2022 Hampstead School Board Meetings


Hampstead School Board Presented with New Hampstead Central School Renovation/Construction Plan
By Penny Williams   11-09-22

On Tuesday evening, November 8, the first detailed floor plan designs for the proposed renovation/construction plan for the Hampstead Central School were presented.

Chair Dave Smith and Superintendent Robert Thompson both alluded to the fact that these plans will drive the final cost of the proposed project which both declared is entirely new.

Some of the things in last year's plan have been eliminated as wants but not needs such as additional bathrooms. They both also pointed out this new proposed design is smaller.

What the detailed floor plans showed was the new entrance to the school with a media center over it.

The current library, they noted is a glorified classroom being used for books. While it functioned as a library for years the proposed media center will offer technology and space not possible in the current library space.

The new entrance addresses safety concerns. It will now mean that anyone entering the school will come in where the main office is as well as other administrative offices and the nurses office.

In the back of the school there will be four new classrooms two on top of two with a new, up to code stairway to the second floor.

The recent assessment of the septic system is good news. It does not need to be replaced now and the administration expects to get more time from the current septic system and leach bed. Fencing will be erected around it to prevent cars from driving over it.

The proposal is moving forward and pricing for the proposed project is expected in the near future. Thompson noted that he will know later this week if the Hampstead project will be eligible for any State Building Aid.

Thompson also said the Facility Study being conducted by the NH Association of Administrator will be available hopefully by the board's November 22nd meeting.

Business Administrator Geoffrey Dowd reported that work on the budget continues but that it is looking like there will be about a 2 percent increase over the current budget.

He also asked the board to approve the $111,553 (HB 1221) returned to the district from the NH Retirement System be returned to the taxpayers. The board voted to approve that.  He indicated he thought he would have final budget numbers by the next meeting.

Dowd also indicated that the 2020 audit would be completed by Thanksgiving and he hoped to have the 2021 audit completed by the end of the year which would allow the 2022 audit to be completed early in the New Year, thus getting the audits on track.

Smith announced that the Union CBA negotiations are on track. Both the Hampstead Educational Association and the Hampstead Association of Support Staff are under negotiation.

There will be two school board seats open at the March election and he encouraged people to step up to fill these seats.

Nicole Tomaselli, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, gave the board a review of the ways Student Data is collected and how it is used to address student needs.

She admitted there had been significant loss for students during the pandemic but that recovery is trending up. However, she noted there is still a lot of work to be done especially in the area of math but that LEA also needs more work.

Thompson noted the district is in need of nurse substitutes and he encouraged any available to contact him or the district because the need is severe.

Resident Mark Elliott, for a second meeting, spoke to the board about his opinion regarding the lack of compliance and the need for retooling of the district's the Data Governance.  He claims it is a real risk for the safety of the students and he wants the board to take action to address this issue.

 


Hampstead School Board Department Budgets Discussed
By Penny Williams   10-26-22

During the Tuesday, October 25, Hampstead School Board meeting, the various department budgets were discussed.

Superintendent Robert Thompson said the budget the district is developing is a zero based budget. He indicated that the figures discussed are not necessarily the final figures as more work is still to be done.

The Hampstead Central (HCS) budget amount is up $37,294 to $246,735.

The Hampstead Middle School budget is down $15,663 with the budget sitting at $193,299.

Student Services for the District are up $409,220 with a total budget amount of $4,701,986.

Technology is down $19,017 with a total budget amount of $351,611.

Facilities budget is up $7,270 with a total budget amount of $926,844.

Curriculum is up $57,660 with a total budget of $62,160.

Thompson noted that the district, like all other districts, is having difficulty hiring as the candidate pool is very slim. The district needs a science teacher at the middle school. And they are trying to get an ELA teacher for the district as well.

There was no final figure for the district budget since salaries and personnel  haven't been finished as yet.

A donation from  the Addiction Recovery Coalition of NH was accepted by the board for the School Nurses Department in the amount of $1,500 for Narcan to be on hand and available.

The board was shown a couple of designs for the HCS building project. The new plan is directed at three core priorities: safety, special education needs, and student education space. Chair Dave Smith said the School's Emergency Operations Plan has been filed and the design, when completed will address the entrance of the school security issues.

He didn't give a final figure for the project but said the expected 10 year bond interest rate would be 5 percent and if they went with a 20 year bond it would be 5.5 percent. 

The proposed design for the project would address space issues by adding 4 classrooms and this would provide room for the expansion of the Kindergarten and the expected increase in enrollment.

Thompson noted that it was unlikely that the additional space provided would allow the district to provide many of the current out of district or off campus special education services because these services are unique.

Thompson told the board that the NESDEC (New England School Development Council ) projections are available for the district and will be put up on the web site.

The projection is for an increase in enrollment. Kindergarten through 4th grade is projected to increase by 75 and 5th through 8th grade to decline by 22 with a decline of six students at Pinkerton Academy.

The district received a Future for New Hampshire grant in the amount of $24,739 from Promising Futures. This will be used to improve and expand behavioral health and wellness programs.

Mark Elliott, a resident, asked the board to look into Internet Governance Policies. He indicated the district is out of compliance and needs to be accountable.


Hampstead School Board Approve Eighth Grade Trip, Bus Schedule has Improved
By Penny Williams    10-12-22

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, October 11, and the proposed eighth grade trip proposal was approved.

Hampstead Middle School (HMS) Principal Erin Milbury proposed plans for the Eighth Grade trip to Washington D.C. on May 2 to May 5, 2023 with a stop in Philadelphia.

The anticipated cost would be about $800 per student and chaperone but staff chaperones would be covered. Also there is generally help for families unable to pay for their student. The cost will be less than the $800 figure if more students sign up for the trip. The chaperone ratio to students is 1 to 10 and Milbury said she was excited to be one of the chaperones going.

The board accepted her proposal and approved the trip.

Superintendent Robert Thompson reported that the transportation woes have lessened. He said the buses are now running much better than initially. The district is still waiting for another driver to get their total number of buses in use.

