Raymond School Board Meetings


Part 1 - Raymond School Board OKs Technology Plan, Defeats Tech Funding
By Leslie O’Donnell   6-26-18

The Raymond School Board, with member Beth Paris absent, unanimously voted June 20 to approve the district’s three-year technology plan but defeated on a tie vote a proposal to fund current technology needs.

District Technology Director Kevin Federico presented the plan and said a committee had worked on the proposal throughout the past school year. He explained that as part of the process, the group reviewed the district’s previous technology plan, conducted a community survey concerning technology in the district, and then drafted the new plan with six goals.

Those goals are: a ratio of 1:1 digital devices to students; use of technology to promote parental involvement, enhance communication and foster collaboration with the community, other SAU (School Administrative Unit) 33 schools, the state and the global community; integrate use of technology and digital content with core curriculum and align with state and national standards to advance technology literacy and facilitate content learning; allow students in grades 5-8 to create and manage their digital portfolio, an electronic collection of their work; provide tools and training for all staff to establish a culture that effectively integrates technology and digital content into the curriculum; and conduct annual evaluations of action steps in the plan.

He described the plan as focusing on “catch-up” – replacing broken or outdated or failing hardware and software, and additionally, looking at updating district-wide software packages and funding a district-wide anti-virus program that currently does not exist.

“The committee identified the age and usability of the current hardware and made this a priority of the new plan,” Federico said. “They had significant concerns.

“The plan focuses on getting hardware and software and putting them on a life cycle,” he said. “Currently we have very old equipment.”

Superintendent Tina McCoy asked Federico to speak about the 1:1 program, which Federico explained can mean one device per student, with the student taking home the device and parents taking on liability for it. He said the committee did not think the youngest students needed such a program, and instead focused on that concept for fifth grade and up.

The plan states, “the Technology Committee firmly believes that a 1:1 computing environment is the most essential element to prepare our students for the future.” As a result, its first goal is to achieve a 1:1 digital device- to-student ratio, as developmentally appropriate.

“It would be a decision of the school board regarding how to approach 1:1 in Raymond – the committee did not want to choose a specific method,” Federico added, noting the committee instead outlined how that ratio could be reached. “It’s dependent on how much money you spend, and focuses on ramping up the number of devices in grades 5-8.”

He said that depending on student enrollment numbers, $30,000 was the placeholder used for the cost of buying Chromebooks for the middle schoolers.

“Over the last year, we’ve cleaned up a lot of the network deficiencies,” Federico added. “One of the biggest changes made this year was increasing bandwidth, with speed now one gig over one gig. “ As a result, he did not think the district would experience any impact from the proposed additional Chromebooks.

In response to a question from board member Michelle Couture regarding whether the committee looked at devices other than Chromebooks, Federico said that because the district uses Google Apps, using Chromebooks was cost-effective. He also noted that because the district uses Office 365, case managers and other staff would be able to run that program on a Chromebook rather than on a more expensive PC. Office 265 runs Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote.

Asked about the lifespan of a Chromebook, Federico said that depends on “use and abuse,” but said the average is four years. “My hope is to get four years,” he said.

Board member Janice Arsenault asked if the plan could start with grade 7 and be used through grade 12, but Federico reiterated that he did not see a Chromebook lasting more than four years.

The board also noted the importance of professional development programs for teachers to make the most out of the new equipment. McCoy said the district would have to develop an implementation plan in advance, with extensive professional development programs over a long period of time. “We would want the community to see the value of what we’re doing to enhance teaching and learning,” she said.

Couture added that in keeping with the increasing use of technology, she would like to see an increase in going paperless, such as turning in assignments electronically. “How can we be more green in our school?” she asked.

Board chair Joe Saulnier explained that the technology plan is an outline of “where we want to go. The last technology plan had no money associated with it so it didn’t really come to fruition.”

Federico said the plan was written to start in fiscal 2020, the 2019-20 school year, and go through 2021-22. He noted that the plan also includes hiring a technology integration specialist, a teacher who would work with other teachers to help them incorporate technology. That position is budgeted for $75,000 in its first year.

Couture moved, seconded by Arsenault, to accept the technology plan with amendments to the fiscal years involved to read 2019-2022, the addition of students in the “IT (information technology) is Fun Night,” and typo and formatting corrections. It was approved unanimously.

