2021 Hampstead School Board Meetings


Hampstead School Board Receives Petition for Special Meeting Regarding Masks
By Penny Williams    10-13-21

On Tuesday night, October 12, it was announced that the Hampstead School  District received a petition for a Special Meeting to vote on Mask Usage.

Superintendent Robert Thompson read the Petition with 72 verified signatures requesting action by voters on making mask usage optional for students and up to their parents as well as masks optional for visitors and parents.

There has been a vocal group of parents pushing for the board to mandate the use of masks as optional. Their claims about masks are not necessarily valid but those pushing for optional mask usage have provided volumes of studies and statements claiming masks are not good for students and that they don't work and that the science behind mask usage is invalid.

Thompson noted that the school board has the final say regarding this request for a Special Meeting. However, board members and Thompson agreed the petition should be forwarded to the board's attorney for review and recommendation of their action going forward with respect to the Special Meeting petition.

It was determined that the board will discuss and make a decision at their next meeting after receiving advice from their attorney. Thompson did point out that  usually special meetings are for funding and financial issues but that this is a possible request. No one on the board was prepared to speak to the petition which they had been provided in advance of the meeting. There was no information provided regarding the cost of such a special meeting.

Thompson went over his 90-Day Superintendent's Report with the board. He indicated that the essential things he learned include the value residents place on the quality of Hampstead School District education, especially that staff and administration care about the students and do so holistically. He pointed out that of the eleven member Leadership Team ( administrators principals and assistant principals) five are new to the district.

He said that staff and residents want their superintendent to be present, listening, and working to improve the educational product while supporting staff and students. Communication is an issue and he indicated he hopes to have the school and town partner more going forward. He said he has an Advisory Council that is already up and working looking at what is going well in the district and what needs to be strengthened.

He announced that there will be an outside agency coming in to review the Special Education aspect of the Student Services and there will recommendations regarding all the unique students in the Hampstead student community.

Thompsons priorities going forward include ensuring structural operations plans are in place and support for the Hampstead Central School (HCS) building renovation and construction plan is provided. In addition he indicated there will be continued work through the pandemic to meet student needs and increased partnering with the community to benefit students. He plans to continue to work on developing and improving systems to be operational in the district.

It was noted that Adventure Lore, yet another outside entity, is being used to supplement and support social and emotional learning for students. Student behavior, Thompson noted, has suffered from the pandemic and students need to be reintroduced to school behavior. It should be noted that there is still another outside agency working on the Strategic Goals project.

The board discussed what should be on the Warrant for the HCS project going forward. There appeared to be no agreement among board members on the suggestion that the two core classrooms be separated from the current overall project plan and be addressed in the coming year and the cost put it in the budget.

Some board members feared any further tinkering with the originally proposed plan would reduce resident confidence and support for the plan which failed to gain passage again last year. This suggestion does address the school's biggest issue, the need for more classrooms.

The board didn't make any decision but indicated it would consider this and discuss it further at the next meeting.

Financial Administrator Geoffrey Dowd said the current project at the Central School remains on target and should basically be done by Thanksgiving and completed by Christmas. He noted that most of the windows are in and that most of the new brickwork is completed and there have been no disruptions to education so far. The HVAC implementation will be handled two classrooms at a time, locking them off with worker access from the out of doors.

 


Hampstead Superintendent Thompson Seeks Authority to Determine Universal Masking
By Penny Williams   9-30-21

At the Tuesday evening, September 28, Hampstead School Board meeting, Superintendent Robert Thompson sought the authority to determine the call for universal masking in a classroom or school with positive case and potential transmission due to exposure.

In addition, Thompson asked that he have the authority to determine whether the universal masking be for just one of the two schools in Hampstead or should be applied at both schools. This would be determined by data and the number of cases.

The school district has had a total of 6 active cases and on Monday, September 27, emergency universal masking at Hampstead Central School was put in place due to the assumption that there had been a cluster. It was subsequently determined that there had not been a cluster so the school was returned to the Targeted phase of masking on Tuesday.

However, this incident has caused Thompson to believe he needs to be able to make a swift decision without having to go to the School Board when there is a positive case or cases in a classroom or school that has potential exposure to other students in the classroom or school.

The board members discussed this and while all were not on board, the motion to give Thompson this authority was approved.

The board members also discussed whether Thompson should have the authority to make the decision about whether an emergency masking decision be for just one or for both schools. Thompson noted that these would not be popular decisions but he was willing to take the heat for the decisions which he would make only after a thorough and diligent investigation.

The board after a discussion voted to give Thompson the authority to make the decision regarding whether universal masking would be for one or both schools if a situation arises. Thompson noted that any decision made (referring to a universal masking decision for one or both schools) can be reversed as shown by the recent lifting of the emergency masking decision for the Central School if the data and information support that reversal.

The two school Principals reviewed their goals for the coming year.

Hampstead Central School Principal Terrilyn Cheney said they were developing and utilizing Universal Design for learning data and support systems and Developing Social and Emotional Supports for students.

Principal Maria DiNola, Hampstead Middle School said they were developing Instructional Strategies and also developing Social and Emotional Learning support systems.

District Financial Administrator Geoffrey Dowd and Thompson reported that there may be money from the state for building aid in the next year. The district has submitted a Letter of Interest to the NH Department of Education which will be followed by  a detailed design of the district's proposed construction project in the spring.

Thompson said the Central School space needs issues have some serious impacts on the educational  instruction for students. He identified four specific areas.

* Inability for the school to offer and have universal kindergarten

* Inability to develop in-house special education programs

* The school's Library which right now is a retro-fitted classroom for the most part

* Technology at the school is delivered "on a cart" and additional UA programs will be "on a cart" nest year

These issues are all a factor of the lack of sufficient space at the Central School. He said he had hoped he could come in and with a fresh set of eyes find ways to address these issues but in fact they cannot be addressed in the current building.

This lead to Dowd telling the board they need to arrive at a definite decision regarding how they want to move forward with the construction and improvement project for the school for next year. This is the time to look at alternative designs and make decisions about what you want going forward, he told the board.

Dowd reported that the current 60s Wing project is moving forward and is on pace.

The board discussed substitute stipends as a way to find needed substitute teachers and Para-Educators. The board was in favor of continuing the $50 a day stipend going forward but admitted this could cause issues if that pay then exceeded the pay for substitutes and Paras already onboard. It was noted that current rates can't be altered as they are currently set by contract. The board wants to look into this conflict issue going forward but will continue the $50 a day stipend.

Evaluation of Superintendent policy is being changed slightly and the policy committee is working on it. However, it was noted that getting the Superintendent's evaluation completed by March would be very aggressive and difficult given all that goes on in February. There will be further discussions on this issue.

Dowd reported that Adequacy Aid has returned $569,000, more than anticipated. He said some towns are trying to change policy language so this can be added to the budget but he recommended the board vote to return this to the citizens for tax rate reduction purposes. After a brief discussion the board approved following Dowd's recommendation.

Blizzard Bag and Snow Days were discussed and it was the consensus of the board that given improved technology available to schools that while there should be some just snow days, when schools would have used Blizzard Bag work they can now turn to remote learning technology.

Convenient Med  will be providing Safer At School Screening testing twice a month. Parental permission will be required. This is a proactive move to make this testing available to students and staff and parents. It will be available at Central School on the second Wednesday of the month and at Middle School on the third  Wednesday from 11-12:45.

The board approved the hire of Caitlin Coleman for the part time position of Behavior Specialist at Central School.
 
Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Nicole Tomaselli, reviewed the programs she is working on that will be provided to students after school as well as programs available during school time. She also said she anticipates 2 vendors bidding on the technology upgrade for the cable at Middle School.

 


Hampstead School Board Increases Scholarship Awards to $1,500 per Recipient
By Penny Williams   9-15-21

On Tuesday night, September 14, the Hampstead School Board discussed increasing the scholarship awards given to Hampstead seniors at Pinkerton Academy.

For  years the amount was $500 for each scholarship, one for a female and one for a male Pinkerton Academy senior from Hampstead. Recently, under Chair Dave Smith's leadership, the amount was raised to 1,000 for each award.

The board discussed the growing cost of college and college books. They discussed increasing the award amount, one suggesting $2,000 while others suggested raising the amount to $1,250 or $1,500.

After discussing the increase Smith made a motion to increase the award amount to $1,500 and the board approved this motion. It was noted that Pinkerton Academy is the organization that selects the recipients of the Hampstead School Board Scholarship awards.

The district principals spoke glowingly of the start to school. Both said students were happy and engaged.