It was announced that due to an issue of insufficient snow plow drivers for the Town the schools for the coming winter will assume the task of plowing their schools and parking lots. This would include plowing St. Anne's since the Hampstead Central School (HCS) uses the churches parking lot for parking.

Business Manager Geoff Dowd said the district has sufficient equipment and manpower. However, the budget will have to be adjusted to account for the additional time this will take.

Chair Dave Smith noted he and the board had not received the information expected from the various components of the proposed restoration and construction project for HCS. He said he did have some preliminary designs which will be posted. He indicated the final designs will be available by the end of the month and after that he expects to get the cost information for the project. He reminded the board and listeners that this in fact is a new proposal.

Dowd said the health insurance guaranteed maximum rate figure came in at 5.9 percent, a very good number. He provided board members with the budget actuals from the past few years and asked them to review these prior to the upcoming budget meeting. He did warn that utilities will increase. There will be a Budget discussion and workshop on October 18 held in the HMS library.

The board approved of the change provided to the wording of the school goal the board had requested at their previous meeting and then approved accepting the District Goals.

It was suggested that it would be a benefit for the district and the community if all grants, their amounts and distribution would be posted. Dowd agreed this was an excellent suggestion and he would look into making it happen.

It was also suggested that the board take advantage of the FRED information.  This is "Short for Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED is an online database consisting of hundreds of thousands of economic data time series from scores of national, international, public, and private sources. FRED contains data sets reported by the Board of Governors, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Census — among others" according to the Internet.

There was a brief discussion about the ESSER funds and how they have been expended. Nicole Tomaselli Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, said there is about $116,000 from the total of the three ESSER fund payments left that hasn't yet been allocated.

The District is looking to hire a part time or full time English Language Arts (ELA) teacher as they have identified 4 students who need this service. They also believe there are possibly 11 more students who need some assistance from an ELA teacher.

 


Hampstead School Board Hears Transportation Update
By Penny Williams     9-28-22

On Tuesday evening, September 27, the Hampstead School Board met and among the issues discussed was transportation.

Superintendent Robert Thompson said it is improving but still has a way to go. The district has the 9 buses it needs but only started out with 7 drivers. Thompson said one more driver has been added and the final driver needed should be on board within the next couple of weeks.

The School Administrators acknowledged that there are still hiccups along the way but that things are moving much better.

"We are in a much better place than we were two weeks ago," Thompson said. But, he added that much more needs to be done.

He said the View App is on the district web site for parents to get and this provides a means for parents to track the bus their student is on the web site.

The board discussed the School Board Goals.

* Facility Improvements

* Appreciation of Diversity and Inclusivity

* Strategic Plan

* Budget

* Effective Use of Resources with Attention to Grant Funding

* Innovative Practices

* Outdoor, Community Based Learning

The board was in agreement with all but the Effective Use of Resources Goal. It was felt that this goal needed to be clarified and modified and board member Erin Pellegrini agreed to handle that.

The goal itself states as of now, "To encourage procurement of federal, state and local resources to ultimately alleviate a portion of taxpayer revenue while addressing those educational challenges related to developing an executable budget for the School District supportive of continued advancement and focus on student academic requirements in a fiscally responsible manner."

Student Services Director Jessica Parsons gave a presentation on what the services include. Her priorities includes access to Special Education practices, developing a robust academic, social, emotional and behavioral programs, using flexible program models, reviewing and evaluating the District's Financial and Human resources, and Executing section 504 of Special Education including English Language Learner (ELL) and Counseling.

She said there 252 Special Education students K-12 which amounts to 20 percent of the school community. She 'guestimated' that there are 350 students in the Section 504 of Special Education.

She talked about multi-tiered support services, Out of District Placements, tutoring for home bound or hospitalized students, programs for ELL, health and counseling services, specialized transportation and dealing with families in transition.

Parsons noted the ELL is trying to recruit someone to fill a .5 teacher position.

There was no new information regarding the Hampstead Central School design project.

The board approved retaining the $1,500 scholarship it awards to a male and female Hampstead Pinkerton Academy graduate for 2022-23 school year.

A Promising Futures $25,000  grant has been applied for. This would focus on emotional, social well being and promote the non-use of illegal substances.

Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd said there was a refund for Pinkerton Academy tuition in the amount of $12,373.

Thompson said that Professional Development (PD) is a priority and the PD day set for Wednesday will be to complete the ALICE training.

 


Hampstead School Board Discuss District Transportation Issues
By Penny Williams     9-14-22

The Hampstead School Board met on Tuesday evening, September 13, and representatives of the First Student Bus Company were there to discuss transportation issues,

Superintendent Robert Thompson, after noting that transportation issues are a national issue due to a shortage of bus drivers, introduced First Student General Manager David Fairweather and Operations Manager Crystal Mancini to discuss issues Hampstead buses have encountered.

Hampstead parents have complained about late afternoon bus arrival times and issues with morning bus pick-ups forcing some parents to have to drive their children to school.

Fairweather acknowledge the issues and said they were working to correct the situation. However, he said the company is two bus drivers short for the Hampstead buses. He indicated there five drivers in training and one just waiting to receive the Commercial Drivers license certificate.

Fairweather said there have been communication issues in the morning bus runs as well as issues with routes for the buses. He blamed the software the company uses and said they are replacing it with new software for next year for the First View program.

The First View, where parents can go for bus location and tracking information, is currently having issues, which is why the company plans to replace the software, he noted. He indicated the bus and route tracking information has been reloaded and that this will eliminate these communication issues.

Mancini indicated if a parent has issues with tracking a bus or finding where a student or bus is they should call her directly. She said these issues are being addressed and she expects to have things sorted out and running smoothly within the next two weeks.

The district's Strategic Plan was reviewed with a discussion by the school principles, Terrilyn Cheney, Hampstead Central School (HCS) and Erin Milbury, Hampstead Middle School (HMS) going over the action steps for this year in each of the five priority areas.

The board approved the amended school calendar. Thompson said all that has changed was an information link has been added with times for early dismissals that parents will find useful.

