Raymond School Board Meetings


Teacher Cites Importance of Middle School Program Axed from Budget
By Leslie O’Donnell  5-18-18

Raymond resident Kristin Wallace approached the Raymond School Board at its May 16 meeting in an effort to clarify comments made at the previous board meeting about the YEES program at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School.

The YEES (Youth Educational Employment Service) program was offered at the middle school last year free of charge, but an effort to include it in the next budget was negated by the budget committee and it will no longer be part of the District’s
offerings.

At the previous School Board meeting, Special Education Director Walter Anacki had praised the YEES program, and Wallace said that may have left the erroneous impression that its work would be continuing.

Wallace, who teaches fifth grade at the middle school and has a child at that school, spoke during public forum. She noted that she heard Anacki talk about the YEES worker at the previous meeting and cite the “wonderful things he has done – and I’ve seen that first hand – and I want to make sure you know that you cut that position this year.

“As a parent, I’m concerned because the school counselor has lots to do already, and I’m concerned for the kids in my classroom who will miss the YEES worker,” she added. Later in the meeting she described the YEES worker as “invaluable” and “a really important person” at the school.

Board member Moe Titcomb asked why the position had been cut if the YEES worker were doing such a good job, and Wallace noted that residents tried to add funding for the post back into the budget at Deliberative Session, but that was not possible.

Superintendent Tina McCoy explained that YEES, which is not a grant-funded program, was operating at Raymond High School but did not provide all the hours planned. As a result, YEES offered to make up those hours by providing a free position at the middle school. The post had not been budgeted before for the middle school, and while it was proposed for the new budget, ultimately it was removed by the budget committee.

After Titcomb asked if the position could be added back, chairman Joe Saulnier noted the District operates on a bottom line budget and Titcomb could ask to discuss the matter via a Board agenda item.

In the report Wallace cited, Anacki wrote that “the YEES program at the middle school has had tremendous impact on the overall climate and culture in the school, as well as providing valuable and much-needed support to our families.”

According to budget documents from the School District, the YEES worker focuses 100 percent on students identified by the school’s Student Intervention Team as being in the greatest need for support and at the greatest risk of dropping out or not graduating with their class, and provides services to both students and their families to help the students meet the behavioral and academic goals of their IEP (individualized education program).

It was also cited as decreasing the likelihood of out-of-district placements (averaging $65,000 each). The proposed cost of the program is $62,000.

 


Raymond Parents Upset with Response to Alleged Bullying at School
By Leslie O’Donnell   5-5-18

Three parents addressed the Raymond School Board on May 2 to explain why they have removed their children from the School District and are now homeschooling them.

In an often emotional presentation during public comment, residents Dawn Leamer, Cassie Hammond and Nina Darisse said their elementary school-age children had been bullied, in some cases both verbally and physically, and when they complained to administrators, did not receive satisfactory results. The women said they felt compelled to homeschool their children to protect their safety.

Resident Tina Thomas, who had been a School Board member when the District’s anti-bullying policy was adopted in June 2012, brought the three parents to the School Board meeting. The District anti-bullying policy can be found on the School District website at www.sau33.com.

Board Chairman Joseph Saulnier repeatedly urged the parents to request a non-public meeting of the School Board to discuss their individual cases. He made it clear the Board could not discuss the accusations in public session.

“I implore anyone with an issue that is still going on, ask the School Board for a nonpublic meeting,” Saulnier said. “If you don’t come to us, we don’t know everything. We need to see both sides, and we’d be glad to hear any story so we can try to resolve the situation.

“We’re not really allowed to say anything right now because it should be in nonpublic,” Saulnier added.

Board member Beth Paris agreed with the parents that bullying is an issue in the Raymond District.

Among the accusations brought to the Board were:

• A child making threats to harm another child, with the resulting investigation saying the incident did not constitute bullying because it was not repetitive. A safety plan established as a result of the investigation was violated, the mother said, and her child was afraid to return to school.

• A child was allegedly verbally and physically bullied on the playground. The mother said the safety plan was repeatedly violated, so she removed her children from the Raymond schools, saying she did not feel safe sending her children there. She said the playground video was eventually shown to the Raymond Police School Resource Officer, who she said validated her concerns.

Thomas suggested that because Lamprey River Elementary School has relatively young and inexperienced teachers, that may play a part in what was being reported, and she suggested more teacher development time.

• A child was allegedly told by staff to stop “being a sneaky little liar” and to stop telling her parents “everything” after bullying incidents. The child’s parent said the incident was described by the school as an “altercation” or “misunderstanding,” not bullying. She also claimed a staff member grabbed her child’s arm.

Thomas reminded the Board of a lawsuit against the District involving bullying that occurred several years ago, and claimed that Lamprey River Elementary School has lost five children in the past two to three months to homeschooling because of bullying. She said residents contacted her and as a result, she brought the three women to the Board that evening, with more likely to follow.

