s wing project only requires a 50 percent plus 1 vote for passage while the bond request for the $9.07 million for the HCS construction and renovation requires a 60 percent of the vote in the affirmative.

Board member Dave Smith said he calculated that the 10 year bond for the $9.07 million would cost tax payers with a property valued at $400,000  approximately $300 a year.

The restoration/construction plan as presented for the Central School is essentially the same plan presented back in 2019 except the 60s wing work has been eliminated. Smith said one reason tax payers should approve both of the articles is that there would be a considerable additional cost factor if the two projects aren't done at the same time. In fact he suggested it would be an increase of at least $1.4 million dollars next year.

No one questions the need for the Central School project. It has serious space need issues and a serious safety issue in that the school doesn't have a sprinkler system in it. Several classroom spaces are needed if the growth in school population grows as suggested and even without growth classroom space is needed. The plan would add 4 to 6 classrooms and a music room as well as a new library. The old library then could become two additional classrooms. The gym would be dedicated as would the cafeteria. Needed bathrooms on the second floor would be added.

Craig Jones, Architect with Dennis Mires Architects, repeated his information from previous years regarding this project addressing safety and security issues, code upgrades, building efficiencies and space deficiencies. Smith said this plan eliminated things that were considered not critical to accomplishing the goal of the plan.

Jones went over the plan for the 60s wing, again the same as previously proposed. A new skin for the exterior walls, roof replacement, windows, and heating and ventilation improvements throughout the 60s wing.

Member Jim Sweeney asked what would have to be eliminated in the budget to account for the needed $950,000 for the 60s wing project. He was told nothing would be eliminated. The Maintenance and Facilities budget and the next year's budget would be dedicated to the 60s wing project, putting off major projects. Facilities Director Jeff Mackey said this would work out alright. In addition, Dowd said grants and rebates would be allocated to the project and any other monies available would be applied.

As for the multimillion dollar Central School project, Sweeney and member Karen Yasenka both indicated that they would be voting no because in their opinion this year is not the time to be trying to get residents to support such an expensive project.

Yasenka pointed out that during the good times prior to this year dominated by the pandemic voters wouldn't support it so she couldn't imagine that families struggling through these difficult times would support the project this year.

Sweeney and Yasenka also felt there wasn't enough time to get the word out to seek the support of residents especially when face to face contact is virtually impossible. She indicated that passage of this project requires a complete mind set change of Hampstead residents which she doesn't see happening at this point in time. Chair Caitlin Parnell indicated she has some similar concerns but when time came to vote she voted to approve both articles.

Smith disagreed saying he has had positive feedback from lots of people and that there is enthusiasm for the project in the community this year. He indicated that he and member Megan Malcolm have been hard at work talking to people, groups and clubs and have plans moving forward that will intensify the effort.

He also noted that the Department of Education had been to visit the school and review the plan and that the district would be applying for a 30 percent building cost grant from the state. He did admit this was a long shot since the state hasn't allocated the funding for such building grants yet and many schools are lined up for the grant.

Smith also pointed out that he and Malcolm have put out a survey to residents asking for input that can be accessed by going to :Hampstead Central Renovation ThoughtExchange. This asks "when thinking about the Central School Renovation project, what are your most pressing thoughts and questions? Click the Participate button to share your thoughts and then rate at least 20-30 of the thoughts that others have shared. Your participation is confidential, so no one will know who shared or rated which thoughts. Please come back often and rate new ideas. If you see a thought that is rude, hurtful or identifies a person or group, you can report it by clicking in the upper right corner of the thought. You do not need to rate all thoughts in this exchange. It is appreciated and recommended to rate around 30 over the time the exchange is open."  The plan is to keep this open for at least several weeks.

One thing Smith said was that the design for the SAU building he had suggested wasn't a go. It was not surprisingly determined that the cost of constructing the stand alone building would be much more expensive than renting a space for SAU office, even long term.
The board learned that the Safe Learning Plan is continuing to function well and that decisions regarding it are made based on what is happening in Hampstead. The biggest challenges beyond COVID -19 are staffing issues and student absences.

The plan remains to revert to Remote Learning following the Christmas holiday and go back to the hybrid model by January 19. Educational Consultant Earl Metzler added that he has high hopes for moving to Phase Three - in person - after the February vacation.

Metzler announced that the decision has been made to not have winter sports at Hampstead Middle School. He also announced that weather days will be the old fashioned Snow Days not Blizzard Bag days unless there end up being too many Snow Days and then they will reassess how to continue.

Dowd went over the budget telling the board it had been reduced a little when all the actuals became available. The operating budget bottom line is now $30,616,347, a 4.55 percent increase over last year's budget of $29,283,960. The Default Budget is $30,652,326.

The board, after a session in non-public, came out and voted unanimously to ratify and move to the Warrant the Hampstead Support Personnel Association (HSPA) tentative agreement.

The board had a discussion on whether or not to put an article on the Warrant regarding contributing to the Capital Reserve Fund. Parnell suggested leaving it off the warrant this year but Smith suggested it would be better to go for at least $100,000 for the CRF so if the projects failed at least more money would be being put aside for the next attempt. The board approved his suggestion.


Hampstead School Board Names Superintendent Search Committee Members
By Penny Williams   11-25-20

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday night, November 24, and Chair Caitlin Parnell announced the members of the Superintendent Search Committee.

Members include Parnell and School Board member Megan Malcolm; SAU Support Melissa Post; School District Administrators Hampstead Middle School Principal Maria DiNola and Hampstead Central School Assistant Principal Dr. Terrilyn Cheney; School District Staff members Kara Gordon and Lisa Lambert; Community members, Bethany Laham and Karl Hubner. The committee will begin meetings in early December and the open position for District Superintendent will be posted next week. Parnell said the committee will develop the job description and the board will vote on it at their December 8, meeting.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn gave an update on the Safe Learning and Transition Plan. The transition from Phase 1 Remote to Phase 2 Hybrid went well but given the increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the county and the state thee Hampstead School District is prepared for a swift return to Remote should any clusters turn up within the school community. So far only a few isolated cases have been identified.

Some parents have sought to change their cohort positions some because of a qualifying incident others out of fear. Metzler said each request is given consideration but not all can be honored. If they did that, he said, the impact on staffing would make it difficult to continue Hybrid and even threaten remote.

Flynn said the Chrome books have arrived. First and Second graders received theirs and while they are excited it will take a little time to become familiarized with them. He also said that Lynn Lyons will presenting an evening program on anxiety and stress for the district parents. It will be a zoom presentation and information on how to access the Wednesday, December 9, presentation from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. will be announced in the next few days.

David Smith described some of the proposed changes his committee is considering to the Repair, Renovate and Renewal program at the Central School.  He said he would be meeting with Gino Baroni, Owner and Managing Principal of the Trident Project Management Company to finalize the changes and cost. He said the Department of Education would be doing a walkthrough of the school so as to determine whether the project would be eligible for reimbursement by the state.

The changes Smith mentioned include:
* Ensuring 6 new classrooms (2 from the current library )
* New Individualized Learning Spaces
* Dedicated cafeteria, gym and music room
* New safe front entrance configuration
* Additional bathrooms
* Consider an additional building for the SAU on the school property.

Smith said a school community survey has been distributed to ascertain the best way to get information to community members; what information community members want; and, asks for volunteers to help with getting the information out. He said the detailed plan and costs would be presented at the December 8, meeting of the School Board.

Business Administrator Geoff Dowd said the budget remains basically unchanged with the 2021-22 budget at $31,001,861, a 5.87 percent increase over the 2020-21 budget of $29,283,960 or an increase of $1,717,901.

Parnell asked that the stand alone Technical Director position be eliminated from the budget which changed the total amount to $30,860,627, according to Dowd. Parnell said she wanted to retain the Assistant Special Education Director position. The board approved the budget as presented with the proviso that it can be altered if necessary later.

Parnell also reference that there is a property purchase of land adjacent to the Central School under consideration. This will be discussed at the December 8, meeting.

Dowd asked and received permission from the board to proceed with contracting with Specialized Purchasing Consultants Corp. This is a  copier cooperative purchasing proposal which offers unique services to streamline and bring value to the district’s printer acquisition, service, and maintenance operations.

Hampstead School Board Hears Plan on Renovating Central School
By Penny Williams    11-12-20

The Hampstead School Board met on Tuesday, November 10, and board member Dave Smith, with board member Megan Malcolm, is working on the Repair, Renovation and Renewal (RRR) plan for the Hampstead Central School and discussed plans for moving forward but without any indication of what the cost might be.

The plan, as presented back in December, 2014,  was at a cost of $4,189,717 that had grown by March 3, 2018 to $7,400,000. The cost increased again in 2019 to $7,994,500.  Hampstead voters have consistently defeated the proposed plan.

The need for the renovations and addition of classroom space haven't changed and in fact are even greater. Residents are aware of the need, but without the price tag for the plan at this point they may have difficulty determining whether this is something they can afford.

The plan was not put forward last year so with a two year lag time and the current escalated materials and labor costs due to pandemic issues, the overall project cost is likely to be several million dollars more than it was in 2019. Smith did say that the committee will  present a final plan design and the cost to the board at their December 8, meeting.

Smith and Malcolm told the board and viewers about their qualifications to lead this plan committee. He indicated they have been working with Gino Baroni, Trident , a Project Management Company, going over potential changes and adjustments to the originally proposed RRR project plan design. Smith said he and Baroni and other plan developers did a walkthrough of the building recently.

Smith indicated the committee wants to bring the plan information and the building needs to the Hampstead general public. His plan is to meet with all organizations and clubs and to bring awareness of the need for the project whether by means of zoom or in person. This has been done before right down to people knocking on doors over the years the school board has been trying to get this project approved, but Smith feels the community today needs to work together to support this plan in order to retain the quality education Hampstead is known for.

The board decided at their last meeting not to rehire as Superintendent, Educational Consultant Earl Metzler to lead the district into its first year as a standalone district. Chair Caitlin Parnell said there will be a Superintendent's Search Committee that she suggested would consist of: two board members, one representative each from the district unions, two community members, two administrative members and Melissa Post, Human Resource for the district.

She said the superintendent's position will be posted by the end of November and she hopes that the committee would have a candidate to present to the board by the end of February. She said she will appoint the two board members and she herself wishes to be one of the two. She indicated she would reach out to the board members in the next few days. Once the committee is completed it will be made public.

Business Administrator Geoffrey Dowd presented the first draft of the school district budget. The proposed amount in this first draft is $31,001,801, which is a 5.8 percent increase or $1,717,841 more than the 2020-21 budget of $29,283,960.     

Dowd said the tuition amounts from Pinkerton Academy are not in yet and neither are the insurance rates. He indicated state retirements costs have increased for the district. The board indicated they plan to continue to work on the budget and try to get it reduced.

Dowd said he has some $200,000 money from the CARES Act to spend on things not budgeted for but that have had to be addressed due to the pandemic. There was a discussion about implementing sinks on the second floor of the Central School, a proposed project for 14 o15  sinks at an estimated cost of $85,000. The high cost is because of the complexity of getting plumbing to address the new sinks. Dowd said he didn't think he would be able to get the necessary contracts and prices in hand in time, December 30th deadline, to use the CARES money for this, but, it was worth trying to accomplish.   

The board heard from Central School Principal Dillard Collins and Middle School Principal Maria DiNola that the return to in-person hybrid classes has gone well and that everyone is excited and happy to return to in-person interaction.

Metzler said two positions have been filled for Special Education and seven Para-professional positions moved to full time with benefits. He asked the board for the authority to move ahead with the Para-educators move and if they approved he would work with the HASS union to get this done as it is needed to respond to staffing needs resulting from the pandemic. He said there is money in the budget to address these changes.


Hampstead School Board Votes to Move Forward to Hybrid Learning
By Penny Williams   10-28-2020

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, October 27, and voted to move from Remote Learning to Hybrid Learning beginning Monday, November 2.

The vote came after an update on the proposed Hybrid Plan from Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn. Metzler noted that many parents had reached out to him regarding the proposed Hybrid Learning Plan thanking him and the others for the proposed plan. However, he added there is disinformation out there regarding Cohort D - home taught by parents (but this is not Home Schooling).

It turns out there are 6 who have requested Cohort D. Metzler and Flynn made it clear that to ensure a smooth re-entry to an in-person learning environment, these parents will receive syllabus, curriculum and materials, performance assessments, and whatever other services they request from the schools. These students will be eligible to participate in UA and sports activities and clubs that may be visual. While this is not Home Schooling, Metzler believes these services and resources should be made available to Home Schooling families.

Staffing is a challenge and the class sizes at this point for Cohorts A and B at Central School appear to be between 8 and 13 students per class while at the Middle School that number is higher because of more core classes, coming in at between 10 to 15 students per class. It was noted that if additional staff becomes available the numbers could be reduced.