Middle School Principal Maria DiNola remarked that Adventurelore, an organization that provides a variety of recreational, therapuetic and commercial programs and services to the community in an adventure-based model, had spent 90 minutes with each class working on social and emotional issues.

According to the Adventurelore web site, "We strive to teach youth and adults to embrace their strengths, challenge their perceived weaknesses, make new friends, and have fun in the outdoors."

DiNola also said team sports are hurting for lack of coaches. She encouraged anyone interested and able to help with coaching the various Middle School sports teams to submit a resume.

SAU 55 Financial Administrator Geoffrey Dowd reported that at this point financially the 60s wing reconstruction project is on budget despite unexpected challenges in costs increase for materials and labor as well as delays in delivery of materials.

The windows are finally available but will not be installed until the HVAC arrives which expected by Columbus Day. And then it will be night and weekend installation work to reduce educational disruptions.

Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Nicole Tomaselli, provided an update on the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds and how they are being spent. ESSER II funds will be used to pay for the Summer Learning Academy and for another custodian if needed and for the technology to update the Middle School cable system . This is being called the Hampstead Broadcast Update and RFPs are out and on the web site. Tomaselli indicated she is expecting several quotes and will be able to use a state grant for some of the cost.

ESSER II will provide ipads soon for Kindergarten. ESSER III fund documents have been submitted and the thinking is some of these funds will go towards connection coaches and next year's Summer Learning Academy.

Superintendent Robert Thompson said the budget will be developed differently this year. It will a zero based budget. He provided a summary of budget meetings and expects to get the budget to the board for final approval in December.

Dowd suggested the board should consider starting to discuss their plans and expectations for construction projects at the Hampstead Central School at the next meeting. He indicated that the SAU will returning 1.62 million dollars to the taxpayers.

Tracy Griffenhagen, Director of Student Services, went over the changes to the previous Special Education program. She described IEPs, the 504 Program, and how each students' needs will be met including the gifted and those needing RTI support. She said there are about 239 Hampstead students who fall into the special needs area and every effort will be made to address their needs in house but when that can't happen out of district placement will be made. There currently is a shortage of Para-Professionals. She indicated that when the Para-Professional contract comes up attention will be paid to salary.

Thompson noted that there has been one case of COVID-19 at the Central School and about 22 students from the district are quarantining for a variety of reasons. These students are their parents are being contacted and offered zoom services with connection coaches (teachers-paras) so they don't fall behind on their studies.
He told the board and audience there would be no change in the current mask decision unless there should be a cluster - at least 3 cases - and some evidence of community transmission. During Public Comment a parent did speak asking the board to reconsider going with the NH Department of Human and Health Services and CDC guidelines and implement universal mask wearing.

Lori-Lyn Griffin was praised for her efforts and coordination of the connection coaches with those students on quarantine.

Thompson reported there has been one hire as a sixth grade math teacher, that of longtime HMS para and UA personnel Sabin Thompson.


The Hampstead School Board Decision on Optional Masks Called Compromise
By Penny Williams 8-26-21

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday, August 24, and the issue of masks when schools open was the primary issue discussed.

Superintendent Bob Thompson made some specific recommendations that essentially said for the safety of students and staff and to keep schools open as an in person experience masks should be mandated.

He based his recommendation on the guidelines of the NH Health and Human Services Department backed up by the CDC and Pediatric Physicians mask mandate recommendations. He showed the audience the chart that provided the numbers that would drive mask mandates. He indicated that Hampstead is in a substantial transmission area.

The discussion among the board and administrators continued. It was obvious the board was not prone to move in the direction of a mask mandate for the reopening of school. It was pointed out that Hampstead has few cases and the decision should be based on what exists in Hampstead.

Thompson then suggested changing the dashboard chart from the HHS to illustrate a compromise suggested.

HHS-chart

The number of cases that would trigger a mask mandate for the Hampstead Schools would be 150 or more cases and more than a 5 percent positivity rating. This assumed that students who would be able to socially distance 3-feet or more would not have to wear a mask except  when working in small groups, labs or hallway transfers. During these situations a mask would be needed.

Thompson defended changing from his June position of optional masks when there were 26 active cases in NH to the increase seen in August where there are 210 cases. He didn't defend his arbitrary change of the HHS chart to suit what the board wanted.

There was a discussion about the need to be able to inform parents when a change was to be made and the board stressed parental cooperation with keeping sick kids home will essential. The superintendent noted he would make decisions the night before and then communicate that decision with parents. It was agreed that more work on the method of communication will be needed.

Prior to the discussion with the administrators and the board regarding mask requirements a number of parents spoke strongly advocating for optional masks only. Former board member Jim Sweeney spoke advocating for a mask mandates as did a parent who is a nurse.

The board felt it had achieved a compromise between those wanting optional mask wearing and those advocating for a mask mandate. A motion was made to start with the Targeted approach with masks optional when students are 3-feet apart, but masks are always required on buses, masks required in small groups and labs and when passing the hallways and the board accepts the Road Map for the Return to In-person school with these provisions. The board approved it unanimously and it was noted that "...this is a compromise. It is a start."

Nicole Tomaselli, Director of the 21st Century Learning, Assessment, and Technology, went over some plans for the year ahead. If a student has to quarantine the school will provide school work on line so the student doesn't fall behind. She also said parents will be told about and introduced to the Virtual Learning Academy which the school is partnering with.

Tracy Griffenhagan, Student Services Director, spoke about programs in place and those to be added to address a variety of student educational experiences and needs and mental health issues. She indicated there will be a focus on the RTI programs - extra help - as well as the Homework Club.

Utilization of outdoor spaces that will be identified as suitable for outdoor classes will be encouraged. Community volunteers are needed to make these spaces useable.

The Strategic Plan process is underway and Thompson said the plan is to present it to the board January 25, 2022.

It was noted that the thinking originally was another kindergarten class would be needed but sufficient parents have decided to delay starting their students in school experience that it doesn't appear this will be necessary at this point. However, there will be a need for an additional class for first grade and possibly for Kindergarten too and the administration is not certain how that can be addressed given there is no space available.

The work on the 60s wing is coming along and while some HVAC and windows are back ordered, it was emphasized when that work has to be done it would not disrupt classes. The work will be done after school or on weekends.

The administration discussed what the ESER Funds can be used for and one of those would be stipends for tutors to assist students quarantining at home.

There was a discussion about upgrading the technology at the Middle School, specifically for putting out cable coverage of meetings and other school related activities.  Bids are being sought and it is possible ESER funding may be applied.

 


Hampstead School District Superintendent Thompson Provides Updates Regarding Opening Plan
By Penny Williams   7-31-21

Thursday evening, July 29, the Hampstead School District Superintendent provided the school board with several updates.

Superintendent Bob Thompson said there have been a couple of minor changes to the schools' reopening plan that was filed with the department of Education in June.  However, masks will remain an optional choice in schools for now. 

On buses students, staff, and drivers will have to be fully masked. Quarantine for a positive report is 10 days and if a student or staff is exposed for more than 10 minutes within 3-feet or less the parents will be notified of the contact. But there will be no whole class quarantine and parents will make the decision regarding quarantining their child. Right now those in close contact are not required to quarantine and communicating with such parents presents privacy issues.

Thompson said he thinks these guidelines will change before school opens. He has a meeting with the Department of Health and Human Services on August 11, and anticipates some changes forthcoming from that meeting. If a mask mandate were to be imposed it would have to be a total district mandate. Right now the positivity rate and daily case count don't warrant any changes to the optional mask position the district has taken, he noted.

In response to a question Thompson said that he and administrators are considering looking at possibly offering a mask classroom at each grade level. However, this would only happen if there is a significant level of request reflected by a survey of parents that will be conducted.

He also said he and administrators are working on what will be offered to support educational learning to students forced to quarantine. One thing that is under discussion and for which the district has applied is for there to be a vaccination clinic for Hampstead Central School students when that vaccine is available.

With respect to the renovation project at Central School, Thompson said that demolition on the first and second floors has been completed. Next they will work on the roof. So far things are on budget and material prices haven't gone up.

However, delivery of material has seen some delays. The windows, for example, were due the beginning of August but now won't be arriving until September. However, he indicated this will not delay the opening of school.

The Strategic Plan process is underway. There will be a 10 member committee to work with the chosen vendor with meetings starting the end of September. He anticipates providing a completed copy to the board by the end of January.

He said he was one third of the way through his Entry Plan and that it was going very well. He still would like to talk to any community member interested in meeting with him.