But the going was not so smooth for meeting current technology needs from the undesignated fund balance. Federico had been asked to outline current technology equipment needs that would align with the technology plan, and that might be considered for purchase if an undesignated fund balance were available and approved for use by the School Board.

Federico wrote in a memo and told the School Board that the technology plan committee had identified the age and usefulness of current hardware to be the greatest concern.

“The three-year plan focuses on getting both the hardware and software in the district to current standards and placing the hardware on a five-year life cycle schedule. This is emphasized as a budgeting priority over the three-year plan,” he wrote in his memo.

The areas identified were teacher machines, student Chromebooks, and administrative machines, and noted, with teacher machines, the need is to replace 110 devices at an estimated cost of $107,600. With less money, the district would replace fewer machines, with the new purchases replacing the worst machines first.

Federico said it would take three years to fully fund the district to current technology, and using unexpended funds would give the plan “a much needed jump start and move the district in the right direction. A significant portion of the 2018-19 technology budget will need to be spent on replacement parts…just to maintain a functional level throughout the district,” he wrote. “Replacing these machines proves to be more cost effective.”

He said that based on the approved 2018-19 budget, he would be purchasing 45 computers for teachers.

Arsenault spoke several times to express her discomfort with spending money she said the Town did not approve as part of the budget process, referring to the use of the unexpended fund balance. She said the funding for technology should be something the townspeople vote on.

Arsenault said she would like to see in next year’s budget something saying that if a surplus exists, a specific sum would be taken out and put into the technology capital reserve fund. “We put something in and the Town votes on it, yea or nay,” she said. Brickett said that could be done in a warrant article.

“I’m not denying your need at all but in my opinion these are budget items the Town can vote on,” Arsenault said.

Couture, however, said “part of our role is looking at what’s best for kids….We have the right to say we didn’t spend money (from the budget) here and want to reallocate it somewhere else. We are not asking for additional money.”

“It’s a bottom line budget,” Saulnier agreed.

Business Administrator Ron Brickett said that in his 12 years with the district, the board has not spent money out of the surplus except the previous week for ID cards.

He said he anticipates a surplus of approximately $150,000, minus the $50,000 already approved by taxpayers to put into capital reserve funds. “The surplus is much lower this year,” he noted, saying it was $835,000 last year and thus will have a “major effect” on the tax rate next year, possibly an additional 80 cents (per thousand). “

“If we had used the surplus in the past, we wouldn’t have had to increase the budgets at all,” Saulnier responded, noting that the surplus is part of the budget and thus was authorized by the voters.

Because that evening was the final school board meeting of the fiscal year, a decision on spending was required that night.

Couture moved, seconded by Saulnier, to expend $50,000 from the surplus to purchase teacher machines. The vote was 2-2, with Arsenault and Moe Titcomb opposed, sending the motion to defeat.

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Part 2 - New Elementary Unified Arts Schedule, New Handbooks in Raymond Schools
By Leslie O’Donnell   6-26-18

In the coming school year, Lamprey River Elementary School will have a new schedule for Unified Arts classes and each of the Raymond schools will have updated handbooks.

At the June 20 School Board meeting, Lamprey River Principal Bryan Belanger and staff highlighted changes to the school’s Unified Arts schedule for the coming year, expanding on a presentation made earlier in the year.

Belanger said he and Assistant Principal Laura Yacek visited other elementary schools as well as meeting with school staff to come up with creating
a rotating schedule, adding time for Unified Arts and classroom integration, renaming Health to Health Science, adding a social-emotional Unified Arts class with the guidance counselor, adding library support, and allowing for student choice.

The proposed schedule offers a six-day rotation, which alleviates the problem of Monday days off. “With a fixed schedule like we had, those who had PE (physical education), for example, on Mondays lost six class sessions this year, while those who had the class on Tuesdays only lost one class day,” Belanger said.

With the proposed schedule of a six-day rotation, the school could maintain its 40-minute classes with 5 minutes of transition time, and still add the social-emotional class, he said. In addition, the librarian would have time to collaborate with teachers.

He added that a big part of the proposal is the addition of the social-emotional guidance class with guidance counselor Laura Milner. She currently meets with grade 1 students once a week and other grades once a month.

“This model allows not just responding to a crisis but giving students a strategy before they need it – how to regulate emotions, how to deal with other students’ expression of emotions,” he explained, adding that the class would not be graded.