The staffing challenges include benefits, the laws, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the board and the two district unions as well as the issues relating to COVID-19. Metzler said there have been no candidates for the openings for Para-educators and substitutes which of course impacts staffing.

Hampstead Central School (HCS) Principal Dillard Collins answered a question seeking why he set of the HCS schedule the way he did. He explained again why he decided K-2nd graders would attend half day sessions at school five days a week while grade 3 and 4 would have 2 days in school, two days at home and Fridays visual, aligning with the Middle School schedule.

He emphasized that K-2 students can't deal with long screen sessions and need face to face interaction with teachers for the learning to read component that is so critical at these levels.

Member Jim Sweeney asked about mask requirements for buses and was told the buses do mandate masks be worn. Sweeney emphasized that it is parental responsibility to see that masks are worn and that kids are kept home if sick. He also asked if the district administrator have plans in place should the schools be forced by COVID-19 issues to return to Remote and he was told there are plans in place.

Member Dave Smith followed up on Sweeney's questions about what will happen if there is a decision made to return to Remote Learning asking what data points would drive this decision.

 Metzler said basically it would be through a Hampstead lens on data points although country, state and federal data would be looked at. Smith asked if the return to remote would be to go back to what is currently in place.

Metzler and Flynn said basically but improvements would be added and things would be somewhat different. Smith asked when parents would receive information regarding the proposed return to Remote for two weeks following the Christmas holiday. Metzler said he plans to have that information for the board and parents by November 10 but November 24 at the latest.

Member Megan Malcolm asked for and received a clarification on the revised Visual/Remote Learning plan.

Chair Caitlin Parnell said the MOU from the unions had been given to board members and that the changes had been agreed to by the unions. Now the board had to decide if it wanted to ratify those MOUs.

Smith spoke up saying he would be voting no and he wanted to explain why. He said there were too many things not addressed in the MOUs and that the proposed Hybrid Learning Plan was not an adequate education for the students in Hampstead schools. He said he thought the MOU language indicated there was little or no intention of the Hampstead students getting back to in-person classes in the coming year and as such this would only make the fact that the kids are falling behind educationally worse.  He also felt that the decision making on what Learning Plan would be in place was being given over to  powers outside of Hampstead. He said he thinks Remote Learning is better than the proposed Hybrid Plan. He said an example of what's missing in the MOU for example, is the question of Air Quality that doesn't seek to continue checking it, seeking the goal of Air Quality and improving it and addressing any issues. He said he believes the MOUs set a bad precedent for Hampstead kids. He added that the current proposed plan doesn't take into account the impact on working parents and their needs.

Sweeney, after asking for time to think, said he feels the MOUs provide a compromise. He added he thinks the board should and the community should give the proposed plan a try.

Member Karen Yasenka said she personally prefers Remote Learning but putting aside person preferences she believes the decision to go to the Hybrid Plan is data driven and is based on the advice given by the MOUs and the Task Force.

The board then voted 4 to 1 to approve the proposed move to the Hybrid Learning Plan with Smith voting no. Metzler said again that the goal is to return to in-person classes just as soon as it is safe to do so and hopes that will be soon.

Parnell presented and went over the legal district calendar that provides dates for the times upcoming.  The Board Budget and Bond Hearing date notice is January 5; Public Hearing on Budget and Bond at 7 p.m. at the Hampstead Middle School on Tuesday, January 12 with a January 13 snow date; candidates for openings signups begin on January 20 and run through January 29; The deliberative Session will be February 3 at the Hampstead Middle School at 7 p.m. with a February 3 snow date; and, District voting will take place on Tuesday, March 9 at Hampstead Middle School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Parnell then brought up the vacancy for School District Clerk. She indicated there have been no residents apply for the position and by law the district needs to have one. She went over the job description and asked for someone to step forward and fill the vacancy and said anyone interested should contact her directly.

The board voted to accept the Board Goals as presented and Metzler reported on the lack of candidates for open posted positions He indicated if these open positions can't be filled another way to address providing services will need to be developed with the help of the two district unions. The board approved him telling NESDEC (New England School Development Council) to do  the second semester enrollment projection since there is no additional cost

The board went into non-public and when they emerged Parnell said a decision had been made but the board had voted to seal the non-public minutes for 72 hours because earlier release of the decision would adversely impact reputation. The board voted 4-0-1 with Yasenka abstaining. Information on the decision will likely be forthcoming at the next scheduled meeting which is on November 10.


Hampstead School Board Members Decry Facebook Post
By Penny Williams   10-22-2020

The members of the Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, October 20 in a Budget Meeting followed by a Special Board Meeting to address the Safe Learning Plan.

But before the Safe Learning Plan Presentation, board members chastised local resident and Londonderry School District teacher Carolyn Morse for a Facebook post she had posted that crossed the line of appropriateness and violated privacy.

The board members spoke out regarding the post. It was noted that the Facebook administrators had notified the board that the post had come to their attention and it was an inappropriate post and it had been removed. 

Board member Jim Sweeney was obviously angry and upset and wanted the post removed.  He complained that the post indicated his children might be stalked and that this is an endangerment to his family, calling the questioning of childcare information of his family and Karen Yasenka's family "wrong on so many levels." He said the post does a disservice to the community.  He said the post was the result of Morse objecting to the board's vote regarding students needing 6-feet of social distancing to be safe when returning to school. He warned Morse that if there is any attempt to get information regarding his children he will go to the police and take legal action against her. "Bullies need to be held accountable," he stated.

Board member Karen Yasenka said the post by Morse was reckless and interfered with the School Board's efforts to get students back to in person learning in a safe and secure manner. She called the post an "invasion of privacy." She condemned the post for using board member's families for disagreeing with a board's decision and that this "crossed the line of invasion of privacy." Yasenka stated her family is "off limits."

Board member Megan Malcolm said she was upset that things of this nature provide children with the wrong message and isn't a good role model for children. She indicated she could see both sides but she felt the Golden Rule should be applied. She also said she would speak directly to anyone who had a question but the board needs to move forward and focus on the kids.

Member David Smith indicated if anyone goes after his kids he would respond violently. He said he had reached out after digesting the post but that it was not the right thing to have done and he was very disappointed.

Board Chair Caitlin Parnell said everyone should treat others as they expect to be treated and families are off limits.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler said it is unfortunate that there are misinformed people on social media and he, without specifically naming Morse or referencing the post, indicated that this misinformation and negativity is interfering with the work the board and the district needs to do to get the students back to in person learning just as soon as it is safe to do so.

The focus of the meeting, once the board had spoken about the Facebook post, was on the plan to move the district to hybrid learning or phase 2. This will divide school populations into cohorts.

Cohort A and Cohort B will be the school's students divided into two groups with those students returning two days a week to class in the schools. Cohort C is students who have chosen to remain virtual and Cohort D is students whose parents have elected to teach their children themselves during this period. Metzler said this cohort will be supported with materials and whatever the parents need so that when the students return to school that return will be seamless and because such support, while not required, is the right thing to do.

Hampstead Central School schedule for Kindergarten through 2nd grade will see each Cohort A and B have a half day at school five days a week. A will go from 9 until 11:30 a.m. and B will attend school from 1 to 3:30 p.m. This will provide daily in person instruction, lunch at home and playtime at home. The in-person setting will adhere to the 6-foot distancing, wearing of masks and all the other CDC, NHHHS, NHDOS guidelines.

This will require additional buses at an estimated cost of  $16,000 to $32,000, for the remaining school days in 2020.

Grades 3 and 4 will have 2 days in school and 2 days remote and Friday, of which there are only three between now and Christmas vacation, will be a virtual day Cohort C will be remote connected to a teacher.

Middle School will see Cohort A going to in school learning on Monday and Tuesday and Cohort B on Wednesday and Thursday with Cohort C visual on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while being remote on Tuesday and Thursday. Cohorts A and B will be visual on Fridays. The students will in school for the entire day and the lunch program will be kept. There will be lunches for those who wish to have them that can be taken home for the days they are not in school on a grab and go basis. All the details to be worked out with the food service people.

The two unions, Hampstead Educational Association (HEA) and the Hampstead Association of Support Staff (HASS) both are in negotiation with the administration and the board on adjusting and amending their contracts to address the current situation. The Memorandum of Agreement has to be signed by the board and the unions.

The plan is to have the transition week be October 26 to October 30 and start on November 2 with the hybrid plan. Metzler said the first week back will look different but it will all shake out and the goal remains the same - to get the students back to in person class learning as soon as it is safe and secure to do so. The staff is the biggest challenge and this is a work in progress and every attempt is being made to remain flexible.

Metzler made the point that the necessity for  maintaining the 6-foot distancing determines what the school buildings can accommodate in terms of numbers but that it would appear that it can be done in the proposed hybrid manner.

Facilities Director Jeff Mackey said the only room with questionable air quality and exchange has been rectified as they actually found the air vent behind a water cooler.

The use of the tents has made working with Special Education students possible and special education services will continue to be provided. However, there will be no before or after school programs at this time. Metzler indicated this might be looked at again in January. Parents have until October 28 to make a final decision on what they want for their students but he doesn't anticipate any major changes in the numbers that exist at present. There was only a small number who hadn't decided.

The board held a budget meeting prior to their Special Meeting for the  Safe Learning Plan presentation but being the first there were no figures provided and there will be subsequent budget meetings.


Hampstead School Board Heard About Difficulty of In-Person Learning with Six Foot Distancing
By Penny Williams  10-16-20

 On Tuesday night, October 13, the Hampstead School Board learned that it will be difficult if not impossible to accommodate In-Person Learning in the  district  schools while maintaining six foot distancing.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn updated the board on plans for moving to phase 3 or in person learning at the Hampstead Schools. Now in virtual phase 1, surveys showed that 85 percent of parents want their kids back in the classroom. At this point in time the district is looking making a move toward in person learning as of November 2.

The issue in in-person learning in the classrooms is that it can't be done in the existing classrooms if the six feet of distancing is met. However, the six foot social distancing and mask wearing are the means for a safe and secure learning experience. Metzler and Flynn stated that they firmly believe the only safe and secure way to have students and teachers back in the classroom is to wear masks and maintain six feet of social distancing at all times. That being said, the district cannot accommodate all of the students whose parents want them back in the classroom. Right now it appears that 85 percent of parents want their kids back in the classroom.

The discussion ended with Metzler and Flynn agreeing to return to the board on October 20, and again on October 27, to update the board on what they suggest - either a hybrid plan or something else. The board wasn't interested in them spending any time at this point on possibly moving to double sessions.

The board members except for David Smith were in complete support of the decision to require all in class students to wear masks and to keep six foot distancing in the classrooms. Smith was the lone holdout, supporting simply returning to in person class learning regardless of the risk. Even after it was noted that the numbers in Rockingham Country for COVID-19 positive tests are rising and thus the risks are increasing.

Metzler and Flynn agreed to provide the board with an updated plan at the October 20 meeting and that a finalization would be discussed at the October 27 meeting. Given the increasing risks in the county and difficulty of meeting the six feet social distancing calculus the board voted 4 to 1 (Smith voting against) for Metzler and Flynn to move forward with efforts to address how the district can move ahead from total virtual learning. The hybrid model would likely be two days in classrooms and two days virtual by splitting the student bodies at each school. Friday would be a virtual day for all students.

Board member Karen Yasenka at the end of the meeting due to Smith's objections to maintaining the 6-foot safe social distancing, asked the board to vote on the administrators moving ahead with the calculus of  6-foot distancing and the wearing of masks and all the other safety measures in place. The board voted 4 to 1 (Smith against) to do that.

The board was told the substitute pay question raised at the previous meeting had been discussed and a recommendation developed. Uncertified sub pay would increase to $87.50 a day. Certified teacher pay would increase to $100. a day, and,  nurses would go up to $218.75 per day. There would be a $50 bonus for five straight days of subbing plus $50 would be added to each substitutes pay during the COVID-19 period. This represents a 25 percent increase recommended by Metzler and Flynn and would put Hampstead on a par with many other districts. The board approved the recommended substitute pay increases.

The board learned about the changes to the proposed district calendar which made November 3 a no school day and made the first two weeks back after Christmas and New Years vacation a virtual learning time - the weeks of January 4 and January 11. This would remove or reduce the risks from families who engaged in traveling and gathering over the holidays.

The board all voted to approve this except for Smith who asked if the administrators were also contemplating a similar return to virtual learning after the February and April vacations. He was told that this was not being considered at this time  but things change so rapidly that flexibility is always needed. Smith said he thought the kids should be in the classroom and he voted against approving the calendar but it was approved by a 4 to 1 vote.