The board went into non-public and on coming out voted to seal the minutes and then approved a motion to provide the Butterfield Report online for public review.

The Butterfield Report is a report prepared for the SAU 55 regarding a declaration that some SAU 55 board members had created a hostile environment. When the report was finished it was provided to SAU 55 Timberlane board members only but not to the Hampstead members of the SAU 55 board. Hampstead and
Timberlane have been in court with Hampstead board members trying to get access to the report. The report was finally released to the current Hampstead School Board.

After review the board made the decision to release for public review. It can be found in documents on the district web site.

 


Hampstead’s New Superintendent Robert Thompson Provides Entry Plan
By Penny Williams   7-9-21

Hampstead’s  New Superintendent Robert Thompson provided the School  Board and residents with his Entry Plan at the board's Tuesday night, July 6, meeting.

Essentially, his plan focuses on communication and meeting with people from every aspect of Hampstead - clubs, organizations, businesses, and individual community members with and without children in the schools. His purpose is to ascertain what Hampstead as a community values most in its school system; what the community as a whole wishes to see in terms of growth of the school district; and, what the community expects from their superintendent.

Thompson also plans to meet with faculty and staff and there he plans to focus on what they value most in the system; what they want to see improved; and, how can the superintendent support their work.

He also plans to examine the current instructional practices of the district and develop a proactive open relationship with community members - parents, civic leaders and the local business community. He also wants to determine what the operational needs of the system are and develop and enhance the capacity for organizational leadership.

He indicated he plans to establish a Superintendent Advisory Council composed of stakeholders from both schools. In addition he plans to update the current school budget development in conjunction with Chief Financial Officer Geoffrey Dowd, increasing transparency and enhancing community involvement.

He also wants to meet and work with students, listening to them regarding their ideas and concerns along with the principals of both schools.

He noted that the Special Education Department will be reorganized into a Student Services Department thus addressing all levels of student needs. In addition the district will develop a new five year strategic plan that will use an outside vendor working on this along with district administration and staff. There will be a leadership retreat in August for district and building level leadership to focus on the creation of building level and individual professional goals as well as professional learning opportunities.

All of the foregoing he anticipates happening in the first 90 days of his leadership and he noted that much has already been started. Bottom line he wants to hear from everyone in the community and hopes to meet with and hear their opinions. Furthermore, he noted he is willing to meet with anyone anywhere as the new SAU 55 Office isn't completely ready yet so he would meet people at Beane Town or wherever they wish, he stated.

Board Chair Dave Smith noted that Thompson's invitation is about accommodating anyone in the community and his willingness to meet anywhere in the town.  The school board members are pleased with Thompson's welcoming invitation and look forward to all of the discussions he will have wherever they take place.

Regarding the decision to have an outside vendor drive the Five Year Strategic Plan and Thompson's recommendation of Think Strategy, Smith said this direction was felt to be the best way to go for the district. Using an outside vendor for developing the Five Year Strategic Plan  has been an option the board has discussed over the last year and could have gone with. However, Smith indicated he felt  it made more sense to outsource this to a company that has the proper experience with strategic planning.

There were three bidders for the strategic plan work, NESDEC, Think Strategy, and Barnes Coaching and Consulting. Think Strategy was the low bidder at $2,700. Thompson noted that Think Strategy was agreeable to making adjustments to their proposal as needed which he felt was a big step in their favor.

Nicole Tomaselli, new Director of the 21st Century Learning, Assessment, and Technology, reviewed the Summer Learning programs that will address identified students needing support because of learning loss due to the circumstances brought about by COVID-19 as well as students looking for learning experiences during the summer.

Starting in August there will be an onsite programs from 9 a.m. to noon providing support for math, reading and offering science and engineering workshops. There will be four groups and they will be staggered with the targeted students in the first groups meeting for math and or reading and following a snack then working with the Renaissance Kids on science and engineering workshop activities. The onsite remedial programs will run for 8 days August 16 through 20, and then August 23 through 27.

There will also be online programs designed for k-8 starting August 2, that will allow Central School students to access Epic reading, Big Ideas Math, and Dream Box. Middle School students will be able to access Big Ideas Math, Prodigy, iReady, and Delta Math. The online programs allow students to set their own schedule.

For the eight days of onsite programming Tomaselli said those needing transportation will be able to access bus transportation. She said once parents register their children, which must be done by July 20,  and respond to whether they will need transportation she will set up the bus routes with First Student.

Tomaselli noted that teachers have volunteered to be instructors for the onsite programs along with the Renaissance Kids personnel. The programs are fully staffed even with a remote teacher available to those choosing the online remote programs that will be offered.

Tomaselli said an email will go out to parents with more information next week. If the targeted students don't take up all the slots other interested students will be allowed to fill any open slots.

The reopening plan for the Hampstead School District remains as previously established but Thompson said he and the board would consider possibly having a class strictly for students using masks if the numbers requesting that were sufficient and if it could be accommodated in terms of classroom space and staff. It would at least be something they could explore.

The planned Hampstead Central School renovation project is dealing with additional asbestos remediation and removal. Also the HVAC equipment is back ordered and won't be available until at least the end of September. The project is suffering the same difficulties as all construction projects are as a result of back orders and slow distribution and these issues are made more difficult with the rising prices.

Asked about potential educational disruption due to construction work Smith responded saying the plan has always been that the outside of the building related to the brick work would be worked on in September and into the late fall.

The HVAC delay is a new issue that is due to the global supply chain issues but Smith said the board wanted to be transparent about it to the community as soon as they learned about it. He said there are a number of considerations being looked at with regard to addressing this issue and all are how to be the least disruptive as possible. One possibility is working week days after school hours and on the weekends.

Smith announced that the Butterfield Report, a report prepared for the SAU 55 regarding a declaration that some SAU 55 board members had created a hostile environment that when finished was provided to SAU 55 when Timberlane board members but not to the Hampstead members of the SAU 55 board. Hampstead and
Timberlane have been in court with Hampstead board members trying to get access to the report.

The report has finally been released to the current Hampstead School Board. According to Smith the report was discussed in non-public and the minutes sealed indefinitely. It has still not been released to the public.

The board  made a motion coming out of non-public that was unanimously approved and the "Hampstead SAU55 school board will refer the Butterfield Report to legal counsel for advice regarding 91A, attorney-client privilege, and any privacy interest implicated by the report."  He went on, the board plans to meet with counsel near the end of the month to discuss next steps of the release.

 


The Hampstead School Board Lifts Masks for Out of Doors
By Penny Williams   6-10-21

The School Board met Tuesday night, June 8, and the board lifted the mask requirement for out of doors.

The board announced that it was lifting the mask mandate for outside of school for the remainder of the year. This raised some comments from board members wishing that parents might have been informed earlier that the board had plans in place regarding the extreme heat.

The comments were precipitated by an incident that happened at the Hampstead Middle School earlier in the day. Parent Meghin Marley, who also was a candidate for the School Board who was not elected, was overheard at the Middle School using inappropriate language concerning the school district keeping kids in masks. In comments the next day she confirmed that the incident had happened and called it abuse noting there had been a child in a wheelchair who is unable to say she is too hot or needs water and a boy who fainted in the heat.

She said as a result of her outburst the School Board requested that the Police Department go to her home and Charge her with a notice of  No Trespassing.

Deputy Police Chief Robert Kelley confirmed this as did Marley. said she felt the charge was politically motivated. The School Board Chair David Smith when asked about the incident and whether a police officer was requested for the meeting which Kelley also confirmed,  said the board had "no comment."

Superintendent Robert Thompson  provided the board with a reorganized governance of the district. He indicated there are 15 leadership positions but there are no new positions being added and all are budgeted for. He said he would have an entrance plan summary to report to the board at the July 6, meeting.

Thompson also said the plan is to start a new Five Year Strategic Plan. He said the plan is to appoint a committee to work on this on behalf of the district that would represent the district, administration, students, staff and community. The idea is to capture the priorities in the  new Strategic Plan.

Thompson introduced the Re-Opening Plan that must be filed with the Department of Education by June 21. He indicated the safety and security of students and staff are paramount but the intention is to return the Hampstead School District to pre-pandemic conditions if possible. He indicated that masks would be optional but that the district would be following the Department of Human Services guidelines as well as monitoring local and state data.

Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn told the board that plans are moving forward regarding the summer school program. It will be held August 16 through August 23. It will be 4 days a week from 9 a.m. to noon. It will be providing reading, math, and social and emotional learning support. He indicated they are still working on staffing it and students benefiting from the programs will be identified and invited to attend.

