2021 Raymond School Board Meetings

Raymond School Board Hears That Transportation is the Biggest Issue for Spring Sports
By Penny Williams    4-8-21

The Raymond School Board Wednesday evening, April 7,  learned that the shortage of buses and bus drivers is the biggest issue facing the resumption of Spring Sports.

Athletic Director Davinney Brazeau went over the guidelines that would be in place for spring sport activities and events. They follow the State guidelines with respect to mask wearing and social distancing as well as the limitations regarding spectators. Most of these follow the guidelines and regulations that have been in place for fall and winter sports.

What is proving problematic is transportation to away games. There is a bus and bus driver shortage and bus transportation is essentially not available for the various team away games that take place on week days. The bus company is able to address most of the requests for Saturday games.

The board discussed this and member John Harmon suggested that the bus company should be noticed that they are not living up to their contract. He also suggested looking into the cost for hiring from other school bus companies or coaches. The general tenor of the discussion was that the bus and bus driver issue isn't a Raymond issue but rather a state issue.

The board was told they can contact and hire if available other school bus company buses and can contact and hire a coach if it is feasible financially.

Board Chair Joe Saulnier asked Superintendent Tina McCoy to write a letter to the district's school bus company indicating the board and district find the company's performance is unsatisfactory.

McCoy and Brazeau were told to contact other bus companies and to find out what the cost of a coach would be and if they would be available for the weekday away games. The board asked that this information be brought back to the board but the board approved the Spring Sports guidelines.

The board heard from Ken Hajjer and Architect Kyle Barker  on the report the LRES Building Committee had put together and the committee's recommendations.

Basically the committee suggested there are three options for action.

* Repairs absolutely needed to the present elementary school

* Repairs and upgrades by adding to the educational and physical environment

* Build a New School in a new location

Noting there has been a continued drop in student enrollment the committee considered a smaller size new school. This was also based on the fact the Pre-School is now at the High School and the fourth grade at Middle School. However, the committee's recommendation involves a K-4 grade building.

Barker said that when the committee put all the exact same data together on a comparison basis for repairing and improving the current school building or building a new school they found that the cost of a new school over a ten year period would only be 10 percent more expensive. The committee feels strongly that the current building is the wrong building at the wrong spot.

State aid for a new building was discussed at length and the board was informed the time to go for the aid would be for the 2024 biennium. The committee felt that trying to go for an earlier time would not work as the site plan must be developed and the property found for a new building. The rules for application have changed and become much more rigorous so more time is needed and probably more cost.

The committee recommended construction of a new building at a new location. The board voted to accept the report but made no other decisions regarding the recommendations.  It was noted that the report can be accessed by the public on the district's web site and residents were encouraged to do so.

Saulnier reported that he had contacted and spoken with the NH School Board Association regarding the superintendent search. What that association representative  Barrett Christina recommend was for the board/district look for an interim superintendent. He call the interim superintendent pool at this time "so-so." He asked if the board would be willing to hire a part time interim superintendent because if so that opened up a pool of retired but part time only candidates.

The board discussed this briefly and decided to move forward with looking at an interim superintendent. The board will take this up further at the next meeting.

The board set its summer meeting schedule, making a few minor changes requested by Harmon who wanted to discuss the budget before the Non-Meeting on Negotiations.

The board will meet June 2 and June 16 as regular school board meetings; July 20 for a CIP Work Session and July 21 for school board meeting; August 4, school board meeting; August 11, Budget Work Session; August 18, school board meeting; and, August 25, Non-Meeting on Negotiations.

The board accepted an additional $160.20 donation for LRES from Friends and Family of Jenny Fisk.

Harmon had a list of subjects he would like to see on the upcoming agendas including YESS workers; Elementary and Middle School interventionists; Food Service information; class size policy; freshman seminars - is this the best year level to have these; Snow Day determination; size of administration that hasn't been reduced despite enrollment continuously decreasing; and, discussion regarding whether to receive and read emails during board meetings.

There was a discussion about whether board members needed to be assigned to some other boards and committees and new board member Ada Vadeboncoeur was interested in several and was assigned to be on the Student Services Search Committee for an Assistant Director of Student Services.


Raymond School District Superintendent Tina McCoy Resigns
By Penny Williams  4-1-21

On Wednesday evening, March 31, the Raymond School Board started its meeting by voting to accept the tendered resignation of Superintendent Tina McCoy effective June 30.

