2020 Hampstead School Board Meetings

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.





Top of Page


Back to all Hampstead School Board News articles