The board discussed with Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd the Fund Balance Retention. Dowd reminded board members that the tax payers have already been given a heavy tax burden so he did not recommend putting as much as in the past into the fund.  Five percent is allowed but 2.5 percent has usually been retained in the past. This fund will need to be in place to address any unanticipated incidents since the money usually in the Facilities budget has been allocated to the building of the 60s Wing.

Board member Caitlin Parnell suggested putting in a one percent retention or $300,000 and Smith suggested $200,000 then said why not split the difference and retain $250,000 which was approved by the board.

It was reported that Music Director Kevin Fisher is leaving as well as  third grade teacher Kate Kretschmer. Both will be missed the board said.

The board also thanked and said goodbye to long time Hampstead Central School Principal Dillard  Collins. Everyone had a complimentary comment. The board also thanked and wished Flynn and Educational Consultant Earl Metzler well. Flynn said he had great respect for Metzler and had enjoyed working with him.

 


Hampstead School Board Accepts $318,179.00 in Unanticipated Funds
By Penny Williams   5-26-2021

The School Board held a public hearing before their regularly scheduled School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 25, to accept unanticipated funds.

Superintendent Robert Thompson presented the unanticipated funds from the federal government's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, ( CARES ESSER II federal grant) in the amount of $188,723. He also presented the unanticipated funds from the health care agency HealthTrust in the amount of $129,456.

Thompson discussed the expenditure of the funds, noting that the ESSER II funds can be spent on research based support for students. These funds will be applied to a variety of RTI - Response to Intervention areas, for students needing extra education remedial support and to provide educational opportunities for those needing support in terms of above grade level support.

These funds will allow the addition of a interventionist at the elementary level and more Para educators at the Middle School to work with students in the classroom setting. These funds can also be applied to a Summer Boot Camp to give a leg up assist to students who have suffered educational loss due to the pandemic.

The boot camp will be developed after parents students and teachers are surveyed to determine what is most needed educational content and who would be interested and what staff can be found for the program. It was suggested that the current thinking is that probably the best time for the boot camp would be in August before returning to the start of the school year. The funds could also be used to reduce class size but the caveat there is that creating any additional classes would increase the space needs situation at the Central School.

While the federal money can't be used on construction, the HealthTrust surplus money can be used to assist with the renovation and reconstruction program at the Central School.

The board voted unanimously to accept both funds. The board and administration will move forward with determining the best expenditure of the funds. The board then closed the public hearing and moved to their scheduled board meeting.

Library Media Specialist for the Hampstead School District Diane Connors was given the 2021 Library Award of Excellence for the district library program. Connors praised the work of Assistant Library Specialist Alix Hong and the teachers and staffs for the district library program's successes.

Board Chair David Smith and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn spoke about the 8th Grade graduation plans. The event will be held out of doors on June 14 for the first time and as such has two rain dates, June 15 and June 16. Flynn said they are working on getting the technology in place to be able to cover the event live but if that doesn't work it will be recorded and be presented on the Cable for those unable to attend.

Business Manager Geoffrey Dowd said the SAU 55 offices when the single Hampstead SAU is in place as of July 1, will be at the third building off of Mary E. Clark Drive in Unit 10. He indicated that it is being readied and some things will be in place prior to it being actually open but that is expected as of June 28. Dowd said the separation from Timberlane is  moving along well.  

As for the preparations for the Renovation and Construction at Hampstead Central things are moving. The major challenge right now is the difficulty in getting materials and the ever increasing cost of materials. He noted that some asbestos had been discovered and this will have to be removed. However, despite all the challenges he said the plan is still to start the project the day after school ends.

Dowd also discussed the comparison costs of the present SAU55 and the upcoming single Hampstead SAU 55.

On the comparison of the share of SAU costs to Hampstead's standalone central office costs, projected forward Hampstead's costs as if it were still part of the SAU 55 structure next year to get what Hampstead would have paid to SAU 55 if it were still part of SAU 55.  This helps produce a good comparison of what our costs will be in the central office versus if we were part of SAU 55 with Timberlane. 

As part of the re-structure, the district has a position in the budget for Tech Director in the current year budget which was cut in next year's budget since we won't need it in the combined central office structure based on capabilities and position requirements.  That position was combined with the Curriculum Director in the current year (Mike Flynn's position), and has worked well to the satisfaction of the School Board, so they made that cut permanent for the new central office structure going forward.

Hampstead School District Central Office Comparison with SAU 55 Costs (based on estimates) As of May 25, 2021 Expenses Salaries and Benefits (for 5 incremental additions) $644,924 Facilities and Utilities $25,600 Total Additional Expenses: $670,524 Expense Savings SAU 55 Assessment ($537k 20-21; $574 estimated 21-22 ) ($574,039) Reduce Tech Director (merged with Curriculum Director) ($100,627) Reduce Associated Benefits ($44,307) Total Expense Savings ($718,973) Net Budgetary Impact Total Additional Expenses $670,524 so the  Total Expense Savings are ($718,973) and the  Net Budgetary Impact is $48,449 Favorable.

The board introduced the new Central School Principal who will take over when Dillard Collins retires at the close of the school year. 

Flynn and Smith  said the Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Terrilyn D. Cheney to the position of Principal for the Hampstead Central School beginning July 1st . Dr. Cheney currently serves as Assistant Principal at the school and has done so successfully and impressively since 2018. This well-deserved promotion will allow her the opportunity to continue supporting school culture and climate conducive to the educational experience of each of our students.

Dr. Cheney’s credentials include collegiate degrees in Elementary Education, Literacy Education, a Doctorate of Educational Leadership; and a National Board Certification for Professional Teaching Standards. Additionally, she has an established track record as an effective leader and instructional strategist as demonstrated throughout her eighteen years of dedication in the field of elementary education, literacy, curriculum, and assessment.

Entrusted by the Board with the screening process, a committee led by Flynn, conducted a thorough search and progressive interview series. Alongside Hampstead’s Executive Consultant, Dr. Earl Metzler, and with the endorsement of incoming Superintendent Robert Thompson, Dr. Cheney emerged as top choice.

The board voted to hold their meetings at the Hampstead Middle School going forward. The technology was able to be improved through the use of ESSR I funding.

The board accepted with regret the resignation of Nicole Freligh, sixth grade teacher.

Dowd set the tuition rates for out of district students for the 2021-2022 school year as follows:

* Kindergarten $10,400

* Elementary $20,800

* Middle School $20,635

* Special Education $41,435

The board went into non public and Smith made the following announcement when they returned to full session.

The board has approved the hiring of Tracy Griffenhagen for the Director of Student Services position and Nicole Tomaselli for the Director of 21 Century Learning, Assessment and Technology.

 


Hampstead School District 2021- 2022 Calendar Approved
By Penny Williams  5-5-21

The Hampstead School Board met on Tuesday evening, May 4, and the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year was approved.

At the meeting it was the second read for the calendar and at the previous meeting Calendar A had been selected. The teachers are slated to return to school the week before Labor Day and the students are expected back the on September 7, the day after Labor Day. This will help the renovation project that is expected to have the interior work completed before the teachers return to the classrooms in the fall.

The calendar has been corrected to show the February vacation is actually a March vacation in response to Massachusetts changing their vacation time. The last day of school will be June 22, 2022, and will be an early release day.

This year school will end as an early release day on June 16. Staff will then have the next two days, June 17 and June 18,  to finish up. The board discussed the calendar briefly before approving it.

There was a discussion about technologically upgrading the Middle School cafeteria area that will now be used for school board meetings on a regular basis. Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn discussed what would be needed in terms of microphones, cameras. wires, lights and so forth that would be installed so that it could be set up quickly and easily for the meetings and be improved technologically.

He noted a plus is that this improvement would be available to the school for their use and to the community for use and would greatly improve the current situation. These proposed changes would be permanent and the estimated cost would be $6,100. It was suggested that  the administration should look into whether government funds could be used for this. The board approved making the changes.

The board approved authorizing the Superintendent Robert Thompson and Business Manager Geoffrey Dowd to seek Federal Funding for the upcoming year between July 2021 and July 2022. Dowd indicated these grants were primarily for the Title 1. II , II and IV programs, IDEA grants and others such as the recent Cares Act grants.

The board approved the following liaison assignments:

* Facilities:  Dave Smith

* HMS:  Erin Pellegrini

*Special Needs:  Megan Malcolm

* HCS: Caitlin Parnell

*Tech:  Jason Giradi
 
* Vouchers:  Erin Pellegrini

*Policy: Caitlin Parnell  and Jason Girad

* Safety:  Caitlin Parnell
 
The board discussed adding a liaison to the Board of Selectmen. Chair Dave Smith indicated he thought this would be a good idea and a way to perhaps improve the cooperative  efforts of the two main governing boards in town.