School Board Chair Dave Smith spoke briefly about the progress on the HCS Addition Plan Design. He indicated the design is being formalized and pricing is underway but this takes time given all the changes due to inflation.

In addition he indicated that how to bring water needed for the sprinkled new school section and assessing the current septic system are being worked on.

Smith said the decision has been made to do several newspaper inserts with information regarding the HCS project rather than a onetime mailing. These inserts will begin as soon as they have the final design and associated costs.

The board approved accepting the proposed 3 year Primex Capital Assurance Plan which caps Worker's Compensation at 10 percent and Property and Liability at 9 percent.

The budget process will follow the same procedure as last year with a zero based budget being developed. Thompson listed the tentative school board budget meeting dates with the hope they can provide a presentation reviewing the new budget and where the budget has changed on October 25.

Business Administrator Geoffrey Dowd said the Unencumbered Fund Balance which is the surplus that is returned to the tax payers is $2,279,000.

Union contract negotiations have begun and will continue.

Thompson reported the district is short two Technical personnel. The district needs a technical assistant and a technical network administrator.

Thompson also noted the staff and teachers had undergone a Active Shooter Practice with Homeland Security and are reviewing any readiness weaknesses.

The previous request to increase the class size policy for the fifth grade will not need to happen, Thompson said. He indicated they had been fortunate enough to hire a Reading Teacher so they have the necessary fifth grade class coverage needed.

In Other News

In a program that started on September 11, 2002 the Hampstead Central School held Read with a Hero on Monday, September 12. The following 'heros' came to the school and read to students during the morning.

Retired Navy Veteran, Tom Young

(Hampstead Police Dept.) 
Deputy Chief Bob Kelley, Officer Stephen Winter, Officer Tyler Phair, and Officer Bryan Lamontange, 

(Hampstead Fire Dept.) Captain Chris Dane, Firefighter Connor Lonergan, Firefighter Robert Beaulieu, and Firefighter Ryan Erhardt

(Bedford Fire Dept.) Firefighter Jonathon Houde

 (Hampton Police Dept.) Officer Brandon Whitehead

(Merrimack Police Dept.) Officer Stephen Wallin

 (Salem Police Dept.) Officer Nick Menant

 


Hampstead School Board Approves Class Size Increases and New Hires and Resignations
By Penny Williams   8-24-22

On Tuesday evening, August 21, the Hampstead School Board approved increasing the class size in Grade 2 and Grade 5.

Superintendent Robert Thompson sought a waiver from the class size policy for grade 2 that allows a maximum of 20 students per class in order to meet an expected increase in enrollment. The board discussed the request for an increase in class maximum for grade 2 and decided to approve increasing the maximum allowed to 21.

The school policy allows a maximum of 23 students per class at grade 5 and Thompson wanted the class size increased. The board discussed it and approved allowing the maximum not to exceed 28.

Hampstead Central School Principal Terrilyn Cheney discussed the Pre-School and Kindergarten enrollment.

The full day classes and half day classes are all full and Board Chair David Smith noted the district lost roughly $100,000 because it could not accommodate all the students interested in attending the Hampstead Pre School and Kindergarten program. There are 53 students enrolled in full day classes and 32 in half day classes.

Facilities Director Jeff Mackey said the summer projects were completed but not everything he had wanted to do could be done. However, he said the projected cost for what was accomplished was $225,000 and he actually came in under budget at $161,000. He indicated this was made possible by doing as much as possible in house.

Erin Milbury, Hampstead Middle School Principal, gave the board an overview of her entry plan.

Her focus is on communication and relationships. She noted that she has already met with many teachers and parents and plans to continue to interact with community leaders. She said she plans to send out a weekly communication to parents as part of her effort to increase the level of communication.  She also plans to hold Principal Coffees at varying times.

In addition, Milbury said she plans to work on improving the system of support for staff. One project will be to create a staff committee on scheduling. She plans to focus on getting to know all her students by name and to seek to provide them with a voice and leadership opportunity.

The Hampstead Central School (HCS) addition plan was discussed briefly.

The district has applied for a building grant from the state but it was noted this is a very competitive grant and many districts have applied.

The Department of Education (DOE) did a walk through inspection of HCS and the three main goals were done with the DOE personnel. These criteria are - student and staff safety; needs of diverse learners; and, creation of library and media space.

Thompson discussed the $50 bonus that was added to substitute pay during the pandemic. He recommended the board extend this for the 2022-2023 school years as it had helped with attracting substitute help. 

The $50 bonus upped uncertified substitute teachers from $89.50 to $137.50; certified subs from $100. to $150;  and, nurses from $218.75 to $268.75. The board approved his request.

It was noted that getting current pricing relating to the HCS project is underway. The board discussed starting now with figuring out how best to communicate the proposed HCS project plan to the public and how to fund any communication efforts.

Milbury asked the board to approve acceptance of a donation of $3,006.53 from the Music Boosters Club and to transfer the money to the Activity Fund to be used for music needs. The board approved accepting the donation.                         

Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd said the district will be returning over $2,000,000.00 to the Hampstead taxpayers. He recommended the board encumber $99,652.82 for various projects and possible projects. The board approved.

The board approved the summer decision to accept the resignation of Tracy Griffenhagen, District Director of Student Services. It also approved the decision of the summer hire of Jessica Parsons as the District Director of Student Services.

Other summer hires approved include:
* Thomas Elmer, Central School Special Education Teacher and Case Manager;
* Sophia Poulin - Central School Teacher
* Susan Giles - Middle School Nurse
* Amanda Weivers - Central School Teacher
* Whitney Marino - Central School Special Education Teacher

The board then was asked to accept the resignation of Brendan Hoar, Middle School ELA Writing Teacher and Sushmita Krovi, Central School Computer Technology Teacher, which they did.

Nicole Tomaseli, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, went over the summer programs that had taken place.

 


Hampstead School Board Announce New Estimated Cost of Central School Project  
By Penny Williams    6-15-22

On Tuesday evening, June 14, the Hampstead School Board met and the public learned what the estimated cost for the board's proposed Hampstead Central School (HCS) Project will cost.

