2020 Raymond School Board Meetings

Raymond School Board Decides to Create Warrant Articles for Treasurer Raise and Deputy Treasurer Position
By Penny Williams   12-17-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, December 16, and decided to put the issues of a raise for the School District Treasurer and the appointment of a Deputy Treasurer for the district  into Warrant Articles for the residents to decide on.

Tina Thomas, who had previously challenged the board on these issues, called in and thanked the board for making this decision. The decision came after the board reviewed the recommendations from Town Counsel and discussed the options among themselves.

The board voted to develop two Warrant Articles - one for the increase in the Treasurer's stipend increasing it from $500 to $750  - and, one for the appointment of a Deputy Treasurer with $500 for training.

Principal Laura Yacek presented information to the board regarding the first Trimester at Lamprey River Elementary School.

She said that having the  orientation directly as school started proved more beneficial than holding it in the spring prior to the opening of the school year. She said she would like to continue doing it that way.

The Raymond Fire Department did a good job for Fire Prevention Week and the virtual Open House went very well. The school has had their ALICE Drill and the school held their Cafe Thanksgiving Day feast.

She also said it has worked out very well having the Kindergarten remain in the school when grades 1 through 3 went remote.

Principal Bob Bickford reported on the first Trimester at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School. He told the board that all the challenges they expected turned out not to be challenges such as kids refusing to wear face masks. He said this simply hasn't been the case. He admitted that the only constant this year is change.

He praised the work being done by the teachers who are teaching both remote  and hybrid classes as this isn't easy to do. However, he said moving the fourth grade to Middle School has gone without a hitch and he said this is due to the immense planning that was done before hand.

He said the social workers and counselor have been extremely important in addressing the mental health issues of students, teachers and parents and that most are taking these sorts of issues in stride. But, he admitted there are more disengaged kids than usual and many students frustrate their teachers because they are not turning on their cameras. He said these issues are being worked on.

The board approved the Raymond High School Student Survey presented by Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward with only a few wording changes suggested. The board thought the survey, which was developed in house with careful agreement with the regulations regarding surveys, gets to the heart of what it was intended to do - to find out what student feelings are regarding how the way education is being addressed during the pandemic affects them.

Schoolboard member Tony Clements asked for a follow-up to the question on how students feel about the work load. Woodward wants to send the survey out immediately and said he would if the board approved the survey after making the minor changes suggested. He assured the board the survey is a completely anonymous survey.

Woodward presented the Raymond High School 2021-2022 Program of Studies. The single biggest change is aligning history and literature at grade levels - American Literature taught at the same level as American History for example. The board  approved the program of studies.

Superintendent Tina McCoy went over some minor changes to the Reopening Plan saying most were in the form of clarifying language. The board approved acceptance of the Reopening Plan as presented. It was decided to review it again at the second meeting in February.

The board approved ratification of the previously reviewed Raymond Education Association Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The board accepted  two donations from the Exeter Area Charitable Foundation. A $500 donation to the high school and a $750 donation to the elementary school. These donations are used to help students in need.

Raymond School School Board Approves Return to Remote
By Penny Williams   12-3-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday night, December 2, and learned from Superintendent Tina McCoy that she is forced to recommend returning to Remote Learning because of insufficient staff.

McCoy said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is causing a serious adverse impact on Raymond School District staffing.

"Our staffing shortages are beyond critical at this time and I do not foresee the situation improving rapidly," she told the board.

 Due to that she said the district cannot proceed with its hybrid model. However, it was decided that because of the negative impact on the very young of long hours in front of screen that Pre-School and Kindergarten would continue in school classes in their special space. Given the current situation Kindergarten will begin in person on Monday, December 7.

The return to remote will continue through January 18, with students returning to on-site instruction on Tuesday, January 19. During remote there will be four days of direct instruction with Friday being allocated for additional remedial work, or enrichment  and teacher collaboration. Some students will be able to be provided with services they need on-site by appointment or prior arrangement

McCoy backed up her recommendation by noting that 67 percent of teachers and Para Educational Assistants cannot work in-person at the elementary level, 47 percent at the middle school and 19 percent at the high school. "I don't have a choice at this point," she stated.

After a brief discussion the board approved McCoy's recommendation, especially since schools have been forced to close recently with almost no notice to parents, a situation that was upsetting many parents but over which McCoy had no control.

The board held a Public Hearing regarding acceptance and expenditure of an unanticipated funds in the amount of $119,841.60 from Impact Fees. There was no public comment and the board voted its approval of acceptance and expenditure of the funds.

Several residents spoke during Public Comment with concerns over students not being able to get the meals they are entitled to because of school closings and difficulties of parents having to be available to work with young students during Remote Learning.

One resident, Tina Thomas,  refused to wear a mask despite being asked to do so for the safety of others and as required by the School Board, indicating Chair Joe Saulnier could call the police if he chose, which he did not.

Thomas complained about the board illegally raising the Treasurer's salary and providing a stipend for the Deputy Treasurer. She said she had the paperwork showing the governing body had approved a Treasurer but with no increase in compensation allowed and a deputy treasurer without any compensation. She said the school board had no authority to make these decisions and changes.

Student Services Director Mike Hatfield provided a presentation on the app Texthelp. This app provides students with technology that assists in the process of reading and writing text. It also helps with general curriculum. He spoke about Read & Write and SnapVerter, two apps that support student learning at school and at home.

Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) Coordinator Holly Londo provided the board with an update on this Raymond High School learning program. The presentation got bogged down in a discussion of whether it is appropriate or possibly offering a potential liability to have a student doing screening where confidential information might be present even though they would be working directly with a nurse. Board member Janice Arsenault raised the concern but the discussion ranged further than expected.

Londo said that there were challenges this year  with fewer opportunities for students but that there were still positives such as helping students to learn to think outside the box. All ELOs include four essential components, she told the board. These are research, reflection, product, and presentation.

The discussion ended with McCoy saying she would look into Arsenault's concern.

 Dr. Michael Whaland, Raymond School District Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment presented  his quarterly address. He went over some recent updates such as moving into Rubric calibration, Media Specialists providing teachers with training, establishing and beginning implementation of a formal curriculum review/improvement cycle, working with their consultant finalizing connections competencies and grading procedures , and, providing new supplementary programs/materials to interventionists and Title 1 tutors.  He noted the major challenges right now are COVID-19 related.

In assessment he went over how the fall STAR 360 Reading Benchmarks and Math Benchmarks worked out and said they are doing well supporting interventionists.

He also discussed the progression of the Competency Based Education noting they have moved from Competency Based Grading  to Competency Based Learning. He said students are understanding concepts and achieving a depth of knowledge. He indicated that the district supporting Competency Based grading and learning on Professional Development Days has been a big help.

Grades K-5 have full Competency Based Report Cards. The grades 6 through 12 are making progress. Going forward they will be finishing developing Connections Course Competencies and begin implementation of recently developed competencies in assessment. Work will continue with Cross-Curriculum Learning and strengthening the Competency Recovery Model.


Raymond School Board Special Meeting Approves Amended Default Budget
By Penny Williams    11-21-20

The Raymond School Board met in a special meeting Friday afternoon, November 20, to approve an amended Default Budget.

The board had approved the Raymond School Board Budget and the Default Budget at their Wednesday, November 18, meeting. Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore found calculation errors and corrected them.

The amended Default Budget is $26,237,757, $148,964 less than the School Board Operating Budget of $26,386,721. The board voted to approve the amended Default Budget.

Board Chair Joe Saulnier read into the record the following letter to accompany the amended Default Budget amounts. It reads as follows:

"During a meeting on November 18th, 2020 the default budget presented to the board was approved. After this meeting question arose whether it was correct and changes were made. To make sure everything was correct, the Administration called a meeting to go over every line of the Default Budget. During a three hour meeting additional changes were made. Though the School Board is not happy that the initial Default Budget was not correct, we are pleased that the appropriate actions were taken to correct the situation. 

Even though our budget is $148,964 more than the default some of the differences between our budget and the default budget are:

Maintenance Supplies - $11,572 higher
   Wage Pool -  $53,007 Decrease
   SAU Computer Software - $26,050 higher
   Technology - $56,795 higher
   HS Computer Replace Equip -  $11,014 higher
These alone account for $158,438 as other smaller lines decrease the difference by around $10,000.

I would also like to express that the School Board and Administration made significant changes in the Raymond School Board budget as we cut $428,826 in salaries, but we had significant increases in our NH Retirement contributions, approved raises for support staff, as well as increases to our insurance rates. Please join us on December 1st at 6:30 for our Presentation to the Budget Committee as we go over next year’s budget."

If anyone has any questions please feel free to contact the School Board at schoolboard@sau33.com


Raymond School Board Approves Proposed Operating and Default Budgets
By Penny Williams    11-19-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, November 18, and approved the proposed operating budget and default budget.

The board unanimously approved the proposed $26,386,721 operating budget that is an increase of 1.8 percent or $484,050 more than the 2020-21 budget of $25,902,671. The board also unanimously approved the default budget in the amount of $26,460,294,  which is $73,593 more than operational budget.

The board looked at the Warrant Articles and noted they had already approved Article 5, that seeks to raise and appropriate up to $75,000 to be placed in the existing Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund. The board had also previously approved Article 7, that seeks to adopt revisions to RSA 198:4-b II to allow the district to retain up to 5 percent of the district's net assessment in any year and to allow expenditure of any amount retained after a public hearing.

The board then unanimously approve Article 4, calling for the district to raise and appropriate $375,000 and to put $183,998 of that amount into the Equipment, Facilities, Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund; to put $151,992 of that total amount into the Technology Capital Reserve Fund; and, to put $39,010 into the Food Service Capital Reserve Fund.

The board also unanimously approved Article 6, that seeks to raise and appropriate $10,003 to be added to the Raymond School District Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund with this sum to come from the income generated by the water easement conveyed to the town. None of this will be raised from taxation.

The board unanimously approved accepting and expending the unanticipated funds from the State of New Hampshire Supplemental Public School Response Fund in the amount of $237,800. These funds will need to be expended prior to December 30.

Raymond School District Athletic Director Davinney Brazeau provided the Winter Sports recommendations to the board. Skills and Drills for the high school only will begin November 30. The first day to practice will be December 14 and the first day to play will be January 19, 2021. All sports will follow the NFHS rules which were adopted by the NHIAA for the 2020-2021 season.

She noted there might be a need for money to ensure the district can supply masks that are required to be worn since Winter sports are indoors. She also noted another water bottle station needs to be installed.

 Beyond that the same requirements as were in place for fall sports remained in place. Transportation remains an issue but she said they do the best they can under the circumstances.  No spectators will be allowed for home indoor events at either the high school or the middle school. The board voted to approve the Winter Sports Guidelines and recommendations.

Brazeau was also the recipient of the Teacher of the Month award.

Superintendent Tina McCoy announced that Raymond School District students in Grade 6 through Grade 12  will be in remote learning for the two weeks following Thanksgiving.

This decision was made not in direct response to COVID-19 but rather to specific staffing issues brought about by the shortage of substitutes, the number of unfilled positions, teacher's issues who are coming from other districts where child care issues have arisen, remote teachers in Raymond, and teachers and staff who plan to travel over Thanksgiving. She said she doesn't expect to close the school district further than the unless something unexpected should occur.

The board approved and signed the Trail Agreement between the Town of Raymond and the Raymond School District regarding the 5K Cross Country Trail being developed by Raymond Boy Scout Alex Tellier over both school district and town property. The trail will be for non-motorized passive recreation, no more than 14 feet wide, and, associated expenses of trail maintenance will be handled by the School District.

