2020 Raymond School Board Meetings

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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Raymond School Board Members

Joseph Saulnier

Janice Arsenault

Anthony Clements

Beth Paris

Melissa Sytek

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

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

Raymond SCHOOL DISTRICT website
for more information.

Raymond High School
for RHS news & information.

Iber Holmes Gove Middle School
for IHGMS news & information.

Lamprey River Elementary School News
for LRES news & information.

Raymond School District
   Job Postings.

RHS Alumni Association News
for Alumni Assoc information

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