Girad spoke up and said he would contact the Selectmen's liaison to the School District, Laurie Warnock, and discuss this and the role and responsibilities for this position. They will take this up at the next meeting.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler said that the administration is looking into after school activities and programs following some comments and complaints from parents. But he said the district can't have kids changing buses or not following the guidelines and best practices the district has been following to get and keep the students in the schools safely.

The board was informed that all printers and copiers will be replaced with new machines and this will be at a savings. The machines will be Rico Copiers and Printers but the contract will be handled by the MST Government Leasing Co. Dowd indicated this change will bring a considerable savings to the district as well provide greater efficiencies. The board approved adopting the copier and printer contract between MST and the Hampstead School District.

Smith mentioned that the Supreme Court case that Hampstead filed to be provided with a copy of the report that the Timberlane School Board approved but never provided to the Hampstead board members had decided that a redacted version of the report should be provided. However, this is being appealed again and the Supreme Court will issue another finding so the report is still not available to Hampstead Board members.

This stemmed from an incident in 2019 involving a now-former employee of SAU 55 who submitted a letter of resignation to the SAU 55 Board.  The former employee alleged that the SAU 55 Board created a hostile work environment and/or engaged in harassment during his tenure. SAU 55 Superintendent, Dr. Earl Metzler, informally raised with the SAU 55 Board issues similar to those raised by the former employee, specifically concerning allegations of a hostile work environment and/or harassment by the SAU 55
.
On November 13, 2018, the Hampstead School Board adopted a public resolution rejecting and disapproving of abusive, harassing , and unprofessional conduct by certain individual Timberlane School District SAU 55 Board members directed at, in part, SAU 55 administrators, including Dr. Metzler and the former employee.

Upon receipt of the former employee's letter of resignation, Timberlane's Kim Farah, Chair of the SAU 55 Board, commissioned an investigation into the allegations and claims raised by the former employee.

The services of Mitchell Municipal Group, P.A. were retained as an independent contractor, to conduct an impartial, independent investigation into the allegations against the SAU 55 Board and certain individual Board members raised by the former employee.

The purpose of the investigation was to make factual findings concerning the conduct of SAU 55 Board members and to determine if, the conduct alleged constituted a hostile work environment and a violation of SAU 55 policies.
           
Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the Mitchell Group, specifically
Attorney Naomi Butterfield, compiled a report documenting the investigation's findings and conclusions regarding the conduct of the SAU 55 Board and certain individual Board members in her report.

The Report was submitted to Farah. The Report was complete and immediately accessible. The cost of this investigation was $28,600. But the issue was and remains the Hampstead School District members of the SAU 55 Board have not seen or reviewed the Report.

The SAU 55 Timberlane members have fought to keep the Hampstead School District members from having access to the report and the case is still under the Supreme Court jurisdiction.

 


Hampstead School Board Learns that Schools Are Reopened Fulltime
By Penny Williams   4-14-21

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, April 13, and discussed the reopening of the district schools to full time in person learning the following day.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn went over the final details stating that everyone would be safe.

The start to resuming in person school five days a week  will begin in a transitional manner. Metzler noted the plan is in place, precautions have been taken, guidelines established and much of this is based on the focus followed during the period of hybrid learning. He added that there will be a heightened focus on mental and physical levels of the students.

Buses are expected to transport 70 percent of the students and Flynn said he was more concerned about the drop off and pick-up by parents during the first few days than about bus issues. He added that a certain amount of anxiety is expected to be present for many students and this would be monitored and addressed.

In response to questions he indicated that attention has been being paid to education loss and education gaps. The testing and assessments are carefully considered and Flynn said he was pleased to find that the gaps and losses are not as great as anticipated.

He  went on to say that the assessment information that has taken place and will continue to take place will be what drives the procedures and plans for summer school where the hope is those gaps and losses will be addressed and reversed. He said he hoped to have specific information on summer school plans by the end of May or the beginning of June.

The 1960 Wings Project at the Hampstead Central School was discussed. Chair Dave Smith indicated the project construction team is holding weekly meetings.

He and Business Manager Geoffrey Dowd  discussed some of the plans such as changes in windows. The construction is slated to start with the end of school and run right through to Labor Day for work internally on the 60s Wing. The external work will be conducted after school resumes in September and the plan is to have it completed by the end of the Christmas vacation period.

Dowd then went over a number of possible grant opportunities that the district will be applying for. He indicated that the district did receive a $129,000 reimbursement from Health Trust Insurance and this would go into the Capital Reserve Fund and was a very welcome reimbursement that doesn't happen all that often. There were no guarantees  regarding the application for potential grants.

The board, after a discussion, approved providing a stipend update for Para Educators similar to what teachers have received. It would amount to about $700 per Para and retroactively pay the Para Educators as well as to the end of this school year.

The proposed school calendar was put forward by Flynn. The board discussed them and Flynn pointed out the difference among three calendar models is the start date and end date with everything in the middle staying the same.

The board, after a brief discussion, chose model that has the return to school date as September 7, after Labor Day. This was to provide construction as much time as possible so long as it matched up as needed with Pinkerton Academy, which it does. The last day of school will be June 22. However, the board made a motion to have a second read for the calendar at their next meeting.

Incoming appointed Superintendent, Robert Thompson, was introduced. He provided the board with information about his present position with the Hollis Brookline School District where he is the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services.

He indicated that he has three girls, ages 5, 10 and 13 and that what he wants them to get from school and education is what he wants for the Hampstead students - to love school and learning - to be inspired -  and to get the skills from school that prepares them for whatever they want to do in the future.

He noted there are some very important leadership positions that need to be addressed with Flynn leaving and Central School Principal Dillard Collins retiring. He indicated he wants to  reconfigure Special Education to be Student Services not just Special Education. He wants that service to be able to address all unique student needs from the disabled learner to the advanced learner. In addition, he pointed out there is SAU 55 staff to get on board as well as finding a home for the SAU 55 office.

His long term goals include an entry plan which would be the vehicle he  would use to work with district and community leaders, based on the qualities and values that reflect the community. He sees his role as supporting classroom teachers and students and developing a new 5 Year Strategic Plan.

The board discussed the School Resource Officer (SRO) and voted to approve the Memorandum of Agreement which partners the School District, the Police Department and the Town. The board decided that the SRO, Steve Wilson, would also be the district's Truant Officer going forward. Wilson was expected to start as the SRO the next day when school opened full time.

Metzler said that Math Specialist Anne Wallace has tendered her resignation and the board accepted her resignation with regret. He also stated that Air Quality tests for the district buildings have shown that the air quality in the schools is fine and safe for everyone.

Metzler recommended that the board sign the contract extension for one year with the Special Education Transportation company which will raise the cost for the one year extension by the same 3 percent it has raised costs previously. He said work is taking place regarding moving forward with extending the Food Service contract for another year,

Smith noted that residents have expressed to him their pleasure at the reopening of schools to full in person learning.

 


Hampstead School Board Vacant Seat Filled
By Penny Williams   3-31-21

The Hampstead School Board held a special meeting on Tuesday evening, March 30, to interview publically three candidates to fill the board vacancy.

The three candidates, Meghin Marley, Karl Hubner and former board member Caitlin Parnell, gave a summary of why they thought what they had to offer made them the best candidate. After that each candidate was asked to address five questions posed by current board members.

The public coverage of the interviews ended with each candidate being allowed to make a final statement. After that the board went into non-public to make a decision.

After almost an hour, the board emerged from non-public and Chair Dave Smith, after thanking all the candidates and saying it had been a tough decision, announced that the board had chosen previous board member Caitlin Parnell to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Jim Sweeney.

The board members all stated they had gone with Parnell because of her previous board experience and history with what has transpired over the past four years in the district and the school community. Given the momentous change the district is about to enter they thought her experience and knowledge and understanding of how things have evolved would be a major help.

Parnell will serve until March 2022, filling out Sweeney's term.

 


Hampstead School Board Reorganizes and Addresses Safe Learning Plan
By Penny Williams   3-18-21

The Hampstead School Board met and reorganized on Wednesday evening, March  17. They took care of approving the typical annual policy and positions for the district before moving on to a regularly scheduled meeting, taking up the Safe Learning Plan's next steps.