The board met members of the Raymond High School Girls Soccer, Boys Soccer and Football teams and congratulated them on their accomplishment during the season.

Karen Stuart, Director of Human Resource Services, provided an update and review of what the Human Resources Department has been doing this year. She said that her assistant Meredith Horgan had been unbelievably helpful. Stuart and Horgan said   newsletters have been sent out to the community and a school culture and climate survey has been done. She indicated that wellness, health and mental well being for students and staff have been a focus as well as reaching out to inform the community about these issues and the resources the district has to address them.

McCoy and Curriculum Director Michael Whaland reviewed the strategic plan noting progress has been made in all categories. The plan covers Curriculum; Strengthening and Support of the Workforce; Families, Businesses, Students; Communication; and, Safety and Security of the School Environment. They also made note of the improved School District Web Site.


Raymond School Board Discusses Student Use of Cameras and Possible Return to Remote
By Penny Williams   11-5-20

The Raymond School Board Wednesday evening, November 4, got bogged down over two issues: Student Use of Cameras; and, Possible District-wide Remote Learning during the Holiday Season.

The issue of student camera use revolved around whether students could or should be required to keep their cameras on during instruction. Currently it is recommended and expected that students keep their cameras on during direct instruction. However, since there have been instances where students turn off their cameras the issue was raised to discuss requiring cameras be left on.

Board member Janice Arsenault led the discussion adamantly discouraging any requirement for students keeping their cameras on. Several parents and educators pointed out that if the students don't keep their cameras on there is no way for the teachers to know if they are engaged in learning.

Arsenault pushed that requiring cameras on constitutes an invasion of privacy for some students whose home situation might be being exposed by cameras kept on. Teachers and administrators noted that there are filters students can apply that would eliminate any invasion of privacy keeping only the student in view.

Board Chair Joe Saulnier suggested some sort of form that parents could sign stating they are alright with their student's cameras being kept on. It was pointed out that this would still be unenforceable.

Director of Student Behavioral Health Jessica Caron noted that when students opt out of camera use it shows up one way or another.  The social workers and behavior personnel are alerted or perhaps notified of issues by teachers and they can then move to work the student and family to determine the issues at play and provide resources to help the students.

The two opposing views boiled down to no student should ever be forced to keep their camera on and those who felt camera use should be required. There is no current requirement for cameras to kept on although it is considered the norm to do and as such encouraged and expected.

In the end Superintendent Tina McCoy agreed to remind parents and students that there is an expectation that students will keep their cameras on but that it will not be required.

An equally in-depth discussion ensued over the district possibly returning to full remote from before Thanksgiving until two weeks after New Year's. McCoy pointed out that she wanted to let parents know this is a possibility based on the increase of Corona Virus cases in the community and the risk of an increase within the school community from families traveling out of state during the holidays.

It was noted that the district administrators cannot force anyone not to travel but can encourage them not to because of the elevated risk involved. Parents in on this discussion were adamant they want their kids back in  school and returning to remote would be regressing.

It was noted there has been no decision to do this but McCoy felt parents should know that the possibility exists. It would be driven by increases in COVID-19 cases impacting the school community as well as the surrounding communities and Raymond.

The decision to go this route might well be driven by the simple fact the district, because of COVID-19 cases, has insufficient teaching staff to keep the schools open. It was noted that there are currently many unfilled absences and substitutes are all but impossible to find.

No decision was made and McCoy reiterated that she simply wanted the parents and the community to know the possibility that this will have to happen is out there. She said she would give the community as much of an advanced notice as possible.

Caron provided the board with an update on Student Behavioral Health Services saying resources and support services have been expanded. Increased awareness of mental and social health issues have been achieved.

She reviewed some of the activities her personnel are involved in with providing support and resources to students and families. She noted the district has partnered with Seacoast Mental Health Center for implementation of suicide prevention resources among other things.

She also noted she is planning on conducting culture and climate surveys with students and parents and through the Project Awareness she is implementing staying more closely connected to the community and students needs through planning and evaluation.

The board voted to approve increasing the Treasurer's salary to $3,750 and providing a $500 stipend for the Deputy Treasurer for a total increase of $1,346.

The board approved adding money to the budget to address the per student increase from Seacoast School of Technology to $168. per student with 50 students addressed in the budget this would be an increase $8,400.

The board voted to approve the acceptance of a donation of technology equipment valued at $566.46  (mice and keyboards) from Mike and Tanya Davis.

The Girls and Boys Middle School Soccer Teams were Tri-County Division winners and were congratulated by the board.


Raymond School Board Approves 2021-2022 Operating Budget
By Penny Williams   10-29-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening. October 28, and after making a few changes to the proposed draft budget, the board unanimously approved the $26,548,696  Raymond School District Operating Budget for 2021-22.

The changes to the draft budget as presented  were to eliminate the YEES Worker position from the High School since there are no IEP's involved which would reduce the High School Special Education budget by $62,115 and eliminate the JAG contracted services at the High School, reducing that the JAG contracted services line by $26,621. This would provide a $88,736 savings to the district. This was put forward by Janice Arsenault but the board agreed by consensus.

Arsenault then asked to add to the budget $14,000 to make up the difference in what the state provides this year for the JAG program. This would be for this year to offset the impact that likely comes from the corona virus issues. The board agreed by consensus.

 Arsenault suggested adding $15,000 to the budget to implement the Project Lead the Way at the high school. The board agreed by consensus.

Business Manager Marjorie Whitmore after making the above mentioned changes gave the board the new School District Operating Budget amount of $26,548,696 and the board voted unanimously to approve it.

Chair Joe Saulnier noted that the changes brought the district budget numbers to roughly $67,000 under the Default Budget but Whitmore said the Default Budget has not been finalized yet. Saulnier stated the board would take action on the Default Budget another day.


Raymond School Board Heard Technology Up to the Job
By Penny Williams   10-22-20

The Raymond School Board sandwiched a regular meeting in between two budget related meetings on Wednesday evening, October 21.

Technology Director Kevin Federico gave the board a technology update that indicated the district's technology has proven up to the task of providing the teachers and students with virtual learning and programs.

Federico indicated that the technology has been used to assist with Professional Training and used the Professional Training to help teachers adjust to and work with the hybrid learning approach the Raymond School District has adopted. He noted that Google Meet has added a number of applications that provide teachers with the ability to produce classes and programs that will be re-usable. He talked about some of the technology additions such as Clone Yourself and Jamboard. The Google Classroom uses training has been largely done in house but he said Fry Technology has provided training assistance.

The Chromebook status was discussed and he said that all fully remote students have devices as well as the six through twelveth  grade students. Grade five is in the process of receiving their devices. He said the technology department is assessing the needs of the students in grades K through four and the plan is to provide a device to every student in this group that needs one over the course of the next few weeks.

The board was pleased to learn that the district had received and re-purposed 293 used Chromebooks from the Concord School District and Federico is hopeful that he will be receiving more from Concord.  He expects to see the 600 new Chromebooks on order and said he has been notified that he  will see 300 of them hopefully arrive on November 6 but he cautioned the arrival date has been changed several times already.

Streaming is now in use at Raymond High School. Federico said 9 kits have been put together and cameras, some costing $1700 and some costing $1400 have been purchased and put in place. The kits are in use at the High School but some of the new cameras are also at the elementary school. Overall, technology is in good shape.

The board discussed possible Warrant Articles and made a couple of decisions. The board voted to approve putting  up to $75,000 into the Equipment /Facilities CRF from surplus.

The board voted to approve keeping up to 5 percent Retention of Surplus Funds for Emergency Purposes. There is $448,000 in the fund at present.

There was a long discussion regarding a Deputy Treasurer and the board feels such a position is needed and should be compensated. The complicating issue with the Deputy Treasurer is that a previous Warrant Article approved such a position but without compensation which was based on the statutes at the time. Now the law has changed the board had to decide whether to budget an amount for the position and make note of the law change to justify it or go for a Warrant Article.

The board decided not to go for a Warrant Article because if defeated no would mean no. They approved adding $500 to the budget for the training and preparation of the Deputy Treasurer position.

The Financial Report was not complete due to Marjorie Whitmore, SAU Business Manager being so busy with budget and the fact the district is still in the hiring process. However, she reported the district is on target with revenues and although things are not fully reconciled on the expenditure side, it appears there will be a $386,00 surplus.

Superintendent Tina McCoy said the path chosen by the district is a difficult one but that it is actually going well with staff and teachers showing creativity and working very hard. She indicated emergency drills are being done just twice as many as usual because of the hybrid learning approach. She said LEAP is expanding before school on a limited basis and there are 10 taking advantage of the after school program. Testing is taking place at the high school. She also reported that the district will not be playing any teams from schools that are entirely remote learning because of COVID-19 concerns.

The board approved staying with the bid on propane and oil from Palmer Gas & Oil. Whitmore recommended they stay with Palmer which is located in Raymond because of its location and because the other bidder was only very little lower in bid price but is located in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

The board heard from the Raymond Coalition for Youth's Youth Action Group. It was noted that the group had been acknowledged by the White House and had met with a representative from the White House National Office of Drug Control Policy, Jim Carroll.

The board accepted donations from Hannaford Helps Schools. Hannaford Helps Schools presented a check for $2,157 to the Lamprey River Elementary School and a check for  $4,514 for Raymond High School.

In Other Business:

* Tuesday, October 20, the preliminary proposed Budget for  FY 2021-2022 summary by Department was presented to the Raymond School Board.

The General Fund Expenses were $25,217,970
and Food Service Expenses $626,083
for a total General Fund and Food Service total of $25,844,053; 
Total Federal Fund Expenses of $720,000 brought the total District Operating Expenses to $26,564,053 up from $25,902,671 for FY 2020-2021.

* Thursday, October 22, the board will meet and go over the following projected 2021-2022 budgets.

LEAP - Patrick Arsenault -  Before School program $30,698 and After School $84,512;
Food Service, Judith DiNatale - $626,083;
Todd Ledoux - Maintenance budget amount of $1,960,546.
Kevin Federico - the Technology budget of $782,035.


Raymond School Board Heard LRES Renovation or New Construction Not Recommended at this Time
By Penny Williams   10-8-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, October 7, and heard from the Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) Building Committee and the architect, both who did not recommend the renovation of the building or construction of a new building at this point in time.

More information is needed for a design and the board was asked to approve $5,000 for the development of additional information so a new building design could be created.  The board ultimately approved this after they heard from Ken Hajjar, Chair of the LRES Building Committee and from Architect Kyle Barker.

Hajjar told the board "the LRES Building Committee is not prepared to present a final recommendation at this time."

Barker said the study he is heading up shows the need for additional design services. The study is nearing two potential recommendations, one relating to additions and renovations at LRES and the second new construction considerations on a new site.

Barker indicated that since the building footprint without the fourth grade is smaller, the land at the Raymond High School could possibly be suitable for construction of a new building. However, this led to a discussion by the board in which it was made clear that the removal of the fourth grade from LRES has always been intended as a temporary move and so any new construction would need to contemplate K through grade 4.

Barker proposed a $5,000 amount to allow his group to prepare a conceptual floor plan and site plan for additions and renovations as well as one for new construction at the high school property.

In the executive summary it was stated that the LRES could be upgraded cost effectively despite the challenges in its design and its age. However, board members focused on the fact that the building is in a flood plain and this begs the question whether it would really be cost effective to upgrade it. 

It was noted that Raymond would not be eligible for any state building aid until 2023 and even then it would require a detailed and in-depth design shovel ready plan to be considered. Raymond would have to have a very good detailed plan, good support, and make the case better the other eligible districts at that time. It would cost in the neighborhood of $200,000 to be in a position to get state building aid.