The board heard from Facilities Director Jeff Mackey that the air quality and air exchange in both schools' classrooms are up to standard. He also went over a five-year budget for facilities noting that the greatest amount needed would be for work annually on the HVAC systems and the parking lots. He noted that should the renovation plan for Hampstead Central School (HCS) come into play some of his things would change. He also added that the trailers at the schools are at "end of life."

HCS Principal Dillard Collins and Hampstead Middle School (HMS)  Principal Maria DiNola went over how the return to in classroom learning would be handled re the bus arrivals and departures, traffic patterns of cars and buses at the schools, and traffic patterns within the schools by students moving from one place to another.

Different grades would enter and depart through different doors for buses and parental pick-up at both schools. Lunch would be in classroom at HCS and they are still working on that at HMS. All of the plans described were based on maintaining the 6-foot social distancing and mask wearing as well as the need for Plexiglas dividers for some lab table seating.

The board accepted a $1,000 donation to  HMS from the Hampstead Educational Association for the purpose of enhancing the learning experience.

Hampstead School Board Discussed Return to In Person Safe Learning
By Penny Williams   10-08-20

The Hampstead School Board in discussion with Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn at their Tuesday night, October 6, meeting, decided to move forward with their phase Safe Learning 3 plan to return to in person classrooms as of November 2.

The schedule, the opinions and needs of parents. teachers, staff and students, were discussed as the board worked with the proposal to move toward the phase 3 Safe Learning Plan that would return students  to the classroom except for those who chose to remain with remote learning. The number of those choosing remote might have an impact since more teachers would be needed but Metzler indicated that the surveys at this point are basically an 80 to 20 percent for return to the classroom.

The plan calls for moving to the return to the classroom by incrementally going to phase 2, hybrid phase, with one class at a time being in the classroom for the state assessment tests over the next couple of weeks. This would be followed by a transition week, the last week in October.

The board discussed how the classrooms would be adapted for appropriate distancing and it was noted that the air quality exchange has been addressed with the upgraded ventilators. Masks will be required. The tents will also be utilized in a safe manner such as the one at the Middle School in the courtyard that will provide additional space for classes as well as after school and club activities.

Metzler and Flynn asked the board for their approval to allow them to move forward with planning for the return to in person classes as of November 2 so long as it can be done safely and securely. It was noted that if capacity isn't available at that time things can be adjusted or adapted.

It was noted that students won't be temperature checked at the bus or at school. Rather, the parents will be responsible for making the decision to send the student to school or keep them home. Sick children will be dealt with by the nurses and sent home. Due to the possibility of increased demands on nurses the board was asked to approve hiring two LNA positions to assist the school nurses which it did.

There was also a discussion about increasing substitute pay to addressed capacity and the need for additional teachers. Metzler pointed out that past experience has shown that an increase in pay doesn't usually end up in increases to the available pool of candidates but this is still under discussion.

The board voted to move forward with the plan to return to full in person Safe Learning by November 2, It was agreed that Metzler and Flynn would provide the board with additional information, survey results and implications and teacher, substitute, and nurse assistant information at the next two meetings. If there are to be changes to the proposed plan these would be discussed at the October 27 meeting. Metzler said that a lot can happen between now and then and being prepared and ready to be flexible is important.

School Board Chair Caitlin Parnell discussed the Executive Responsibilities that have to exist between the Hampstead School District's Educational Consultant and the SAU Interim Superintendent  Bryan Cochrane. On July 1, 2021, the Hampstead School District will become a single district school administrative unit. The Hampstead School District will no longer have an SAU Board nor will it have a separate SAU budget.  Instead, superintendent services will be provided as part of the general operating budget for the Hampstead School District.

In order for the Hampstead School District to be prepared on July 1, 2021 to provide superintendent services pursuant to RSA 194-C:4 it shall need policies, personnel and systems in place prior to July 1, 2021.  To that end, the District has hired Dr. Earl Metzler as a consulting superintendent to support the Board in its efforts to be ready for July 1, 2021.

SAU #55 currently provides superintendent services to both the Timberlane Regional School District and Hampstead.  These superintendent services are itemized in RSA 194-C:4.  There are a number of ongoing and additional superintendent services that Hampstead requires in preparation for becoming a single district school administrative unit. However, the Board has determined that some of the superintendent services itemized in RSA 194-C:4 are best provided by and through SAU #55’s current personnel and systems up until June 30, 2021.  This includes the following services:
*(a) Payroll, cash flow, bills, records and files, accounts, reporting requirements, funds management, audits, and coordination with the treasurer, and advisory boards on policies necessary for compliance with all state and federal laws regarding purchasing.
*(b) labor contract negotiation support and the processing of grievances; arrangement for mediation, fact finding, or arbitration; and management of all employee benefits and procedural requirements.
*(g) Writing, receiving, disbursement, and the meeting of all federal, state, and local compliance requirements.
*(h) Oversight of the provision of insurance, appropriate hearings, litigation, and court issues.
*(o) Pupil transportation.

The Board has determined that it is in the best interests of Hampstead’s transition and transition planning that the following services itemized in RSA 194-C:4 are best provided by Hampstead’s Executive Consultant, Dr. Earl Metzler, through June 30, 2021.  The goal of this determination is to ensure that systems, people and policies are in place that will allow the District to function effectively and efficiently as a single district school administrative unit on July 1, 2021.  They include the following services:
*(b) Recruitment, supervision, and evaluation of Hampstead School District staff.
*(c) Development, review, and evaluation of curriculum, coordination of the implementation of various curricula, provisions of staff training and professional development, and development and recommendation of policies and practices necessary for compliance relating to curriculum and instruction.
*(d) Compliance with laws, regulations, and rules regarding special education, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, home education, minimum standards, student records, sexual harassment, and other matters as may from time to time occur.
*(e) Pupil achievement assessment through grading and state and national assessment procedures and the methods of assessment to be used.
*(f) The on-going assessment of district needs relating to student population, program facilities and regulations.
*(i) School board operations and the relationship between the board and the district administration.
*(j) The daily administration and provision of educational services to students at the school facility including, but not limited to, fiscal affairs; staff, student, and parent safety and building issues; and dealing with citizens at large.
*(k) Assignment, usage, and maintenance of administrative and school facilities.
*(l) Designation of number, grade or age levels and, as applicable, other information about students to be served.
*(m) Pupil governance and discipline, including age-appropriate due process procedures.
*(n) Administrative staffing.
*(q) School calendar arrangements and the number and duration of days pupils are to be served pursuant to RSA 189:1.
*(r) Identification of consultants to be used for various services.

Parnell said, the Board has determined that it is in the best interests of Hampstead’s transition and transition planning that the following services itemized in RSA 194-C:4 are best providing by Hampstead’s Executive Consultant, Dr. Earl Metzler and the Interim Superintendent, Bryan Cochrane working collaboratively.  This include the following services:
*(p) Annual budget, inclusive of all sources of funding.

This plan shall be promptly communicated by the Board to the District’s Executive Consultant and the Interim Superintendent of SAU #55.  The plan shall become effective on October 7, and shall be in support of such other duties as the Board may assign to its Executive Consultant pursuant to his contract.

The  board approved the following motion relative to the foregoing. The Board approved the following Resolution and Motion of the Board: Since the Hampstead School District shall be responsible for all superintendent services as a single school district on July 1, 2021; and since the Hampstead School District requires a transitional plan which includes designing, testing and implementing new superintendent service delivery models to ensure that the District is able to effectively and efficiently operate as a single district on July 1, 2021; and
since the District needs personnel, policies and systems in place and operational by July 1, 2021 to provide superintendent services; and since state law permits a school district to contract for certain superintendent services, to designate those services that it desires to receive from a school administrative unit, and to maintain certain services within the District; the board approves and the District hereby adopts the attached Transition Plan for Superintendent Services in aid of its transition to a single district school administrative unit, with an effective date of October 7. 

Hampstead School Board Hears about Successful Start of School
By Penny Williams   9-23-20

The Hampstead School Board met on Tuesday evening, September 22, with Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn, as well as Dillard Collins, Principal of Hampstead Central School (HCS) and Maria DiNola, Hampstead Middle School (HMS) Principal, who all spoke favorably about the successful start of school.

While acknowledging that there were a few issues that came up, overall the re-opening of schools and use of remote learning has worked well. They indicated that the survey responses from parents and staff were drivers in the re-opening effort and they felt the schools had been re-opened safely and the educational effort was way ahead of where it was last spring. Metzler added that while the current focus is on the re-opening the administrative team is already looking at how to effectively and efficiently and safely to move to the next phase.

Collins noted that Kindergarten is ahead of where it was anticipated to be at this point in time. While some pre-registered Kindergarten and Pre-school students' parents have chosen to move their children to other options such as private kindergarten programs or home schooling, most have indicated that when in person returns they will be bringing their children back to the Hampstead district schools.

DiNola said fall sports are already underway and in a sense this is the first move toward the next phase. The rigor of the effort during the first week was softer than it will be going forward she said as teachers, students and parents got accustomed to the resources and tools and the students and teachers got acquainted with each other.

Special Education, according to  Director Franceen Flynn, has 51 students at HCS and 11 at HMS. The district is providing transportation for 23 students and evaluations of special education students is continuing. Metzler noted that Flynn and the Special Education Department are under staffed.

Facilities Director Jeff Mackey said the Air Quality report indicates good results and that everything in the schools is in good working. There was a later discussion about perhaps needing to have a study of Air Exchange in the schools done to ensure complete safety and provide comfort to teachers and students that the buildings are safe.

Flynn said that nearly 700 devices have been handed out but there are about 170 HCS students without devices. Flynn said the vendor who had been chosen because it could provide the requested devices by September 4, failed to do so and they are searching other vendors for devices since the Chromebooks aren't expected until sometime in October. Technically having 24 students in a Zoom class is an issue but this is being addressed and Flynn noted it is less of an issue for those having new Chromebooks.

Metzler discussed the state mandated testing required of schools that in Hampstead will take place for the HCS 4th graders on October 20 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The students will be socially distanced throughout the building in large spaces.

At HMS the testing will take place on October 13 for the 5th grade, October 14 for the 6th grade, on October 15 for the seventh grade, and on October 16 for the 8th graders. The students will be in small groups in their advisory  classrooms and all tests will run between 1 and 2:30 p.m. Make up testing will be October 19 and 20.

Board member Karen Yasenka questioned the validity of the results of these tests and Collins noted this would be just a single tool but he wasn't sure just what its value would be. The students will be tested on their command of the previous year's educational learning. It was noted that if parents aren't comfortable sending their children into the schools for the testing they can opt to keep them home after notifying the principal.

Board member Jim Sweeney asked about what was being done to address the social and emotional student issues. Collins noted the HCS teachers and staff had professional training in this area and the student needs were being addressed by the school teachers and counselors. DiNola said the daily Advisory meetings are designed to encourage students to say what they are feeling and it is going well.

There was a long discussion about the November 3 date when elections will be taking place. The board, lead by Sweeney, finally voted unanimously to have no school on November 3.

 It was also discussed about how the school would be used by the Town for voting. The Town has asked for use of the hallway and the cafeteria given the expectation of large numbers of voters. The consensus of the board was this was alright so long as deep cleaning was done the following day. It was noted that the day following the voting might have to be adjusted if the disruption looks to be too great to hold classes but it was also noted there will be some disruption on the day before the election for set-up. Adjustments regarding how those days will handle the disruption issues will be dealt with closer to the election date.

Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd provided the board with projected budgetary implications of the re-organization plan when Hampstead will be will a standalone district after Timberlane withdraws from SAU 55 on June 3i, 2021.

 In fiscal year 2020-2021 Hampstead School District will contribute $537,182 to the SAU 55 budget for services provided by SAU 55. He sees the net budgetary impact as follows:
* Total Additional Expenses between $618,000 -$720,000
* Total Expense Savings ($819,206)
* Net Savings ($201,206 and $99,206)

The $819.206 savings would result from the following:
* SAU 55 Assessment $(537,182)
* Reduced Tech Director costs (position merged with Curriculum Director) ($97,185)
* Reduced Assistant Director Special Education ( certain duties to be assumed by the Superintendent) ($94,554)
* Reduced Associated Benefits ($90,285)
* Total Expense Savings ($819,206)

Board Chair Caitlin Parnell described the system that will be in place for Public Comment for Zoom board meetings. On the agendas will be a link to a form that residents wishing to make public comment will need to fill out and return to Melissa Post before 4 p.m. on the meeting date.

There will a 10 minute time allowed for public comment with each person limited to 3 minutes. The comments will have to address an agenda item and no disrespectful or inflammatory comments will be allowed. This will begin with the board's October 16, meeting.

In Other Business:

* The board was asked to review and be prepared to vote at the October 6, meeting on a document regarding administrative responsibilities.