There were two concept design options presented and were both described and estimated costs provided with each.

Option 1 would provide 2 new classrooms, a reconstructed front entrance to the school with a new media center over it on the second floor. There would be a new nurses office and the stairwell in the 60s wing brought up to code with a new classroom constructed there.

The estimated cost for this would be $6,400,000 with a hoped for State Building Aid amount of $1,920,000 leaving the Hampstead cost at $4,480,000.

This would not include sprinklers for the building. Sprinklers would add another $810,000 to the overall costs.

Option 2 would add two new classrooms in the 60s wing in addition to all the other things included in Option 1. Option 2 provides a direct access to the nurses new office.

The estimated cost of Option 2 is $7,500,000 with a hoped for $2,230,000 State Building Aid leaving the Hampstead cost at $5,250,000. Option two would with the new construction and changes provide 4 new classrooms.

The Building Committee took a straw poll and recommended going with Option 2 but not adding the sprinklers.

The school board after a discussion decided to go with Option 2 that will cost $7,500,000 if the plan fails to get State Building Aid but if they did get that aid the cost would be $5,250,000. They also decided to eliminate adding sprinklers at this time.

The Hampstead Middle School (HMS) Principal Maria DiNola reviewed the end of year building goals for HMS.  Principal of the Central School  Terrilyn Cheney reviewed the end of year building goals for HCS. Both sets of year end goals revolved around the Universal Design for Learning program and Social and Emotional Learning programs/

It was announced that the district had received a NH Environmental Education grant in the amount or $2,000. This will be used for field trips and a variety of outdoor learning environment plans as well as for the purchase of equipment needed as resources for environmental learning opportunities.

The updated Data Governance plan was provided by Nicole Tomaselli, Director of 21 Century Learning, Assessment and Technology.

According to the Internet, Governance focuses on the security of information  and can be helpful in mitigating risks associated with sensitive data. This form of governance is a collection of policies and procedures that deal with how the district's sensitive data, specifically personal information, is gathered, maintained, used, and distributed. Data governance provides important processes to protect a district and its students against cyber risks.

These processes and procedures also provide ethical guidelines regarding the district's sensitive data. When the district develops policies, procedures, and responsibilities that provide clarity around student and district data at each stage in its lifecycle, it prepares the way for the information to protect the student or individuals' rights to privacy, confidentiality, and security. These privacy and security practices still provide accurate data on performance, achievement, and other information related to students and their districts

Tomaselli said this still needed work and she wants to streamline the current 43 page document. The board reaffirmed the Data Governance with the proviso that she would bring it back streamlined and completed by the end of the year,

Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd gave his report on the end of the year financials. He estimates that there will be a surplus of about $1.3 to $1.4 million dollars.

The board decided to put the maximum 2.5 percent of budget into the Fund Balance Retention account. This is basically an emergency fund that can only be expended under certain circumstances approved by the NHDOE.

The board felt they should put as much as allowed into this fund given the potential cost of having to possibly deal with a failed septic system at the HCS or some other unanticipated emergency.

Cheney told the board the registration for 3 full day kindergarten classes and 2 half day classes is already at capacity and more are expected during the summer.

Roughly 20 parents are on a wait list for full day classes. This is more than what NESDEC had projected and there is a real possibility another kindergarten classroom will need to be added. Where this class would go was not known but the impact would be felt throughout the Central School, she said.

There is a single 4th grade classroom with a bathroom on the first floor and the additional kindergarten class, if needed,  would have to go there. But, where the fourth grade could be moved to will need to be figured out.

The Special Education Department Reviewed its programs with a view to what the department does well and where it needs to improve.

Jeff Mackey said a 20-year Facilities Plan has been developed. The board approved it and it can be forwarded to the state as part of the application for Building Aid.

The Superintendent's Evaluation is complete. The board voted to give him a 3 percent merit increase and a 4 percent cash bonus.

There was one resignation, Rebecca Hearn, HCS Early Childhood Educational/Case Manager. There was one hire, Candace Gatzoulis for the HMS Music Teacher. The board approved both.

The board thanked Andy Kiburis for his donation of his pay for substituting which he said should be used for whatever teachers need.

The board awarded $1,500 scholarships to Nathan Lindquist who will going to the University of Rhode Island and Ellie Crump who will be going to Fordham.


Hampstead Superintendent Thompson Introduces Two Design Concepts for Central School Project
By Penny Williams    5-26-22

On Tuesday night, May 24, the Hampstead School Board met and one of the things presented was two design concepts for the Central School project.

Superintendent Robert Thompson presented the two design concepts. Both prioritize safety and security for students. The front entrance of the building would undergo changes so that all entering the building are observed and served at that point.

The only drawback to Design Concept Number 1 is that it has no direct entrance and exit for the nurses office that would be moved to the new entrance design. However, entrance to the school building would be controlled.

This concept design would add the space in the present office area that could be used for special services. A second classroom would be made available as the library would be built above the new entrance configuration, freeing the present library for use as classrooms.

There would be an addition to the 60s wing of a classroom that would also address the staircase there that isn't up to code.

Design Concept Number 2 would have the same controlled access for the new entrance to the building and add a classroom on each level. Also there would be an entrance from the nurse’s office to the hallway. It would also address the stairway to the 60s wing and have the library over the entrance.

These concepts do not have a new cafeteria or music room.

The plan is to finalize these concepts and decide which to implement and have it ready for submission to the state by June 30 so as to be eligible for state building aid. Whichever concept is the final one chosen, the plan is to keep the cost to $5 million.

The board approved the second reading of the Strategic Plan and adopted it. The board wishes to continue collecting feedback on the proposed plan. Action plans for the schools supporting the Strategic Plan will be reviewed in the fall after the schools get some assistance from a third party resource on developing the action plans.

The board discussed the Summer Hire board member position and Chair Dave Smith asked for volunteers. After a brief discussion member Karl Hubner was authorized to make hiring decisions during the summer when the board doesn't meet. These decisions will be reviewed and approved by the board in the fall.

