2021 Raymond School Board Meetings

Raymond School Board Receives Complaints About Overnight COVID Mitigation Plans and Hears Changes to the 2022-2023 High School Program of Studies
By Penny Williams    12-16-21

On Wednesday evening, December 15, The Raymond School Board and Superintendent received a number of complaints regarding planned COVID mitigation procedures relating to the overnight events of the Eighth Grade Washington D.C. trip and possibly a trip to Nature's Classroom.

The complaints were pretty specific. Parents were upset that if a member of a four person hotel room tested positive then the parents would need to come and get the student and any other unvaccinated students in the room but vaccinated students could stay if they chose but would need to wear masks.

Board members Tony Clement and Dawn Leamer were among those reviewing the policy with some concerns. They wanted the policy to apply the same to vaccinated and unvaccinated students. Clements insisted that vaccinated students are as likely to spread COVID as unvaccinated.

Those objecting to the proposed policy want any decisions regarding vaccination and how to deal with exposure to be  the same for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students. They also want parents to make those decisions not the school district.

Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi kept reiterating that the district has followed the recommended guideline from the CDC and the NH Department of Health and Human Services in its Reopening Plan from the start of the year. He pointed out that by sticking to following those recommendations has kept Raymond schools open despite there being COVID cases in all three schools. The district has had 41 cases at the elementary school; over 95 at the middle school; and the cluster that hit the high school in the fall.

He indicated that to change and follow the path suggested by Clement and Leamer and those who spoke, would inevitably lead to closing some classrooms. He said parents have the choice to have their students tested, it is not mandated.

Dr. David DeRuosi said that he would work with the school nurses and the Department of Health And Human Services regarding this request by residents and board members regarding not following the recommended guidelines for the Washington trip and a possible trip to Nature's Classroom. After working with these he said he would bring a report and recommendation back to the board at their January 5, meeting, which comes before the final payment to finalize the Washington trip (January 13) has to be paid.

Director of Technology Brittany L'Heureux gave a presentation to the board detailing what the department has done so far this year. She noted members of her team are Luke Bergeron, Support Specialist at the middle school; Support Specialist at the elementary school is Cameron Tkalcic who joined the team in July; and Matt Clifton, Technology & Data Integration Specialist, who joined the team in September just as the high school technician resigned and he has helped there.

She indicated phone system upgrades have been done as well as Promethean Board updates. Chromebooks have been prepared, repaired, and distributed.  New  vape detectors have been installed and new teacher orientation presented as well as PowerSchool Training has been conducted. Use of Google Meet Kit/Phone system tech expo presentation was provided to the staff.

She also indicated time has been spent assisting parents with online registration and providing Professional Development for staff on Project-based Learning with Google Workspace for Education, for  Creating Interactive Assignments using Google Slides and one for Creating On-Demand Learning Opportunities with Screencastify.

In addition the team has begun Security Assessment and worked with Facilities on safety improvements and tested new camera options. They have presented Discovery Education Integration and continue working with Chromebook repairs and various related issues.

Raymond High School Principal  Steve Woodward presented the changes to the 2022-2023 Program of studies. The most significant changes are as follow:

*Throughout “80%” recommendation for certain classes changed to “2.5”

* Page 10 English requirements for NH Scholars

* Page 28 Prerequisite added for Criminal Law: True Crimes

* Page 42 Pre-calculus deleted

* Page 49-50 Biology a prerequisite for Environmental Science, Botany, and Zoology

* Page 54 Addition of Integrated Computer Technology course

* Page 55 Addition of PLTW Cyber Security course

* Page 56 Digital Components and Research II deleted

* Page 70 Spanish V deleted

* Added is an AP Composition Course on a rotating basis

The board approved the Program of Studies as amended.

The board approved the proposed graduation date of June 10, 2022. Board member John Harmon questioned if this meets the required number of days or hours  if there are snow days and DeRuosi said there are ample days and hours to cover this date.

There was a discussion regarding the posting of the Superintendent Job. The board discussed and ultimately eliminated any reference to salary expectation or range. The board then approved the posting as amended.

Principal Laura Yacek, Lamprey River Elementary School and Principal Bob Bickford, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School gave the board their reports on the first trimester at their schools.


Raymond Schools Losing More Teachers and 2022 Budgets Approved
By Penny Williams    12-2-21

At their Monday night, December 1, meeting the Raymond School Board approved both the budget and default budget amounts for the 2022-2023 school year.