“We have an issue in this District, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let this happen again,” she said, referring to the previous lawsuit.

When the parents concluded their remarks, Superintendent Tina McCoy asked to speak, but Saulnier said he would recommend she not do so, and she complied.

In other business at the May 2 meeting:

• John McDaniels, founder of Reach High Scholars, was recognized as the School District’s Champion for Children. McCoy said it would be hard to imagine any one person who has dedicated more time and creative energy to the youth of Raymond, and added that through that, the youth of Raymond have seen futures they did not think possible.

Reach High Scholars helps Raymond High School students gain acceptance into prestigious colleges, with significant scholarship aid.

McDaniels, who graduated from Raymond High, thanked the School District and those he calls his “posse,” who have worked with him on the program. He said that through the years, Reach High Scholars has worked with about 100 students, and 48 of them have gone on or will be going to top colleges, and all but one graduated on time in four years, which he said is “way beyond” the national average.

• Also recognized by the Board were Deb Dellas, administrative assistant at Lamprey River, who received the New Hampshire Association of School Principals; School Administrative Assistant of the Year award, and Veronica McNallen-Forman, guidance counselor at Lamprey River, who received the Excellence in Guidance award from the New Hampshire Association of School Counselors. Both women received flowers from the District.

• Tina Thomas spoke during public comment to ask the board to do something about what she said had previously been called “deplorable, horrible portables.”

“I’m hoping you will proceed to discuss options to get rid of the portables (at Lamprey River),” she said.

• Heard an update from Special Education Director Walter Anacki, He said there will be impacts on the budget from increasing Special Education student numbers. A report he submitted shows Special Education numbers higher than the state average, with a total of 287 students identified, a 1 percent increase.

Numbers as of April show 13.2 percent students identified with autism, compared to the state average of 10.1 percent; 13.9 percent with developmental delay, compared to the stage average of 12.7 percent; 3.9 percent with emotional disturbance, compared to 6.9 percent statewide; 2.8 percent with intellectual disability, tied with the state average; 16.1 percent with speech or language disability, compared to 14.8 percent statewide; 30.6 percent with a learning disability, compared to 31.4 percent statewide; 17.8 percent with “other health impaired,” compared o 18.2 percent statewide; and 2.1 percent in the “other” category, compared to 2.6 percent statewide.

His report noted that preschool referrals have increased “significantly,” requiring additional staff and resources, and an increasing number of students have been placed out of district.

• McCoy and Facilities Director Todd Ledoux discussed the ALICE (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate) program, which would replace the District’s emergency response to potential violence.

McCoy said ALICE offers a different philosophy of response. Ledoux noted that Raymond schools have been using the traditional lockdown approach but would like to move toward the new system, which he said teaches children life skills that can be applied in a variety of emergencies.

The board approved the transition to the new program.

• Saulnier raised questions about the competency based grading program being implemented, and McCoy, Curriculum and Instruction Director Michael Whaland and Brittany L’Heureux from Raymond High provided responses.

• McCoy noted the District is starting a strategic plan update, and said the District needed a five-year vision. The administrative leadership team will meet May 11, with future meetings of the strategic planning committee set for May 22, June 4, and June 16.

• The Board accepted a donation of $1,509 to Lamprey River Elementary School from the Hannaford Helps Schools program.

• The Board heard a first reading of a Drug Free Workplace Policy revision, reflecting changes in state and federal law, and of a revised organizational chart.

• The Board heard from McCoy that Bonnie Sandstrom, who was under contract to start work July 1 as business administrator, had resigned. The Board accepted her resignation.

The Board also hired an eighth grade teacher for Iber Holmes Gove Middle School, to replace a teacher who is retiring.

• The Board heard a presentation from music teacher Randy LaCasse and students about the band’s recent trip to Philadelphia.

• McCoy told the Board that every teacher in the district, except for one who is retiring, returned contracts for employment this year. She noted that positions are open for a Licensed Practice Nurse, Registered Nurse, custodian, information technology technician, Title I tutors and para-educators, as well as business administrator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raymond School Board Members

Joseph Saulnier
J.Saulnier@sau33.com

Janice Arsenault
j.arsenault@sau33.com

Michelle Couture
m.couture@sau33.com

Beth Paris
b.paris@sau33.com

Moe Titcomb
m.titcomb@sau33.com

To email the entire Board: schoolboard@sau33.com.

Emails sent to more than one Board Member may be subject to disclosure under the NH Right to Know laws.


Click
Raymond SCHOOL DISTRICT website
for more information.


Click
Raymond High School
for RHS news & information.


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Iber Holmes Gove Middle School
for IHGMS news & information.


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Lamprey River Elementary School News
for LRES news & information.


Raymond School District
   Job Postings.


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RHS Alumni Association News
for Alumni Assoc information


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