“The social/emotional needs in our school are tremendous, and this would be one way to help meet those needs,” Belanger said.

Board member Michelle Couture said she loved the concept of adding a social/emotional guidance class. She also emphasized that a para-educator could not by state law teach students, and Belanger said he hoped to provide the library with a para-educator for clerical support. “It is not our intention to have paras teach,” he said.

On a motion by Couture and second by Janice Arsenault, the board accepted the new schedule unanimously.

In other business:

The board heard presentations on new student handbooks for each of its three schools for the coming year. Superintendent Tina McCoy said she especially wanted to thank administrative assistant Jennifer Heywood for her work on the handbooks. The revisions were made to make the handbooks more uniform throughout the District in both content and format.

Changes include new vision statements for the elementary and middle schools, a grading section – updated for competency-based grading – for each school, the high school exam policy and procedure for exempting seniors from final exams, and the middle school dress code.

Concerning the final exam exemptions, the high school will allow seniors earning at least a 93, which is an A or “proficient with distinction,” to be exempt from taking a final exam in that course. The previous cut-off was 96.

Regarding the middle school dress code, the focus was more on avoiding public shaming and on giving students a chance to self-correct than on changes in attire. Middle school students took part in coming up with the revisions.

Arsenault noted the high school handbook fails to mention that hats are not allowed at the high school, which is board policy. That will be added to the handbook.

The board, on a motion by Arsenault, unanimously accepted all three handbooks with changes as discussed.

• The board held first readings on policies for staff and student identification, school lunch program meal charges, and the school year. The ID policy will state that students in grades 5-12 will be expected to wear ID cards at school during the school day. Concerning the school year, a change was made to state the district will adhere to a calendar based on the number of hours required by the state, rather than the number of days.

The lunch program charge policy is new, and addresses situations in which a student’s lunch balance is not paid. In elementary and middle school, a student requesting a meal will receive it – but not a la carte items – regardless of whether the student has money to pay for it or the account has an outstanding balance. In high school, students whose balance is $30 or above will not be allowed to charge any items. The policy explains how the district will seek to collect outstanding balances.

McCoy said that if the balance is not paid or a meal is not sent from home, she can pursue payment through small claims court.

Couture noted that the schools maintain a well-stocked food pantry in the nurse’s office, and a program is available in which food can be sent home for the weekend, when school meals are not available.

“It’s really important for the public to understand that the policy is not intended to keep food away but it is a matter of fiscal responsibility to the town, so that we don’t have to continually fund the Food Service budget because people are not doing their fair share,” she said.

• Business Administrator Ron Brickett presented the financial report for the 11 months ending May 31. He said the district collected $21,230,914 or almost 90 percent of receipts, with Medicaid reimbursements and indirect costs under budget. He said revenue is expected to come in very close to budget ($22,905,662) this year, with an anticipated $150,000 in surplus.

He said Special Education was about $400,000 over budget, and Food Services will receive a little over $46,000 from the General Fund.

• McCoy reported that the New Hampshire Executive Council approved an 80 percent grant for security projects at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School. The projects had been conditionally approved by the school board at the previous meeting.

• The board reviewed district investment policies, as required annually. Brickett did not recommend any changes.

• The board approved having the chairman sign the auditor engagement letter and the New Hampshire Department of Education general assurance letter.

• Arsenault told the board the district now has a proposed strategic improvement plan that will be presented at the July board meeting.

• Board chair Joe Saulnier thanked the board and district for a good academic year and again thanked Brickett, who is retiring June 30.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lamprey River Elementary Fourth Grade Classrooms to Move to Main Building
By Leslie O’Donnell    6-20-18

A plan is coming for the new school year to move all fourth grade classes out of the portables and into the main building at Lamprey River Elementary School in Raymond.

At the June 13 school board meeting, Lamprey River Principal Bryan Belanger and Assistant Principal Laura Yacek discussed the plan, which has been in the works since winter vacation.

Belanger explained that the goal of the plan was to bring all five grade 4 classrooms into the main building. For the school year that just ended, five fourth-grade classes and one third-grade class were in the portables. The change will also mean bathroom and water access to grade 4.