The board approved the requested $5,000 for Barker to develop a design and gather additional information and continue to move forward with the LRES study.

Superintendent Tina McCoy went over proposed changes and additions to the 2020 Reopening Plan which is currently in effect due to the Corona Virus pandemic. The changes include some new information that drove some of the changes and other suggested adjustments and amendments. She reviewed the ones she deemed the board needed to hear about and make a decision on. These changes and amended plan policies included:
* Revisions and additions regarding school operations and using NH DHHS metrics for guidance.
* Various revisions relative to student engagement and requests for remote learning.
* The 14-day quarantine for students and staff who have left the state based on CDC guidelines.
* Revision to the Music Program wording
* Revisions to face mask use, with the addition of inclement weather mask break guidance.
* Addition of wording to prohibit certain face coverings, and additional wording  related to alternatives for students with disabilities or medical conditions
* Add that students in grades 6 and above will be required to use district devices (changed after discussion to encouraged)
* Add snacks to the list when students will be spaced 6-feet apart for meals
* Rewording of Free and Reduced Meals information
* Changes to LEAP time to 6 p.m.
* Add LEAP to facilities use exceptions and,
* Add wording to reflect this review and timeframe, 30 days after reopening, and set next review.

Masks on the elementary age students came in for a lot of discussion but  the board felt the need to wear masks was necessary and suggested that mask breaks be conducted in a different location where students can be 6-feet apart.

The board approved the amended proposed changes to the 2020 Reopening Plan.

The board approved the proposed changes to the Raymond Athletic Eligibility  policy so it matches the current situation in the Raymond School District. The changes were made to address the temporary COVID-19 amended schedule which has students taking fewer classes simultaneously than they would under a normal schedule.

Student Services Director Michael Hatfield presented an update on Student Services. He went over Special Education identifications, out of district placements and noted that Child Find is used to identify 2,5 to 5 year olds not currently enrolled that may have learning difficulties He reviewed other services such as the student Rehabilitative Act,  Homeless Youth and teaching English as a Second Language.  He spoke of developing a Parent Advisory and providing a website with resources and reviewing programs looking to see what the district has and what it might want to add.

The board heard about the Little Free Library installed at LRES by the Girl Scouts; they did a first read of some NHSBA policies and then a second read of several polices and approved these.

The board voted to accept a donation of $9,837 from the Special Olympics NH. This was a reward to Raymond High School for participation in the Penguin Plunge.

The board signed the affidavit for Drinking Water Lead Removal Plan at LRES so as to be eligible for a Department of Education grant


Raymond School Board Approves Return to School or Work Procedures and COVID-19 Instructions
By Penny Williams   9-17-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday night, September 16, and approved adding to the Employee and Student Handbooks new Return to School or Work Procedures and COVID-19 Instructions.

This is the result of the changes that evolved and developed in connection with COVID-19 protocols. Superintendent Tina McCoy said the intent is to make the handbooks as clear and up to date as possible given the changing guidelines.

Emily Donati, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School  Nurse said the district nurses and human resource personnel met and have aligned their procedures to the NH Guidelines and School policies and procedures.  The intent is to outline the return to school or work procedures while also helping constituents understand what to do or what will happen in the event of a suspected case, a confirmed case, a suspended or confirmed exposure, or travel outside of New England. They went over and included what symptoms would trigger actions and what those actions would be. They went over when testing would be necessary and quarantining and what that would involve. They also  went over travel and its policies and protocols and encouraged district staff and students to travel only when necessary.

The board had few questions and approved the Return to School or Work Procedures and COVID-19 Instructions.

The board discussed only briefly the proposed Raymond High School graduation date of June 11, 2021, before approving it.

Todd Ledoux, Facilities Manager, provided the board with an update on the safety and facilities changes made for the current school year. He said the move of the fourth grade had gone well and move of the Pre-School to the High School had also gone well.

The portables at the Lamprey River Elementary School are now gone and the school looks much better.

He said staff and personnel received training in cleaning methods and maintenance and are now certified.  He indicated the playground for the Pre-School went well and there were no major surprises in these changes.  Sufficient PPE are available for staff and students and the building air handlers are running additional hours before and after school to cycle out the air as well classrooms employing the use of fans where needed both during the day and after hours.

Judy DiNatale provided a review of the food service. She indicated the Federal Government in this COVID-19 period issued a large number of waivers which made things easier to address.

All students can receive free breakfast and lunch until the end of December. The waivers also address flexible meal times and addressed remote meal procedures and processes. A parent can now pick up a remote meal for a student under the new regulations.

Some of the changes have to do with not being able to provide the same level of self serve and a la cart offerings which will end up causing a loss financially for the food service.  She encouraged the parents of students who are eligible for the free and reduced meals to apply online ahead of time for meals starting in January and not wait to the last minute.

She told the board that the food service is using up the food left in the freezers and that should last through October. She indicated that this has been a help in setting up the menus for in school and remote breakfasts and lunches.

The board had the first read on several policies. One of the more in-depth discussions revolved around absences, unexcused and excused and whether changes to how these are defined and addressed needs to be discussed and possibly changed.

The board approved and signed the Annual Report to the Community. McCoy said the finalized version will be provided to the board before it is sent out to the community and posted.

The board approved and signed the Auditor's questionnaire and signed the Department of Education 25- and the MS-25 2019-2020 documents.

 Marjorie Whitmore, Financial Manager, went over the Monthly Financial Update but noted they are only 2 months into the year and that they have had only 4 days with everyone back. However, at this point she said it appears they will have around $385,000 left at the end of the year.


Raymond School Board Reported Surprisingly Good Start for Schools
By Penny Williams    9-3-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, September 2, and the three school principals reported suprisingly smooth starts for the school year.

Lamprey River Elementary School Principal Laura Yacek, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School Principal Bob Bickford, and Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward all admitted to being nervous about the re-opening of school but all expressed their somewhat surprised reaction to what was to all intents and purposes a very good opening of school. There were a few glitches that were sorted out and some tweaks made but overall the start of the Raymond School District school year was a good one.

Resident and former school board member John Harmon challenged the board to explain and improve the few Raymond High School class offerings available to those students choosing remote learning. This lead to an in-depth discussion in which Superintendent Tina McCoy and Woodward both said they were aware of the limited options for high school remote learning students but they had done the best they could given their resources.

The board and McCoy involved Technology Director Kevin Federico and a discussion was held about putting cameras in specific classrooms. The administration felt that they could do this is in some classrooms to make more core classes available to the remote learners. There was a discussion about what quality level of cameras should be gotten and the board approved Federico seeking mid-range price equipment, the least expensive being $60 a piece and the most expensive a $5,600 system. It was noted that the  district's technology infrastructure is incapable of handling cameras and live streaming from all classrooms but adding eight cameras could be sustained.

The board discussed the district policy BCB, Board Member Conflict of Interest, specifically that outlines board members are prohibited from acting in a regular volunteer position.  The board members felt given the very tight employment situation and the difficulty in being able to find substitutes and other assistants for the schools during this pandemic period that this policy should be waived for the duration of pandemic. The board approved suspending the prohibition of school board members acting as regular designated volunteers during the pandemic period.

The board then discussed and debated waiving the Policy regarding IO class size, which has a maximum of 30. They took into account the teachers comments on handling the over 30 student remote class size. Most of the teacher comments were that they preferred the larger size classes to cutting them into two groups and the administrators pointed out that by cutting the larger remote classes into two groups put further strain on the number of teachers the district has available. However, the board was reluctant to waive the policy and decided to leave it as is and ask teachers to resolve large class size issues creatively.

Bus routes were approved by the board for all three schools. The board discussed bus contracts. The bus companies had notified the district they would pay the bus drivers their full contract salary only if the district paid the company contract completely regardless of whether busses were not used on the remote day. After a long discussion the board approved paying the bus companies only for services rendered.


Raymond School Board Reviews School Opening Adjustments  
By Penny Williams   8-20-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, August 19, and reviewed the adjustments made at each school level to the already approved reopening plans for the district schools. The complete information regarding  reopening plans for each school can be found on the school's web site.

Dr. Michael Hatfield, Director of Student Services discussed the adjustments made to the early education component, Pre-school and Kindergarten. There will be only 8 students per section and there will be staff in each classroom. The A, B cohort schedule will be followed and there will be a mix of special education students in the cohorts. There  will be a meeting to start and end the day.

Hatfield made it clear that social distancing and mask wearing are extremely difficult for this age group but the daily schedule would be 9  to 11 a.m. for the first session and 12:30 to 3 p.m. for the second session. He also made it clear that total sanitizing between sessions of all the toys and things touched by the students was not possible but they would do the best they could and the overnight deep cleaning would be more intensive. He also pointed out that more students will likely be eligible for inclusion as they reach the specific age during the course of the year. He also noted that some special education students would need to attend four days a week in order to receive all of the services they need.

Lamprey River Elementary School Principal Laura Yacek said the elementary schedule would be 8:30 am. to 3 p.m. and each day would begin with a meeting. Lunches will not be in the classrooms and would be spread out between 10:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.

The students would have a Unified Arts class each day and recess but the Unified Arts would be taught on a rotating 90 session basis. Physical education will outside when possible and when not it will be in the classroom. Interventions will conducted remotely except when person to person intervention is required. During the day there will mask breaks and two recesses, at teacher designated times, one 20 minute and the other a 10 minute recess.

Iber Holmes Gove Middle School Principal Bob Bickford said there were changes to the alternate schedule. It was converted to having all academic classes on the same day with practice and work remotely the following day. There would be  6 periods per day of 50 to 60 minute classes with mask breaks, recess and lunch.

The Unified Arts were tweaked. There will be 9 Unified Arts sessions per year but each Unified Arts program will be presented for 5 weeks or 10 to 11 sessions at a time.  Interventions will be on the remote learning days. Special education will be on remote learning days to maximize core curriculum and unified arts instruction.

Steve Woodward, Raymond High School Principal said the alternate block schedule was changed in order to come up with a new schedule since it was decided that meeting a class just once a week wasn't sufficient.

To address this they chopped the schedule in half and core curriculum classes 1 through 4 would be during the first semester and 5 through 7 during the second semester. Students would be earning the same number of credits, 1 credit per core class per semester, by being in classes twice as long. 

Plans are underway to have the Raymond 4,5, and 9 graders and new students visit their schools and meet with teachers and administrators and get a tour of the building. Notices will be sent and small groups will be assigned times for the visit.

Sports, which the Raymond board approved last meeting to have all sports, was discussed at length and reviewed by Athletic Director Davinney Brazeau. Many schools have not made fall sports decisions yet.

Davinney said what teams might be available to play would be a huge factor but the state has approved school's playing regionally. However, transportation would be huge piece that will need to be worked out. She said NHIA guidelines and regulations would be strictly followed in all aspects.

Sanitizing equipment and balls would be an area that will need to be addressed, she said,  probably requiring additional personnel. She also said there would be no spectators but the board and many residents objected to this and in the end it was decided to suggest limiting the number to observers at games to  residents only if possible but requiring parents follow the same guidelines as the students are required to follow; wearing of masks and keeping social distancing.

It was also decided that in the event of travel for a game, parents would be allowed to drive their student to the game from the school and back afterwards. The board approved these sports related changes.

No decision was made with regard to resident employees of the school system being given special preferrence for having their children enrolled in both A and B sessions.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance relating to the start of school and quarantining of employees who have traveled outside of New England within 14 days of the first day of school.

For the start of school only it suggested teachers who are essential to school operations may be allowed to return to work under certain circumstances including daily screening and temperature checks. Those willing to take COVID-19 test and who are negative and share the test results with the school administration would be allowed to return to work.

Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore went over the yearend financial figures for the board. The board then decided to retain a Surplus Funds amount of $201,453 which brought the total fund amount up to the 2.5 percent maximum limit based on the year's fiscal  net assessment or  $396,453. The board approved this and also approved putting $75,000 into the Maintenance CRF fund as per the 2020 Warrant Article that was approved.

The board discussed budget development for 2020. Whitmore and Superintendent Tina McCoy were looking for direction from the board regarding what the board was looking for with regard to how much the budget might be increased. Whitmore and McCoy both indicated they were looking to be lean and mean going forward and the board agreed.

After a discussion about the preliminary estimated figure of $26,256,951 for 2022, which would be an increase of $354,289 or 1.4 percent, the board asked that the REA costs be added instead of a zero in that line. This brought the increase to 2.9 percent and the board was more comfortable with that as a baseline going forward.

People interested in watching the entire meeting, click on RCTV August 19 School Board Meeting.


Raymond School Board Approves Hybrid System of Reopening
By Penny Williams     8-6-20

The Raymond School Board responded to a myriad of questions from parents regarding what school would look like upon reopening Wednesday evening, August 5. In the end, after making some minor adjustments to the proposed draft Reopening Plan, the board approved it and Raymond schools will open with a Hybrid system at 50 percent capacity, on September 1, for Grades 1 through 12 and on September 14, for Pre School and Kindergarten. The students not choosing to be entirely remote will be divided into two sections, A and B. 

 Schools will operate at 50% capacity to allow for appropriate social distancing on buses and school property. This ‘hybrid’ model will allow for some on-site education to occur while part-time, supplementary remote learning is provided. The student body of each school will be divided into two groups (students who reside together will be placed in the same groups). An alternating schedule will be used: Start and end times for the school day will remain the same as when school is operating with no restrictions.

Group A Monday and Wednesday will be on-site all day. Group B Tuesday and Thursday will be on-site all day. Friday will be a day for remote enrichment, remediation, teacher office hours, meetings or other educational services for students.

Staff members will be on-site Monday through Friday, even when providing remote instruction, unless individual prior arrangements have been approved. School administrators will make adjustments to the daily schedule in order to maximize educational time and allow ample time for additional considerations, such as “mask breaks.”

Parents will be asked to make a decision regarding hybrid or remote for their students by end of day Monday, August 10 so the school A and B groups can be determined. Students in grades K-8 will have the opportunity to engage in a fully remote learning program provided directly by the District. At the high school level, many courses will be offered in a remote format through Raymond High School. However, not every course will be available in a remote format.

All staff and students who are on-site will engage in a temperature screening daily upon arrival to the school building. Parents/guardians will be provided with a screening checklist and requested to screen their student each morning of on-site education before they are transported to school. Verification of student screenings will be reviewed each morning, and parents who did not provide such verification by the start of the school day will be contacted by phone. If those parents cannot be reached, the student will be screened in the office of the school nurse.  It was noted that screening cannot depend entirely on parental morning screening response so the school will need to provide enhanced screening as students arrive at school. Assigned seats on buses and in classrooms will be part of the overall screening process so contact tracing can be conducted should it become necessary.

Students and employees will be required to abide by 3 to 6 foot social distancing. The goal of a minimum of 6 foot social distancing will always be in effect on school property, while transportation is being provided, or during any school activity. (Exceptions may need to be made for very young children or students with significant disabilities.) All employees are required to assist in the enforcement of social distancing requirements.

Preschool students will be taught how and encouraged to use masks but will not be required to wear a mask. Students in grades K-3 are required to wear face coverings at all times, and will receive support and direction to achieve this goal. This includes arrival and dismissal times even when outside. However, the board changed that deciding that when outside masks were not to be mandated. Teachers will put in place strategies to assist students in determining when the benefits of wearing a mask outweigh potential harms. All students in grades 4-12 are required to wear face coverings at all times.  This includes arrival and dismissal times. Students at all grade levels will be provided with opportunities to go outside to socially distance and take a “mask break.”All employees will be required to wear face coverings at all times. This includes arrival and dismissal times.

There was a brief discussion regarding the sanitizing routines and it was made clear that parents were responsible to ensure their students were wearing a mask for bus transportation. It is the understanding of the Raymond School District that there will be a need for an educational portion to the concept of mask wearing and social distancing. The education will occur in all three schools and will continue until all parents and students are aware of the expectations surrounding mask wearing and the safety measures surrounding the practice of mask wearing and social distancing. Adherence to the Personal Protective Equipment regulations will be followed up on in the schools.

There will be a I-I technology situation regarding student Chromebooks and the district will ensure those needing a Chromebook will have access to one and to Internet services where necessary.

Each family of an identified special education student will receive a telephone call by the students' case manager or building-based student services coordinator. During this time returning to school will be discussed to gain a better understanding of the parent's intentions. An Individualized Education Program meeting will also be scheduled to take place within the first thirty (30) days of the school year. IEP teams are encouraged to hold these meetings remotely.

Section 504 coordinators will complete file reviews of each student and meet with the 2020-2021 educational teams to ensure the classroom teachers and service providers have a solid understanding of the student and his/her needs. Parents are encouraged to reach out to their child’s Section 504 Coordinator and/or School Nurse if they feel a meeting is warranted to address any immediate medical and/or accommodation need to ensure access to the general curriculum.

 For students who engage in on-site learning, school breakfast and lunch will be offered as usual with modifications in place to protect the health and safety of all involved. Students will be spaced at least six feet apart when they are eating lunch or breakfast. Bagged meals for students may also be pre-ordered online for pick up on designated days (two days per week). These will be pre-assembled ‘Grab and Go’ breakfast and lunches that are easy to pick up and transport. All bagged meals will be available for pick up at a central location, so that parents with children at different schools will not need to go to more than one school to pick up meals. These meals are available to all students who are enrolled in Raymond School District, whether they attend on-site or have opted for remote learning.

The discussion on the Reopening Plan concluded with a decision that all athletic team sports would be allowed. This was followed by the board voting unanimously to approve the Reopening Plan as presented with the adjustments and changes approved during the presentation.  The entire Reopening Plan is available on the Raymond School District web site.

If you want to watch the meeting and hear all of the questions and answers click on RCTV August 5 School Board Meeting.



Raymond School Board Discuss Re-opening of Schools 
By Penny Williams   7-17-20

The Raymond School Board met on Wednesday evening, July 15, and among the topics discussed was what the re-opening of school in the fall would look like.

Superintendent Tina McCoy gave the board an update on what the administration is thinking at this point but said she will present a finalized plan at the board's August 5 meeting. But, she said, they have been looking at social distancing issues, wearing of masks, and reviewing  and investigating all available information and scenarios as they work to determine the best possible and most feasible and advantageous re-opening plan for that would provide Raymond students with a safe, quality education.

Among other things, McCoy said they have surveyed parents trying to determine which students will and which students won't be returning to on-site school and  who will and who won't be using transportation. In addition, she has surveyed employees to try and determine how many have barriers and/or concerns about returning to on-site work and how many do not.

Before the Governor issued the back to school guidelines McCoy said they were considering three possibilities:

* full return to school with some remote instruction for some teachers/students

* remote learning continued

* a combination of on-site and remote learning

They continue to look at the models now with the Governor's guidelines in place and she told the board the Raymond return to school plan will follow the orders and recommendations of the Governor, the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC.

One thing they must be prepared for is the possible necessity of having to transition from on-site to remote and back to on-site learning, dependent upon school or community circumstances. She indicated that there will be some students and staff who will need to continue with remote learning due to health concerns. She told the board it is important that the social and emotional needs of the students be addressed. But bottom line, her efforts and the administration's efforts are focused on developing the best possible plan to provide the highest quality and safe education for Raymond students.

The Building Committee has been meeting monthly to examine the needs of the Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) and to work toward recommendations for the Board by October.
   The board was updated  Wednesday evening by Architect Kyle Barker on where things stand. The board was also supplied with videos on LRES building and program needs to watch at their leisure.

Barker told the board the charge of this study is "to analyze the building and space needs of the Lamprey River Elementary School for the Raymond School District and suggest alternatives with associated costs. The intent is to create a comprehensive, broad picture analysis of the building for use in future planning. Further design and planning will be needed for developing the project and getting public approval. The report will simply provide the statement of need and basic data for beginning that work."
   The report  suggests multiple options for comparison purposes. These will not be actual designs meant for a construction project but rather theoretical possible solutions to give relative differences in costs and to provide the positives and negatives for each. This will give the decision-makers and the general public the information necessary for choosing the best path forward.

  According to Barker. "When the study began in January 2020 the Lamprey River Elementary School housed grades Preschool, Kindergarten and grades 1 through 4. Starting in the Fall of 2020 the preschool will be at Raymond High School and 4th grade will be at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS). Therefore, the new configuration of K through 3rd grade will be what the report is based on even though there has yet to be a time in that configuration before the report is finished. That shift in grade configuration has had a positive impact on the building needs and programming. The first obvious positive is the removal of the portable classrooms in the front of the building. Next is the overall easing of overcrowding in the school and the improvement of available special education space. Still, this does not completely resolve the overcrowding and the four portable classrooms behind the school remain occupied."

He went on to discuss the fact the school is in the flood plain and that flooding has happened and should it happen again would likely destroy the school. He spoke about the design concept of the present building being 50 years old and out-of-date and impractical for current educational approaches and technology. Windows in the school, while too costly to replace are an issue as they are inadequate in terms of providing good light for classrooms.

The plan going forward is to compare the cost of renovating remodeling repairing the present building to constructing a new building.

 Just as an example of the savings a new building would provide, he said heating the building as it is today costs about $1 per square foot. A new building would provide a savings as the cost would be half that amount. Maintenance of a new building would be less than that of the current building and electric costs would be less in a new building. He said the current building's ventilation is old and poor and leads to increased illnesses, thus is more costly.

Barker said the follow-up would include recommendations based on the comparison of keeping the current structure and making changes to it or moving ahead with construction of a new building. He said that State building aid would need to be looked into.

Barker's report concluded by saying, "This report establishes that the Lamprey River Elementary School has significant building and program needs. The floodplain in particular creates a situation where a major community investment is at risk. The enrollment projections suggest that the condition of the school might contribute to the declining enrollments. Moving forward the community needs to consider the benefits and concessions of future proposals and not simply the capital cost. Core at this is to look at a broad picture of the impact of each option. Any project needs to be acceptable to the public, the users of the building and the voting body."

 McCoy went over the proposed changes made to the district's Strategic Plan. These changes largely involved expanding what the plan already includes and specifies to include increased expansion of student learning such as emphasizing teaching the ability to utilize knowledge gained and development of critical thinking.    

Changes were added to increase monitoring for improvements to the educational product and to become part of how the district operates. Emphasis was added to research and resource use and computer science. In addition the mentoring system and program was added to as well as the tracking of staff turnover was added to try and improve retention.

McCoy noted more is going to be suggested regarding parent and family engagement and business and community engagement. There was a brief discussion regarding possibly implementing student run parent teacher conferences, noting this would provide ownership for students and likely would greatly increase parental participation. There was also a brief discussion about increasing internship possibilities such as plumbing, electrical and the like, and these ideas were included. Another change would be to reach out to realtors informing them about the schools so as to have that information available for new residents.

Finally, McCoy spoke about increasing safety and security measures and training such as ALICE and creating a threat assessment model to be implemented. The Strategic Plan would also see a review of the current Guidance Program in the district and include positive behavior support and mental health support as well as suicide prevention.