There was an update provided to the board of the Technology Department. There was a discussion about Data Governance and the board Reaffirmed the current  Data Governance district policy.

The lotline adjustment has been through its process and was approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. It has been marked for finalization.

The board members discussed the many opportunities that exist for Hampstead school students to visit Pinkerton Academy and see what goes on there and where classes meet.

The elementary students get to visit the Sugar Shack and middle school students make trips to improve the transition from Middle School to Pinkerton. It was noted one great opportunity is for Hampstead school students to take advantage of the Careers in Education.

It was noted that Pinkerton students intern in Derry schools. It was thought Hampstead should move to encourage Hampstead students at Pinkerton to come and intern at Hampstead schools.

It was noted that there are now exterior cameras on all student buses. This will help when there is a traffic violation involving a school bus and a car.

Teachers Jen Howard at Middle School and Kara Gordon at Central School were both nominated as Teacher of the Year for their school level.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 


Hampstead School Board Heard New Plans for Central School Construction
By Penny Williams    5-11-22

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, May 10, and the Superintendent told the board new construction plans are being designed and considered.

Superintendent Robert Thompson told the board he will be meeting with the architect next week regarding coming up with new approaches to bringing about new construction at the Hampstead Central School (HCS) to address the new focus of Student Security.

Voters rejected the full $12.5 million plan for Construction and Restoration at HCS at the March 2022 Town Meeting and the School Board and Thompson have decided to take a new approach, breaking up the overall plan into pieces. Chair David Smith did make it clear during the discussion that this year's proposal will be one piece and they will be back next year with another piece if this year's proposed plan passes in March.

The focus this year is Student Security so this will emphasize the new design for the entrance to HCS. It was noted that one thing being considered is possibly going up a floor on this new construction to house a library.

The new plan may include work adding space to the 60s Wing which would include expanding the staircase which is too narrow and doesn't meet code at this point.

While they didn't specify anything specific they indicated they are aiming at keeping the cost to $5 million and having a plan and design ready to file with the state the end of June in time to apply for State Building Aid, even if that is a long shot Smith admitted.

Thompson announced that Hampstead Central School teacher Sarah Wisecarver, has been recognized as the NH STEM Teacher of the Year. Three awards are given by the New Hampshire Society of Professional Engineers (NHSPE) each year and Sarah has received the Elementary (grades 1-5) award for 2022. NHSPE recognizes excellence in the teaching of S.T.E.M in New Hampshire schools as evidenced by creativity, innovation, integration of programs, and learning effectiveness.

"Mrs. Wisecarver has brought so many projects and hands-on learning opportunities to Hampstead students over the years, we are thrilled to see her being recognized and celebrated by colleagues and professional organizations," he said. 

Thompson and members of the Strategic Plan Committee presented the draft plan to the board. The intention after a second read and approval from the board is to have the plan on the Web site and sent to parents and community stakeholders.

The board authorized the Middle School eighth grade trip to Boston on June 20 and a trip to Canobie Lake.

The board approved the proposed Hampstead School District tuition rates.

* Kindergarten half day program - $10,600

* Elementary - $21,200

* Middle School - $23,200

* General Education (special ed) - $43,400

The board also approved authorization for the Superintendent to apply for and accept Federal Funding.

The board accepted with thanks and regret the resignations of Noella Nardino - HCS Special Education Teacher and Jake Hudgins, Hampstead Middle School (HMS) Music Teacher.

The board approved the hiring of the following professionals:

* Katelyn Mello - HCS Special Education Teacher - Case Manager

* Kelly Martinez - HSD BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Specialist)

* Stephanie Pomykato - HSD BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Specialist)

* Michael Bisaillon - HMS Special Education Teacher - Case Manager

* Michael Lozzi - HMS Science Teacher

Thompson noted there are more openings especially for a school nurse and encouraged people to apply.

Thompson talked about the great things that are going on at the Community Garden with students helping with the planting and maintenance of the garden. He said this is a great example of the fact that learning and education doesn't have to always take place in a classroom.

He indicated that future plans are looking for ways to develop outdoor areas for teaching and learning at both school campuses.

 


Hampstead School Board District Changes Last Day of School to June 23
By Penny Williams    4-14-22

The Hampstead School Board met Tuesday evening, April 13, and approved changing the final day of school for the year.

Nicole Tomaselli, Director of 21 Century Learning, Assessment and Technology, earlier in the meeting presented the proposed 2022-2023 school calendar that changed the Professional Development days and early release days to the satisfaction of the board noting this model allows Para-Professionals to attend. Superintendent Robert Thompson did say that ultimately there aren't enough Professional Development Days but this is a good starting point.

Later in the meeting Thompson asked the board if they would agree to change this year's final day of school. On the current calendar the final day was set for Friday, June 24.

He suggested that the district modify the hours to 179 hours of instructional days rather the 180 they were using  which would then see the last day of school, a half day, fall on Thursday, June 23. Thompson noted the district far exceeds the required minute of educational instruction required by the state.

He noted that this year's calendar would be evaluated next year by staff, teachers and administrators. After a discussion the board approved the new last day of school as Thursday, June 23.

Thompson indicated that per the board's charge to review alternative designs for the Hampstead Central School Construction and Renovation project with the Professional Team, he has met with the team and asked them to propose alternative pieces rather than the whole plan the voters rejected again.

He said he asked that the focus be on security and to emphasize the main office changes and instructional spaces.

He asked the team for a couple of alternative design concepts and he plans to go over these with the team again and have a final suggested alternative design for the board at one of the next couple of meetings.

Thompson said he recognized that Chair David Smith wants the design proposal ready to meet the State deadline date of June 30, for applying for building aid. However, he said that aid is a bit of a long shot.

Thompson discussed the Strategic Plan, giving the board a summary review and asking them to review the proposed plan and get back to him with suggestions of what needs to be added or removed. H e plans to go over the Strategic Plan comprehensively at the board's next meeting after they've had time to review it.