Dave Smith was appointed Chair and Megan Malcolm was appointed as Vice Chair. The two new members of the board, Erin Pellegrini and Jason Giard were introduced and the board took care of the district appointments for the 2021-2022 school year.

The board made some specific changes for moving forward. Meetings will be held the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall in person, no more Zoom meetings, starting with their April 13 meeting.

There is a vacancy on the board with the resignation of board member Jim Sweeney and Smith asked for letters of interest for the position, a one year term, to be sent to all four board members with a deadline for the letters to arrive of March 23.

The board will review the letters and  pick the top 3 and these candidates will be interviewed and someone appointed at a special meeting prior to April 13, and sworn in at the April 13, board meeting.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler said based on the responses to the survey the administration had sent out and the guidelines from the state and federal level will see Phase 3 introduced at Hampstead schools effective  April 14. He noted that the Hampstead teachers were able to receive their first vaccinations on Sunday, March 14, at Pinkerton Academy and this was a big factor in making the move to Phase 3 possible. All that remains is the final agreement added to the Memorandum of Agreement with the Teachers Union which is being worked on.

He noted that it appears about 90 percent of students will be returning to in person learning but added that those remaining with remote learning will be taken care of. He said the actual model for return is being built. The parents will receive a survey and letter of information from their specific building - Central and Middle School - before the actual return to in person so parents will be provided with the information they need.

Business Manager Geoffrey Dowd went over the plans to locate a building to rent for the office of the now single unit Hampstead School District SAU 55. He said a couple of places have been identified and if the board authorizes him to move forward he will make arrangements to rent the most suitable and have it ready for occupancy by May or June. The board approved Dowd moving ahead with renting an office for the SAU 55 in Hampstead.

The transition with the newly appointed Superintendent Robert Thompson is in process and moving along well the board was told. Smith and the administrators noted things are on pace with respect to assigning people and their responsibilities going forward. Smith said he hopes to bring Thompson to a future meeting.

Smith said he has been meeting with the construction team regarding plans for the renovation and upgrade to the 60s unit at the Central School. Things are in the design stage but it will take 9 months to do the project and at this point the expectation is it will be completed by the end of the Christmas vacation 2021.

To accomplish this there may need to be some minor adjustments to start date for the coming school year. There will be a building committee that will meet weekly with the construction team and members of that committee will be announced at the April 13 meeting.

 


Hampstead School Board Hears Safe Learning Model Still Undetermined Following February Vacation
By Penny Williams    2-10-21

The Hampstead School District Educational Consultant Earl Metzler told the board, at their meeting Tuesday evening, February 9, that a final decision on what the Safe Learning Model would actually be, following February vacation hasn't been made as yet.

Metzler and Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn explained that first of all staffing is extremely strained and that will play a prominent role in what model is in place following February vacation. In addition they noted that a safe return to in person learning which many families have asked for won't happen unless the Emergency is lifted by the NH Governor or the WHO says the pandemic is over but that things are trending toward more in person learning in Hampstead.

The board discussed whether to make a decision that night with regard to what the Safe Learning model would be following February vacation or delay that decision.

The primary issue is that Metzler said he already knows that there are staff that who plan to travel over vacation and so will have to quarantine upon return. He admitted he just doesn't know whether he will have sufficient staff for a hybrid model. He noted that there are other factors such as the 6-foot distance requirement and teachers wanting to be vaccinated before returning to the classroom.

Several board members suggested that delaying a decision made sense and pointed out that Metzler could make whatever decision he felt he had to make right up to the return date without support of the board but he noted he wasn't interested in doing that.

It was suggested that guidelines have been changed and 3-feet social distancing is acceptable removing one of Metzler's concerns. Board member Dave Smith also said he was disappointed that Hampstead teachers and families were considering traveling given the pandemic circumstances and the need to get the students back into the classroom in person. It was also suggested that Hampstead teachers be more creative in the way they deal with the issue of getting students back in the classroom and board member Megan Malcolm suggested outdoor classrooms. Board Member Karen Yasenka said that outdoor classes would be a good thing but that a great deal of planning has to go in to making such a move and she thought the next board should look into this as a possible plan.

Metzler reminded the board that the Memorandum of Understanding with the Teachers Union needs to renegotiated and said that plans are underway to do just that.

The  bottom line is there is no definitive decision on what the Safe Learning Model will be for coming back from February vacation, but for now it appears the status quo Hybrid Model is where things stand. It was left that as soon as Metzler had enough information regarding staffing and a negotiated MOU with the union and the pandemic circumstances allowed, he would announce his decision regarding whether the district would be remote, hybrid or what following the February vacation.

The board learned that Flynn has given his resignation and will not be returning to Hampstead. Two board members will not be running for re-election to the board, Chair Caitlin Parnell and Yasenka, who reviewed what had been accomplished by the board during her six years. She also noted her decisions had not always matched the board's but that her decisions were always data driven and based on what is best for the students and the district. She reminded the incoming board they would have great responsibilities and their decisions would have an impact on a great many people. Another person leaving in addition to Principal Dillard Collins at the Hampstead Central School is longtime Reading Specialist Sheila Nolan.

Board member Jim Sweeney, concerned about all the new positions that will need to be filled with new people in the coming year, raised the question of whether the two finalists for the Superintendent's position had been adequately vetted and were the right ones for the position given these new circumstances.

Parnell responded quickly saying that both candidates, Dr. Daniel Moulis who has been superintendent in Barrington since 2017 and Robert Thompson,  who has been the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services in Hollis Brookline since 2019, were both more than appropriate candidates.

There is a Superintendent Candidates Forum Zoom Webinar planned for Thursday, February 11, at 6:30 p.m. Each candidate will have 45 minutes to speak. Residents are encouraged to forward questions to the forum moderator who will be Parnell, using the following link: www.hampsteadschools.net/zoomhsdsb.

Flynn provided the board with information regarding how students were doing academically. He had a chart comparing levels of achievement from last year at this time and this year's results, noting that this was extremely pleasing.

There were 907 in the A level achievement group last year and 843 this year; 102 in the B  level achievement group last year and 123 this year; 33 in the C level achievement level group last year and 29 this year; 10 in the D level achievement group last year and 6 this year; and, there were 3 in the F level achievement group last year and 10 this year. These results were from Middle School. He said given the different method of assessment and report cards at Central School he had not gotten that data all together yet but would for the next meeting.

Internet connectivity, he said,  has been an issue but mostly with home issues. In addition, the Chrome Books purchased were not the ones that would be most effective given remote learning situations and this will be adjusted going forward. He also noted that the survey the  middle school students took was interesting and that 80 percent had responded, providing insight in to what the students felt about remote, their learning situations and homework levels.

The board was told the open Central School  principal's position information has been posted and the expectation is to have candidates by March 14.

Three residents spoke during public comment. Erin Michelinie spoke about Special Education and Yasenka noted after she spoke, that she spoke on a topic not on the agenda and the policy is public comment is on agenda items only.

The board discussed this and it was decided by a 3 to 2 vote, Yasenka and Sweeney voting to uphold the discussion of agenda items only, that since Parnell had not stopped Michelinie, the policy of discussing only agenda items would not be enforced at this meeting. Stacy Eaton spoke about wanting students back in school classrooms after February vacation and Jason Mulhall spoke in favor of people supporting and voting for Articles 2 and 4 on the Warrant. The fourth person who had wished to speak was not allowed as the time allocated to public comment had expired.

 


Hampstead School District 2021 Deliberative Moves All Articles Unchanged
By Penny Williams     2-3-21

The Hampstead School District Deliberative was held Tuesday evening, February 2, at the Hampstead Middle School and broadcast on Cable and allowed Zoom participation. There was only one person who asked a couple of clarification questions and all of the articles were moved to the ballot without any substantive challenges or questions.

The Deliberative,  heavy with slide presentations, saw the articles described and discussed at length by board members. The audience, except for Laurie Elliot, who asked a couple of specific clarification questions on Article 2 and Article 4, didn't engage in the discussions at all.

Articles 2 through 8 were all moved to the ballot as presented. The deliberative was moderated by Don Blaszka in the absence of Moderator Neil Reardon who was absent due to illness. Board member David Smith and Chair Caitlin Parnell attended the Deliberative in person along with over two dozen people.

Article 2, the Bond Issue for the Central School Addition Project in the amount of $9,070,000  was defended by Smith who went over the reasons why the right team, the time, and the right cost for this project are in their proposal right now. He also added that if voters should approve both this article and Article 4, the 60's Wing project, the savings would be considerable.