Tina McCoy's statement: "This was a hard decision to make, but ultimately I felt it was the right time now as we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

I've been lucky to be a part of such a strong administrative team that will keep the district running smoothly as the next superintendent transitions into this role. They have shown incredible dedication and commitment to making the district the best it can be, making Raymond an incredible place to learn and work. The School Board has helped support and advocate for the decisions and choices of the administration as well, allowing us to seamlessly work together toward a shared goal.

Over the last year, our students, staff and teachers have gone above and beyond. They've remained flexible, adapting to any and all challenges they've faced. Their successes have been inspiring and plentiful, and it's been an honor to be a part of their journey. Their support and understanding has been key to navigating through these challenging times. Even before that, they've been at the forefront of adopting and implementing new curriculum and learning methods to support our students' learning.

There are no words to adequately express the gratitude I have for my time as Superintendent. I have treasured my four years here and know these next few months will be bittersweet as my time with the district comes to an end. Thank you to everyone for their support and kind words, and I wish you all the best."

McCoy has been the district superintendent for the last four years. The board discussed how to go forward with replacing McCoy. After a discussion it was decided that Chair Joe Saulnier, would contact the New Hampshire School Board Association for answers regarding whether there is sufficient time to find a full time superintendent by July 1, or whether seeking an interim superintendent would be more practical. Saulnier was also to ask about the potential pool of candidates since it seems there are a number of districts looking for new superintendents. The board put off any further decisions or discussions until their April 7, meeting. Saulnier was authorized to put out a press release regarding this.

Robert Lemoine, Raymond Education Association,  provided the board with the thoughts and concerns of the REA members regarding the district re-opening. He indicated that 80 percent of the teachers basically favor returning four days full in person, retaining Friday as remote. Friday is a day when teachers are able to deal with many meetings, individual help for students, there are certain classes held on Friday. He recommended the board consider the four day full in person return with Friday kept as it is, giving the staff and students consistency and stability.

The board heard from McCoy about the changes to the re-opening plan. The plan is designed to have Raymond schools re-open on May 3, as full five day in person classes. She indicated that the NH Health and Human Services and NH Department of Education guidelines were incorporated with the change from requiring 6-feet social distancing basically being reduced to 3-feet except for lunches. This made the return doable. In addition, most if not all teachers would be vaccinated by then.

She did point out that there is no guarantee that 3-foot social distancing can be achieved on the buses. The middle school buses pose the biggest problem while the elementary and high school buses are slightly less of a challenge regarding social distancing. She also noted that if more parents help out by bringing their children to school, while relieving bus crowding this will create a traffic issue. But, she said, it all can be done. The principals agreed.

One issue that was discussed at length is the checking of children before getting on the buses and before entering the school. It was decided after a discussion that temperature taking is probably not worth the time it takes as it has turned up only a minute number of instances.

The board was in favor of developing an app that can be used throughout the district that can be quickly filled out and that as students enter the building they be asked if they have any differences in their health. The board agreed with this approach removing temperature taking.

There are no additional buses available so the district has no way to provide any increase in this area to alleviate the lack of social distancing on the buses. This is not just a Raymond District issue, it is true across the state. However, McCoy said all other guidelines would be required on buses such as masks. It was also noted that if a student doesn't obey the guidelines they can be suspended from riding the bus.

The board discussed the question of whether to return four days a week keeping Friday as it is currently is or to move to a full five day in person learning schedule. There was a lot of discussion about the teachers needing the planning time they have on the remote Fridays.

 In the end it was decided that the need for students to be back in the classroom five days a week was the greater need,  the board voted unanimously for the Raymond School District to re-open on May 3 in a five day week configuration.


Raymond School Board Calendar Changes Dominates Meeting
By Penny Williams  3-26-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, March 24, to complete the agenda they failed to get through on March 17.

The board discussed the District 2021-22 calendar that the board had previously approved. That previously approved calendar had the winter break dates of February 21 through February 25, 2022.

Since that time,  SAU 16 has voted to revise their academic calendar moving the winter break to February 28 through March 4, 2022 and this impacted the school districts in SAU 15 - Brentwood, Exeter, Kingston, Kensington, Newfields, Stratham and the Seacoast School of Technology (SST). This had an impact on Raymond because of the SST which Raymond students attend.