The board set the member assignments as follows:

* Facilities - Smith

* Student Services - Karl Hubner

* Technology - Jason Giard

* Policy Committee - Erin Pellegrini and Megan Malcolm

* Communication - Giard

* HMS - Malcolm

* HCS - Hubner

* Vouchers -Pellegrini

* Safety - Hubner

* NHSBA  - Malcolm

The board approved the list of staff re-nominations and accepted the resignations of Caitlin Coleman, HCS BCBA; Jennifer Foisey, HCS Teacher; and, Sabin Thompson, HMS Math Teacher.

Tomaselli talked about the school classroom contributions to the Community Garden and how amazing it is that the educational learning aspect of this has grown through the schools' participation. 

The seedlings that have been largely donated by parents and businesses, the soil packets and kits are all in place and will soon be taken to the community garden for replanting.

Thompson noted that pool for teachers for hire is shrinking and districts are having to become creative to attract and recruit new teachers. He said the Hampstead Model for Design for Learning has been so successful it was recently used as a model presented at a conference for state schools.

Planning Board Chair Robert Weimar addressed the board about the Master Plan work and said he and his board would like to have a more collaborative relationship with the District and input from the District into the Master Plan.

Selectman Steve Morse came before the board and discussed his and Smith's efforts to create an Energy Committee. He said he and Smith had learned about Derry's Net Zero efforts to reduce energy costs and felt that an Energy Committee of  town and school district members could come up with ways to reduce energy use and costs.

Grade 8 student Samantha Bell won the local and State Oratorical Contest Winner. She read her piece to the board on the First Amendment.

The board accepted a $500 donation for HMS from the Hampstead Mothers Club. The school plans to use the money to support the school's Angel Fund.

Thompson said that the Hampstead schools had been audited by the State on Safety and the things pointed out at the last audit had been corrected. He noted there are some security issues at the Central School that would be discussed in non-public and work will be done to work on correcting these deficits.
 

 


Hampstead School Board Decides to Break School Project into Phases
By Penny Williams   3-23-22

On Tuesday evening, March 22, the Hampstead School Board made the decision that the almost $ 13,000,000 Hampstead Central School Renovation and Construction project is not going to be approved by Hampstead residents.

Based on a discussion of what happened at elections, Chair Dave Smith suggested the board should consider an entirely different approach to the project.

The board discussed how best to break the current overall project up into doable phases. Smith indicated there should be an emphasis on going for a project with a cost of roughly $5,000,000 so Hampstead would be eligible for money from the State.

The people involved with the design and plan for the project - Geno Baroni, Trident Project Management, Bonnette, Page & Stone Construction Management Company, and Architect Dennis Mires - will be asked to come up with a new design that divides up the main components of the present plan so the board can begin selling it to the residents. It was pointed out that this will cost money to do but Smith said it could be found in the budget.

Financial Director Geoffrey Dowd warned that they are asking a lot to have this information - a new design and cost with a request for more than one bid - for their April meeting.

However, the board essentially prioritized Safety and Security, Special Education, and Sprinklers as their initial priority. This would see them try to develop a long range plan for the entire project divided into pieces. The main priority would be safety and security so the first priority would be to move the main school offices to a new location in front of the school. This would free up the current office space for special education purposes while addressing safety and security concerns.

The second priority would be the construction of the two new classrooms and moving of the library which would free the current library space for two additional classrooms.

The board discussed which of the other pieces of the current plan can be delayed such as the cafe, music room and bathrooms.

The board also discussed how to improve their means of communicating the plans as they address the needs of the school to the public. They want to start right away and have handouts with the information regarding the NEEDS for these improvements available to be passed out at events throughout the year in Hampstead. They also want to work on ways to get more people to visit the school in person to actually see the issues as they exist.

Finally the board discussed the fact that some of the work on the priorities they discussed might be able to be met through the surplus money and the budget. They expect to provide a new design with a cost estimate that includes a second bid if possible based on breaking the project into pieces over a long term plan of possibly five years.

They will review what the design and construction team and Dowd have been able to produce at their April meeting and make final decisions at that time.

The board reorganized with Smith again being Chair and Jason Giard was appointed as the Vice Chair. New board member Karl Hubner was introduced.

Superintendent Robert Thompson said the Strategic Plan has a solid draft and will be presented at the April meeting.

Member Erin Pellegrini, a member of the Strategic Plan Committee described the new core values that will be the spine of the Strategic Plan as including communication; honoring children; Relationships and Team Building; Acting with Integrity; and, working with the Culture of Collaboration.

Hubner, also on the Strategic Plan Committee, said the Plan will use the Strategic Priorities to take the Vision to action. This will encourage and enhance students directing their own learning; having programs for effective learning and teaching; providing a positive environment; involve the community and staff and stake holders; and create learning environments that match experiences.

The board had a long discussion about the proposed school calendar with concerns raised about the provision for 8 early release days for Professional Development. The calendar will be worked on some more to reduce the number of early releases but to provide the Professional Development opportunities that are thought to be needed. It was decided to start school before Labor Day in order to finish earlier in June. The calendar will be finalized at the next meeting.

Thompson told the board about the visit of Governor Christopher Sununu and Kati Preston, Holocaust Survivor, to address the HMS 7th and 8th grade students on Thursday, March 24 at 8 a.m.

The board accepted the resignation of Hampstead Middle School Nurse Susan Dauer with regret.

Nicole Tomaselli Director of 21 Century Learning, Assessment and Technology told the board that the District would be having Marc Abatiell (account rep) and Joe Weisenburger (sales director) and Shannon Sullivan from Consolidated Communications visit our Kindergarten classes on Wednesday, March 23, at Hampstead Central School from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Consolidated Communications recently awarded the district a $3900 grant for blended learning. 

 


Hampstead School Board Announce Erin Milbury as Middle School Principal  
By Penny Williams    3-16-22

The Hampstead School District announces the appointment of their new Middle School Principal.

The Hampstead School Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Erin Milbury as the next Principal of Hampstead Middle School. On July 1st, Mrs. Milbury will replace Mrs. Maria Di Nola retiring at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year, following her tenure as HMS school principal since 2014.