After a brief review of the budget by SAU Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore that first provided revenue information requested by Board Member John Harmon, the board moved forward with the budget. The bottom line amount of the 2022-2023 budget is $26,798,318, a 2.14 percent increase and the board voted to approve this and move it to the Budget Committee.

Then Whitmore went over the default budget. After a brief discussion the board voted to approve the bottom line for the default budget at $26,780,772 or  $17,546 less than the Operating budget.

Robert LeMoine, Media Specialist at Raymond High School and spokesperson for the Raymond Educational Association contract committee presented a number of district teachers and parents who all spoke about their disappointment over the contract's defeat and the way some residents greeted that defeat.

The teachers and parents who spoke made several points, each in a different way but still basically the same points.

One: Raymond teachers are so underpaid many are forced to leave in order to go somewhere where they can earn enough to pay their rent and living expenses.

Two: Raymond District teacher compensation doesn't provide a livable wage and many teachers have no choice but to leave.

Three: Raymond teachers are fantastic and it is absolutely discouraging to lose them in such large numbers.

Four: Voters need to support the teachers and their need for a competitive, adequate wage.

Five: The students are paying the price for the loss of good teachers.

Six: There is a teacher crisis in Raymond - an example is there is no computer teacher at Middle School.

Superintendent David DeRuosi, asked the board to approve the resignation request of Raymond High School English Teacher Judson Slack. The board accepted his resignation effective June 30, 2022.

DeRuosi told the board Lamprey Health Center stepped up to allow a vaccination clinic for 5 to 11 year old students to be held at Iver Holmes Gove Middle School on December 14, from 3 to 7 p.m. and then for the follow-up shot on January 4, 2022 at the same times.

Michael Hatfield, Director of Student Services went over the Educational Organizational Chart depicting the roles of the administrators of the program in response to a request from Harmon. He also gave the board the summary of his entire report.

Harmon asked if teachers coming on after the opening meeting of school, where his report was distributed to all the teachers and staff in hard copy, would also get a copy of the report. Hatfield said yes they would from their school administrative officers. Harmon asked that the report be added electronically so teachers and staff could access it more easily and Hatfield agreed to do that.


Raymond School Board Forwards Unapproved Budget to Budget Committee
By Penny Williams    11-19-21

On Wednesday night, November 17, the Raymond School Board decided to forward the budget to the Budget Committee unapproved, delaying the approval until their next meeting.

There were several issues that bothered board member John Harmon and he pushed for the delay and convinced the others to go along with the decision. One thing Harmon wanted before actually approving the budget was to have the revenues in hand which weren't available at the meeting on the 17th.

The budget was discussed and the bottom line after the changes discussed previously and changes made at the meeting is $26,798,318.

The figure of $26,798,318  includes the approved decision by the board to reduce salaries and benefits by $175,000.

Harmon had asked for a $200,000 reduction in the salaries and benefits pointing out the salaries and benefits lines are always over stated. His motion on this was defeated and Chair Joe Saulnier initially offered a motion for a $150,000 reduction that he later amended to a $175,000 reduction that the board approved.

The board also delayed approval of the Default budget whose figure at this time is $26,665,734 or a difference of $132,584.

Among other budget adjustments was increasing the wage pool from 3 percent to 3.5 percent. It was noted that there was a significant reduction on the SchoolCare rate which was another budget adjustment.

The board approved the oil and propane bid of Palmer which is the district's current vendor. There were two other bids, both higher than Palmer's from Broco and Irving.

The board discussed whether to put in a Warrant Article for a Humanities teacher for the Raymond High School (RHS). Superintendent David DeRuosi informed the board that the Attorney's opinion was that this was not the way to go.  

The board discussed the issue of hiring another Humanities teacher for the high school and Harmon pointed out that the class sizes of Humanities classes at RHS are within the limits set by the district so he opposed the hire, which was described as being sought to offset class size. Saulnier indicated he didn't feel this was the appropriate time to make this hire. It was decided not to fill this position.

The board approved accepting three donations. The first was $500 to RHS from the Exeter Charitable Foundation. The second was $825 to RHS from Hannaford Helps School Program. The third was $732 from Hannaford Helps Schools Program for Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES).

The board heard RHS Principal Steve Woodward's quarterly report and accepted the resignation of LRES Victoria Sandin.

DeRuosi told the board he is working with the school nurse and administration at the Middle School regarding ensuring mitigation measures are in place such as lunches in classrooms in an effort to curb the COVID outbreak.