* The board approved giving board scholarships of $1,000 each to a Pinkerton Academy Hampstead male and female students.

* A short work session will be held at 6 p.m. before the board's October 13th meeting to deal with District Goals.

* Board approved allowing a Pinkerton Academy senior to finish his last semester at the academy even though the family will move from Hampstead in January.

* The board waived bidding requirements and approved authorizing the purchase of a new tractor for $29,000.

* The board approved hiring 2 full time custodians for the this year's swing shift only when in person or hybrid school phase is in place.

* The majority of the board favored Sweeney's request to add local indigenous people to the Columbus Day celebration by the Hampstead School District. The board will take this up and make a final decision in November for the next year.


Hampstead School Board Tentatively Approves New Hampstead Central School Plan
By Penny Williams    9-9-20

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, September 8, and discussed whether the board would approve members  David Smith and Megan Malcolm's plan for addressing the needs at Hampstead Central School.

The plan would take the 1960s wing items and address those with the School budget going forward - that means using the money the district already has in hand for that portion of the Repair, Renovate, and Renew (RRR) Project at the Hampstead Central School. The RRR project was defeated again by voters in 2019 for more than $7,000,000 which included the 60s wing items.

Smith said his committee wants to move forward with a modified, magnified and modernized plan for the Central School project but without the 60s wing items included. These would be in the upcoming budget and would use the Capital Reserve Fund money as well as applying for state reimbursement.

Smith and Malcolm's plan calls for $25,000 for the professional assessment of the plan and adjustments that would address 11 areas other than the 60s wing items. Smith and Malcolm wanted the board to approve moving forward with their plan and their time table for meetings and activities involving clubs, organizations, and the community between now and January. The reassessment information would be applied to the development of the Warrant article for the 2021 Town Meeting.

Member Jim Sweeney  expressed his concerns about this time not being the right time to try and get the town to approve a $7,000,000 project and that while he might approve their current request he was probably going to be against it in the end.

Member Karen Yasenka pointed out that all the emphasis over the last 15 years of this project's life have been devoted to Hampstead Central School with the view that Middle School needs were minimal or not needing any immediate attention which, she said, is not the case. She indicated she is concerned about the timing for moving ahead with this project for this year but more concerned that things need to be addressed at the Middle School as well as the 60s wing at Central School. She suggested that the Capital Reserve Fund money be applied to the Central School 60s wing and the needs at the Middle School where project needs have been consistently put off for more than a decade.

Chair Caitlin Parnell indicated she perhaps had some reservations but did call for the board to make a decision and offered the motion to move forward.

After a discussion the board voted 4 to 1, with Yasenka opposing, to approve up to $25,000 for Trident, the  professional project management company owned by Gino Baroni, This group of professionals which includes the Dennis Mires Architectural firm, and the Construction Management Company, Bonnette, Page and Stone, of Laconia, would be doing the reassessment and adjustment of the proposed project without the 60s wing items along with the committee.

The board was given an update on the 2020-2021 school year. School will start on September 14 with parades at both schools. Both Central School Principal Dillard Collins and Middle School Principal Maria DiNola indicated their planned opening schedules and expectations. Collins noted that there would be fewer than earlier expected PreSchool and Kindergarten students but the enrollment appears to be steady at Middle School. DiNola and Collins both were pleased with the virtual Open House scenarios. The only glitch seen is that if there are more students who remain with remote learning when the district moves to Phase 2 or Phase 3, there will be a teacher shortage as teachers will not be asked to teach both in person and remote. However, Educational Consultant Earl Metzler said they are working on this and it should be able to be handled.

Emphasis was placed on keeping parents in the loop. Tools and resources will be made available as well as training for parents. Both Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn noted the district is far better prepared and has many more resources and tools for remote learning than the district had last March. The emphasis remains on returning the schools to in person learning in a safe and efficient way.

The teachers will continue to work on their preparation and planning so they can pick up where they left off in the spring. Flynn and Metzler spoke about the tool CLEVER that will allow parents and students to move seamlessly from one program to another without having to find the needed passwords.

Special Education is currently evaluating 34 students and continue working with and planning for each special education student and their individual needs. This will be an ongoing process and wherever possible will be conducted on a one to one basis.

Facilities Director Jeff Mackey said all but one HVAC exhaust fan at the schools is up and running and equipped with new filters. He added that the Indoor Air Quality Testing had been completed and they should have the report within the week.

Metzler proposed the purchase of  three tents to accommodate after school clubs, sports and arts outside activities. Two tents would be 40-feet by 40-feet each at a cost of $4,163; one smaller tent 40-feet by 20-feet at a cost of $3,250 and walls for the tents at a cost $2,420 or a total of $13, 996.

The board discussed this and decided since the tents could be used from mid-September through Thanksgiving the proposed cost was reasonable.  Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd asked that the board to authorize him to find and allocate the funds for the tents which the board did. The only issue the board had with the tents was to ensure that security had been carefully weighed in on the proposal and would be ongoing.

Flynn told the board that the district students will be able to get free breakfast and lunch. These will be available upon application by parents for pick up at the Middle School at a given time and day. This will continue through 2021.

State testing will be held during the period of October 1 through October 31 for grades 4 through 8. Metzler felt the need to meet this state testing would play a role in the district's decision on whether or not to move forward to Phase 2 or Phase 3.

The board discussed whether to continue with Zoom meetings or return to in person meetings. Smith said Hampstead was not special and since other towns were going back to in person Hampstead should also but the rest of the board wasn't on board.

Members Jim Sweeney and Karen Yasenka said if the board did so prior to a vaccine being available or major changes with the COVID-19 issues they would continue to be remote. Dowd described trying to be hybrid remote and in person for meetings and it isn't all that successful.

It was noted that  more people have followed the meetings on Zoom and this was a plus for continuing but the board would like to accommodate public comment. It was decided to look into how residents wishing to comment could do so, probably by using a special form which they would forward to Metzler or Melissa Post, the board's secretary. While it is doable more research on the exact method needs to take place but hopefully it will be available by the next regularly scheduled meeting on September 22. Possibly moving to live stream for in person meetings was discussed but it was thought to be too expensive. However,  Flynn said he would look into it.

The board felt many residents have let Cable go making that not the best way to present their meetings to the public. It was also noted that in the previous in person meetings only a very few people attended and even fewer had comments. It will be discussed again at the September 22 or the October 13 regular meeting.

The board moved a discussion of the District Goals to the next meeting and Metzler went over following the usual procedure and process for developing the budget. Budget work sessions have been scheduled for October 6 and 20 and it was decided to hold a regular meeting on October 6, starting at 6 p.m.  before moving to the budget discussion to discuss where things stand with regard to moving ahead to the next phase or continuing as its. This discussion will be based on surveys and input from teachers, staff, students, and the community.


Hampstead School Board Member Karen Yasenka Addresses Community Facebook Comments
By Penny Williams    8-27-20

The Hampstead School Board met Wednesday evening, August 26, first in a forum mode to respond to questions raised by residents regarding the transition to a single district SAU. The complete coverage of questions and responses can be found on the School District Web site by the end of the week.

The board then held a regular board meeting. Vice Chair Karen Yasenka used her comment time to address what was posted on the Hampstead Community Face Book page that is administered by Steve Morse, Leigh Campos, Jodi LaCasse, Cindy Franciosa and Diana Abi-Raad.

Yasenka said, “I’m going to use my comment time this evening to address comments about me that have been posted on social media.  These comments have called into question my character as a School Board member.  Even though it is not my practice to respond to Face Book chatter, I feel that in this situation, to remain silent is to give permission for people to continue to spread harmful, damaging lies about me.

"On Monday, August 17, 2020, now more than 72 hours ago, a post appeared on the Hampstead Community Face Book page stating that in 1999 I had been arrested.  Subsequent postings on the page state that I had been convicted. 

"There are five administrators for the page:  Steve Morse, Leigh Campos, Jodi LaCasse, Cindy Franciosa and Diana Abi-Raad."

Yasenka went on saying, "These are the facts: In 1999, 21 years ago, I was a Realtor for a now defunct real estate agency.  I left that agency and opened Yasenka Real Estate, Incorporated.  The owners of the aforementioned agency falsely accused me of wrong-doing.  They filed a complaint with the Rockingham County Sheriff and I was arrested.  The Rockingham County prosecutor declined to prosecute and dropped the case.  The arrest was annulled.  To be clear, I was not convicted."

But, Yasenka wasn't quite finished. She added the following: "Freedom of speech is one thing, intentionally spreading lies with malice and forethought to lower the reputation of someone in the community by accusing that person of criminal activity meets the standard for defamation and is actionable under NH law. So that there is no confusion, should anyone accuse me of committing a crime again, they best be prepared to prove their accusation in a court of law for I am prepared to bring a legal action."

In Other Business:

* SAU 55 Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd said that the SAU 55 office in Plaistow will be re-opening but only on a by appointment basis. He indicated that whenever possible, SAU personnel will bring information or whatever out to the parking lot to the person asking for the information or forms or whatever. The purpose is to keep the number of people actually in the building to a minimum.

* The board decided to post a description of the School District Clerk position in the Town Hall, Public Library, and on the SAU 55 AppliTrack, requesting anyone interested get in touch with the school board. No one has stepped forward to replace longtime District Clerk Nancy Lacasse who retired earlier this year. The appointment would be until March 2021.

* There was no personnel report but Educational Consultant Earl Metzler said that everyone is doing an outstanding job getting ready for the reopening of school in the remote learning mode. He indicated that he is less confident that the present phase 2 hybrid mode they originally developed is the best was to proceed as the next step but it is being looked at as is the phase 3 in person mode already. Decisions on moving to another mode will be made based on  local, community, state and CDC guidelines and data. He said what is happening and how other districts fare will be monitored and that information taken into account as well. He assured the board and anyone listening that the district is moving as quickly and as safely as possible toward getting schools back to the in person mode.

In response to a question he said that information and communication regarding schedules and materials parents and students will need will be in parents' hands by September 1, giving them two weeks to take care of things.

* There was a discussion regarding using the Middle School for voting purposes at the Primary and the Presidential elections. Dowd suggested that the way to go, starting with the Primary, was to turn the gym over to the Town for the purpose of using it for voting. This he noted would be for the period staring the Friday afternoon before the Primary and carrying over to the end of the day following the election which would give the Town time to get a company in to do a deep cleaning.

Of  particular importance, Dowd said, is keeping the lobby before the gym closed to the voters. The town would need to arrange for voters to enter the gym from one door off the parking lot and exit from another parking lot door, but not to allow people into the lobby area.

It turns out that parent teacher conferences were scheduled for the day of the Presidential election day and Metzler said that will have to be changed. He was in agreement with having no teachers, administrators or students in the building during the voting process.

Dowd indicated he is in talks with the town regarding this and is awaiting the town's final arrangement plan. Based on how this works out for the Primary the same process would be followed for the Presidential election when many more voters are expected to show up to vote.

* Board member David Smith asked that a discussion about the continued use of Zoom for their meetings be put on one of the next agendas. Metzler was asked to put together a plan for meetings to be held at the Middle School cafeteria where social distancing could be accommodated.


Hampstead School Board Present District SAU Transition Plan  
By Penny Williams     8-22-20

The Timberlane School District will withdraw from SAU 55 effective July 1, 2021 resulting in Hampstead School District becoming a single-district SAU. The Transition Plan  indicates there will be a consolidation of the  Superintendent and administrative functions. The Transition Plan, "has been developed in the spirit and philosophy of this proven model which recognizes the need for conservation of resources, while simultaneously being able to maintain high district standards." The district has redefined and combined roles to allow this to be implemented.

Currently SAU 55 has 15 positions. After reviewing the ongoing needs for the single district SAU, Hampstead proposes a staff that would have 5 positions: Superintendent, Business Administrator who would be Chief Financial and Human Resource s Officer, Chief Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Payroll and Human resource Administrator, and Accounts Payable Administrator.

An off campus site for the staff should be centrally located, ADA compliant, have a first floor entrance or elevator access and sufficient space for security and compliance with privacy laws. The budgeted amount for this space is $1,300 a month with an additional $250 a month for utilities.

The project budgetary implications indicate after detailing expenses for salaries and benefits, facilities and utilities, the cost for the single district SAU will be between $618,000 and $720,000. When the expense savings from the SAU Assessment, reduced technical director cost, the reduced assistant Director of Special Education, and associated benefits, are all calculated, it is estimated there would be a savings of $819,206. The net budgetary impact of the single district SAU would fall between $201,206 and $99,206 resulting in the district having a savings.  Hampstead in 2020-2021 will contribute $537,182 to SAU 55 for services. The figures are preliminary and are estimates and may be subject to change.           