Mrs. Milbury will join us from the Seabrook School District where she served as Principal of Seabrook Middle School for the past five years. Mrs. Milbury has prior administrative experience in the Epping School District. Previous to her administrative experience, Mrs. Milbury was a school counselor in the Dover School District.

Having studied at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, Mrs. Milbury’s credentials include collegiate degrees in Psychology, a Master of Social Work and an Ed.S in Educational Leadership. Mrs. Milbury was initially selected as one of two finalists from a pool of candidates by the District’s screening committee of staff, parents, and community members.

“We were fortunate to have such a large pool of highly qualified candidates. Erin’s candidacy stood out because of her experience with school improvement planning and her commitment to placing the interest of students at the forefront of her decision-making. It’s exciting to anticipate what she will bring to the table next year,” said Bob Thompson, Superintendent of Hampstead Schools.

Milbury said, "I am thrilled to be joining the Hampstead School Community. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting many students, staff, and community members and look forward to meeting many more, and getting started on the great work that represents Hampstead Middle School."


Hampstead School District Moves to Optional Mask
By Penny Williams   2-16-22

On Tuesday, February 15, the Hampstead School Board met and made a decision regarding mask wearing.

Superintendent Robert Thompson went over the current situation regarding COVID-19 cases and guidelines and said that for the first time since October there had been zero active cases of COVID-19 in the schools that day.

He went over the various changes the Health and Human Services Department and the CDC have made to reporting COVID-19 exposures and cases. He noted the district has held numerous vaccination clinics and will continue to do so.

With that as a background he announced he has made the difficult decision to move to making masks optional. He acknowledged that some would be happy with this decision while others would not.

He said that mitigation strategies will be in place such as those who have tested positive can return after five days quarantine but must wear masks for an additional 5 days. Three foot spacing will be in the lunchroom and in classrooms however, individualized and small group instruction will be allowed and he emphasized how important this instructional effort is.

He told the board and the audience that the district has masks available for anyone who wants or needs one. In addition, he said the Connection Coaching will continue. The hope is this service will be able to be used, after COVID-19 needs are ended, as an educational mitigation and resource for helping students needing extra help.

The board in general supported his decision. One question that was raised is how the optional mask decision would impact teachers and staff since the majority of students are not vaccinated. Thompson did say if there should be a classroom cluster he would call a special board meeting to make a decision how to handle the mask issue during that period.

Thompson's motion was staff and students may elect to wear masks but are not required to do so.  It is recommended that unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors.  Masks will still be a requirement on school buses per the CDC.  Masks will also be required for 5 days for individuals who have tested positive of COVID-19 and choosing to return to the school environment after 5 days of self-isolation. Additionally, students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to wear a mask in the health office.

The board voted unanimously to approve his motion and made this decision effective February 16th, 2022.

Thompson introduced his nomination for the new Hampstead Middle School, Principal. Erin Milbury, Principal at the Seabrook Middle School for the last five years with 10 years experience as Assistant Principal in the Epping Middle School and as a Counselor prior to that. She addressed the board briefly and responded to questions.

Her responses indicated that she considers Social and Emotional culture in her school as important and that it should be a piece of every classroom, everyday work. She noted she works to ensure her students have a voice and that s Supportive Culture for students, staff and teachers is critical but that making sure learning is fun is also critical. Her priority is her students.

The board voted for the school calendar for 2022-23 that would have school start August 30 with the last day June 16. The calendar includes7 Professional Development Days and 8 early release days. The February vacation is listed as February 27 to March 3 and Spring vacation April 24 to April 28. Should vacation dates conflict with other state's vacation times the calendar can be adjusted.

The board heard from Nicole Tomaselli about plans for outside classroom and community based learning efforts. Places at each school are being developed where classes can be held outside. Plans to work with the Soup Kitchen at St. Anne's and director Jim Carey regarding the community garden where vegetables and flowers are grown for the Soup Kitchen. Classrooms will be starting seedlings and help when the time comes to transfer them to the garden and then to help keep up the garden. Thompson added that the plan is to get more student field trips planned going forward.

The board discussed Thompson's suggestion that Para Educator pay be equalized with Substitute teacher pay rates. The board discussed the benefits and draw backs to this and since finding Para Educator substitutes is still very difficult the board voted to approve this.

SAU Financial Administrator Geoffrey Dowd noted that the budget moving forward is 2 percent lower than the previous year's budget and that the request for putting $500,000 into the Capital Reserve Fund is because that fund was depleted last year for the  60's Wing project.

The Superintendent Evaluation process will get underway in March.

Thompson announced that Catherine Kennedy, Middle School Special Education teacher since October 2018 is resigning and the board voted to accept her resignation.  The board also announced that long time Board member Caitlin Parnell will not be returning. She received many thanks and lots of applause from her fellow board members. Michael Shaw, Technical Assistant was acknowledged and given new title, Network Administrator/DataTechnician.

Board Chair David Smith discussed the recent Deliberative and Hampstead Central School Principal, Terrilyn Cheney went over the details she provides when she conducts tours through the school.

Thompson, Smith, and the other board members spoke about the need for residents approving the bond issue for the Central School Construction and Renovation project. The space needs of the school are severe and this project will add much needed classrooms, a new library, a full gym and a full cafeteria, as well as installing a sprinkler system throughout the school and bringing the building up to code and making it much more secure. Informational pamphlets will be mailed to residents and there will more open houses at the school which include a tour.

 


Hampstead School District Superintendent Said Daily COVID Emails will Stop
By Penny Williams    1-26-22

 On Monday night, January 24, the Hampstead School District Superintendent discussed information regarding COVID measures in the district.

Superintendent Robert Thompson indicated that as of February 1, the district will stop sending parents daily updates regarding COVID cases. He said that the constant emailing is clogging people's emails and as a result many are not even bothering to open and read them.

Thompson noted that this is not a good situation because when an important notice or piece of information needs to be sent to parents and they aren't reading the emails things will not go well. He indicated that if there is a COVID exposure in a class at Hampstead Central School parents will be sent an email but this will not be the case from the Hampstead Middle School.