In addition to moving the fourth grades into the main building, the plan calls for shifting speech, reading specialists, four case managers, a part-time math specialist and the mobile computer lab into the portables, putting all intervention teachers in a common area to work together, Belanger said. The portables will also house a conference room.

Superintendent Tina McCoy advised the board that the plan is an information item, not yet ”written in stone” and open to feedback. However, no board action is required.

As part of the shift, the preschool classrooms will be moved into the current computer lab and speech room in the front of the school to make room for two grade 4 classrooms. Belanger said the district would not have to do anything with the bathrooms other than moving stepstools from the current preschool bathrooms, and the only expense would be the addition of two changing tables.

Belanger added that they have identified areas in the main building to be used for preschool students and special education students whose needs mean they should not go outdoors to the portables.

“We believe moving the computer lab and the conference room outside into the portables makes more sense than having full grade classes there,” he said.

One parent told the board she was not comfortable with the plan, and noted issues with children who are “runners,” preschoolers, or youngsters with disabilities having to go to the portables for services.

Belanger responded that “a lot of thought” went into this proposal. It is not something that was just thrown together. The building will always have concerns, and as enrollment goes down, we should be taking additional steps to bring more programs inside.

“I think this is really an important step - to bring all the fourth graders inside,” he added. “We’re in a problem-solving mode, and that’s why we’re here.”

The presentation was followed by comments from resident Susan Caldwell, who had taken it upon herself to come up with a plan to eliminate the use of portables at the school. Earlier in the meeting, she had urged against moving the reading specialist to the portable.

She said that when she found out a plan was already in the works to take the fourth graders out of the portables, she was appreciative, and said she agrees with it. “Fourth graders should be part of the whole community,” she said.

“The biggest thing for me,” she said, “is that conservatively, there should be two more free rooms (in the main building) and two fewer teachers. She reviewed class sizes and said that putting fourth graders in four classes, rather than five, would bring class size to 22.5 students and could bring the reading specialist into the building.

She also questioned why the third grade had such a low student/teacher ratio. Board chairman Joe Saulnier explained that the class was the last one to have attended half-day kindergarten. And in terms of Caldwell’s urging that two more teachers be cut, he explained that the board cannot cut teachers at this time, as they have already re-upped their contracts.

“We’ll look at these numbers again at budget season,” Saulnier noted. “We cut two staff at the elementary school this year.”

Board member Beth Paris added, “A lot of people think things just happen arbitrarily, but there are rules that have to be followed.”

“Five classes for 85 to 91 students is unreasonable to the taxpayer,” Caldwell said.

However, board member Michelle Couture said that comparisons have to be made of apples to apples. “Some kids require a lot of extra attention and services, and that goes into the mix of a classroom and its size,” she said. “Our primary concern is what is best for students. What you are saying did not fall on deaf ears.”

Carol Watjus also spoke up to thank the administration for listening to residents and doing something about the portables. “I appreciate that you have come up with a solution that will help the majority of children in that school,” she said. “I want to thank you for listening.”

In other business:

• The board heard from several parents who protested the non-renewal of the contract of kindergarten teacher Michelle Blum. They offered extensive praise for Blum’s teaching and relationship with parents and students, and asked the board to reconsider its action.

One resident noted Blum was a union representative who spoke up for teachers, and had never been written up for any actions. Acknowledging the school is not obligated to give a reason for non-renewal, she said a number of teachers and parents are upset by the action, and pointed out that earlier that evening, Blum had been recognized for being nominated by her peers for the “You Make the Difference” award.

Her comments met with applause from the audience.

The board had no comment.

• After coming out of non-public session, the board opened the meeting with Saulnier noting that over the past month, many questions and comments had been made about bullying in the schools and the policy that governs the district. “We as a district take bullying very seriously,” he said, “and want to make the public aware of and understand our policy and the steps we take to protect our students and our district.” He said a public meeting would be scheduled at a future date on the district’s bullying policy.

During public input later in the evening, resident Tina Thomas said it was “disrespectful” that the school board had not made an effort to reach out to the parents who had spoken about bullying at the elementary school. She said the parents, who had withdrawn their students to homeschool them because of what they said were safety issues, had followed through with the board’s advice to request a non-public meeting, and said the meeting had been cancelled by the board at the last minute.