He indicated 23 students have tested positive. He recommended if the numbers continue that the middle school students remain remote on Friday which is a half day to begin with. The board went along with this although all board members weren't totally in agreement.

He said he is trying to determine if there is a connection between the rise in COVID cases between sports or if it is community driven.

The board raised the question about whether the day would count if the students went remote and he said he worked with the state on this and indicated he would ensure that it did if they went remote on Friday, which they did.

It was noted the Superintendent search Committee has met and progress is being made.

There was a brief discussion about the Seacoast School of Technology considering an earlier start time. This could only happen if all the participating school districts agreed. The board and the superintendent indicated they would not be on board with that.

The LRES Girls on the Run told the board about their program and the board quickly approved all the new and revised second read policies as well as the two first read policies. Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore presented the financial update.


Raymond School Board Vote Down a Special Meeting Request
By Penny Williams    11-5-21

 On Wednesday evening, November 3, the Raymond School Board struggled with how to respond to the Petition Request for a Special Meeting that would grant parents the right to make the decision regarding wearing or not wearing a mask regardless of what the district mandated.

Several residents spoke, emphasizing that masks were damaging to children and that they as parents should have the final say regarding mask usage. The board discussed the request for the Special Meeting noting that any decision arising out of the Special Meeting vote, should there be one, would be advisory only. It was also emphasized that the board and the superintendent by law have the decision making authority to mandate mask wearing as a safety and health care decision for the whole school community and the community at large.

One parent claimed that a State Representative told her that a decision from a Special Meeting vote would be mandatory, not advisory. This troubled board members. Member John Harmon read the response the board received from their attorney, referencing the RSAs involved and supporting the information that any decision would be  advisory only.

Board members questioned why they would hold a Special Meeting that would cost the tax payers $6,000 if the decision would be advisory only. Member Tony Clement asked how the board could deal with the conflicting versions of the validity of any vote from such a meeting.

Chair Joe Saulnier asked School Board Moderator Jonathan Wood for an opinion and Wood noted that all RSAs should be alluded to and included and the board should weigh the cost factor against the fact that a number of residents had petitioned for the special meeting.

There was discussion about what other towns have been doing relative to similar requests. However, the board was focused on what in its opinion would be best for their district and how it should handle the request.

After reading the board's attorney's letter, Harmon made a motion to approve the request adding that he would be voting no. The board unanimously voted no and that was the end of it.

The board approved changing the school district calendar and making November 19, a half day to allow for the opportunity to host a Pfizer 'booster' clinic for employees from noon to 4 p.m. The half day release would free up the staff to receive a booster shot if they want one. Principals were making arrangements for lunch or brunch and for transportation to accommodate the half day.

The board approved accepting a $750 donation to Lamprey River Elementary School from the Exeter Charitable Foundation. The money is to be used to help students in need.

After a discussion the board approved having the superintendent's evaluation forms from board members in Saulnier's hands by January 3, 2022 and then meeting to discuss as a board on January 12, 2022 at 6 p.m.

One parent, Debra Levesque, during public comment challenged the board over the incident of an intruder at Raymond High School that happened a couple of weeks ago. The parent noted that several teachers did not follow the protocols when the incident took place and she wanted those teachers to be blocked from acting in a supervisory position for after school programs. She also wanted to know what was being done regarding the fact protocols were not followed properly by some staff.

Saulnier tried to explain that the school board members were constrained by law from discussing these matters which she disputed since she said she had the police report and it was all public information.

However, the board and Superintendent David DeRuosi  explained why they couldn't discuss this and refused to discuss the incident or the infractions relating to protocols not being followed. The parent was upset that the board appeared not to be willing to hold the staff accountable.


Raymond School Board Hear Assessments and Interventionists Reviews
By Penny Williams   10-29-21

On Tuesday, October 26, the Raymond School Board met and the Elementary and Middle School principals reviewed district assessment data and district interventionist plans.

Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) Principal Laura Yacek and Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS) Principal Bob Bickford discussed the assessment tools they use and went over what these provide administrators and teachers in terms of  student strengths and weaknesses and where students fall on the proficiency levels.

Yacek indicated that they use the Acadience assessment data and it showed that  consistency of instructional programs was missing. She noted plans to address this.