The plan calls for the search for office space to begin in January 2021 and the start of working with vendors the next month followed by securing furniture in March and beginning the actual physical separation in April and May. June 30, 2021 will be the final day of SAU 55 lease with the Timberlane Regional School District and Hampstead School District would become a single School District on July 1, 2021.

The plan provides in-depth, comprehensive detailed job descriptions for the five designated positions. Looking at the Superintendent's job description and responsibilities shows the Superintendent would supervise and direct the work of all District staff, including all administrators, directors, instructional staff, and administrative and operational personnel. The superintendent would have responsibilities for general duties such as liaison and collaboration with the school board among other areas; academic and curriculum such as establishing programs which focus on high academic expectations and standards for all students; technology where the superintendent would direct the District's use of technology in alignment with evolving academic goals and standards for one thing; relating to financing and budgeting the superintendent would develop and monitor internal procedures to ensure proper compliance with laws, regulations and School Board policies with attention to the proper safeguarding of the district's assets among other things; be involved with personnel such as recruiting, hiring, placing and transfer of all District personnel; in Special Education the superintendent among other things would ensure compliance with Federal and State Special Education laws and administrative rules; among other areas of student services the superintendent would oversee internal practices and procedures to identify and assist students with social and/or emotional needs to ensure a positive learning environment for all students; and, in operations would provide leadership to all district departments including facilities, maintenance, grounds, food service, and transportation to provide a high level of support to District students, staff and visitors.

The Business Administrator would be responsible for accounting and finance and would also be involved with Human Resources, hiring and recruitment and retention; budget development; purchasing; payroll and accounts payable; operation of plant; and transportation and food service.

The Chief Executive Assistant to the Superintendent 's responsibilities would be supervising district administrative assistant staff. Payroll and Human Resources Administrator would handle payroll and Human Resources duties while the Accounts Payable Administrator will handle this area and provide accounting support.

On Thursday, August 20, the School Board held a public forum and presented the SAU Transition Plan. Board Chair Caitlin Parnell went over the major points and asked Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn  to post it on the web site the next day for people to be able to read the complete report.

Parnell indicated that the numbers provided are provisional and very likely will be subject to change. The job descriptions and listed responsibilities are extensive and should be read in full to get a clearer picture of how the plan is consolidating position functions.

The School Board that night then entered into a workshop session where they discussed what the board's direction may be regarding the Repair, Renovate, and Renew (RRR) project at the Hampstead Central School.

Before the 2020 Town Meeting the School Board decided not to try and put forward the total project. The voters had rejected the proposed the bond issue is Article 2 on the School District Warrant in March 2019. The bond amount then was $7,994,500 and the  proposed bond was a 20-year bond with $190,980 to be raised for the first year's interest payment.
Geno Baroni Trident Project Management, acting as the District's agent and consultant  said last year the plan had not changed from the previous year and the team from last year is still in place. The team consists of  Architect Kreg Jones, with Dennis Mires The Architects, and the Construction Management Company, Bonnette, Page and Stone, of Laconia and well as Baroni.

Given the increase in cost relating to the plan that will be associated with labor and materials, the board is concerned about what the total cost will be this year but Baroni, working with Board Members David Smith and Megan Malcolm is looking at costs and possible at alternatives.

      The $7,969,500 or an 8.9 percent cost increase on last year's ballot covered all construction, equipment, architectural and consultant fees and a contingency and the increases in labor and materials. That cost will be  higher this year. The proposed RRR, project plan that is designed for Building Hampstead's Future hasn't changed. The needs remain the same said Parnell; the key areas are safety and security; meeting code requirements; enhancing building efficiency;  and, meeting space needs.  It was also noted that given the issues facing schools as they reopen this fall the needs for change in the school is even greater.
The board is divided on how they should move forward this year but Smith and Malcolm feel strongly that the RRR project needs to be put before the people again this year. Board members Karen Yasenka and Jim Sweeney do not agree, feeling that given the COVID-19 issues and the many difficulties people are facing this year, this is definitely not the right time to try and get a multi-million dollar project approved.

The point was made that communities that have been successful in getting a school constructed have completely embraced and supported such a  project and this is absolutely not the case in Hampstead. While the residents support the teachers contracts and the general education issues they have refused to support the RRR project.

Smith and Malcolm said they are waiting for additional information from Baroni and should have that information by the next board meeting. The board did not vote on the decision but will take it up again at their next formal meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, August 26 at 8 p.m. following the previously scheduled work session that will go over the public forum responses to the Hampstead SAU Transitional Plan that is scheduled for 7 p.m. on August 26.


Hampstead School Board Discuss Virtual Safe Learning Project
By Penny Williams   8-19-20

The Hampstead School Board met on Tuesday evening, August 18, and the administrative team went over the re-opening plan for the schools in great detail.

Hampstead Educational Consultant Earl Metzler made one point several times,  that moving forward, a major focus will be on meeting the needs of parents as the schools reopen virtually.

Based on the Thought Exchange, he and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn  both noted that parents need information on how to work with the curriculum, the programs, and their students in the Virtual environment. To address this Flynn noted there will be workshops created for parents to participate in that will be designed to give parents the tools and skills to make the virtual environment easier for them to deal with.

The school Principals, Dillard Collins at Hampstead Central School (HCS) and Maria DiNola at Hampstead Middle School (HMS), went over preliminary daily schedules. It was noted that this Virtual Educational Environment will be a much more robust and well developed learning environment then the one the schools were forced to leap into last March.

Teachers will be providing a regularly scheduled class day and will use Google Classroom. The students will be expected to attend and attendance will be monitored and closely followed up on.

Teachers at both schools will be available an hour before the official start of class which at HCS will be at 9 a.m. and the class day will run until 3:25 p.m. At HMS the day will start at 8:30 and run until 12:25 p.m. with personalized learning taking place after lunch break between 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. The district plans to record the lessons so if a student misses out the parent and student will be able to get the missed lesson.

The social and psychological aspects of education are being adhered to in the Virtual Project with classes meeting with teachers before and after the day's classes on a set schedule - advisory classes at HMS and class meetings at HCS.

Wednesday will be a day dedicated to providing extra help to individual and small groups as needed, to participate in special projects, to provide enrichment, to hold IEP meetings and Response To Intervention (RTI) assistance. In addition teachers and staff will be able to hold their meetings this day.

Weekly, if not daily, communication will be an important focus during Phase 1 Virtual Learning. There will an emphasis on developing relationships between students and teachers.

The administrators pointed out that they really do take the suggestions and concerns of participating parents into consideration. An example is that the division of students into two cohorts, groups of students, when Phase 2 is transitioned to will be done alphabetically as parents made it clear they needed all their children to be in the same cohorts especially when attending different schools. The Virtual Learning in Phase 1 will be direct instruction following specific class schedules daily.

WIN periods - What I Need - will take into account student needs, teacher needs and parent needs. There will be Professional Development days available for parents to give them information on resources, materials and devices and where they can access and use these.

Special Education will be working directly with students and parents virtually but will meet individually as needed. They must address all IEP designations within the first 30 days of school. One of the biggest things will be communication with each and every family.

Facilities are being worked on to repair and improve the ventilation systems at both schools. The water fountains are off  and cleaning has been increased. Facilities Director Jeff Mackey recommended increasing the cleaning staff to address the increased need for intense cleaning once Phase 2 is reached.

The entire report should be accessed and reviewed by parents. Flynn indicated it will be posted on the district web site which is currently under reconstruction.

August 19-August 21 will see new staff report and starting on August 24 there will be 10 days of Professional Development devoted to addressing the Virtual Learning environment instruction, resources and materials. September 14 will be the first day of school and there will be some welcome back virtual activities in the morning and classes begin meeting in the afternoon, with the next day, September 15, being  the first full day of virtual instruction.

 Metzler said that the administrative team will start addressing the transition to and implementation of Phase 2 almost immediately and will assess where they are as a district, community and state as of October 12 with a report and recommendation being provided to the School Board at the board's October 20 meeting.

There will be a Public Forum at 7 p.m. on August 20, going over the SAU Reorganization plans followed by a workshop. Parents and residents are encouraged to watch and over the course of the next week submit questions and comments. The scheduled August 25 regular School Board meeting will be cancelled unless something important arises between now and then and there will be a follow-up meeting on August 26 for questions and comments from the public and response from the board regarding the SAU reorganization.

Board Co-Chair Karen Yasenka commented at the end of the meetings that the Hampstead Public Library had reached out to the board offering to assist the district and the students and parents in any way they can with resources and materials. She took that opportunity to add that she hopes residents recognize that the quality education that has been what has drawn many families to Hampstead remains unchanged during this very difficult period. She noted the school board and administrative team as well as staff and teachers are doing their utmost to continue to provide a quality education to Hampstead students under extremely difficult circumstances. She noted the District Mission Statement, ' to provide challenging educational experiences that prepare all students to succeed to their individual potential in a changing world,' has never been more meaningful.

Business Manager Geoffrey Dowd pleaded with Hampstead residents to pay their taxes so the Town can pay their school district bills without the Town having to borrow the money to do so. The Pinkerton Academy bill is due and it would appear there isn't sufficient money to pay the bill unless residents step up and pay their taxes.

Board Chair Caitlin Parnell questioned whether public comment can be properly addressed while the board is meeting via Zoom. She said she would look into how other districts are handling public comments and will get back to the board at the next meeting.

In Other Business:

* The board learned that through the summer hiring process that Kelly Parker, HCS Elementary Teacher had resigned and Katherine O’Neill-Cipriano was nominated  as the HCS Elementary Teacher to replace her. The board approved the nomination and wished Parker well.


Hampstead School Board Recommendation Passes with Three to Two Vote
By Penny Williams 8-6-20

The Hampstead School Board requested the administration create a Task Force Committee to review data and reach a decision on recommending the return to school. Two of the board members, Megan Malcolm and Dave Smith, oppose the committee's recommendations while Chair Caitlin Parnell, Vice Chair Karen Yasenka and member Jim Sweeney approved the recommendations.  In the end, the board did approve the Safe Learning Plan by a three to two vote at the board's Tuesday evening, August 4, Special Hampstead School Board meeting.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology,  Michael Flynn  presented the findings from the 50 member Committee that came up with the Safe Learning Environment report and recommendations.

In short, the Hampstead School District will begin the fall school year with Virtual Learning on September 14, with 3 Professional Development days. Other than that there will be no changes to the 2020-2021 school calendar.

The Virtual Learning or Phase 1 will have its first check the week of October 12 when what's going on in the community, the state, and the global pandemic will be thoroughly assessed and how the Phase 1 is working, and a report will be presented to the school board on October 20, at the board's regularly scheduled meeting with a recommendation to either continue with Phase 1 Virtual Classrooms and the reasons why or for the school district to move to Phase 2, Hybrid classes. Information on Phase 2, Hybrid approach were included in the presentation.

Phase 1 is considered the lowest risk and both Metzler and Flynn made it abundantly clear that safety of staff and students is the primary focus. The basis for the lowest risk, Virtual Learning, is based on the data and recommendations and guidelines provided by the CDC, NH State, NH Department of Education, NEA-NH Principles for Reopening, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services.

During Phase 1 food service will be provided for those eligible for Free and Reduced and parents will need to sign-up for pick-up at Middle School three days a week. The hope is to involved the community partners such as the Food Pantry as supplemental food provision.

Technology during Phase I will ensure all students in the Hampstead School District will have a Chromebook. This requires acquiring 200 additional devices, a process which is already in the process. iPads for PreK and K as needed. In addition, any family needing Internet Connection will be assisted. For consistency ZOOM and/or Google Classroom will be used as well as Seesaw and the Tech Team will have CLEVER which is a single sign on system. The district has the capacity to live stream classrooms.

Phase I will be an improved version of what was started last spring. The processes and procedures and technical needs will all be improved and updated with new and improved programs and procedures. In addition, there will be direct scheduling for class at both the elementary and middle school level and communication with parents will be conducted on a regular and scheduled basis.

A sample of what the Hampstead Central School (HCS) level day might look like showed there will be a specific daily on screen schedule for math and reading in the morning for Monday and Tuesday and Thursday and Friday and afternoons will be dedicated to individual and small group work, Ventures, UA and FLES as well as Special Education with counseling sessions scheduled as needed. Wednesday will be a Flex Day for both school's students, teachers and administrators (small group services and Teacher Planning Sessions.).

A sample day for the The Hampstead Middle School (HMS) level schedule would be set up for classes from 9  a.m. to noon addressing the core curriculum with afternoons for small group help. counseling, and IEP assistance.

Metzler and Flynn presented what the Phase 2 Hybrid would like for both schools. HCS Principal Dillard Collins said there would be no virtual class for the Pre K 3 and 4 year olds and noted that fees for tuition students were waived for last spring and would be during Phase I and prorated in Phase 2.  It was also noted that work is being done to ensure the IEP and Special Education students get not just Virtual assistance but at home assistance as needed where if possible.