“Do their voices not matter anymore because they withdrew their children from the school district?” Thomas asked. “Do they not still pay property taxes?...The parents still want to have their say, and they want to listen to the school board’s response. Just because the families were being advised by legal counsel doesn’t mean they should not have been denied their voices. After all, the school board has access to legal counsel.

“The parents came to you, and you need to act,” she added. Saulnier interjected at that point to say it was a matter the board cannot talk about, to which Thomas responded that because it was being presented during public input, she had the right to speak.

When Saulnier repeated that the board could not talk about the matter, Thomas claimed the board could act on it and alleged that no one had reached out to the parents except to cancel the meeting. “That’s unacceptable,” she said.

And when Saulnier said he had done more than that, she responded, “baloney,” and said she would “follow that up when I get home to make sure that’s not a lie.”

Thomas also asked how many Facebook pages the district owns. She knew of the ones for each of the three schools and for the district, and asked about any other pages or groups sponsored by the district. Saulnier said as far as he knew, those four are the only ones.

She said she would “go out on a limb and listed other sites that she claimed were district sponsored. Saulnier said their administrators are not from the school district.

She concluded by telling Saulnier, “you need to get the kids out of the portables, you need to cut the budget for taxpayer relief, and you need to deal with these parents over bullying issues and talk to them and figure out how to fix the problem.”

• The board held a public hearing on several expenditures from capital reserve funds, with no one from the public speaking. Later in the meeting, following discussion, the board approved expending $70,282.92 to renovate two bathrooms and make them Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, and to install an epoxy chip floor, both at the elementary school; reconfiguration projects for safety measures at the middle school, for a total of $23,054; purchase of science textbook kits for Kindergarten through grade 5, for up to $16,000; a firewall replacement for $12, 515; and purchase of two ID printers and supplies, for up to $14,500.

Eighty percent of the cost of the safety projects at the middle school are expected to come from a Public School Infrastructure Grant that is anticipated to be signed by the New Hampshire Executive Council on June 20. That would leave the district cost at $23,054, and board approval was contingent on the awarding of the grant.

McCoy had requested three ID printers, but following discussion, the board approved purchasing two.

“We require students (other than elementary students) to carry a photo ID at all times,” she explained. “We don’t have to do this (printer purchase), but we have a policy making kids walk around with useless badges now, and I have a problem with that as an educator.” The proposed printed badges could be coded for lunch purchases and other uses.

Technology Director Kevin Federico elaborated on the printers and their cost. Paris suggested getting only one printer and keeping it at the district office as a pilot project.  Business Administrator Ron Brickett said if that were the plan, it should be paid for from the budget instead.

Couture moved to purchase two printers and supplies for up to $14,500, taken from the current budget.

 All expenditures were approved unanimously except for the ID printers; on that vote, Moe Titcomb was opposed.

• The board recognized six retirees leaving June 30: special education director Walter Anacki; para-educator Sandy Ellis, whom McCoy called “a true pillar of the community” and noted that she had been a school board member for 23 years; para-educator Barbara Gamelin; Judith Perry, a financial assistant in charge of payroll since 2015; middle school teacher Pat Popieniek, employed at Raymond since 1993, a former Teacher of the Year, and “mainstay” of the Lamprey River Ecosystem Project:” and business administrator Ron Brickett, leaving what McCoy called “the most important job in the district.” Employed since 2006, Brickett, who she said was “trusted and respected at the highest level,” will work part time in federal funds accounting for the district.

• Recognized the following employees as having been nominated by their peers for the “You Make the Difference” award throughout the year: Michelle Blum, Katie Bronson, Sandy Ellis, Julie Healey, Bob Lemoine, Lisa MacDougall, Ashley Meyer, Abigail Michaud, Joanne Morrison, Jessica Oakleaf, Emily Pattison, Alicia Rockenhauser, Laura Sforza and Dave Smith.

• McCoy reported on Raymond High School’s graduation and the 86 graduates of the Class of 2018.  She said 71 percent of the class applied to college; students received approximately $36,000 in local scholarships and more than $543,000 in scholarships from colleges.

• Research Assistant Sean McKinley of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center presented results of the town-school district survey. The survey results can be accessed at www.sau33.com and had a 14 percent response rate.

• The board heard a student-led presentation about the eighth grade trip to Ellis Island and Washington, D.C.