Thompson went on to say that he knows people want to know when the Universal Mask Mandate will return to Targeted Mask wearing. He said right now with COVID cases still rising in the community, state and the schools, universal mask wearing will remain in place.

 However, he indicated the trend appears to be starting to go down and hopefully there will soon come a time when there are no active cases being reported in the schools and the mask wearing will be able to return to Targeted mask wearing not universal. But, until that time he will continue extending the time requiring universal mask wearing. He suggested a more in-depth discussion regarding this should take place at the February 15 meeting.

The district, working with the Health and Human Services Department will be offering a vaccine clinic for initial and booster shots on February 1, from 3 to 6 p.m. and this clinic is open to anyone.

He also said the district has rapid test kits available and he encouraged anyone in the district needing a rapid test to contact a school nurse or him directly. He said requests would be addressed. 

Thompson told the board that the Strategic Plan Committee has met and a draft plan is being developed. He indicated he is shooting for March 22 to bring the plan to the board. He felt this was a good time since the new board would just be seated and would have this to work with going forward.

The draft plan, he noted, updates the previous strategic plan but there is an emphasis on communication. Communication with students, staff. and the community. In addition there is a focus on the social and emotional well being of staff and students.

Business Administrator Geoffrey Dowd went over the audit for 2019 fiscal year. He indicated things got filed late so the audit report is later than he would like. He went over the issues noted in the audit itself and the Governance Letter, noting that most issues noted had been resolved. The board voted to accept and approve the audit as presented.

Thompson and Chair David Smith spoke about the Open House held at the Central School, praising Principal Terrilyn Cheney for the work she did in preparing the tour and the information she made available to those taking the tour. There were only limited numbers of residents who went to the Open House but another will be held by ZOOM on February 8.

 It was also noted that a letter of information on the major Warrant issues will be developed and sent out to residents at an expected cost of $1,800 a week or so before voting. The board approved up to $2,000 for this.

Lynn Townsend, Hampstead Central School Speech Pathologist who has been with the district for 30 years has submitted her resignation. The board accepted her letter of resignation with regret and thanked her for her many years of dedicated service to the district.

Thompson said the first interviews for next year's principal position at Hampstead Middle School have been conducted with more to come. He indicated the hope is to have two finalists by the end of the week. This will be followed by question and answer forums with a final decision to be presented by February 16.

Thompson took a moment to praise the Hampstead teachers for their devotion to the students and schools and their willingness to step up to cover classes, and other times as needed. A list of coverage needs is issued each morning and he said the teachers step up to cover most of the needs.

Nicole Tomaselli, Director of 21st Century Learning, Assessment and Technology gave the board information regarding standardized testing being used in the district. She noted this is only one important component of the student educational environment.

The only down note was that Hampstead continues to have difficulties with math and its scores are lower than the state average while in Reading and English Language Arts the district consistently scores above the state average.

Tomaselli indicated that math is recognized as an area that needs more work and plans for more teacher training and Professional Development in this area are being planned.

Student Services Director Tracy Griffenhagen announced that long time district employee and current member of the Special Education Department Twila Wain will be retiring at the conclusion of the school year. Wain has worked for the district since 1999 in a variety of positions.


Hampstead School Board Prepares for Deliberative on February 8
By Penny Williams    1-13-22

The Hampstead School Board spent its meeting on Tuesday, January 11, going over their presentations for the upcoming Deliberative Session scheduled for Tuesday, February 8, following a Special Meeting for the proposed Lot Line Adjustment with the neighboring lot.

The board held a session prior to the meeting to go over the proposed Lot Line Adjustment that would have the district purchasing roughly 17 feet of the neighboring homeowners lot that the school currently has been using for its drop-off/pick-up lane and the schools utilities. The board approved the purchase price of $17,738 and approved placing Article 5, concerning this issue on the Warrant.

Article 1 on the Warrant lists two school board positions open. One position is for a three year term the other is for a one year term. People interested in being a candidate for these positions need to inform the district at the superintendent's SAU Office between January 19 and January 28.

The board held a public hearing as it reviewed the Bond issue for the Hampstead Central School Addition project. The proposed bond amount is $12,595,000 and to raise $314,873 for the first year's interest. A 3/5 vote is required for approval.

Superintendent Robert Thompson went over the reasons why this project is needed. He identified the inadequate spaces in the building that the construction project would address stressing that the space needs at the school are having an instructional impact on students.

The members of the team addressing this project, Gino Baroni, Trident the owner and chief officer of the Project Management company reviewed the proposed costs and pointed out that despite the project not having been passed by voters and changes made to refine the overall project, money had been saved by careful monitoring of the project up to this point. He indicated the construction costs are $10,835,000; soft costs $1,260,000; contingency costs are $500,000; for a total project cost of $12,595,000.

A complete presentation regarding the proposed construction project was provided and will be repeated at the Deliberative Session.

The bond being sought for the Central School Construction Project is a 10 year bond with 1.5 percent interest. Board Chair indicated that the tax impact of the project would be $200 a year on a home valued at $200,000; $400 a year on a home valued at $400,000; and, $600 a year on a home valued at $600,000. That public hearing was closed.

Another  public hearing on the Article 3, the Operating Budget was opened. The Operating Budget is $31,671,796 and the Default budget is $31,972,403. After reviewing the budget it was noted that it is down $674,487 or 2.09 percent from last year's budget.

Enrollment is up by 8 students at Central School; 4 students at Middle School; and 2 students at Pinkerton Academy with a total of 1,025 students. It was pointed out that the default budget is higher than the operating budget. The public hearing was closed.

Article 4 is the request to voters to approve the School District putting $500,000 into the Capital Reserve Fund.

Article 5 is the Lot Line Adjustment article

Article 6 is to accept reports.

After this long presentation that will be repeated at the Deliberative the board held a special meeting to vote their recommendation on each article. The board voted 4-0 on Articles 2 through 6. The vote was 4 to 0 because one board member was absent,

 


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