McCoy noted that most of the changes weren't new additions, generally they were clarifications and/or expansions and increased emphasis on existing  plans or operations. She noted that expansion of the Strategic Plan's Mission statement to be more inclusive and  accurate and up-to-date with the inclusion of these changes and adaptations was a good thing but the Vision for the Strategic Plan is still good as written.

In Other Business:

* Brigitte Cunningham was introduced as the new IHGMS Assistant Principal and Michael Hatfield was introduced as the new Student Services Director.

* Board member Janice Arsenault read the Raymond School District 4th Quarter List for Raymond High School and the 3 Quarter High Honors List for IHGMS.

* McCoy said her report was that of the work being done on how to re-open school in the fall.


Raymond School Board Increases Cap for Delta Dental Graduation
By Penny Williams   6-24-2020

The Raymond School Board met in a special meeting Tuesday evening, June 23, to make a final decision regarding where to hold the 2020 Raymond High School graduation on July 17. In the end the board agreed to hold the graduation in Northeast Delta Dental field in Manchester, the home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. and increased the budget another $2,500 to $17,500.

The board had left the decision up to students of where to have the graduation and had sent out a survey for that decision. There were 45 responses (out of 85 students) to the survey and the majority wanted the graduation to be held at the Northeast Delta Dental stadium.; second place was at Raymond High School; and. third choice was the Speedway.

The board had increased the budget for graduation to $15,000 at a previous meeting  to ensure the students would have a memorable event but the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium cost is $10,000 for the stadium and another $900 would need to be added for live streaming the event. RCTV Cable Director Kevin Woods had said he would see if RCTV would be able to either live stream or provide replay of the event.

Tuesday night the board went back and forth over where to hold the graduation and what to do about the cost. Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward noted that of the $15,000 more than $4,000 has already been spent and by the time all bills have been paid the amount could exceed the original budgeted amount for graduation of $6,500, which is included in the $15,000. The number of guests allowed is expected to be 4 per student.

Board member Janice Arsenault felt the budget had been capped at $15,000 and  should remain at that amount. However, after a lengthy discussion Chair Joe Saulnier made a motion to increase the budget amount again and cap it at $17,500 in order to hold the graduation at The Northeast Delta Dental Stadium but that Woodward and Superintendent Tina McCoy should work with the stadium to try and negotiate costs to stay within the initial $15,000 budget. The board voted 4 to 1 to approve with Arsenault opposed.


Raymond School Board Discussed Graduation Options
By Penny Williams   6-18-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, June 17, and a couple of new options were floated regarding how and where to hold the graduation. In the end the board agreed to allow a student survey of Raymond High School seniors to decide which solution the students want for their graduation.

Board Chair Joe Saulnier brought up a new option that involves a deal he had worked out with the Fisher Cats Stadium people to hold the graduation there. Another new option was brought up by board member Tony Clements who said he had spoken with Epping's Star Speedway about having the event there.

Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward had provided the board with the scenarios using the high school parking lot and noted he felt these provided a suitable solution but admitted that all three possible locations met his main criteria of being able to adequately control the event with one way in and one way out; to allow people to be in their cars or seated if allowed by the July 17, date;  and, that four guests be allowed. He indicated this could be done at the Raymond High School location but added that he thought in addition there should be a  Jumbotron so everyone would have a good view and that fireworks be part of the event. He said all this could be done within the not to exceed $15,000 budget approved by the board. The cost for the Fisher Cat stadium would be within that budget but would exceed it if fireworks were included. Clements didn't have any fifures for the Star Speedway.

Board members were not too enthused over the Fisher Cat Stadium location primarily because people would need to get to Manchester, find and pay for parking and then walk to the stadium. The board members couldn't comment much on the speedway as they had no information on costs, parking, a Jumbotron or fireworks.

Woodward stated and the board members firmly agreed that this is the Raymond High School seniors' graduation and they should have the final say on how and where the event is held. So as soon as Woodward gets the Star Speedway information he will send out an email survey to the Raymond High School seniors and get their input on where they want the event to take place.

The plan is to get the speedway information and get the survey email sent by the next day (June 18) with a return response requested by Tuesday afternoon, June 23, at least an hour before a special meeting the board called for Tuesday, June 23, at 7 p.m. when the board, after receiving the survey results from the seniors, will vote on the final details regarding the graduation event.

The board and SAU Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore discussed the Raymond High School Wall Project bid. The final bid amount has increased and Whitmore noted she is concerned that during this difficult period all expenditures have not yet been turned in and the amount for the project might be in jeopardy. It was decided after a long discussion that the wisest and most practical thing to do was to put off making a decision regarding the current bid and project and leave it in the CIP for the 2021-2022 year. The board ap[proved of this by consensus.

There was a lengthy discussion by the board and Kevin Federico, Technology Director, regarding Teacher mobile devices. Federico said his assessment of the teachers and support staff needing new devices given Superintendent Tina McCoy's comment that remote learning could be present in some form come the fall, amounted to needing new 78 laptops.

The 78 laptop number would be reduced by the 45 (15 laptop computers for each school) that are already in the budget to purchase. It was determined that the board needs 4 new laptops so a total of 38 laptops are need to be purchased and the cost will be in the $36,000 to $37,000 range. In order for this purchase to come from this year's budget the order needs to be placed soon so that Whitmore has a purchase order and contract in hand prior to July 1. The board approved the purchase of the 38 additional laptops and the 45 already planned for purchase.

In Other Business:

* The board heard from Celeste Clark, executive director Raymond Coalition for Youth (RCFY) about the Risk Behavior Study results. She was pleased to be able to say that for the most part the RCYF efforts at education and raising awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol use have been effective in lowering the risk level numbers among Raymond students. In 2009 the Raymond numbers exceeded state averages in most categories but this most recent survey shows that Raymond  has made great strides and the risk levels in most categories are at or less than state averages.

* The board voted and signed for the school status changes that will be taking place. The Department of Education requests signed minutes of the board approving the Preschool moving to the High School and the Fourth grade moving to the Middle School.

* The board accepted a $1,500 donation from the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association.



Raymond School Board Discussed Funding 2020 Class Graduation
By Penny Williams   6-4-2020

On Wednesday evening, June 3, the Raymond School Board discussed funding the 2020 Raymond High School graduation slated for July.

Procuring a tent large enough to provide maximum coverage should it rain the day of graduation could cost between $15,000 and $25,000. Board members were quick to say they didn't support funding the event to that extent. After an in-depth discussion it was decided that in addition to the already budgeted $6.500 (of which a few hundred dollars  has already been spent) the board was willing to add $8,500 for a total not to exceed  $15,000. The additional money will come from surplus. Member Janice Arsenault cautioned members to be careful when counting on surplus. Details regarding the actual event were sketchy and several scenarios are still being considered but it would appear the event will take place at the Raymond High School parking lot.

The board learned from Superintendent Tina McCoy that neither the board nor the district can waive the Student Immunization Policy Timeline. This is state law but McCoy noted that a student may be conditionally enrolled if they have had one dose of an immunization and the next is scheduled.  No changes to the policy by the Department of Health and Human Services is anticipated.

A discussion of remote summer enrichment activities, prompted by a board member request to see if the district could offer more supplementary educational opportunities, reviewed many of the voluntary and free programs available to parents in addition to what the district supplies. Parents and students were encouraged to avail themselves of some of the free educational programs that are available. In addition, McCoy said the district is adding two extra weeks to the Extended School Year for special education students who qualify and summer school at Raymond High School is open to any student who wants to participate and boost their competencies.

The board discussed the Eagle Scout Project of developing a Cross Country Trail. McCoy and Facilities Director Todd Ledoux discussed the trail project and the maintenance of the trail.

The Raymond Board of Selectmen have requested a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding maintenance of the trail , a little piece of which is on town property. The board had no issue with providing such a MOA that would show the School District was responsible for the trail maintenance.

Ledoux said maintenance wouldn't be a big deal but he expressed a concern that a definite decision be made regarding the type of trail being developed -- practice trail or one that meets NHIA requirements for meets. The latter, he indicated, would be more involved. The entire project has been on hold due to COVID-19 but Ledoux wants clarification regarding the status of the proposed trail but had no issue with providing the Town with the MOA regarding maintenance.

The board thanked and acknowledged retirement of the following long time staff:

* Cynthia Carbone, LRES Para-educator, 24 years

* Mike Chouinard, IHGMS Assistant Principal, 17 years

* Mary DeFlumeri, IHGMS Food Service, 23 years

* Suzanne Ives, LRES Teacher, 14 years

* Carmella Liggiero, LRES Food Service, 21 years

* Jim Maloney, RHS Math Teacher, 17 years

* Suzanne Puchacz, RHS Counselor, 22 years

* Dorothy Yaris, RHS/IHGMS Spanish Teacher, 21 years.

McCoy announced that the You Make the Difference Award would go to Rebecca Boucher, 5th grade teacher. Boucher's nominating letter said in part, "[So] she has a hand in putting every 5th grade student on the right path. Before remote learning started I really admired her and thought she was amazing. Now with the amount of work and caring she is putting in, I view her as a real life superhero."

In Other Business:

* The board approved the contract with JBC Construction for the renovations needed to bring preschool to the Raymond High School in the amount of $131,075.

* The board approved the $43,143 for the Preschool Playground bid from Utili Play.

* The board approved signing the Auditor Engagement Letter so the Audit can begin during the summer.

* The board signed off on the suicide policy (JLDB) and procedure (JLDB-R)  at the second read.

* The board voted to accept a $1,107.99 donation for Special Education from the Knights of Columbus.


Raymond School Board Discusses Police Assistance with Parades
By Penny Williams 5-20-20

 The Raymond School Board met Monday night, May 18,  and
discussed the issue of the Raymond Police Department's refusal to be a part
of the Birthday Parades for Raymond School District students organized by a

Board Chair Joe Saulnier led the discussion saying he had been in touch
 with the Police Chief and the Town Manager Joe Ilsley about this and was
concerned that the Raymond Police were unwilling to participate in the parades or even help out with a police detail for major intersections the parade might go through.

Board member Beth Paris felt the board should leave the parade to the private organization and that the school district and school board shouldn't get involved.

Member Tony Clement was concerned about the liability issue if the school district or school board were to sponsor/sanction the parades.

Member Janice Arsenault wanted to know if the district and board's insurer, Primex, would view sponsorship as being the same as sanctioning and wouldn't commit to any decision until she had that information.

The discussion ended with an agreement to see whether Primex viewed sponsorship to be the same in terms of responsibility and liability as sanction. Saulnier wanted to try and negotiate with the Raymond Police Department to see if they would either donate their time to help with the parades or give the district a discount for less than the four hour detail minimum.  

Saulnier left things stating, "Yes, we looked at sanctioning this event, but the liability toward the school and the red tape for participants would be too great. We will be looking at possibly sponsoring the event if the liability and all the red tape that was part of sanctioning is not there."

This will be taken up at the board's Wednesday evening, May 20, meeting.


Raymond School Board Discussed Graduation Options
By Penny Williams   5-7-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, May 6, and discussed the options for the Raymond High School (RHS)graduation,

Superintendent Tina McCoy reviewed the guidelines provided by the State Department of Education (NHDOE) regarding potential graduation plans. These generally recommended including consideration of how screening, size of gathering, PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) issues, social distancing and cleaning would be addressed. It was also noted that the NHDOE would not be approving or disapproving whatever plan Raymond came up with, it would be up to the school district.