• McCoy noted that elementary school teacher Jessica Jortberg did not have her contract renewed because of a reduction in force, but with the retirement of Denise Santos, a position came open and Jortberg had the right to return. She will be back at Lamprey River for the coming year.

 


Raymond School District Hires Business Administrator
By Leslie O’Donnell     5-25-18

School Administrative Unit (SAU) 33 has hired a Business Administrator to replace Ron Brickett, who is retiring.

Marjorie Whitmore, who is currently business administrator at SAU 44 - a Kindergarten-Grade 8 district covering Northwood, Nottingham and Strafford – was approved for the Raymond post at the School Board’s May 23 meeting. She will receive an annual salary of $97,000, and will begin work July 1.

Superintendent Tina McCoy cited Whitmore’s experience in public school finance and said she comes highly recommended. “She’s just the right fit for this position,” McCoy told the School Board.

Earlier this spring the board had approved a replacement for Brickett, but she shortly thereafter turned down the position.

In other business at the May 23 meeting:

• The board, following a presentation by Lamprey River Elementary School and Iber Holmes Gove Middle School staff, unanimously approved a proposal to place those two schools on the trimester system starting in the fall. Currently, all core academic classes at Lamprey River are on the quarterly grading system; at the middle school that is the case as well, but with the majority of unified arts classes on the trimester system.

School officials noted that report cards are digital already.

Board member Janice Arsenault said the “days of paper report cards” are gone, and she noted that parents regularly check their children’s grades digitally. “There’s no more waiting for the report card to come home,” she said. “My hope would be to have the whole district on trimesters eventually.”

• Following a presentation by Raymond High School principal Steve Woodward, the board approved removing the Monday Morning Meeting from the high school schedule, and redistributing that time to classes.

• The board approved accepting donations from Hannaford Helps Schools for $1,000 to Lamprey River Elementary School, and a donation from Granite State Specialties of approximately 24 4x4 new tack boards and two 4x8 tack boards, similar to cork boards, with an approximate value of $2,800.

• The board waived policy to change the start of the June 13 board meeting to 6 p.m. The board earlier that evening held a first reading of a change in policy to start board meetings at 6 p.m.

Asked about the change by new board member Moe Titcomb, chairman Joe Saulnier said the meetings have consistently been lasting later. The change was approved unanimously.

• Arsenault noted that the Town-School District survey results have come in and are posted on the district and Town websites – www.sau33.com and raymondnh.gov - and a representative from the University of New Hampshire, which conducted the survey, will attend a future meeting.

• Arsenault also discussed a recent meeting of the District’s strategic planning committee, and announced that a community forum, with refreshments, will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. June 4. Residents are invited to attend at 5, 6 or 7 p.m. and meet with the committee to provide input on planning for the future.

• Raymond High School student representative to the board Jeffrey Rivard said the site council had been floating the idea of having a small greenhouse at the high school. He said the greenhouse could be attached to the school building and a gardening class and link to the science curriculum could be established.

The board members voiced approval for the idea, and Rivard said the site council will move ahead now that board interest has been expressed.

• Saulnier read into the record two letters of support for Lamprey River principal Bryan Belanger. At a previous meeting, three parents had expressed concerns about the school’s handling of alleged bullying incidents. The letters were written by Leann Hanson and Greg Dupuy, and cited a “positive upswing” at the elementary school since Belanger and Assistant Principal Laura Yacek have been there.

Hanson said that while people come to school board meetings to “gripe when they have a problem,” she wanted residents to hear about the good things that happen at the school. “I’m very grateful for all he does,” she said of Belanger.

• The board heard a presentation led by several fifth graders and fifth grade teacher Kristin Wallace about the fifth grade visit to Nature’s Classroom on Lake Ossipee in Freedom. Activities of the April 16-20 excursion including hiking, a science fair, science classes and experiments.

• Brickett presented the financial report for the month ending April 30, and said revenues continue to be in good shape, with 79.4 percent of the revenue in. He said lines over budget are special education services, special education out-of-district tuition, and food service contribution.

• Approved first reading of policies KD-R, School District Social Media Websites Regulations and IHCD Advanced College Placement. Following the second reading of policies ADB Drug Free Workplace and CCA-R Organization Chart, the board approved motions to accept the policies.

 


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.


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Raymond SCHOOL DISTRICT website
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Raymond High School
for RHS news & information.


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Iber Holmes Gove Middle School
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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
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