Article 3, the Operating Budget of $30,661,347 showed  a Default amount of $30,652,23,  which is a  $9,021 difference between the Operating and Default budgets. The Operating Budget is a 4.7 percent increase over the previous year. This was moved to the ballot as presented.

Article 4- Hampstead Central School 60's Wing Renovation project provided the cost of the project as $1,660,000 with funding for this coming from:

* $1,160,000 from the capital reserve

* $500,000 from surplus

* $245,000 from money budgeted for 2021-2022

* $190,000 to be encumbered from 2020-2021 budget.

Smith went over the deficiencies currently existing at the school and how the proposed project would address and correct them. The need is critical for additional space and grows more so annually, Smith said, as enrollment grows. He also added the board wants to keep the students in the Hampstead Schools. This project would take care of building issues such as ventilation, heating and cooling.

After this article was moved to the ballot as presented Parnell asked for Articles 2, 3, and 4, to be restricted from reconsideration and the audience approved this.

Article 5, The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Hampstead Support Personnel Association and the District was moved to the ballot as presented.

Article 6, Allowing for a Special Meeting for Financial Discussion should Article 5 fail, was also moved to the ballot as presented.

Article 7,  Capital Reserve, explained that the article, which calls for $400,000 to be placed in the School Renovation Reconstruction and Capital Improvement Capital Reserve Fund from surplus, would be null and void should Article 4 be approved. The article was moved to the ballot as presented.

Article 8, General Acceptance of Reports, was moved to the ballot as presented.

Parnell said there would not be a special board meeting following the Deliberative since no articles were changed negating any need for the board to reconsider their recommendations.
 

 

 


Hampstead Has Two Candidates for Superintendent
By Penny Williams  1-30-21

Hampstead School Board Chair Caitlin Parnell has announced the two finalists for the Hampstead School District Superintendent's position and information regarding the public forum.

The Superintendent Search Committee has completed their task of interviewing candidates and is pleased to present two top finalists who are advancing to the next step in the selection process for consideration in filling the vacancy of Superintendent of Schools for SAU 55 (Hampstead School District) beginning July 1, 2021.

The finalists are:

Dr. Daniel Moulis has served as Barrington’s Superintendent since 2017 and previously served as their Director of Operations, Instructional Leadership, and Curriculum. His educational leadership experience also includes Principal and Assistant Principal positions in Windham, NH.

Mr. Robert Thompson has served as Assistant Superintendent of Student Services in Hollis Brookline since 2019. His educational leadership experience also includes Principal of Hollis Brookline Middle School and Dean of Students at Souhegan High School.

The Search Committee would like to invite members of the Hampstead community to virtually meet the candidates by way of a Zoom Webinar on February 11, 2021 beginning at 6:30pm. Residents of Hampstead and members of the school community will be afforded an opportunity to submit questions via the Q&A feature of the Zoom webinar. The forum moderator will then relay the questions to the finalists for response. An announcement with the Zoom link will be released the week of February 8th.

The School Board will then meet at a later date in nonpublic session to select a new Superintendent of Schools and will announce the chosen candidate shortly thereafter. Announcements for these dates will be forthcoming.

Parnell said, “The Superintendent Search Committee is excited to present these excellent, highly qualified candidates as our finalists for the Hampstead Superintendent position. Both bring a high level of dedication to education and their communities.”

 


Hampstead's Central School Principal Collins Retires After 40 Plus Years
By Penny Williams  1-27-21

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, January 26, and among other topics was the retirement of long time Hampstead Central School Principal Dillard Collins.

Collins has been with the Hampstead School District for more than 40 years, starting out as the Music Teacher at Middle School.  The board members commented on his long and dedicated time in Hampstead and noted the outstanding characteristic is his genuine  care for the students who attended his school. The board voted unanimously to accept his resignation with regret.

The board meeting started with three Hampstead residents, two of whom have a work relationship with the school. speaking about the absolute need for the townspeople to pass Article 2, Bond Issue/Hampstead School Addition Project, Hampstead Central School 60's Wing Renovation Project. All three made the point the need for the passage of these two articles is now.

The board approved an anonymous $5,000 donation to be dedicated to student activities at the Hampstead Middle School.

Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, Michael Flynn and Educational Consultant Earl Metzler brought the board up to date regarding where the Safe Learning Plan is today. Flynn indicated there have been very few disruptions to the Hampstead District schedules based on the planning and execution of the Safe Learning Plan from the outset.

They indicated that discussions about how to handle the two weeks following the February vacation are still underway and they will make a decision and an announcement well in advance so families and staff can plan. During the conversation Board Member Megan Malcolm asked Flynn for an student academic update at a board meeting in February.

Board member David Smith reviewed what he and his committee have been doing to introduce and seek support for the Central School projects. He also introduced a very robust web site where people can go to find out about all the aspects of the projects, plans for zoom discussions and everything else he and his people have going on related to the projects. Go to www.hampsteadschools.net and click on Central School and then on menu and finally click on HCS Renovation.

Smith suggested clicking on the following link:  Hampstead Central School Renovations

He asked the board to approve an amount of (not to exceed) $2,000 to fund a mailer to residents regarding the projects. The board approved this.

Chair Caitlin Parnell went over the plans for the Deliberative. It will be held on Tuesday, February 2, at 7 p.m. in the Hampstead Middle School cafeteria in order to utilize the technical connections for Cable. There will be remote access for board members and others who aren't there in person and but only those people actually there in person will be able to vote.

Several concerns connected to the Deliberative were raised. One concerned what would happen if more than allowable number showed up for the Deliberative. Another was what would happen if a secret ballot had to be held. Parnell said she would reach out to Moderator Neil Reardon for answers and get back to the board with the information.

The board announced that Lisa DeMio had applied for the School District Clerk position and they approved her appointment with thanks.

Parnell announced that the Superintendent Search Committee had conducted interviews and the two finalists will be announced shortly. She indicated that the finalists will go through the usual introduction process virtually using zoom meetings and she hopes a finalist will be nominated by the 3rd week in February. She added that there had been no internal candidates.

Metzler said a Behavior Management Best Practices for classrooms is being worked on in Professional Development to be ready to implement in the next school year.

In Other School News:

Quarter 1 and Quarter 11  Hawk Awards Hampstead Middle School

5th Grade Award - Owen Tozier and Kendall LeBel

Unified Arts - 5th Grade - Ian Cabral and Valentina Ciccone

Shining Star - Mollie Walker and Teddy Foss 

Principal’s - Helena Locsin

                                                                           
Quarter 2

5th Grade - Ben Watson and Emilia Dawidowicz

Unified Arts - Emma Vannette and Katelyn Fortin

Shining Star - Alexandria Belliveau and Jake Harris 

Principal’s Award  -  Cole Freilich

 

6th Grade   Quarter 1

6th Grade Award - Damoira Smith

Unified Arts - Eliana Henry and Anthony Bova

Shining Star - Asher Farrar and Tatum Robichaud 

Principal’s Award - Christopher Lavoie

Quarter 2

Michael Murphy and Kayleigh Fromenta

Unified Arts - Lucien Vivier-Dow and Isabella Crovo

Shining Star - David Gardner and Ava George  

Principal’s Award  - Angelina Abruzzese

 

* 7th Grade Quarter 1

Daniel Foss and Tori Vallante 

* Unified Arts - Dante Cowan and Emma Raymond

* Shining Star  - Jaxon Bugg

* Principal’s Award  - Mabel Backman

*Quarter 2

  7th Grade Award - Asher Giard  and Ava Moorhead 

* Unified Arts -  Jacob Berube and Jordan Pas

* Shining Star - Addyson Hoffman

* Principal’s Award  - Aiden Jones

 

* 8th Grade Quarter 1

Julian Martinage  and Micaela Herbst

* Unified Arts - Phoenix Beaulieu and Faith Levesque

* Shining Star - Madison Laham

* Principal’s Award -  Lilah DeSimone

*Quarter 2

Ethan Giangrande and Julianna Kajka

* Unified Arts - Ashleigh Charles and Maddie LeBlanc

* Shining Star - Saige Chambers

* Principal’s Award - Lilly Pocrass

 


2021 School Budget Approved by the Hampstead School Board
By Penny Williams    1-14-21

The Hampstead School Board met on Tuesday night, January 12, went over their budget and Warrant Articles, approving the $30,661,347 operating budget.