The board heard from RHS Principal Steve Woodward regarding the results of the survey that had been sent out. He said that the majority - 40 percent-  wanted a traditional graduation and were in favor of waiting until July 17 to see if that could happen. Almost as many favored holding the graduation on June 12 as scheduled.
   Taken overall he said, roughly 63 percent of respondents were for postponing graduation until July hoping for a traditional event followed by those accepting a graduation in the Middle School parking lot as drive in event or some sort of parade.

After discussing it among themselves, with McCoy and Woodward, the board voted to go with Plan A, which would be to postpone graduation to July 17 and to hold as close to a traditional event as possible - in the gymnasium. Plan B, if Plan A has to be scrapped. would be to hold the July 17 event outside in the Middle School parking lot. Plan C would be on July 17, to have some sort of drive up event at the high school. The caveat was that the plans would be flexible but postponing everything to July 17 provided time to do the necessary planning. A committee including parents and students was recommended by the board to handle with the administration the final actual pan for the graduation.

The board and administrators all agreed that whatever is actually done, if it is not the traditional in the gym with friends and parents, the graduation event that does take place would be captured electronically and made available to  residents.

In other business:

The board discussed the bids from Johnson Controls, $17,880 and Superior Fire Prevention, $19,100,  for the replacement of the fire pump at RHS. The amount budgeted for this was $30,000. The board, after discussing this and hearing from Facilities Director Todd Ledoux and his recommendation that the Johnson Controls bid be accepted because it was the low bid, agreed to adding $5,000 to that bid for any contingency that might arise in installing the fire pump replacement. The board voted to approve spending $22,880 from the  Raymond School District Equipment, Facilities Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund  for the fire pump replacement.

The construction design for a safety wall at RHS that is included in the Capital Improvement Plan for the 2021-2022 fiscal school year was discussed by the board and Ledoux.

The  construction of the wall has already been discussed and approved and Ledoux needed the board's approval of the proposed design for him to go out for bids on the project. He told the board he only needs their approval so he can move forward with getting bids for the project. The board voted unanimously for him to move forward with procuring bids for the construction of the wall.

McCoy brought up the request from the Board of Selectmen to meet with the School Board. The Selectmen had asked for dates when the school board could meet with them. The selectmen are looking to discuss where reduction in spending can be found given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on town revenues.

The board members noted the Selectmen meet in the afternoon and at least three school board members would not be available for that time period. The board decided that Chairman Joe Saulnier could contact Selectmen Chair Scott Campbell and tell him that the selectmen would be welcome to come to the any of the next three school board meetings and whichever they agree to would be put on the agenda.

It was decided, after a discussion, that the school district policy governing physical examination deadlines for students would be changed.  The current policy requires parents/guardians of students to submit proof of a physical examination within, 30 days of enrollment at a new school within the District or from somewhere else.

The recommendation for a change in this policy is driven by  the COVID-19 crisis, during which appointments for physicals have been suspended.  McCoy noted she  anticipates parents may have more difficulty than usual getting appointments for student physical examinations in a timely manner. Not wanting to prevent a student from enrolling because of this issue she recommend for this year only changing the deadline to December 1. In order to do this the board would need to approve waiving the 30 day deadline policy for this year.

The board discussed this and it was noted that a student enrolling the last day of November or in January 2021, should be accorded the same amount of extended time to get an examination. The board agreed with this recommendation and voted to extend the physical examination for this year only to December 1, or for a student to have an additional 60 days to procure an examination, whichever came first.


Raymond School Board Met With Principals On Year End Activities
By Penny Williams   4-17-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, April 15, and looked at what traditional events that typically happen at the end of the school year throughout the district, that could be held and in what manner.

The board reviewed with Superintendent Tina McCoy and building Principals, Bob Bickford, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS), Laura Yacek, Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES), and Steve Woodward, Raymond High School(RHS), a list of 24 events or activities, broken up by grade level or as general end of year activities before school closings.

At the elementary level, after discussion, administrators and the board agreed that the best way to handle Preschool Information Night and Parent Information Night would be to postpone this to August or the start of the new school year. With the kindergarten-preschool move to the High School it was thought that kindergarten and preschool students would use the first few days of the new school year visiting the new classrooms and teachers and parents having their information night during those first few days. Incoming Student Screening would be held in August. The hope is that distant learning will no longer be in place but if it is these would have to be virtual events at this time. Kindergarten graduation would not be held but the field day event would be at the start of the new school year.

There was a lot of ideas regarding Step Up Days, 3 and 4 grade Clap Out and send off event,  but the thinking is that a parade of some sort will be developed where the parents with their students would make the round from the elementary school where they could wave good-bye to teachers and employees and head on to the Middle School to wave to the teachers and employees. It was thought that the day selected for this should also have the 8th grade Step Up Day and Send Off where these parents and their students would parade from Middle School to High School. The number of cars will create traffic issues so the Police Department and Town Manager Joe Ilsley will need to be in on the planning for these parades.

The 8 grade school dance would be postponed and become a Freshman Dance in September but that Class Day would take place as planned on June 4, but virtually. The details on what this would entail are still being worked out.

RHS graduation is something students and parents who sent in emails wanted the school to hold and several options were being considered, all virtual possibilities. But, the board agreed with administration that whatever is decided upon should take place on June 12 when graduation is scheduled. In the event guidelines for social distancing and remaining at home change between now and then it was thought the regular graduation could be planned if it had a two week window to get it done but no one really thought this was a real possibility.  The Celebration of Excellence for the high school can be put together in virtual fashion but the senior prom will have to be skipped.

Spring sports are on hold but the administration will develop a plan to have teachers come in - either by grade level or in small groups - to pack up their classrooms and a schedule for allowing students to come by to get their belongings will be created as well as for the return of textbooks, library books and technology equipment.

IT Director Kevin Federico said he expects it will take a lot longer to return the computers to their typical state for in-school use than it did to set them up for in- home use and he will not have the volunteers to help he had at the time they were being fixed to be given out. He also thought there would be damaged computers and the result might be the need to increase the technology budget to replace computers that couldn't be fixed or that weren't returned.

The board discussed the so called Blizzard Bag days for the next school year. McCoy said there is a process the district needs to follow to apply for the five day Remote Learning for snow days and the board approved her moving forward with this accepting the caveat that Raymond is not on a one to one technology basis so it might not be able to qualify for the required 80 percent participation but the procedure should be in place to try and use.

Board members volunteered to be on the search committee for two positions that are open, Director of Student Services and IHGMS Assistant Principal. Melissa Sytek volunteered  to be on the Director of Student Services search committee and Janice Arsenault volunteered to be on the Middle School Assistant Principal search committee.

The board unanimously agreed to the request to write a letter formally supporting paying transportation contracts during the time of crisis, in order to ensure that the companies will receive funding through the Care  Funds Act and also to show support for these important contractors. The board approved with the stipulation that the monies be used exclusively to pay the employees. Both companies are assisting with the meal deliveries. It was noted that bus drivers are always difficult to find and keeping them on is critical as without drivers the school district would be in big trouble.

The board reviewed and approved by consensus the  Covid-19 Return to Work Protocol for employees developed by School nurses Monique Gauthier and Mark Hastings in collaboration with Karen Stuart Human Resources and McCoy. The board had no questions other than correcting a waiting period length from 7 to 14 days.

McCoy said she had a nomination for the open French and Family Consumer Science position Rene Fontain and the board approved it. The board also accepted the resignation of LRES 2nd grade teacher Kaleigh Liupakka.    

McCoy  said that all the district departments are working hard and working well together getting lots of things done. She said the technology department finally figured out electronic signatures for district use and that she has been working with Jessica Caron, Director of Student Behavioral Health regarding stress issues that students, teachers, staff and parents are encountering.

Raymond School Board Retains Distant Learning Through April Vacation and Schools Close on June 5

By Penny Williams 4-8-20

The Raymond School Board at its Tuesday night, April 7,  meeting discussed three issues brought up by Superintendent of Schools Tina McCoy and made the decision to continue with the Distant Learning through the scheduled April vacation, allow the schools to close earlier than previously announced and to allow teachers and parents to arrange their own time for parent teacher conferences.

McCoy asked the board first to decide whether they approved continuing the remote learning, working through the April vacation times and closing school early on June 5 for grades 1-12 and on May 29 for preschool and kindergarten.

Everyone on the board was in favor of working through the spring break and closing early except for Chair Joe Saulnier who was concerned with the early closing dates that would further reduce the amount of time students were being taught. He had started the meeting reading a message from a resident who objected to reducing the remote classroom time.
      However, the board heard from the Principal, Laura Yacek, Assistant Principal Dorothy Franchini, and Special Education Administrator Marissa Nerenburg, at Lamprey River Elementary School, that the preschool and kindergarten students and teachers and parents are already approaching burnout and it would be best if they are going to continue working through spring break that the pre-school and kindergarten finish school by May 29.

Yacek felt that working through April vacation and finishing the year a little earlier than anticipated was probably the best way to go for grades 1-12. The principals from the Middle School and High School favored working through the spring break and having an extra week after the proposed June 5, closing for students to be able to access and work with their teachers.  All the administrators felt that stopping the remote learning for a week would result in a lot of students and teachers facing real difficulties getting back to the routines they have established.

After more discussion about the June 5, closing date for students and the fact teachers would still be available for the next week it was felt this was a benefit especially for students who might need extra help in order to cover their assessment requirements. Going with the earlier than scheduled closing would give teachers and students time to arrange what they need to do if they need additional help and to set up Summer School plans for students needing that additional help. It was pointed out that there is a need for time at the conclusion of school for teachers to go through  screening of new students which may have to be virtual screening.
   The board after listening to the comments voted unanimously to approve McCoy's recommendation that the Raymond School District  will work through the spring break. They also approved the school's end date for grades 1 through 12 as June 5, and that pre-school and kindergarten would close on May 29, with Saulnier the only one voting against this.

The other recommendation McCoy made that the board discussed was allowing teachers to meet parents at a mutually appropriate and comfortable time for parent teacher conferences instead of requiring teachers to followed the scheduled parent teacher conference days.

It was felt that teachers have already developed relationships with many parents and handling parent teacher conferences in a flexible and at a mutually agreed upon time would be the most efficient and best way to go. The board voted unanimously to approve this.


Raymond Remote Learning Reduced to Four Days
By Penny Williams    4-6-20

       The Raymond School Board Chair Joe Saulnier said at the April 1, Raymond School Board meeting, that he was excited and pleased with the Birthday Brigade that had sent some 30 teacher, staff, and parents' cars tooting through Raymond neighborhoods in a birthday salute to students. An uplifting exercise in an otherwise difficult and worrying time.
       He read a message from a parent complaining about the reduction from 5 full distant learning days to 4 days. Five full day Distance Learning for Raymond students is in place in compliance with input from state educators and the Raymond School District administrators.

       Elementary School Principal Laura Yacek explained that  Remote Learning has been reduced to 4 days. The fifth day students and teachers will be expected to do work but other types of learning activities will take place giving everyone a day off from the computer screen all day long. For the most part parents have approved and the kids like the reprieve from the screen.
        Middle School Principal Bob Bickford noted that the full five day schedule was taking its toll on teachers at his level who are having to put in very long days to prepare for the remote classroom. He said those teachers who are also parents are facing a particularly difficult time and he has found that many teachers and parents are exhausted. Going full tilt from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for teachers then having to prepare for the next day was what decided the administration that one day was needed that wasn't necessarily connected to screen time but could be used for other educational purposes.

      The result is Wednesdays will step back from the regularly scheduled remote learning classroom schedule for 6, 7, and 8 grades to do related educational activities and provide time for those who need some additional help.

      At the High School is was decided to drop Manic Monday and use it for finishing lessons, outreach and one on one time with students.

