2019 Raymond School Board Meetings


School Board Hears Pinkerton Tuition Analysis
By Leslie O’Donnell   1-5-19

After more analysis and information gathering, the cost of closing Raymond High School and sending the Town’s high school students to Pinkerton Academy, the subject of a recent study in the District, has become a little clearer. (Editor’s note: Corrected comparison figures for Pinkerton and Raymond costs were presented by the School District at the following evening’s Budget Committee meeting – Jan. 3 - and are used in this article.)

At the Jan. 2 Raymond School Board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Tina McCoy presented comparison information about the two schools, although she emphasized that it was like comparing apples to oranges. Pinkerton, 14.1 miles away in Derry, is a semi-private school with 3,184 pupils, compared to Raymond High’s 373.

Raymond voters will face a warrant article in March that is advisory only, asking whether the School District should form a committee to study the possibility of the District’s entering a tuition agreement for RHS students with Pinkerton Academy, and authorizing the School Board to conduct a building needs assessment and design analysis of the potential to convert and renovate RHS into an elementary school. The article would also raise and appropriate up to $50,000 for committee and needs assessment costs.

After receiving a request for information from the Raymond School District last fall, Pinkerton officials said they would be agreeable to accepting RHS students on a tuition basis. Students are currently tuitioned to Pinkerton from Derry, Chester, Hampstead, Hooksett, Candia and Auburn.

Using current student enrollment, the projected base tuition rate to Pinkerton would be $12,066 per pupil. Multiplied by 305 students (373 students less 68 Special Education students), that comes to $3,680,130.

The annual operating cost for RHS is estimated at $7,492,969, including salaries and benefits; transportation; co-curricular and athletic programs; Seacoast School of Technology; and out-of-district costs for Special Education students, including tuition and transportation. The current bus provider estimates six additional buses would be needed for regular transportation, for an annual increase of $341,500.

Based on current Raymond pupil numbers, Special Education tuition would be $1,624,046. McCoy noted that if something outside of Pinkerton’s Special Education programs were needed, Raymond would pay for it. Special Education transportation costs, according to the current provider, would not change.

Closing the high school would save $432,908, including the cost of custodial staff.

The comparison emphasized that the School Board has not entered into any agreement or negotiation with Pinkerton, and all costs are preliminary estimates.

The study also looked at other comparison factors related to education, as follows:

Pinkerton’s graduation rate is 90.98 percent, while RHS’s rate is 83.33 percent. Pinkerton’s dropout rate is .085 percent; Raymond’s is 2.13 percent.

In state assessments, Pinkerton’s rate for students scoring proficient or above in reading is 62 percent, compared to the RHS rate of 48 percent; in math, Pinkerton achieved a 41 percent rate, compared to Raymond’s 30 percent. And the percentage o f Pinkerton students enrolling in a four-year college after graduation is 51.9 percent, compared to 33 percent at RHS.

Pinkerton’s 18 career and technical education (CTE) programs are provided on its Derry campus, while CTE is provided for Raymond by12 programs at Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter.

Also noted was an offering of 37 sports at Pinkerton, and 18 at Raymond, with 12 to 13 percent of Pinkerton students participating in sports and cut rates of 20 to 30 percent, compared to 44 percent participation in Raymond, with rare cuts.

McCoy cautioned that one-time costs would also be involved in a shift to Pinkerton. As many as 82 employees could be eligible for Unemployment Compensation at $20,000 each, paid out over two years and totaling $1,640,000, and up to 24 employees would be eligible for severance pay totaling $191,973. Employees with 10-plus years at Raymond would be paid severance at 90 percent of the substitute rate for unused sick days, up to 120 days. That sum would be paid at one time, and totals $191,973.

Looking at an overall estimated comparison of ongoing costs, the cost at Raymond High would be roughly $7,492,969, compared to Pinkerton at $7,502,628. That translates to a total annual savings, however – without severance and unemployment - of $423,249, which includes savings from operating one less school in Raymond.

“At first we were projecting a lot more savings (at Pinkerton) than we do now,” School Board chairman Joe Saulnier said.