SAU 16 changed its calendar because Massachusetts changed the dates for its winter vacation, conflicting then with New Hampshire. Thus Superintendent Tina McCoy made adjustments to the Raymond Calendar to avoid the conflict.

Board member John Harmon was upset that Raymond would make a change based on what the Exeter SAU 17 district did and said even though SST has Raymond students he doesn't believe it should dominate Raymond. He didn't want to change the winter vacation but the calendar proposed by McCoy took the SAU 17 changes into consideration and was eventually approved.

The board discussed Harmon's suggestion that two of the Professional Development Days be removed and those become in school days for students. He said students, after this past year, need all the help they can get. The board discussed the potential changes which  involved the first day of school, the last day of school. winter vacation.

In the end the board acquiesced to Harmon's push for the calendar adjustments, changing the start date of school to August 31; the last day of school to June 15; School would be in session on September 3; winter vacation was moved to February 28 through March 4 and March 8 would be a school day.

Harmon objected to setting the 2022 date of June 10  for graduation and after a brief board discussion McCoy said it does not need to be on the calendar and said it would be removed.

Marjorie Whitmore, SAU Business Administrator said the MS 22 Report which needs to be finalized is $26,697,960. The board approved this.

Whitmore then went over the monthly financial update and answered a number of questions raised by Harmon.

Among the things that were discussed was the Food Service situation that is showing a substantial $300,000 debt. This is the result of the mandated free breakfast and lunches being available for all Raymond students whether they attend Raymond schools or other schools. The State and Federal reimbursement doesn't cover the entire cost of providing these free meals since overhead doesn't come into the reimbursement picture.

It was noted that Special Education is over budget as is Special Education Transportation, all as a result of the recent pandemic situation. Harmon asked that Whitmore provide estimates of where these overages will be by year's end.

Whitmore told the board the Audit was completed and there  was no financial mismanagement. However, the Auditors did ask for further information on a couple of things as well as a request for financial policies to be reviewed.

 It also noted that gift cards were purchased and used related to student activities and the auditors didn't recommend this. Harmon asked that this practice be looked into, the use of the gift cards determined and an end put to the district allowing this practice to which Whitmore and McCoy agreed.


Raymond School Board Reorganizes and Resolves Default Budget Issue
By Penny Williams    3-19-21

It wasn't quick and it wasn't easy but on Wednesday night, March 17, the Raymond School Board  reached consensus on how to adjust their budget to meet the Default Budget voted in by Raymond voters.

The board had to find $148,964 to remove from the budget. Superintendent Tina McCoy suggested letting the High School Math teacher go who only had a single class assignment at this point in time. In addition, she suggested not hiring a part time Foreign Language teacher at the Middle School. Finally, she suggested reducing the new technology equipment purchases. These would make achieve the budget difference.

Board members had other suggestions, among them reducing the number of second grade teachers from seven to six. Another suggestion was getting rid of the PR firm the district uses. Another suggestion was to replace two veteran teachers who are retiring with two hires at a lower step level. Another suggestion was to reduce equipment and furniture purchases. And, finally, possibly charging a fee to play sports but it was noted that revenue can't be used to close this particular gap between the proposed budget and the actual default budget amount the board now must work with.

The discussion went on for a long time but in the end the board approved the original administration suggestion by a 4 to 1 vote with new member John Harmon voting against it because he felt if the board was going to cut the math teacher they needed to be consistent and cut the second grade teacher as well.

The next subject tackled by the board didn't go any more smoothly or quickly, and that was how and when to re-open the schools to in person learning. The discussion ranged from wanting to re-open the schools in early April to finally agreeing to aim for May 3.

Harmon asked for the opinion of the principals before making any decision and all three said that despite challenges the schools could be re-opened to in person learning.

There was some debate among board members on how much time would be needed to prepare for this and to inform parents but in the end the change in the 6-foot distancing guideline to 3-feet proved a major factor as well as having teachers vaccinated, something that was to begin the next day.

After a long discussion the board voted so long as the data and guidelines and current conditions regarding the pandemic are all favorable, the Raymond schools would open to  5 days a week in person learning as of May 3 with the option available to parents who wish to keep their children remote. The prepared model for this will be presented at the March 31, meeting.

The board reorganized and appointed Joe Saulnier to continue as Chair with John Harmon as Vice Chair and Ada Vadaboncoeur as Secretary. The new members on the board are Harmon and Vadaboncoeur.