Metzler said the staff and teachers endorsed the program as presented and that everyone was on board with getting to Phase 2 as quickly as possible in a safe, and effective manner. The Task Force that came up with the plan was made up of staff, teachers, Hampstead Education Association, and Hampstead Association of School Staff members as well as School Nurses, administration and technology team members including some people from the general public.

Training will take place for use of ZOOM and Google Classroom and SeeSaw as well as curriculum and assessment planning along with development of materials. The ability for the Virtual Learning in Phase I, the Hybrid in Phase 2 and the Whole in Classroom Phase 3, to adjust and adapt appropriately to changing conditions and needs will be critical. The approved Phase 1 Plan as recommended will be entirely fleshed out for presentation to the board on August 18 with the intention to move to Phase 2 as quickly as it is safe to do so. The presentation will be available on the school website.


Hampstead School Board Plans Public Forum
By Penny Williams      7-23-20

The Hampstead School Board met Wednesday evening, July 22, and dealt with several important issues including why Earl Metzler was hired as an Educational Consultant for the District; when the public forum regarding the SAU reorganization would take place; and, what school and the District's Safe Learning plan will look like come fall.

Chair Caitlin Parnell said there needs to be time for the public to respond with comments and questions before the Public Forum is held. The plan is for the board to hold an informational meeting on August 6,  providing information to the public on the district's plan for the reorganized, single, Hampstead district SAU. She indicated that following that there should be some time for public input, questions, and concerns. Therefore the meeting on August 6,  would be followed on August 12, with the board response to the public input. The board itself will meet at 6 p.m. on August 12, to go over the questions, concerns and input and their responses.

Before that, on August 4, the Board will hold a meeting at which the Safe Learning Plan for the schools will be held where Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn  will explain the information on what school will look like and how teaching and learning services will be delivered. Metzler said he has been in touch with Pinkerton Academy to ensure that Hampstead matches Pinkerton to the extent possible. In addition, he stressed that the teachers and staff endorsement of the Safe Learning Plan is critical.

The State Guidelines for re-opening of schools, the Department of Education recommendations as well as the CDC and all data are all being carefully factored in to the Hampstead Safe Learning Plan. They are looking at things such as air quality in the schools, bus transportation issues, food service issues, social distancing, and masks issues. There will need to be a comprehensive debriefing held on what is and what isn't working every Friday once school opens and possibly at the end of each day, given how rapidly data and needs and responses to those needs change, Metzler noted.

The Safe learning Task Force has met and subdivided into smaller groups to continue working on developing their plan. The impact of the Safe Learning Plan on the budget and technology are being assessed as well as making sure special education and student's who struggle with remote learning have their needs and concerns addressed. The subgroups will all meet again together to share their findings and recommendations and once these are all finalized the board will be provided with the end result. He emphasized that hearing from administrators and teachers and staff was very important.

SAU Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd was asked if the money the district put into the fund balance retained could be used to address financial needs over and above the budget. He said yes although the Department of Education would have approve it but that would happen. 

Metzler said going forward will need to be flexible and an ongoing conversation. He also said based on what the eighth graders wrote in their graduation effort regarding what were the most important things in their school journey were the arts and athletics so that it would be critical to ensure that these areas are addressed in the Safe Learning Plan going forward. 

 Parnell spoke about the emails the board has received since these major changes have taken place. She said the board was forced to act to hire Metzler when they found out things were being arranged for the future that would have meant inadequate leadership and support for the Hampstead School District.

She indicated that without consulting or involving the Hampstead School Board members, the Timberlane SAU board members interviewed and were planning to hire someone as an interim superintendent. Once this was discovered, action needed to be taken to protect Hampstead School District administrators, teachers, staff and most importantly its students. 

The action the board took was to hire Metzler to provide the leadership needed to handle the Safe Learning Plan and to direct the plans and actions needed for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, he will be providing the leadership to the Hampstead School District during this transition year from a multi-district SAU to a single district SAU. He will deal with finding a place for administrative offices and continue to develop leadership and operational and functional systems for the single district SAU while acting as liaison to the SAU 55.

Parnell said the board did this because in their opinion Metzler was the best choice for the district especially during the middle of a pandemic and the transition year. She said if people wanted more information regarding the interim superintendent for SAU 55 they would need to contact SAU Board Chair Brian Boyle.

Board member Jim Sweeney stated  people need to understand Hampstead board members have had no say whatsoever regarding what has been and is going on at the SAU, which was why Hampstead needed Metzler to be their Educational Consultant. The use of weighted voting by Timberlane meant Hampstead has had no voice in any decisions and the Timberlane board members had started the interim superintendent negotiations without ever informing Hampstead of their plan or intentions.

Board Member Megan Malcolm said she hoped that residents could be more respectful regarding their comments in emails and on social media. She suggested face to face discussions of concerns would make better sense and board members are available. She said the board members care about their community and are doing their best for the students, administrators and staff of the schools. She encouraged people to think before they spoke and to follow the Golden Rule.

Board member David Smith basically said the same while noting that people are free to have differing opinions and questioning things isn't without merit. However, he encouraged people to be civil in the way they asked questions or raised concerns.

Board member Karen Yasenka spoke more bluntly than her counterparts saying that of the 16 emails the board received, a half dozen were from the same family raising the same concern. She added that some of the emails "crossed the line as to what is considered acceptable content in a professional communication. Some crossed the line of decency and civility. It's unfortunate that some adults in the Hampstead community are unable to craft an email that clearly articulates their viewpoint/opinion on a matter without resorting to name calling, making unsubstantiated allegations, and character assassination." She went on to say regarding contacts with the board members, "If your only purpose is to vent, fine, but if you really expect the Board to take action, it’s incumbent upon you to provide details, specifics to support your assertions. Otherwise we can’t take action.  Except as provided for by law, correspondence to a majority of the Board constitutes a public document and a public document can be shared."

Parnell said she was trying to respond to all emails and even when an email is insulting she will respond respectfully.

Metzler said in a Press Release to the Timberlane staff, students and families, "I wish to inform you that I have reached a separation agreement with the SAU 55 Board. This agreement will allow me to continue my work with the Hampstead School District while concluding my work with Timberlane. Although I believe this agreement is best for all parties, I cannot leave the Timberlane community without expressing my deepest appreciation to the staff, students and families that have supported me and the work over these past eight years."


Metzler Out as SAU 55 Superintendent but Hired as Hampstead Consultant
By Penny Williams 7-18-20

News regarding the resignation of SAU 55 Superintendent Earl Metzler and the hiring of Metzler as an Educational Consultant by the Hampstead School District kept the lines humming Thursday July 16, and Friday July 17.

  SAU 55 is a combined SAU comprised of the Timberlane Regional School District and the Hampstead School District. Timberlane is in the process of withdrawing from SAU 55 and the relationship between the Timberlane School Board members and Hampstead School Board members has been steadily deteriorating over the last couple of years. At present, there is a lawsuit filed by Metzler against SAU 55 seeking money for overtime compensation Metzler believes he is owed but which the Timberlane School Board members of the SAU 55 Board have refused to pay him. The law suit is stuck in the closed down court system due to COVID-19.

   The two school district boards have been negotiating the withdrawal agreements. Hampstead Board Chair Caitlin Parnell explained things saying, "What is important to note is that the past month has been one of unprecedented change and uncertainty for the Hampstead School District. As the Board faces difficult decisions as to what form education will take in the fall, they have also been engaged in discussion with the Timberlane School Board regarding its withdrawal from SAU 55."

   The timeline for this abrupt change began in late June, according to Parnell. "The Hampstead School Board considered an agreement which it believed to be fair to both parties, Hampstead and Timberlane, and would allow for high quality superintendent services for both districts."

  The Hampstead School Board voted on June 23, to approve such an agreement but the Timberlane School Board rejected the agreement within twenty-four hours.

   Parnell stated, "Soon after this action, the Hampstead School Board received additional information that the Timberlane Board was planning to take action, through the SAU Board, that would leave the Hampstead School District without quality, stable, educational leadership." Timberlane, without including Hampstead had gone forward and was interviewing someone for the position of interim superintendent with the intention of getting rid of the present superintendent Metzler.

   Parnell said, "The impact of such a decision in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic, during a transitional year to a single district SAU, and within six weeks of the start of the school year, would be devastating to Hampstead’s educational community."

  She went on to say, "After months of the Hampstead School Board being subjected to actions and decisions made by Timberlane Board members by way of SAU Board votes, (that employed weighted voting in spite of the fact the Timberlane Board outnumbers Hampstead 9 to 5), it became clear to the Hampstead School Board that Hampstead’s interests would not be considered by the majority of the SAU 55 Board (Timberlane Board). This conclusion is based on the Timberlane Board’s abuse and overuse of the weighted voting process and on decisions made without the Hampstead Board’s input. The Hampstead School Board felt compelled to take action to protect its students and staff and, by unanimous vote, made the decision to secure strong, consistent leadership to guide the district through these unprecedented challenges."

 On Thursday evening, after both boards had held individual non-public sessions with attorney representatives, the SAU 55 Board met and Chair Brian Boyle said he wished to make a motion before the board went in to non-public to discuss issues relating to Metzler. His motion was to authorize him, in the event the SAU 55 would not have a Superintendent under contract, to negotiate and execute an agreement with an interim Superintendent for the 2021 school year. He indicated the interim superintendent candidate didn't wish to be named because he was still under contract in another district.

  Sarah Machemer. Timberlane Board and David Smith Hampstead Board both objected. Machemer because other administrators, staff and community members had not been consulted or involved and Smith because Timberlane had moved ahead with this action without including or informing Hampstead board members. However the motion passed and the SAU 55 board went into non- public to discuss issues related to Metzler. The Timberlane board members defended the move to contract with an interim superintendent saying it was to ensure that SAU 55 would not have any lapse in superintendent services and coverage.

   Coming out of non-public Boyle asked for a motion  to accept the draft agreement for the SAU 55 Chair and Vice Chair (both Timberlane Board members) to execute and negotiate a resignation agreement with Earl Metzler pursuant to the terms discussed and presented to the SAU 55 board. The vote was 13 to 1 with Smith voting no.

    Parnell described the direction taken by the Hampstead board as prudent,  saying the board decided that it was in the best interests of the students and staff in Hampstead to contract with "Dr. Earl Metzler as Executive Consultant for a period of one year." The Hampstead Board members felt this was the best way to provide both stability and continuity in a time when this environment would be paramount given the COVID-19 issues and the questions and issues surrounding the re-opening of schools for the fall."
    The information that all this was happening leaked out when residents found the information on Linked In posted by Metzler that included the following details of his Education Consultant Agreement:

*  Consultant shall provide leadership and direction for the Hampstead School District as it plans for the 2021-22 School Year and prepares for the withdrawal of the Timberlane School District from SAU #55. This includes, subject to Board approval, identifying and locating appropriate administrative offices, negotiating lease terms, developing an organizational and leadership plan for the Hampstead School District and coordinating the transition of all SAU functions to the Hampstead School District.

* Consultant shall be responsible for the planning and implementation of all educational programs for the Hampstead School District for the 2020-21 school year, including developing a plan for reopening of schools and the potential for a return to remote learning.

* Consultant shall direct the work of the Executive Director and other administrative staff of the Hampstead School District.

* Consultant shall serve as the Liaison to SAU#55 with respect to the financial affairs of the SAU and of the Hampstead School District.

* Consultant will perform such other services as are reasonably requested by the Hampstead School Board.

    The Hampstead School met Friday afternoon to unseal the minutes of their Thursday non - public meeting. At that point Parnell discussed what had lead to this point and why the board felt it best for Hampstead to hire Metzler as an Educational Consultant for the next 11 months. She also noted that there will be a meeting on July 22 to discuss how to handle the re-opening of schools in the fall.
    The Press Release issued by the Hampstead School District on Friday, July 17, states: "The Hampstead School Board is pleased to announce Dr. Earl Metzler will serve as Educational Consultant to the Hampstead School District during the SAU 55 withdrawal transition year. In March 2020, Timberlane voters approved a plan to withdraw from SAU 55 effective July 1, 2021. Timberlane and Hampstead share the same SAU, (business services, educational leadership, human resources) and the two school boards have engaged in discussion regarding the long-term financial liabilities shared by the two districts and the best pathway for each district as they transition to independent district status. Additionally, both parties, along with Superintendent Metzler, agreed that it is in the best interest of both districts (more importantly Hampstead’s best interest), that Dr. Metzler resign from his position as SAU 55 Superintendent effective immediately and serve as Educational Consultant to the Hampstead School District. The Hampstead School Board has trusted the expertise of Dr. Metzler since 2012 and is pleased to ensure his complete focus on the Hampstead School District during this withdrawal transition year. This will also permit Timberlane to begin planning for its future leadership as it too transitions into an independent school district."