       Superintendent Tina McCoy said surveying parents indicated that having a day off from the regular  5 day schedule gives students a time when they can reach out to teachers for remediation, questions and answers and personalized learning.

      She  went on to say that she had received 304 responses to the survey and most were very favorable regarding  Raymond School District remote learning with the majority feeling the amount of work being required is appropriate. However, she said 25 percent thought too much work was being expected and a few wanted even more work.

        "The distant learning classes will need to be tweaked as we go along," she said.   Saulnier said that Raymond School District is doing a great job with the remote learning classes but he noted that there are instances where some students do need more work to do.
      Janice Arsenault, a teacher in another district said, "Remote learning can't mirror what would go on in a classroom and teachers are working 10 hours a day. Four days of direct instruction and one day for teachers and students to do other educationally related activities or get special help is the way to go."
      The board voted to  approve the Raymond schools going to four days of direct remote classroom work and holding the fifth day for related activities and special help and outreach.

      After a discussion with McCoy and Food Service Director Judy DiNatale, over whether or not to raise the cost of breakfast and lunches in the district schools for the coming year the board opted to increase breakfast prices by 0.10 cents but to leave the lunch meal costs where they are.

     DiNatale indicated upping the breakfast cost would assist revenue but wouldn't, in her opinion, significantly reduce the number of breakfasts bought. However, she had suggested that increasing lunch costs would result in substantial reduced numbers of lunches sold.

      The board discussed the bids for the playground equipment for the proposed new kids playground at Raymond High School to go along with the proposed switch of pre-school and kindergarten to the high school.

       The discussion centered around whether it was wise to lock in a contract for playground equipment before the board and district have made a firm decision on the proposed moved which depends on the cost which hasn't been determined yet. Board members were reluctant to get ahead of themselves while still looking at the move of the kindergarten and pre-school to the high school. McCoy noted that the only way to keep the  kindergarten and preschool at the elementary school would be to retain the portables for another year.

      Arsenault said she was in favor of moving the pre-school and Ledoux indicated that it would be a benefit if the site work could be done while schools are closed. After a long discussion Ledoux said the actual cost of getting the site fully prepared would be around $16,500 but the actual work on the site would only be about $6,500 and he would like to move forward with that portion.

        Saulnier suggested putting off the decision on the playground equipment bid until the other proposals for the classroom restructuring and the move of the pre-school and kindergarten to the high school are in place and the board agreed. Ledoux was told to move ahead with the in-house site work at the playground area.
         Bickford said the work on preparing the  new Middle School schedule was a challenge but the committee had reduced seven proposals to three for a master schedule which the faculty will review and provide feedback on. One will be finally determined and presented to the board in the future.


Canceled School Trips a Concern
By Penny Williams   3-21-20

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday, March 18, having posted the
following message on their agenda:

We will be providing alternative methods to provide input at our upcoming  School Board meetings so that residents will not feel it necessary to attend the meeting in person. We encourage residents who wish to provide public input or have questions about the agenda items to submit them via email to schoolboard@sau33.com. Alternatively, residents may call in and comment or ask questions over the phone during the public input portion of the meeting. Residents may call 895-6405 and you will be placed on speaker phone.
   The board dealt with overnight field trips status noting that due to COVID-19  the Washington D.C trip scheduled for May 5-8, Nature's Classroom, April 20-24, and the NYC Senior Class Trip April 9-11, have been canceled. The School District is investigating refund options because money has already been paid on these trips. The District's goal is to recoup funds to the greatest extent possible.

Nature's Classroom and the District have an agreement to pay $7,5000 and while the hope is this can be rescheduled Chair Joe Saulnier was adamant they should go to court if necessary to get this cost refunded. The District is in the process of trying to arrange for refunds relative to the NYC tip but costs relating to things like show tickets and hotel deposits may not get refunded. However, the tour company is already in contact with suppliers in an attempt to obtain refunds.

In discussing this, the board noted that day trips down the road may be canceled as well. The role of the district is to determine what's owed parents who have paid and stand to lose money from these cancelations. Board member Janice Arsenault said the district should try to get as much in the way of refunds as possible.

The board accepted with thanks a $3,000 donation to the Lamprey River Elementary School Lunch Fund from the Raymond VFW and Raymond VFW Auxiliary.  VFW Commander Alan Orff and VFW Auxiliary President Josephine Morotte present their donation to the board that is to be used to reduce the student meal debt at LRES. The board voted to accept the donation and thanked the VFW and VFW Auxiliary for their generous donation.
  The Raymond School District Treasurer, Tim Auclair, introduced himself to the board and gave a brief explanation of what his role and responsibilities are. He was there primarily to discuss the fact that there is no assistant treasurer. He said this could be a problem and at the very least it is unwise. He encouraged the board to take this issue under consideration and nominate someone for the assistant treasurer position. His point was if he is unable to do something or be somewhere required then nothing will get done and when dealing with the $1.5 million the school district spends monthly, this could be a serious situation.  Saulnier agreed and said he would put it on the To Do list.

Superintendent Tina McCoy spoke to the board via telephone as she was home sick. She said the district is working to format online learning and that they are learning as they go. She indicated students could collect materials between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week.

The remote classrooms, she said are already off the ground and the administration is figuring out how to keep track of Special Education Services during this time. However, work is being done to develop a support system for remote classrooms.

Starting on Monday the High School is restricted in terms of hours of operation and use with only the Board of Selectmen and School Board being allowed in to use the cable. LRES is closed completely and the Middle School will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for deliveries by appointment, and for students/families to pick up Technology equipment. The bag meals will be prepared there with cooking crews staggered and the food can be  picked up there. She noted the SAU would be open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. but only two people would be there at a time with all others working remotely.

The board went over the School Board Committee assignments and discussed future agenda items. These included a couple of policies that Saulnier felt needed to be looked at, the Assistant Treasurer position that needs to be filled, taking a look at providing Basic Life Support and ADA Training in the district along with expanding Technology training for staff were the main goals on the board's To Do list.

The board recognized board member Michelle Couture who completed her term.

The board accepted with regret the resignation of LRES Physical Education Teacher Lou Faulkner who is going to pursue a new career path Saulnier said. He added that the kids really love Faulkner and he wonders if he may find he misses the kids as much as they are going to miss him but he thanked him for his service and wished him well. The board voted to accept his resignation and Arsenault thanked him for the early notice that helps with the board seeking a replacement.

School Board Hears from Technology Director
By Penny Williams   3-8-20

The Raymond School Board met on Wednesday, March 4, and covered a number of topics including technology updates, drinking water lead removal and School/Care Holiday refund.

Kevin Federico, Technology Director gave his technology update to the board. He spoke about compliance with House Bill 1612, Data Management and Governance Plan, noting the district has to update several policies that reference technology for staff and students. He told the board complying with the new Data Management and Privacy requirements for a school district is a huge job so the district is part of the NH Student Privacy Alliance (NHSPA) and depends upon this organization to keep the district's 3rd party vendor's compliant with state and federal regulations. The organizations the district is part of, such as the NH Chief Technology Officer Consortium and the NHSPA, make sure that the district stays compliant with HB 1612.
A recent example, he said, is Project Aware. They need a data sharing agreement and we are working with NHSPA to obtain that. Federico said the Raymond School District has already been on this and is looking for the agreement so Raymond will have it signed and sealed and delivered for the year.

He said the district has contracted with two independent consultants to evaluate the digital footprint of the Raymond School District. Amplified IT will be looking at Google administrative console and domain while RTM (Removing the Mystery) will be the onsite assessment company.

He told the board two major systems within the school district need to be overhauled or replaced, the camera system and the telephone system. He said he is researching plans and options for both overhaul and total replacement and will bring the proposals to the Superintendent over the next several months.

He said plans are in place to review the plans associated with the 4th grade move to the Middle School. The proposed plans will be reviewed to verify the district is on track and if there changes or adjustments found that need to made these will be put before the school board. He indicated the IT department is reviewing the Raymond School District 1 to 1 technology plan. 

Jayme Brannan, Raymond High School Sophomore holds the rank of Cadet 3nd Lieutenant and is the current Cadet Commander of the Seacoast Composite Squadron within the New Hampshire Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. He was brought before the board for recognition of what he does.

Among his responsibilities is supervising and mentoring his staff of twenty cadet officers and NCOs. Within his own Civil Air Patrol career he primarily focuses on Emergency Services, earning his Urban Direction Finding and Ground Team Member 3 ratings. While serving the local squadron he has worked his way up the ladder serving as flight sergeant, First Sergeant, Flight Commander and now Cadet Commander, the highest position. He is an experienced and excellent leader and through extensive training and testing in Leadership, Aerospace, and Search and Rescue he has acquired many important skills.

Members of the board told him they were impressed and congratulated him on his achievements.

The RHS Bowling Team was supposed to come to meet the board for their outstanding season but they will come next meeting.

One of the RHS water fountains on the second floor was tested and found to need attention and lead removal. It was turned off October 19, 2019. The Andrew J. Sumner company did the job of replacing the water cooler, piping and fittings a test was run by Seacoast Analytical Services early in February to ensure the new fountain's water quality met state requirements. After the replacement the testing done showed that the lead was less than 0.005 where the EPA Maximum recommended is 0.015. The total cost of the project was $1,700.
The board signed the document verifying the testing and that the fountain is back in service and for the application for reimbursement.

Finance Administrator Marjorie Whitmore told the board the district had received $212,605.33 total Holiday Refund from the SchoolCare Medical health and dental. The refund is part of SchoolCare's surplus which the courts have determined must be returned back to the members. Of that amount $12,416.81 will be refunded to employees and the rest will be returned as revenue.


Raymond School Board Chooses Preschool Design Bid
By Penny Williams  2-25-20

The Raymond School Board discussed the four bids for the Preschool Design at the Wednesday, February 19 meeting. The bids ranged from $12,250 to $42,200. Finance Administrator Marjorie Whitmore said she had checked all four bids to ensure that the low bidder had addressed everything the other bidders had and they were all comparable.

Some of the renovations needed at the High School for the Preschool include:
*Two sets of preschool bathrooms and separate sink in each of two rooms
*Two additional classrooms would need to be moved.

The board discussed this briefly and voted to accept the low bid from Cowan Goudreau Architects PLLC of $12,250 to do the Preschool Design. The only question from the board was whether this company had experience and recommendations regarding work on schools. Whitmore said they did.

They are still accepting bids for the playground work which includes:
*Playground equipment and installation of playground
*Fencing for Playground.

A few members of the Raymond High School Penguin Plunge team came before the board to describe their event. This team of 130 students raised over $45,000, more money than any other high school, to benefit the Special Olympics. Raymond High School Teacher Bill Hayes has coordinated the students for several years.  Hayes  and some of his team presented their event information and their feelings about it to the board.

A group of Lamprey River Elementary School students came before the board Wednesday evening and described the LRES FUNdations Reading Program they participate in. This program is described by the Wilson Language Training Website as " FUNdations serves as a prevention program to help reduce reading and spelling failure. It is integral to a Multi-tiered System of Supports or Response to intervention framework, providing research-based instruction in Tier 1 as well as early intervention (Tier2) for students at risk for reading difficulties. To support the implementation of the these frameworks, progress monitoring is built into FUNdations. This allows students requiring a more intensive program to be identified early before undergoing years of struggle."

Superintendent Tina McCoy shared the Strategic Plan and updated the board on what has been achieved and where the district is with regard to their Strategic Goals. She reminded the board that the driving force behind the Strategic Goals is to move to unite students and the community, to provide the best quality education possible for all students. She indicated that by 2023,  80 percent of the student community will be proficient in the core courses.