The board was informed by Director of Student Services Michael Hatfied about his proposed reorganization of the District's Special Education Administration. Hatfield noted his plan is designed to address restructuring of leadership and improving the special education department across the district. The board after a discussion voted to approve the proposed District Special Education reorganization.

The board briefly discussed the use of social media and board member Janice Arseault made the point that if and when a board member does use social media they need to make clear they are not speaking for the board but strictly as individuals.

The board went over the member assignments and because of the length of some of the discussions decided to table the District Calendar discussion and the School Board Summer Schedule discussion.

The board did accept with thank the donation of $2,000 from Friends and Family of teacher Jenny Fisk who has died.

The board also voted to change the policy to allow, for this school year, Raymond residents who attend private or Charter Schools to participate in State Assessments.



Raymond School Board Discussed the Raymond High School Class Sizes
By Penny Williams  3-8-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, March 3, and among the things discussed was Principal Steve Woodward's projection about class size.

Superintendent Tina McCoy did  comment that the class sizes discussed and the potential classes to be offered  might change once student sign up for classes takes place.

The class size by Raymond School Board policy is generally capped at 25 students. Courses with a lower maximum include Science Classrooms with between 21 and 23 students; Foods and Nutrition classes with 16 students; and Technology Education classes with 16 students.

It was noted that per school board policy classes that have an enrollment below 12 in general will not run. Woodward did say there are basic exceptions to that such as Advanced Placement courses; Upper Level Language courses; and, Remedial courses. Woodward then went over the probable classes in each department that are projected to be offered.

McCoy and the administrators went over the Student Handbooks pointing out to the changes that are being proposed. The board and the administrators discussed each handbook in detail and these will be finalized with the board's approval. The board approved the amended student handbooks as presented.

McCoy discussed the School District Calendar noting that Massachusetts has changed its winter vacation and it is now the same as New Hampshire. She indicated she proposes to follow the state proposed calendar.

McCoy said given the past year and the needs of students at the start of the new year she has elected to start school in August  and the last day is projected as June 1 for elementary school, and May 25 for middle and high school. Kindergarten will start a little later, after Labor Day.

She noted a change is the half days where Parent Teacher Conferences will be scheduled hoping to increase parental engagement.  The board approved the calendar as proposed by McCoy.

The Lamprey River Elementary School Principal Laura Yacek along with counselors Laura Milner and Nicole Bertrand and several students discussed the Social and Emotional Learning programs and activities being utilized at the school.

The Social and Emotional Learning Program includes working on opportunities for the skills needed for learning; explanation of empathy and how it is expressed and its importance; ways to control and manage emotions; and, how to problem solve. The program included a number of all school events and activities such as Red Ribbon Week where they worked on healthy choices and a recent Kindness Week.

Director of Student Services Michael Hatfield spoke updating Student services after Gretchen Roussin spoke on Medicaid for schools.

Roussin went over the changes that have been made to Medicaid reimbursement and how COVID-19 has impacted things further. She said to grow Medicaid reimbursement  to Schools as things exist now requires compliance, parental permission for medical designations. In addition, compliance in the Individualized Education Program is needed. She indicated forms are being updated and made more user-friendly.

She noted that program approval is improved by working with strengthening and developing meaningful state approved programs across the district. And, the District needs a thorough inventory of interventions and equipment to show specifically what the district has and what it needs.

Bottom line under the new regulations that have taken place under the changes made to Medicaid Reimbursement for services, the district has suffered a loss of 50 percent of those revenues.                   

There was a public hearing to consider the acceptance and expenditure of unanticipated funds from the State, Federal and private sources amounting to $897,632.70  for Title 1A, Title 11A, Title 1V A, IDEA , IDEA Preschool, Title V B 21st Century Project AWARE CARES-ESSER, Student Assistance Workforce to Learn and  $246,876.64 School Care "Contribution Holiday" Refund.

No public comment was forthcoming and after closing the public hearing the board voted to accept the aforementioned funds.

It was noted that the School Care Refund in part is refunded to employee members in the amount of $16,371.13 with the average refund for REA Members, Early Retirees and COBRA was $106.17, while RESS Members and Early Retirees received an average of $72.24.                                                                                                                  

The Raymond School Board Support Plans to Hold Safe Senior Prom
By Penny Williams    2-18-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, February 17, and among the discussions was whether there would be a Senior Prom this year.