Hampstead School Board  Discusses How to Introduce Single Status to Public
By Penny Williams 6-23-20

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, June 22,  and one topic of discussion was how to present the single status of Hampstead School District to the public.

Board Chair Caitlin Parnell earlier discussed the negotiations between the
Timberlane Board and the Hampstead board regarding the withdrawal of
Timberlane Regional School District from SAU 55. She indicated that a negotiated
agreement has been reached between the two boards and the Hampstead
board believes it works.

 Parnell made the following motion asking that "the Board vote to approve the proposed mediated agreement with Timberlane as set forth in document 003-B, pending the error in date in paragraph 2a be revised to July 1 2021,  in order to resolve liabilities arising from SAU withdrawal and to assist both Districts in transitioning to single district SAU services in an orderly fashion; and further to authorize its Chair to sign the agreement upon approval of the same by the Timberlane Regional School District Board." The board approved the agreement and for her to sign it.

Parnell went on to say the agreement has nothing to do with what the Hampstead School District will look like. This agreement deals with withdrawal and liability issues. But, she added, she wants a public forum to inform Hampstead residents about the single Hampstead School SAU - what it will look like - where administration of the SAU will be housed, how many employees it will have,  and how the employees will function.

She wondered out loud whether a Zoom Informational Meeting providing
residents with the information would work and after residents had a week or so to review and digest the information there could be a follow-up meeting where resident input, comments, and questions could be dealt with.

Board member Karen Yasenka spoke up saying she was not in favor of any question and answer forum with the public. She said it is the board's responsibility to come up with a plan and then to introduce it to the public. There was some discussion but Superintendent Earl Metzler suggested that a decision on how to introduce the set-up of the new, single Hampstead School District SAU to the public could be made during the upcoming planning session. He did agree that an online provision of the new district SAU gives the greatest coverage but he suggested putting off settling on a date for this for another week and that the final decision could be made at the proposed Tuesday, June 30, work session.

Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology,
Michael Flynn went over the results of remote learning during the
last third of the school year. He said things had gone better than could have been
hoped for but there were things that could be done better. He said that the cooperation and partnerships developed among teachers, students and parents were excellent and contributed to the success of the program. He said many things that were discovered and creatively used during remote learning would be incorporated been taken to ensure that kids didn't fall through the cracks and through relationships and monitoring those who needed extra support and help got it.

Flynn indicated that Special Education Director Karen Gallagher (who is retiring) and her department did exceptional work with student IEP's and these will be reviewed within the first 30 days of the upcoming school year. He said the Tech Team had done amazing work and  it was really something, "how far we've come in such a short time." He thanked  the school board for their support and ended by saying, "things can only get better."

The board re-approved the Governance Plan which Flynn said was in place
 to protect all, students and staff, as they use internet programs. He indicated the
Tech Team had taken this plan very seriously and developed a solid, very
comprehensive and inclusive plan the previous year that has been a model for
\many other school districts. In Hampstead anything a teacher or student wants to
use has to go through the Tech Team, ensuring great protection. The board
reaffirmed the Governance  Plan.

 Member Dave Smith said he and member Megan Malcolm had met several
times getting ready to form a committee to see what would be the best way to move
forward with the Repair, Renovate and Renewal plan for the Hampstead Central School. They want to get things lined up so they can make an early start in the fall getting the information out to the residents in hopes of getting the plan they decide on passed by voters in March 2021.

In Other Business:

* The School Board awarded  Madi Cresta and John Horan each a $1,000 scholarship.

* Metzler said that 83 percent of the district support staff responded within days after contracts went out and the deadline is June 30.

* The Cafe Services Food Service agreement is in its final year so an RFP will be sent out in the fall.

Hampstead School Board Increases Fund Balance Retention
By Penny Williams  6-10-2020

  The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, June 9, and one of their most important decisions was to increase the Fund Balance Retention in the face of the unknowns resulting from the COVID-19 issues.

Finance Manager Geoffrey Dowd  who represents SAU 55 that includes the Hampstead School District and for the moment the Timberlane Regional School District, presented the annual request to the Hampstead School Board regarding the Fund Balance Retention amount. It was $450,000 and that has been the case for the last couple of years.

The provision states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a school district by vote of the legislative body (and Hampstead did approve it) may authorize, indefinitely until specific recession, the school district to retain year-end unassigned general funds in an amount not to exceed, in any fiscal year, 2.5 percent of the current fiscal year’s net assessment pursuant to RSA 198:5, for the purpose of having funds on hand to use as a revenue source for emergency expenditures and over expenditures under RSA 32:11, or to be used as a revenue source to reduce the tax rate.”

The legislative body, Hampstead residents voting at the 2013 Town Meeting, voted 973 to 850 to authorize the School Board to adopt this retention of year-end unassigned general funds in an amount not to exceed in any fiscal year 2.5 percent of the current fiscal year’s net assessment. The net assessment refers to the town’s assessment that is derived from taking the district’s total budget and subtracting from it all revenue sources including the school district’s education grant. The net assessment therefore is “the amount raised locally for the support of schools by taxation including any amount that is raised locally from the state-wide education property tax.”
    The 2.5 percent cap is determined annually and can never, in any given year, exceed 2.5 percent of the net assessment for the District. The retention of an unassigned fund balance does not increase the school district’s ability to expend funds beyond the amount appropriated by the district voters.
    This fund balance retention would serve as a benefit were the school district to have a shortfall such as in the Adequacy Fund. It could also be used in an unanticipated emergency such unexpected costs arising out of changes required to meet COVID-19 conditions for the re-opening of schools. The school district could and petition the Department of Education for permission to use the money in this account to cover this emergency if they exceed the budget. And, the money in that account could be used to lower the tax rate.

   The board initially discussed retaining the $450,000 but Dowd had told the board they could retain up to an estimated maximum amount of  $583,509. Board member Karen Yasenka spoke up and said given the uncertainties relating to the re-opening of schools in the fall and the many unknowns going forward, she felt this year the entire allowed amount ought to be retained. The rest of the board members and Superintendent Earl Metzler agreed with her suggestion and the board voted unanimously to retain the estimated $583,509 that represents this year's 2.5 percent of the district's net assessment.

The board approved the Tuition rates for 2020-2021 school year for out-of-district students presented by Dowd. He indicated the amounts he proposed track with previous annual amounts. The amounts will be:
* $10,098 for Kindergarten
* $20,196 for Elementary 
* $20,448 for Middle School
* $40,643 for Special Education

The board heard from Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) Consultant Beth Metzler about the initial FLES program at the Hampstead Central School (HCS). She explained about the program and introduced the FLES HCS teacher, Elizabeth Kane, and said the program had been a major success and it will move on to first grade this coming year.

Board member Jim Sweeney asked when another teacher would be needed as the program continues through the elementary school grades and was told probably in the next year or so as Kane would not be able to handle much more than the Kindergarten and first grade programs under the current configuration. This lead to a discussion about the impact this program will have on the Middle School Spanish program and it was acknowledged that adjustments are already under discussion and the Middle School program will be adjusted to be on the appropriate level for what the students reaching Middle School and continuing with Spanish will need for the program.

Superintendent Metzler noted that the FLES program provides Hampstead students with a distinct competitive advantage when they go on to Pinkerton Academy. Yasenka spoke up and said she was very glad the board had made the decision to adopt the FLES program because of the importance of the learning and the experience it provides Hampstead students. She added that the board is very grateful to Superintendent Metzler for his leadership throughout this difficult period and that the board is fortunate to have the leadership and skill sets both Superintendent Metzler and Beth Metzler have in guiding the district and providing such outstanding learning and experiences that the students received particularly during the remote learning effort.

      Board Chair Caitlin Parnell said the SAU 55 Withdrawal Planning is still underway and mediation meetings will start on June 11. She said work continues with the district's attorney to gather information in order to get the best outcome for Hampstead students. She indicated the board would providing more information to the public on the withdrawal plans later as more decisions are made.

In Other Business:

* The board will hold its June 23 meeting since there are so many things that still need to be dealt with given the changing guidelines and unknowns regarding the reopening of schools for the fall. Metzler noted he would probably be calling for non-meeting board workshops in July.

* The board authorized the Metzler to handle suspensions exceeding 10 days.

* The board authorized Sweeney to be the go to board member to deal with hiring issues over the course of the summer when there aren't board meetings.

* The board authorized Metzler and/or Dowd to handle Federal or State grants and funding.

* The principals spoke of end of year events and thanked teachers, staff. and parents for all the assistance they had provided saying the events had been different but spectacular.

* Karen Gallagher, Special Education Director reported that the IDEA money that was given mistakenly to Derry instead of Hampstead for Hampstead students attending Pinkerton Academy in the amount of roughly $61,000 will be returned to Hampstead. The sending schools to Pinkerton Academy and Derry have worked out a Memorandum of Agreement on this issue.


Hampstead School Board Moves Forward With Construction Committee
By Penny Williams 5-27-20

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, May 26, and one of the things discussed and decided upon was whether to move forward with the Construction Committee for the Repair, Renovation and Renewal plan for the Hampstead Central School. 

The plan was defeated again by voters at the 2020 March Town Meeting and the board has had concerns about moving forward with the same plan again but proponents of the plan have wanted to continue, hoping an early start would bring a strong finish for the plan this coming year.

Chair Caitlin Parnell started the discussion and asked member David Smith if he was interested in heading up a Construction Committee. He indicated he felt strongly that an early start to raising awareness of the school's needs and the plan to address these needs was critical to getting it accomplished.    

New board member Megan Malcolm volunteered to work with Smith and they will start by looking at the present plan, the team that has been in place for the last several years and come up with suggestions about whether changes need to be made or to just move forward with the current plan and the updated associated costs at this point in time.

Member Karen Yasenka demurred saying given the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact the schools have been closed and remote learning taking place and there has been no definitive decisions regarding when and how schools should re-open, she thinks this year the board ought to step back and use the time to research data on what schools would look like and what changes will be needed to address that. She said the committee would potentially need to take into consideration possibly such things as spacing between students and the changes required to meet that. "Schools are not going to be the same," she said. "I would use this year to collect data for a design plan that would best serve the student's needs." However, the decision was to move ahead with the Construction Committee.

Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn said he would have a start to finish report on remote learning for the board's June 9, meeting but since school doesn't close until Friday he wanted to wait to provide a complete report. He did say events were taking place and going well and the primary focus is on the transition classes - fourth and eighth grades - and making sure they had all the experiences and support they needed to ensure a smooth transition. He did note that HCS report cards would be narrative based with the teachers providing comprehensive narrative on each student showing where the student was prior to remote learning, where they were under remote learning and containing recommendations for things parents should keep an eye on going forward.

Facilities Director Jeff Mackey went over his plans for work in the schools during the summer. He plans to stick mainly with making floor repairs and improvements, window and door upgrades, as well as replacing the clock system at Middle School and the fence at Central School. He anticipates the cost for his proposed projects will run between $57,400 and $74,600. However, he made it clear there would be ample money in his budget to do other things once schools had a firm grip on what re-opening and associated needs might be.

Parnell said the board has a draft plan regarding what SAU 55 will look like when it is comprised of Hampstead Schools only. She said she wants to share that plan with the public and Flynn said it could be done with Zoom and he would work with her on it so residents could ask questions at that time. Parnell said Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling has denied the Timberlane SAU55 attorney's request to delay providing the Hampstead Board members with the Butterfied Investigative report that the then chair of the Timberlane members of the SAU55 Board authorized. The report sought an explanation of an employee saying they resigned because of the hostile workplace created by the SAU 55 Board members,. The most recent decision was favorable to Hampstead with Judge Wageling refusing to delay or reconsider her initial decision. Within 90 minutes of that decision's release the Timberlane members move forward with an appeal of that decision. Smith questioned whether the SAU 55 board had authorized that and it was noted probably not since there's been no meeting recently.

Superintendent Earl Metzler introduced the names of two potential hires for the board's approval. The board approved hiring Susan Dauer as the District Nurse and Nicole Freligh as the Middle School math teacher.


Hampstead School Board Decides Future Meetings will be Held in the Schools
By Penny Williams   5-13-20

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, May 12, and they decided   when things return to non-electronic meetings, the board will hold those meetings at the schools not the  Hampstead Town Hall.   

Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn had been asked to determine the feasibility and cost of the school board meeting in the schools rather than at Town Hall and he presented his findings Tuesday evening.

Meeting in the Hampstead Middle School (HMS) would be no problem and no cost as it is already set up for covering such things as the School Deliberative live. The Hampstead Central School (HCS) would take a little work but it can be brought up to standard where direct, live coverage would be possible. The cost of the upgrade at HCS would be $5,391.86 he estimated adding that doing this would be a long term benefit allowing the exciting things that take place at the school to be broadcast live.