The new revised Math in Focus curriculum was implemented in 2019 as well as Professional Development (PD) opportunities for staff with the revised program  and in the  21-22 school year, we have increased progress monitoring to every 4 weeks for all students and are developing a long-term professional development plan to support the literacy and math instructional practices with teacher and instructional coach PD opportunities

Bickford said the IHGMS Response to the NH State Assessment System (SAS) Data was  a data dive of the 2021 SAS data in June, 2021 with a representative team of teachers and administrators. Results were shared with the IHGMS Faculty. IHGMS has implemented our Response to Intervention (RtI) Playbook developed by the Student Intervention Team  with each one of the six teacher teams at IHGMS setting ELA and Math goals as part of their implementation of our RtI plan

He explained that RtI is a framework to provide all students with the best opportunities to succeed academically and behaviorally in school. RtI focuses on providing high-quality instruction and interventions matched to student need, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals. Data is used to allocate resources to improve student learning and support staff implementation of effective practices.

There are five Essential Components

*  Universal School-wide screening

*  Data-driven decision making teams

* Systematic tiered instruction and interventions

* Progress Monitoring v. Infrastructure and Fidelity

* Assessment Plan  Tools

Screening district wide standards based assessment tool and the State Assessment System (SAS) will be used for screening in English Language Arts and math. The team is proposing that testing be completed by the second Friday in September in order to get a fresh set of data to examine. In the future, we will pursue other data points that will help us take a comprehensive look at the whole child. The use of SAS module tests have been added as a secondary data point. This data will also be used to create enrichment groupings and activities.

Progress Monitoring  is done by using STAR 360 as a screening tool and for doing a three times per year benchmarking. IHGMS and the district are investigating other tools that may be used in the future district wide. The intent is to continue to use a standards based assessment tool to determine the level of proficiency in ELA and math for all students. The data collected will be used to determine the interventions/enrichments for each individual student and to place students with similar needs within groups, where the schedule allows.

Superintendent David DeRuosi said his committee has narrowed other assessment tools to two - NWEA and IReady, both companies are being interviewed and decisions will be made following the interviews. He said the committee has been instructed to choose only one.

 Bickford noted that grades 4, 5  and 6  are using a grade wide intervention period where the entire grade is divided up into small groups with similar academic needs with classroom teachers, case managers, Title I and the reading and math specialists.

In 7th & 8th grade there are ELA and math lab teachers that work with each home room group in a grade level for six weeks and then rotate to the other grade level. For example, students receive six weeks of math support and then have ELA support for six weeks. The lab teachers are doing a combination of current curriculum support and content interventions in small groups. The lab teachers work collaboratively with our ELA and math interventionist, depending on who is available

Yacek said she would like to see the school continue with the model at LRES that we have begun to build- this builds sustainability with the roles and responsibilities of our current plan and addresses the needs of Tier 2&3 students and Tier 1 classroom instruction.

Our interventionists play an integral role in providing support to those students who are substantially below proficient with their goal of having the students that they work with demonstrate accelerated growth. We are seeing progress in the students that our interventionists work with. We want to provide more support for our teachers in Tier 1 and 2 instruction.

Potential Outcomes Associated with this Implementation are from a budgetary standpoint  adding 1 math specialist to our current budget (right now ESSR funds are responsible for the salary this year).

We are working to improve the  effectiveness in Tier 1 instruction in all classrooms by having more building instructional leaders ensuring we are consistent across the grade levels and district with curriculum, instruction, and assessment. As student achievement scores improve and get us closer to 80% proficient Professional Development will support this work.

She indicated that the purpose and rationale for this professional development plan, is to create a sustainable plan to improve instruction in all classrooms and in all grades K-3. This plan addresses the need to have consistent, explicit instruction using research-based methodologies that meets the needs of all students. The plan needs to support our current programs and address what the student data is showing is a weakness in our instruction and school-wide approach to teaching and learning.

One point that was made was the need for additional Professional Development days for teachers.


Raymond School Board Adjusts Capital Improvement Plan and Receives Special Meeting Request
By Penny Williams    10-21-21

The Raymond School Board held a regular School Board meeting on Wednesday, October 20, and one of the things discussed was the Capital Improvement Plan and the board received a request for a Special Meeting related to the universal mask mandate.

Several residents spoke against masks being required at the Raymond schools claiming harm being done to their children by the mandate. A petition was presented to Chairman Joe Saulnier with 84 registered voter signatures requesting that a Special Meeting be held regarding the district's mask usage policy for the future. Parents want a voice in the decision making. It was noted that the board makes decisions regarding a mask mandate but that the superintendent has the authority to do so as well.