The board heard from its members and several seniors as well as school district personnel and all felt the seniors had lost out on  many events due to the COVID -19 pandemic and they should have a senior prom. The board members supported the plans that have been developed for holding a safe Senior Prom.

The prom would be held on Friday, June 4, at the Executive Court in Manchester, which speakers noted has been able to hold several events such as weddings and meetings safely and in accordance with the state guidelines. The 78 seniors, even if each had a partner, would be well within the capacity limits and the guidelines meet the district's safe and secure guidelines.

After a brief discussion the board enthusiastically approved the plans as proposed for the senior prom. It was noted that the Junior Class will likely now be looking for something and that needs to be considered.

The board held a long discussion regarding the Reopening Plan. However, there was just one actual change made from the previous review and that is to allow students at Raymond High School who have a free period morning block to be allowed to go to the cafeteria for breakfast if they choose to. The board approved the plan with this one change.
However, the discussion on this topic ranged over when all students would be able to return to classrooms and Superintendent Tina McCoy encouraged patience saying the district isn't there yet but that things are trending in the right direction.

The discussion on returning to in-person learning centered on social distancing and other issues but it was noted that staff shortages still prevail and are a major factor. However, the plan is to get the students back into the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so.

There was also a discussion regarding planning to hold informational forums with remote parents suggested by board member Tony Clements. He indicated that a separate meeting should be held for hybrid parents. The idea being to get information on what the parents see as issues both negative and positive as well as any suggestions for improvements.

The board discussed summer classes using Raymond Teachers and these are in the planning stage. McCoy said this is being developed with partnerships with Recreation and others. The plan is to fill in educational gaps and accelerate the educational product.

The board discussed the development of high school classes that would be open to 8th graders. The 8th graders would be allowed to come in early to attend these first period classes.

The plan is to offer French 1, Spanish 1, and Computer Program 1. The kids attending these classes would get a break before starting their regular 8th grade classes. The classes would be virtual.

The expectation is that many eligible students (B or better grades) would chose the Spanish 1 class and there might need to be two sections. They discussed working plan into the Middle School and High School  schedules. The board thought this was a really good idea and approved this proposal.

The board learned that for the Penguin Plunge Program the 332 students who participated raised $37,277 this year. 'This is the third year the school has participated and they've raised over a total $165,000.  Raymond is the is the smallest school with most participants and has raised the most money. The money raised is for Special Education.

Dr. Michael Whaland discussed the grants for Title 1A, Title 2A, and Title IVA that are in the pipeline for the coming year.

The board accepted  a donation of $1,000 from the Raymond Educational Association to be used for the needs of Raymond students displaced by the fire at Sunview Apartments.


Raymond School Board Hears About Support for Students Struggling with Remote Learning
By Penny Williams   2-5-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, February 3, and learned that measures are being taken in the schools to address the mental and social stress students are experiencing as a result of remote learning.

Iber Holmes Gove Middle School  Principal Bob Bickford discussed how professionals in his school are working together to develop and implement a system that is designed to address the difficulties students are experiencing due to remote education. He went over responses from students who had accessed the support and the responses were favorable with students saying the support had been helpful and made learning easier and more meaningful. He indicated this kind of support is significant and critical to student success.

Dr. Michael Whaland and Lamprey River Elementary School Principal Laura Yacek told the board about the changes being made in the schools Delivery of health Education Curriculum.

Currently there is a single health teacher who is part of the Unified Arts Team at the school who is responsible for teaching all health education topics for grades K-3 based on the New Hampshire Elementary School Curriculum guidelines. The school has developed a team approach that will have experts teaching the health topics that best fit their skill set. The team will consist of the health teacher, PE teacher, school counselor and the school nurse. They will all participate in delivering the Great Body Shop core health program.

Whaland explained that the Great Body Shop is a comprehensive health education curriculum that is aligned with state and national standards for health education. Each unit includes a variety of assessments, performance tasks, pre and post tests and quizzes. The cost of the program is $3,050 and more information is available at www.thegreatbodyshop.net.

Among the topics included in the program are: alcohol and other drugs; injury prevention; nutrition; physical activity; family life and sexuality; tobacco; mental health; personal and consumer health; and, community and environmental health. The board was told it is important for students to hear health related topics presented by multiple educators in the building, collaborating together, and allowing more time for Mr. Roy's yearly curriculum plans to implement more STEM related activities.