Information forums on the Pinkerton warrant article and other School District warrant articles will be held Jan. 9 at Raymond High, Jan. 10 at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School, and Jan. 23 at Lamprey River Elementary School, all at 7 p.m. The warrant articles will also be discussed at coffee hours with the school principal at 9 a.m. Jan. 24 at the middle school, 9:15 a.m. Jan. 25 at Lamprey River, and 10 a.m. Jan. 28 at RHS.

Saulnier said the board will not be taking a position on the warrant on the Pinkerton advisory article.

In other business:

• Food Services Director Judy DiNatale updated the School Board on the food service program and said that in spite of a meal price increase, figures are “recovering some lost ground” and doing well. For lunches, the elementary school is at 55 percent participation, compared to 56 percent for the same period last year; the middle school is at 56 percent, compared to 59 percent last year, and the high school is at 43 percent, compared to 40 percent last year.

She also noted that the free and reduced-price lunch population has stabilized at about the same numbers as last year at this time, 27 to 28 percent.

DiNatale and Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore discussed plans for a procedure for the district to accept donations to pay for outstanding meal accounts.

“People have expressed an interest in donating money to help pay off outstanding lunch accounts,” McCoy said. “We’re the only district in New Hampshire to do anything with this – others are waiting to see what we do.”

Whitmore said if someone donates money and designates it for meals for a specific student, that wish will be followed. Undesignated donations will go to outstanding costs of students in the free lunch program first. If those are all current, the donation would then go to the accounts of students in the reduced-price lunch program or other paying students. DiNatale and Whitmore have devised a percentage formula in which the amount of the donation would determine the percentage paid on a bill.

She noted they contacted the state for guidance and were advised that students in the reduced-price program are considered “paying” students and thus are not considered in a separate category.

McCoy added that it is not always the case that people with the highest need have the biggest lunch balances.

DiNatale said that 75 percent of the school districts in the United States have lunch balances due. “This has been mushrooming in the last two to three years, and there is not a lot of methodology to deal with it,” she said.

Board members expressed positive views toward the proposal and said they would make a motion on the matter after administration receives a legal opinion on the proposal.

McCoy reminded the board and television audience that the district’s meal charging policy talks about unresolved debt. “First and foremost, if someone’s situation changes and they are having difficulty, they should contact us and we will come up with a payment plan,” she said. “We will meet with them. There are a few people with very high balances who don’t respond to meeting with us and doing a payment plan, and we are looking at options to deal with them, such as Small Claims Court.”

Whitmore explained the costs and procedure of Small Claims Court, and McCoy acknowledged its use is a “balancing act, probably reserved for rare circumstances.”

“It may be worth your while if there’s a significant balance,” said Whitmore, who would be the staff person going to court in such matters.

“I have a fundamental moral problem with going after people because their kids want to eat,” board member Michelle Couture said. “I’m not in favor of Small Claims at this moment.” Board member Moe Titcomb agreed with her.

Board member Beth Paris said a lot of assistance is available with the free and reduced-price lunch programs, but “unfortunately some people just are not paying,” and rely on others to pay for their children.

“We’re trying to teach students how to be good citizens, and that there are consequences,” she said. “People need to take responsibility for saying they need help. People have to take that step and be responsible. All this money could be recovered if people took responsibility for paying their balances.”

• The board approved a motion to refund $6,150.39 to employees, the amount of their contribution, from the SchoolCare holiday refund. This refund is part of SchoolCare’s surplus, which the courts have determined must be returned to their members. In the past, the Board has voted to return to employees a percentage of the District’s refund equivalent to their original contribution. Raymond received $123,126.14 in July, but was not allowed to issue the refund to employees until December. The remainder - $116,975.89 - was placed in the budget.

• The board approved the hiring of Jennifer Atkins as a reading specialist at Lamprey River, at a salary of $48,290, to be pro-rated. She is a certified reading specialist.

• The board named member Janice Arsenault as alternate delegate to the New Hampshire School Boards Association (NHSBA) Delegate Assembly; Paris is the primary delegate. The board also approved a motion to continually determine an alternate to the NHSBA.

• The board approved the second reading of policies on Student Conduct and on Student Health Services. The board also heard the first reading of three policies involving non-public and home education students.

• The board voted to express its positions on several NHSBA resolutions presented by other school districts for consideration at the NHSBA Delegate Assembly on Jan. 26.

 

 

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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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