The board discussed with Flynn and Superintendent Earl Metzler scheduling options, initially considering one meeting a month at Town Hall and the second monthly meeting in a school. Board member Karen Yasenka, who has advocated for this move for many years, said she would like to see all meetings in the schools and none in the Town Hall. This was discussed and the board approved expending an amount not to exceed $6,000 to bring the equipment at HCS up to the required level to allow direct live coverage and  to work on future scheduling for board meetings that would alternate between the two schools. The board members expressed the desire to hopefully start this in August.
  The board went into non-public session for more than an hour discussing SAU 55 Re-organization Planning. Upon returning to public session the board approved and accepted the Draft Reorganizational SAU 55 Plan as presented and agreed to notify the Attorney to move forward. No details were discussed in public but it was noted the board will share their plan with the public down the road.     

The board learned of the proposed plan for drop off and pick-up of school items and student's personal items and medications. Metzler said Flynn and the school administrators have put a comprehensive plan in place that focuses on the safety and security of staff, students and parents. Between June 1 and June 5, the staff will work on their issues with pick-up and drop off and between June 8 and June 12, families will address their pick-up and drop off needs. Pick up medications will be done by parents calling and making a specific pick-up time. If anyone is unable to do this during the set times they are asked to email their principal and arrange for a mutually agreeable date and time.

Flynn described what the data shows in terms of student educational learning for the third quarter that included the beginning of remote learning. Both he and Metzler felt the data indicated very little in the way of detrimental trends but both indicated they expect to learn more about the impact of remote learning from the fourth quarter data. They both expressed amazement about the job staff, administrators and teachers have accomplished and said the creativity has been very high. However, they acknowledged that there were some students who didn't wholly engage and some who failed to engage and these students are being monitored and help would be provided as needed. They also acknowledged that some subjects and materials are easier to teach remotely than others. The plan is to provide the board with an update at the board's June 9, meeting.

Without specifying any one event or activity Metzler told the board they are working hard on the end of year activities. Flynn said the focus has been on the transition years - grade 4 to grade 5 and grade 8 on to high school. A date has been locked in for the 8th grade graduation of June 4, which at this point is considering a virtual event but hope still being held for a more traditional event. Metzler said they are trying to hold off on as many events as possible hoping for a lifting of restrictions that would allow something other than virtual celebrations.

Board Chair Caitlin Parnell said the board will continue to review, study and try to work out the best ways to address the needs for renovation, repair and construction at the Central School. She pointed out the voters had approved the $400,000 in Capital Reserve and that monitoring of possible building and construction grants is ongoing. The board decided to discuss getting the HCS Construction Committee up and running again at their next meeting because several board members indicated getting an early start on the plans for getting anything accomplished is critical.

In Other Business:

* Flynn proposed and the board approved gifting the eighth graders their Chromebooks.

* Board member Megan Malcolm suggested outdoor classroom settings be considered as part of the return to school decisions.

* Board member Jim Sweeney wanted to know if the administration was in the process of preparing for future remote learning demands in order to be prepared and Metzler assured him this was happening.

*Yasenka said it is important for teachers and staff to understand they have the full support of the board for whatever they need to do their jobs.

* Metzler proposed the approval of him hiring three Special Education teachers recommended by Special Education Director Karen Gallagher. The board approved hiring:  Melissa McCarthy, – HCS, BCBA Behavior Specialist; Noella Nardino, – HCS Special Education Teacher; and, Laura Johnston, – HMS Special Education Teacher.


Hampstead School Board Approves Last Day of School, May 29
By Penny Williams 4-22-20

The Hampstead School Board met on Tuesday evening, April 21, and approved Superintendent Earl Metzler's recommendation that May 29th, would be the last day of school for students.

Metzler and the board earlier agreed to keep the April vacation as usual, giving students, teachers and parents a much needed break from remote learning and teaching. With May 29,  as the last day for students, based on the fact that Hampstead school district had exceeded the required number of hours, teachers would still be under contract for a couple of weeks as the original school end date was June 18. The last day of school for the Timberlane Regional School District will also be May 29.

Metzler said the teachers would be able to use those days after students are out of school to do Professional Development, look at remote learning and depending on what the situation is at that time, either work on what their students may need over the summer and how the start of the new school year will need to be tweaked or prepares for the upcoming school year's needs given the past three months. If remote learning is still in place come the new year the teachers would have had this time to make improvements and build on what they had learned during the remote learning between March and May.

The board conducted a discussion of the SAU 55 reorganization. With the withdrawal of Timberlane from SAU 55, Hampstead must make decisions on the personnel and the building location for the SAU 55 which will become the one district  - Hampstead - SAU.

Board Chair Caitlin Parnell told the board she needed a vote regarding the ongoing negotiation terms for moving forward with how the two districts will split and how they will look. She indicated she needed a vote by the board accepting the negotiating terms for withdrawal. The board members unanimously voted approval.

Metzler said it will be important for both districts to work together on the withdrawal. He indicated there will be some changes in SAU 55 personnel given retirements and people moving on. As such, Hampstead needs to plan what the SAU 55 will look like in terms of personnel and job needs through 2021. He indicated that the Audits need to be finished as quickly as possible so the numbers are clear for each district.

He indicated Hampstead is working on a Word Product on these issues which for the moment is not public information but will be shared with the public down the road. He said the Hampstead planning is in good shape and includes a well thought out timeline and model for the standalone Hampstead SAU 55 district.

Geoffrey Dowd, SAU 55 Business Manager said that the timeline had been developed in conjunction with the district's attorney. Work on the overall plan starts immediately with the district administrators working on the plan details on both the educational and business side to ensure all needs will be met and the transition take place seamless.

Metzler discussed the need to make some decisions about year-end events such as transitions to new grade levels, graduation and so forth. He indicated that he intends to hold out on making any final decisions as long as possible on the off chance state restrictions might be lifted and there could be an actual event take place. If not, he said he and the administrators will work on creating visual events but he guaranteed to do his best for the students.

Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn,  said a survey, Thought - was  distributed to parents, students and the community for ideas on how the year-end events should be handled. He indicated 199 people participated and 137 thoughts/ideas were provided and 4,140 ratings on the ideas were provided. These ideas and thoughts will drive designing year-end events and there will be a public discussion at the May 12, School Board meeting.

Board member Karen Yasenka reported on the SAU 55 Board meeting  that took place last week where there were no signs of  being any different going forward. She said Hampstead Board members had been shut out of both leadership positions and weighted voting was put in place immediately by Timberlane members. She also said the Timberlane members had approved their attorney moving forward with requesting a Reconsideration of the Rockingham Superior Court Judge's order to make available the investigative report regarding the SAU55 board creation of a hostile workplace that has never been shared with any SAU 55 board members except the then Chair Kim Farah who ordered it.

Board member David Smith asked about grading and  member Jim Sweeney asked about upgrading remote learning tools and Metzler responded that both issues were being looked at. Sweeney also asked about Summer Recreation.

 Hampstead Recreation Director Angie Ingraham stated at the Monday night, April 20,  Recreation Commission meeting, "We have two options for Summer Recreation.  First, we would like to run it like every summer. If we cannot then we would like to run a Virtual Summer Recreation Program.   We are meeting again May 4 to discuss where we are now and the final decision would be made by May 15." 

 Metzler said he was nominating Katherine McKay for the Special Education position at the Hampstead Central School and the board unanimously approved McKay.

 One thing that has been happening for Hampstead students is that St. Anne's Parish Heaven's Kitchen has been and continues to provide daily breakfast and lunch meals to those in the Hampstead community. The family simply drives up between 10 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday and pick up meals for each child.
The menu for this week includes:
       Heaven's Kitchen Menu for the week of April 27:
Day    -       Breakfast  -   Lunch -     Snack

Wednesday --  Breakfast burrito egg, ham and cheese, fresh fruit, fruit juice - Meatball Sub, potato wedges, carrot sticks, milk   -    Assorted

Thursday ---  Cold cereal, milk, fresh fruit, fruit juice  - Tuna sandwich on roll, chips, vegetable, milk  -   Assorted
Friday --     Chef's Choice  -  Chef's Choice  -   Assorted
        The district has posted the following notice: The Hampstead School Board is accepting letters of interest to fill a vacant school district clerk position. The selected candidate will fill this vacancy until March 2021. Registered voters from the town of Hampstead interested in applying for this position may submit a letter of interest, with qualifications, experience and other pertinent information (including a phone number) to School Board Chair Caitlin Parnell at parnellc@hampsteadschools.net . Submission deadline is May 25, 2020. The board intends to review all applications received in nonpublic session (RSA 91-A:3,III(c)) at their May 26th board meeting.


Hampstead School Board Reorganizes and Looks Ahead at SAU Separation
By Penny Williams    4-8-20

The Tuesday evening, April 7, meeting of the Hampstead School Board, held electronically, began with reorganization of the board and approving measures and policies for the new year.

The board voted unanimously for the present Chair Caitlin Parnell and Vice Chair Karen Yasenka, to continue. New  School Board member Megan Malcolm was appointed as the board representative to the NH School Board Association and it was decided to start advertising for a School District Clerk, a position vacant for the first time in many years with the resignation of longtime clerk Nancy Lacasse.

As for future meetings the board approved keeping the current schedule of the second and fourth Tuesday on the month for meetings but adding, meetings that would begin at 7 could be either in Town Hall or at other school locations. Michael Flynn, Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology told the board he would be able to provide options regarding meeting in the schools at their first meeting in May.   

The board discussed the next meeting scheduled for April 14 and decided to cancel that meeting but moved to approve the next meeting to be on April 21. The reason being this would have less of a time gap between the originally scheduled April 14 and May 12 meetings. 

The board discussed the SAU 55 Withdrawal and its impact and implications for the Hampstead School District. Parnell asked Superintendent Earl Metzler to bring to the board a written plan with options on what the single Hampstead District SAU would look like and the associated costs. She asked for the pros and cons of where the SAU office would be located - on school site or off. Finally, she asked for a calendar or timeline for as much as possible of information relative to costs that the board will need to take into consideration in developing its budget going forward.

Metzler said he would be able to provide the SAU information requested by Parnell for the most part by the board's newly set April 21 meeting.

SAU 55 Business Director Geoffrey Dowd said the district's financial condition is good with favorable reports from Regular Education salaries and tuition costs as well as favorable Special Education placement tuition and salary costs. He indicated the predicted surplus figure would be close to the expected $600,000 figure even after the voters approved the $400,000 being put into the Capital Reserve.

Yasenka reported to the board that there had been a meeting in Concord on March 13, with Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and other state officials regarding the policy on guns in schools adopted by the Hampstead School Board.
Yasenka noted Hampstead personnel made clear that the issue the policy addresses is one of an act of trespass. The policy affirms the Board has the authority to determine the conditions upon which visitors may enter school buildings or remain on school property.
    That policy states, "No person(s) shall possess, bring, or conceal—or aid, abet, or otherwise assist another person(s) in possessing, bringing, or concealing—any firearm or weapon within the restricted areas. Firearms or weapons are permitted on school property outside of the restricted areas, so long as they are unloaded and secured in a lockbox within a locked vehicle or otherwise secured within a locked vehicle and inaccessible to third parties...A violation of this policy will be deemed a trespass upon school property and the individual will be asked to leave.  

 This policy only applies when school is in session or when a school-sponsored activity is taking place anywhere on school property."

Yasenka said there was a robust and in-depth discussion and all the legal concerns raised by state officials were answered and resolved satisfactorily. The result is no action against the district from the State Board of Education regarding this policy is anticipated.

Metzler told the board that Bill Fox. Fox Tours, who the district uses for school student trips such as the planned trip to Washington D.C. over April vacation, moved quickly to refund all the parent money that had been paid for that trip. Metzler pointed out Hampstead is lucky they use Fox Tours because many districts are having a difficult time trying to get refunds.

Speaking of the April vacation Metzler said he recommends and it is inforce that the distant learning be suspended during the scheduled April vacation the week of April 24 as both teachers and students need a break. He also said the teachers have been doing wonderful videos supporting students and encouraging learning in addition to birthday parades that have been happening in neighborhoods. He said the cooperation and support from the Hampstead union personnel has been outstanding.

Finally he said that deep cleaning would take place at the schools prior to them reopening and a company has already been laid on to handle this.

The board voted unanimously and with thanks to approve the resignation of Jessica Maroney Middle School English Language Arts teacher. The board also voted unanimously to approve a leave of absence for Annie Wallace, Math Specialist at the Middle School and said they would be waiting eagerly to welcome her back. Metzler said there should be hires to approve at the next meeting.





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