The board also heard from Youth Program Director Patrick Arsenault about the Learning Enrichment After-school Program (LEAP). While the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the number of participants he noted there still have been significant participants. He said the program is constructed so if students are remote it can be provided to them as well.

The program has been providing academic support on a one on one basis, lots of STEM, plenty to arts and crafts and math projects as well as mindfulness and recreation. He also explained about the Plastics Project with TREX. The students are collecting specific plastic bags. About 400 pounds have already been collected and when they reach 500 pounds TREX will provide the school with a bench made from plastic. Once they complete the project at LRES, he said, they plan to do the same at IHGMS.

Superintendent Tina McCoy introduced Whaland as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.  She said she wanted people to understand what his responsibilities are and  why he is an important part of the overall Raymond School District community. It is one thing to have a curriculum, she noted,  but it needs someone to bring it to life, to align it with student and school needs and goals, and to continually improve and expand its offerings and methods of assessment. This is a critical leadership position, she said, Whaland brings the district's curriculum alive, makes it effective and meets the needs of students and staff.

Whaland explained what he does in terms of approving curriculum, making sure standards are being met and that the social and emotional as well as educational needs of the students are being met.  Assessment of the curriculum is an important element as is his work with the Title I, II, II and IV programs for which he writes the grants for funding of these programs. He noted he also works on other grants for the district as well as making sure the curriculum is fully aligned with the state standards.


Raymond School District Operating Budget Was the Most Contentious Article at Deliberative
By Penny Williams    1-31-21

The Raymond School District Deliberative, held Saturday morning, January 30, lasted almost four hours and the longest discussion and amendment process revolved around Article 2, the Operating Budget.

The issue was the Budget Committee set the Operating Budget $200,000 lower than the operating budget amount the School Board had arrived at after cutting $515,486 on their own. The Budget Committee budget included an additional $200,000 of cuts but budget lines were not specified. However, Budget Committee member Carol Watjus claimed she had provided a long list of possible places where cuts could be made that would not impact student educational quality. The Budget Committee Budget amount of  $26,186,721 would be $51,036 lower than  the operating budget of $26,237,757.

Among the things that would result from the proposed additional $200,000 reduction according to the School District would be:

* District K-12 STEM program would be delayed - a Cyber Security Course at RHS would not happen, for example

* Additional cuts will need to be those that will have a negative impact such as reduction of teachers or other staff  and programs and courses

Catherine Tristiano Brook introduced an amendment to Article 2,  returning the Operating Budget amount to the School Board's original amount of $26,386,721. Her amendment proposal was followed by a series of several speakers who spoke in support of her amendment including a Budget Committee member. These speakers all stated that they couldn't afford increased taxes but that this budget was important to provide the best education possible for the children so they would find the money needed.  There was also an indication that the speakers felt that misinformation had been provided about the Budget Committee budget amount.

Budget Committee member Carol Watjus, who said she was speaking as a citizen, then spoke against the amendment waving papers she said were copies of minutes from Budget Committee meetings supporting her statements in opposition to the amendment. She noted that the Budget Committee by law can't tell the School Board where to make cuts but that she had provided ample suggestions about where cuts could be made.

After some more back and forth the question was moved and this was approved and a final vote on the proposed amendment to use the School Board Operating Budget amount was taken which passed 33 to 11.

Then Dawn Santino made a motion for an amendment to Article 2 to add $159,709 to the budget in order to not have to eliminate the YEES (Youth Educational Employment Services) program that was among the cuts the school board had made.

There were several who spoke for this and Superintendent Tina McCoy said that the district has implemented several new positions and programs to address what the YEES program did and that these new district personnel and programs would service more than 9 allowed by the YEES provider. It was noted that the Operating Budget is a bottom line budget so adding this amount was no guarantee the YEES program would be returned.

The vote was taken and the amendment failed 23 to 20. It was followed by a motion to move the question which was approved 47 to 0. The Operating Budget in Article 2 in the amount of $26,386,721 was moved to the ballot as amended and Board member Janice Arsenault moved to restrict reconsideration and this was approved 48 to 0.

Article 3, the collective bargaining agreement between the School District and the Raymond Educational Association drew no comments and was moved to the ballot as presented as was Article 4 which if Article 3 fails would allow the special meeting to address financial cost items of the agreement in Article 3 only.