Whitmore responded to the question about the increase in Special Education as she reviewed the monthly Financial update, saying she didn't have the specifics but could get them for the board. The board wondered if the increased cost was the result of another special education student being placed in an out-of-district facility.

McCoy told the board there was a resignation of a Raymond High School Case Manager. Emily Denn will be leaving March 22. The board voted to accept her resignation.


  School Board Hears from Students of Seacoast School of Technology and Approves Two Expenditures
By Penny Williams     2/11/20

The Raymond School Board took action on several things during its Wednesday evening, February 5, meeting.

After holding a Public Hearing,  where there were no public comments, the board discussed the expenditure of up to $20,000 from the Raymond School District Equipment Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund.

The original $32,275 bid that was adjusted to a bid of $14,375  by JBC Associates, LLC was explained to the board regarding the building of a wall at that Raymond High School. The board was told the design had been altered so the wall would not go all the way to the ceiling, but up 18-feet only. The wall design was reviewed by the Raymond Fire Department who approve the plan.  The board voted to approve the expenditure.

The board addressed a request to consider and accept the expenditure of unanticipated funds from state, federal, and/or private sources in the amount of $399,750.87 for Title 1, Title 11A Title IVA, Title IVB, IDEA, NH Department of Health and Human Services and Project Aware as well as $56,816.08 in Impact Fees.

  Again there were no comments during the Public Hearing and the board   noted  that these funds came in over what the district had budgeted for and would primarily be applied to salaries, benefits, supplies and training for the various programs. The board voted to accept and expend these additional funds received in grants and impact fees.

Chair Joe Saulnier did ask that where and how the impact fees can and are spent be looked into and the board informed. It was noted that impact fees must be spent within 7 years of collection or returned.
    Raymond High School Senior, Melanie Robinson, spoke to the board asking for their support to reinstate the Mythology Course that was not offered for this year. She told the board she had gathered signatures from 32 interested students and had the encouragement of an English Language teacher who was interested in teaching the course.

 Superintendent Tina McCoy said in response to a board question that the course could be offered to grade 11 as well as to the proposed Grade 12. She indicated it would be looked into to see if the course could be offered this year at this point in time. It was last offered in 2018 and would be for an English credit.
    The board voted unanimously to have the Raymond High School offer the Mythology class the students had petitioned for and that it be added to the classes being offered.

RHS students Ryan Loader, Amanda Michaud, and Amber Arpin  spoke about their courses at Seacoast School of Technology.   

Ryan Loader and Amanda Michaud spoke about the Animal Plants Science Program.

Ryan described some of the things they have participated  in such as learning about animal behavior,  going on a dairy field trip and getting to judge cattle, doing an animal welfare unit, and a Vet tech unit as well as a business aspects. He indicated that participation in the program had solidified his intention to go into the veterinary field and it had helped him with public speaking.

Amanda said her experience in the program has been really positive and also confirmed her intention to go into the veterinary field. She said she learned how to administer medication, groom animals, cut toe nails, clean eyes and ears, give vaccinations and much more. She said she is a Chapter Officer of her class, has gotten 2 jobs from this experience and will be going to college.

Amanda commented that the jackets she and Ryan wore represented the students in the program, the fact that they help benefit the country, the environment and the world..  

Amber described that she has learned how to do illustrations, photo editing, and animation in the Digital Media Arts program. She shared some of her projects with the board. She said the program had greatly broadened her view of art as well as providing opportunities for community service. Participation in
this program earns college credits which helps.

Health Science was described by Jenelle Welenc who indicated that students taking it for two years can get their LNA or an internship in a given field. This means for some they can go right from high school into a job. She said she had learned a lot but was planning to pursue pre-engineering the next year.

Raymond School Board Struggles To Reduce Budget By Hundred Thousand
By Penny Williams   1-27-20

  The Raymond School Board spent a lot of time looking at various scenarios for how to meet the Budget Committee request for reducing the School District budget bottom line by $100,000, at the Wednesday, January 22 meeting.

  Board member Janice Arsenault had several proposals as did Chair Joe Saulnier. The board had previously consider deleting the YESS Worker whose $68,906 salary would get them a good way toward their goal. However, this position was essentially removed from the discussion.

  The board instead looked at possibly eliminating  the World Language Teacher position. Arsenault felt deleting this put the students at a distinct disadvantage. Another negative aspect of this was that it had just been approved last year as a full time position and several board members thought it would be sending a very bad message to the community if the board the following year cut the position to half time or got rid of it altogether.

  The board basically agreed that the Pre-School Coordinator position could be eliminated and the responsibilities covered in a different manner. Added to that was the suggestion to lower the general supplies and periodicals' lines as well as eliminating the part time Human Resource position.

  Other areas for reduction discussed were Salaries and Professional Development lines. Still another area where a cut could be made was to the technical line for the Promethean Boards for classrooms.

  A vote was taken on reducing professional development by $14,365; taking $20,000 from supplies; reducing periodicals by $3,252; eliminating the Pre-Kindergarten position for $29,030; and eliminating the Human Resource position cutting out $21,353; and reducing the Promethium Board line to $12,000. However, this failed by a 2 to2 vote.

The board then tried a couple more versions and Saulnier tabled the discussion for the moment to move ahead and discuss the resignation of the French Language teacher at the High School. The board voted to accept the resignation and then nominated Jessica Caron for the Project Awareness  position of Director of Student Behavior Health. The board approved this $83,000 position since it is entirely covered by the Project Awareness grant.

   Then the board returned to figure out how to cut $100,000 from their budget.

   Arsenault proposed reducing Professional Development by $9,774; Supplies down by $16,515; Periodicals down by $3,252; eliminating the Pre-Kindergarten Coordinator position removing $29,030;  and, reducing the World Language position to part time at $41,429. This proposal failed by a vote of 2 to 2.

  The board continued to discuss the World Language position, the YESS Worker position and the Human Resource part time position. The thrust of the discussion was to find a path of reduction that didn't impact students.

  Board member  Melissa Sytek offered an alternative scenario that was defeated  and finally the board accepted and approved the following reduction scenario.
  Professional Development would be reduced by $13,260; Periodicals would be lowered by $3,252; Supplies would be reduced by $24,458; The Pre-K position removed saving $29,030; Promethium Boards were cut  removing $24,000; and salaries line reduced by $10,000.
  The board accepted a $1,169.53 donation from the Knights of Columbus that was derived from the organization's tootsie roll drive, which raised $4,000. Some of the money goes to Special Olympics and the school districts in Raymond and  Epping split 50 percent of the proceeds that are designated to benefit Special Education programs. The board also accepted an anonymous donation of $500 for the school lunch program.
  The School District Moderator Ed French came before the board with a series of questions as the Deliberative session approaches, Saturday, February 8. He asked if there were any warrant article extended presentations anticipated and Saulnier said no he thought most if not all would be in the 2 to 3 minute range.

  The only one that might go 5 minutes or more he thought was Article 5, that asks the voters to enter into a multi-year lease purchase agreement for installation of up to $1,743,064 of energy saving equipment and associated building and facility improvements at Raymond High School and Iber Holmes Gove Middle School and to raise and appropriate $125,216 in annual lease payments to be partially offset by energy savings and a resulting reduction in costs. Given savings the future estimated budget impact would be $59,478.

     The board went over the two bids received for the Needs Assessment contract for the Lamprey River Elementary School. One bid was from Barker Architects for a total of  $19,800 and the other was from the Turner Group for $22,000.  Meetings have been held with both to discuss their bids and the board was satisfied with the low bid contract from Barker Architects and voted to approve it.

     The board discussed the Citizen Petition Article 9 that asks voters to require that the annual budget and all special warrant articles having a tax impact as determined by the governing body shall contain the notation stating the estimated  tax impact of the article pursuant to RSA 32:55 V-b.

     This article was put forward by Selectman and State Representative Kathy Hoelzel.

     The school board members felt that putting estimated tax impact numbers on articles was often misleading and confusing. Saulnier said the board's attorney was not in favor of the board recommending this article but the board felt there needs to be consistency between the school district and the town and so voted 4-0 to recommend it.


Budget Committee Trims School District Budget
By Penny Williams    1-14-20

     The School Board discussed the action of the Budget Committee to reduce the School District's Operating Budget by $100,000 at their Wednesday, Jan. 8, meeting.

     The School Board members weren't pleased but accepted the decision by the Budget Committee to reduce the School District Operating budget accepting the measure as a done deal about which they could do little other than decide where to make the necessary adjustments.

      Janice Arsenault spoke up setting the tone of the discussion saying that she would support the budget committee's reduction. She suggested cutting the LRES Pre- School Coordinator position and cut the YESS worker who works with just nine students who have  behavioral issues. The Budget Committee identified the behavioral worker as one position they thought should be eliminated and that would account for $68,000.

       The board spent a lot of time discussing reducing the amount of money for salaries. The finance department puts aside what it believes is  sufficient money to come rehires for teachers who retire or leave. Board members suggested cutting as much as $80,000 from here but Superintendent Tina McCoy warned that replacing retiring or leaving teachers doesn't necessarily cost less as often times the replacement teacher's salary is more than the teacher who left but that in some cases a replacement teacher's salary is less but it is difficult to judge what the difference will be.  Right now three teachers are expected to retire or leave but it doesn't always happen as people do change their minds. Nevertheless, a small adjustment to this area could be made to work.

      The board looked at possibly removing the pre-school coordinator position, adjusting the retirement salary line and removing the YESS worker and one board member suggested removing the proposed new Human Resource hire rather than removing the behavioral counselor position and taking more from the salary line.

      The board didn't make any final decision on how to meet the $100,000 operating budget reduction but did vote to recommend the Budget Committee School District Operating Budget amount of $25,902,672.

      The board ended up with two possible options to meet the reduction.

* Cut Pre School Coordinator; the Human Resource hire and take $50,000 from salaries.
   * Cut the Pre School Coordinator, the YESS worker position.

      The administration and the finance department will work on coming up with a recommendation as to which option would be the best way to go for the schools and the students. The board tabled any action or recommendation on this subject and agreed to wait and see what the administration decides and brings back to the board.

    Judy DiNatale provided the board with her Nutrition Services Report. She said the Nutrition Service Department has remained fully staffed up through the end of December, adding that the two new Raymond High School staff members have proven to be fine team members. Big sellers have been the ultra-merchandised smoothies and the fruit or veggie dipping cups.

     She said 70 parents/grandparents joined the kindergarteners at LRES for the Harvest Feast that is a sort of warm-up for Thanksgiving.

     Mary Deflumeri retired at the end of December from IHGMS and Linda St. Pierre from the New Wave Deli at RHS has moved to replace her.

     Student population has remained basically level with last year but the distribution among schools has changed, most evident at RHS where there are 22 fewer students. The percentage of Free and Reduced eligible students has dropped by 4 percent with the largest being 7 percent less Free eligible than last year. There have been more applicants but more denials this year based on the 2019-20 income qualifying tables and fewer students being Directly Certified through State programs this year. The result is average daily participation is down 4 percent at IHGMS; down 2 percent at LRES; and, down 2 percent at RHS.

     Reduced eligible breakfasts are up slightly, she reported. Also A La Carte sales  are up at RHS by an average of $40 per day.

     The students and teachers  from the LRES 4th Grade talked about the success of the UNH STEMbassador program visit. The STEMbassadors come from the UNH College of engineering and Physical Science and is an educational outreach program where the engineering students come to the school and work hands-on with students on a variety of STEM projects. The students were excited and told the board how much they had learned from this program and how much fun it was. The teachers and coordinators did pre planning for the event with preparatory lessons making the program successful.






























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