The 2021 operating budget, Article 3, is a 4.7 percent increase over last year's operating budget of $29,283,950 or a $1,377,387 increase. The default amount is $30,661,347.  The key budget drivers include:

* Special Education tuition, transportation and related services

* Curriculum materials and programs

* Previously deferred facilities projects at both schools

* Budgeted projected enrollments

The total district-wide enrollment for the 2021-22 school year is estimated at 1,297, an increase of 55 students. There are expected to be 505 students at Central School, an increase of 60; 358 at Middle School a decrease of 6; and,434 for Pinkerton Academy, an increase of 1. In addition Pinkerton tuition is expected to increase 3.54 percent rising from $13,230 to $13,698.

Article 2,  the 10 year bond for the Hampstead Central School Addition Project is $9,070,000,  which the board was split in recommending with two members, Karen Yasenka and Jim Sweeney voting against it.

Architect Kreg Jones, with Dennis Mires The Architects,  part of the construction team that includes Gino Baroni Trident Project Management, acting as the District's agent and consultant, and the Construction Management Company, Bonnette, Page and Stone, of Laconia,  gave the details of the project. He indicated there would be a new library, new music room, 4 classrooms, a new secure entrance to the school and administrative offices, with fire sprinklers installed throughout the school. He also indicated improvements with additional bathrooms and reorganization of classrooms in grade level clusters. He called the plan a long term solution.

 In response to a question Board member Dave Smith said that if the article fails to pass, the current library would be taken over for classrooms and special education students might have to be sent out of district. He also stated that the 10 year bond would increase the tax rate by 75 cents and add roughly $25 a month to the tax on a $400,000 home.

Article 4 is the Hampstead Central School 60's Wing Renovation Project is in the amount of $2,095,000 with the tax payers asked to raise and appropriate $1,660,000.
Tax payers are asked to approve the withdrawal of $1,160,000 from the School Renovation Reconstruction Capital Improvement Reserve Fund and up to $500,000  from the unassigned  fund balance (surplus) in  June 30, 2021. In addition $245,000 will come from the Facilities line in the 2021-22 budget and $190,00 encumbered money ( unspecified) from the 2020-21 budget. This article was approved 3 to 2 with the same two board members voting against it.

Jones provided the information on what would be done to bring the 60's Wing up to code with improvements to the poorly insulated walls, inefficient HVAC, new windows and a new insulated exterior with brick.

Smith corrected a statement he had made in his presentation of the proposed project to the Board of Selectmen on Monday night that the board had unanimously voted to support this proposed article when in fact two members voted to not support it.

Article 5 is the Collective Bargaining agreement with the Hampstead Support Personnel Association calling for $24,936 in the first year, $24,574 in the second
 year, $19,830 in the third year and $19,830 in the fourth year of the contract. The Board recommended this Article 5-0.

Article 6 is for a special meeting should Article 5 fail and the board recommended it 5-0.

Article 7 should Article 4 (60's Wing Renovation Project)  fail, voters are asked to raise and appropriate $400,000 to be placed in the School Renovation Reconstruction Capital Improvement Reserve Fund with such amount to be transferred from the 2021 June 30, unassigned fund balance (surplus) after the first $150,000 is returned to the tax payers. If Article 4 passes Article 7 is null and void. Approved by the board 4-1 with Yasenka voting to not recommend.

Article 8, Acceptance of Reports was approved 5-0.

It was noted that the Deliberative Session would be held Tuesday, February 2, at the Hampstead Middle School. Currently the plan is to hold it in person but this is subject to change.

The only questions came from Leigh Campos. She asked what would happen if the Renovation Project failed. She declined to give her address so the second question she asked was not allowed.


Hampstead School Board Approve Central School 60s Wing Project Article
By Penny Williams  1-9-21

The Hampstead School Board held a Special Meeting Friday night, January 8, to approve the wording of the Article for the Central School 60s Wing Renovation Project.

The board on Wednesday evening was left $45,000 short in determining where the $2.05 million project cost funds would come from even though they agreed that night on the following:

* Project Cost: $2.05 million

* $1,116,000: From the District's Capital Reserve Fund

* $500,000: From surplus into the  Capital Reserve Fund

* $190,000: Encumbered from the current budget

* $200,000: From the Facilities Budget

This wound up leaving the board $45,000 short. There were two options for meeting that $45,000 delta. Either reduce the contingency fund set by Gino Baroni, Trident, the project management company owner from $125,000 to $80,000 as suggested by member Dave Smith or have Educational Consultant Earl Metzler and Financial Administrator Geoffrey Dowd find the $45,000 in the budget. It would appear that Baroni refused to reduce the contingency fund because the board was asked to increase the Operating Budget bottom line by the $45,000 which would be added to the Facilities line.

Friday night the board was asked to approve the article for the project to read that the Town was asked to raise and appropriate $1,660,000 for the project, the money to come from  $1,160,000 in the Capital Reserve Fund and $500,000 from Surplus.

This does not add up to the total project cost until you add funds already raised which include $190,000 encumbered from the current budget; $200,000 from the Facilities Budget; but that is still $45, 000 short until the board approved increasing the Operating Budget by $45,000.

The board approved adding the $45,000 to the current proposed budget in the Facilities line. This will allow $245,000 to be used from this budget, making up the full amount of the cost of the project.

The board also voted to put an article on the Warrant asking voters to approve putting $400,000 in the Capital Reserve Fund going forward.

Residents will be asked to approve the $2.05 million dollar project for the renovation of the 60s Wing at the Central School by means of the somewhat confusing Article calling for raising and appropriating only $1,660,000. It will be up to board members to make tax payers understand that the delta in funding lies in money already appropriated and in increasing the operating budget amount.

The Public Hearing on the budget that includes the Central School Renovation of the 60s Wing project article will be held on Tuesday, January 12, at 7:30  p.m.  by way of videoconferencing immediately following the bond hearing for the $9,070,000 Central School Addition Project that will take place on Tuesday, January 12, at 7 p.m. using videoconferencing.

Public access to the hearing will be by Zoom webinar. Directions  for accessing the hearings can be found on the school district web page.

 


Hampstead School Board Need to Identify Funding for Project
By Penny Williams 1-8-21

The Hampstead School Board discussed with District Business Manager Geoff Dowd exactly where the $2.05 million funds would come from to cover the proposed 60s Wing Restoration Warrant Article in a Special Board Meeting held Wednesday evening, January 6.

The initial Article had a different figure for the cost of the project and two board members felt the article needed to be done properly and Dowd was concerned that the Department of Revenue Administration would not accept the originally proposed Warrant Article unless the source of the funds for the project were properly identified.

The board went round and round discussing this and the possible options proposed by Dowd. Member Karen Yasenka said the funding identification needs to be truthful and accurate in order to be transparent and legal.  Member Jim Sweeney forced the board to start with the project cost and decide where the funding will come from.

* Project Cost: $2.05 million

* $1,116,000: From the District's Capital Reserve Fund

* $500,000: From surplus into the  Capital Reserve Fund

* $190,000: Encumbered from the current budget

* $200,000: From the Facilities Budget

This wound up being $45,000 short. The board had two options in terms of deciding where that would come from.

Member Dave Smith suggested reducing the Contingency Amount in the project cost or finding the $45,000 by going line by line in the budget. Smith was to contact Project Management Gino Baroni, Trident, in the morning to see if he would agree to reducing the Contingency amount of $125,000 down to $80,000.  Yasenka suggested Baroni wouldn't have suggested $125,000 unless he felt that was what was needed.

Educational Consultant Earl Metzler said he and Dowd would be able to go through the budget line by line and determine where $45,000 could be found to assign to the project if Baroni refused to reduce the Contingency Fund.

Since the Warrant Article wasn't rewritten because all the figures weren't decided, another Special Meeting to do that was called for Friday, January 8, at 6 p.m.

The board then briefly discussed how it would handle the Deliberative Session. Chair Caitlin Parnell after saying that in-person and remote choices were available. She went over the details of what the state would allow if a Deliberative Session is to be held remotely - an informational session, a week for residents to respond with questions, comments and suggestions, and then a meeting in which the board discusses those questions and comments and make any amendments to the Articles resulting from those comments and suggestions.

However, the first article on the ballot would require voters to agree with or vote against the board's decision to do the Deliberative in this fashion. If voters vote against the decision everything is gone, the money allocations go into the general fund and  all articles are defeated and the default budget comes into play.

Parnell said there is possible legislation that would allow towns and school districts to move their Deliberative session to the spring but that hasn't been decided.

The board made no decisions regarding the Deliberative except that three members, Yasenka, Sweeney and Megan Malcolm indicated as did Metzler, they would not attend an in-person session and Parnell noted she felt in-person wasn't the best practice at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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