Article 5, increase the District Treasurer's stipend by $750 from $3,000 to $3,750. This article was challenged by Tina Thomas who offered an amendment that would replace the $750 increase by zero increase. After some discussion a vote as a secret ballot as requested by Thomas was taken and the amendment was defeated 32 to 14 and the original article was moved to the ballot.  A motion was made and approved to restrict reconsideration.

Article 6 proposed $500 for training for a Deputy Treasurer to be appointed by the District Treasurer. Tina Thomas proposed an amendment reducing the amount to zero after detailing why a deputy treasurer isn't needed in the first place. Thomas again requested a secret ballot which was conducted and  the amendment failed 29 to 15 so the original article as presented was moved to the ballot and a motion to restrict reconsideration was approved.

Article 7 sought to raise and appropriate $375,000 to be added to established Capital Reserve Funds for Capital Improvement. There were a few comments but this article was moved to the ballot as presented and a motion was approved to restrict reconsideration.

Article 8 asked for $75,00 to be placed in the Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund to come from the June 30 fund balance available on July 1. This was moved to the ballot as presented without comment as was Article 9 that placed $10,003 into that Capital Reserve Fund with money from the income generated by the water easement. A motion was approved to restrict reconsideration for articles 8 and 9.

Article 10 would allow the District to retain 5 percent of net assessment. Watjus proposed an amendment to reduce the percent to be retained to the present 2.5 percent complaining that the newly changed law allowing the increased amount to be retained also eliminated any safe guards or oversight allowing the members of the School Board to act as they wanted. She also asked that this be done as a secret ballot.

There was some discussion and a vote was taken on her proposed amendment which was defeated by 28 to 15. The original article was moved to the ballot as presented.


Raymond School Board Tackles Several Important Issues
By Penny Williams    1-21-21

On Wednesday evening, January 20, the Raymond School Board tackled several issues including 2021 Raymond High School Graduation, Senior Prom,  the Deliberative, and a Middle School field trip and the Budget Committee Operating Budget decision requiring the board to find another $200,000 in reductions to the operating budget they had come up with.
Eighth Grade Teacher Felicia Formissano, math and class advisor, and IHGMS Principal Bob Bickford addressed an overnight trip for the 8th Grade Class Trip. They said they had rejected any trip to Washington D.C. for this year and had stepped outside the box to find an acceptable alternate plan.

What they came up with  is an overnight trip to northern Maine to Adventures Bound that offers white water rafting, rock climbing, and, ropes activities. Adventure Bound follows and adheres to all COVID-19 guidelines - mask wearing, social distancing - with regard to the eating, sleeping and adventure experiences and opportunities.

There would be two groups - Group A and Group B.  Only two buses would be required and the event would span one over night for each group. Group A would go up on Tuesday, spend the night and at the end of the day on Wednesday return to Raymond. Group 2 would leave Raymond Wednesday morning and return on Thursday

The cost of the trip would be about $162 per student, plus the bus trip cost of $128 per student and $20 for food per student or a total of $310. The board discussed this and Bickford was told to go ahead and iron out the details such as what happens if the school has to suspend the activity and so forth. It was noted that there will be some sort of consideration for a High School Senior trip and students were encouraged to make suggestions.

Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward discussed graduation and prom for his high school seniors. He indicated that there would be something for a prom even if it turns out to be an alternate activity.  The board felt it should be limited to seniors which would make developing an activity easier just in terms of the numbers.

Graduation is under discussion and the date is set for June 11. The seniors don't want it in the parking lot and suggested the field area be considered. The board agreed outside venues should be the focus  and agreed a rain date should accompany any plan. The possibilities will be taken up by the board at a later date when Woodward has more concrete ideas regarding both of these events.

Discussions regarding the Deliberative included  Moderator Edward French. Initially the thinking was to have the RHS cafe be the central location for masked in person attendance but by the end of the conversation it was decided that the main room would be the gym and the cafe for the overflow since this would accommodate more people with the media room for those not masked. The school board was firm that the school deliberative and the town deliberative follow the same protocols and logistics.

All the participating rooms will have full technology that provides them with interaction - both hearing, seeing and speaking. The School District is working with RCTV to make this work and the decision was made to hire a sound system company to ensure sound would be good in all locations.

The longest discussion was over whether the board would recommend or not recommend the Budget Committee's Operating Budget amount of $26,186,721, an amount that requires the School Board's budget amount to be reduced by an additional $200,000.

Board members felt this was not reasonable in the face of all the hard and deep cuts they had made to reach their number and that to make $200,000 more in cuts would have an impact on student education because it would have to happen to teacher salaries. One thing the board agreed upon was that cuts couldn't be made at the High School since that might well negatively impact the town by interfering with Fremont coming to Raymond High School down the road.

The board voted 4 to 0 not to recommend the operating budget at the amount stipulated by the Budget Committee. They then went on to determine who would speak to each of their Warrant Articles at the Deliberative. They voted to approve going to the SAU office the next day to sign the Warrant Article documents.

Third grade teacher Carolyn Malo and a few of her third graders told the board how they figured out and implemented bringing the morning announcements to all the school students, those in school and those on remote.

Raymond School Board Reviews 2021 Warrant Articles
By Penny Williams     1-7-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday night, January 6, and went over the Articles for the Warrant to ensure the Articles were Recommended and renumbered properly.

The board discussed the Warrant Articles, most of which they had already voted to recommend. They decided that they wanted to use the additional tax impact on each article. They did this to ensure meeting the Petition Article request for having the articles have an estimated tax impact that was approved at last year's Town Meeting.

The board then re-read the articles. They renumbered them having Article 2 the budget and Article 3 the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the board and the Raymond Educational Association.  The agreement shows the increase in 2021-22 is estimated at $91,286; for 2022-23 it would be $459,316; and for the third year, 2023-24 would be $392,262. Article 4 would be the article that would authorize a Special Meeting if Article 3 is defeated.

Article 5 would be to increase the treasurers stipend by $750 to $3,750; Article 6 asks the voters to add a stipend of $500 for training purposes for a deputy treasurer. The board recommended these last two articles each by a vote of  5-0.

The remaining 4 articles had already been recommended and their placement on the warrant was not changed. However the board re-recommended them.

* Article 7- Raise and appropriate $375,000 to be added to the following Capital Reserve Funds: $183,998 for Raymond School District Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement; $151,992 for Technology Capital Reserve Fund; and, $39,010 for Food Service Equipment Capital Reserve Fund.

* Article 8 - Raise and Appropriate $75,000 to be placed in the Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund from surplus.

* Article 9 - Raise and Appropriate $10,003 to be added to the Raymond School District Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve from water easement income.

* Article 10 - 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 heard from Anne Vincent about the Pre-School Program team that has a new facility for the Pre-School at Raymond High School. She named the entire Pre-School team noting that many hands-on play is incorporated into the program. The class sizes are small and constantly changing because as the students reach 3 years of age they become eligible for the program. The board learned about the basic daily schedule and special activities such as visits from Fire and Police Departments and about the assistance provided by the Occupational and Speech Therapists.

The board discussed the new document drawn up to address confidentiality issues for students involved in the Extended Learning Opportunities program. The board had previously questioned how liability issues are addressed specifically when ELO students are dealing with in-school health activities.

The board was in favor of including the new Confidentiality Agreement for the program provided by Superintendent Tina McCoy. Member Janice Arsenault stated that her only concern with the ELO program has to do with health issues but the rest of the board indicated they were alright with the program and also with the agreement. The board decided to keep the program procedures in place as they currently exist and to add the Confidentiality Agreement to the program.

High School Principal Steve Woodward reviewed the student survey that was sent out regarding student reaction to remote/hybrid learning. He indicated that 100 responded which is 28 percent of the student community.

The area the board discussed with Woodward involved questions pertaining to whether the students felt this educational experience would hurt them in the future and regarding the level of workload.

The workload issue showed that a majority of the respondents felt the amount of work it too much. Woodward told the board the administration was looking into the level of work. About a third of respondents felt this educational experience would have a negative impact on their educational future.

The board went over the Bargaining Agreement with the Raymond Educational Association. The board noted that the new salary levels would make Raymond teacher salaries more competitive even though the starting salary is still about $5,000 below the average starting salaries.

The board discussed the Deliberative Session options. It was decided that holding it on the set date, Saturday, January 30, and holding it in person was the best way to go.

The board will discuss this with the School District Moderator at their next meeting. The board felt there would be room to follow the guidelines for social distancing and wearing of masks using the High School cafeteria, and using another area in the building for those unable or refusing to wear a mask. Speakers could be dealt with through remote technology.

Click on Jan. 6, 2021 Raymond School Board meeting to watch the entire meeting.
























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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
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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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