The board had to vote to amend the agenda to allow member Tony Clements to speak about his desire to make a motion to remove the mask mandate for the middle and elementary schools.

The board voted to approve the agenda change to allow the discussion and motion regarding masks at the middle and elementary school.

It was pointed out that while there had been a cluster of positive cases at the High School, there were only a very few cases reported at the other two schools. Saulnier reminded the board and listeners that the three schools had been handed mask mandates as a result since there were siblings and contacts among members of the middle and elementary school community and the high school community.

Despite this Clement made a motion to lift the mask mandate at the middle and elementary schools. After a brief discussion the board voted 2 for and 2 against and against lifting the mask mandate at the middle and elementary schools which meant the motion failed.

Saulnier had accepted the Special Meeting petition from the residents but the board did not discuss this.

Marjorie Whitmore, Raymond School District Business Administrator, went over the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) as developed during the school board budget meetings. She indicated that costs she assigned to future year items was done by adjusting the inflation amount.

Chairman John Harmon objected saying the point of inflation figures was to ensure the appropriate amount of money was assigned to the item and adjusting the cost for inflation defeated this process. Whitmore acknowledged difficulty in assessing future item costs based on inflation noting this is difficult when dealing with a 20-year plan.

Board member Tony Clement questioned why a 5 percent increase was used in the near term year list of items when it was shown that the increases were basically just 2.5 percent increase. After an in-depth discussion the board decided they were good with the proposed 5 percent inflation increase amount especially since it would be looked at again in the spring.

A number of specific CIP items came under discussion. Among the items was a  van, and  a district truck. Harmon asked about putting the van out another year on the CIP and also asked whether it was a dump truck or a pick-up for the $89,000. He was told it was a pick-up truck and that the van could be put out another year.

The board discussed using ESSER ( Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funds to pay for the controls improvement and replacement projects needed at all three schools.

In the end it was decided that ESSER funds could be used for the controls projects at the middle and high schools but that the elementary school should be reconsidered in as much as replacing that school could be potentially on the horizon.

After more discussions it was decided that there would be a Warrant Article for having up to $400,000 in the Fund Balance account and money saved by using ESSER funds for the controls projects would be divvied up among technology, maintenance and food service.

The board voted to approve the amended changes to the CIP and voted to approve a Warrant Article for up to $400,000 in the Fund Balance. 

Principal Robert Bickford presented the details of the proposed eighth grade Washington DC trip to the board. He answered several questions from Harmon who asked about how many have expressed interest in taking the trip. He was told that the school expects 80 percent of the class to go which would be between 75 and 80 students. Harmon asked about chaperones and was told there would be a 10- to one chaperone ration and that the tour company is proving security people overnight. IT was also noted that there would be 4 students per room. There are scholarships available for families that need financial assistance for their student(s) to go on the trip. The board then voted to approve the plans for the trip.

The members of the Superintendent Search Committee were read and the board approved the membership list.


Raymond School Board Close Raymond High School Due to Covid-19 Cluster
By Penny Williams   10-9-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, October 6, and made a decision to close the High School for the remainder of the week and the Columbus Day holiday due to the Covid-19 cluster of active cases and exposures.

Superintendent David DuRuosi indicated that there were 56 positive cases at the high school but only 4 at Middle School and 2 at the Elementary School. Never the less with 103 absences  he had contacted the NH Health Department and been advised to  implement a mask mandate and then while numbers continued to rise he spoke to Commissioner Frank Edelbut about closing the high school for the remaining two days of the week and over the Columbus Day holiday.

DuRuosi told the School Board that Edelbut approved the two day closure and said these two days wouldn't count against the 180 . DuRuosi said Edelbut agreed with closing the high school for those two school days and discussed whether they should close for the entire following week. DuRuosi indicated there has been little in-school transmission and that the present cluster primarily seems related to sports, after school events, and Home Coming.

The board voted to close the high school through Monday, October 11. The board will continue to monitor the data and a decision will be made regarding whether to close for the entire following week.

The board voted to approved implementing a mask mandate for the elementary and middle schools to remain in place until the last of the current covid-19 cluster has ended quarantine.

High School Principal Steve Woodward said the school can pivot to remote the next day but it would be a complete switch by Friday.

DuRuosi and Woodward sent emails announcing the board's decision. The principals at the middle and elementary schools also sent emails announcing the implementation of the mask mandate being in place as of the next day.

The decision whether to extend the high school closure after Columbus Day was approved by the board and will be dependent upon the numbers and the approval of the Commission of Education.

DuRuosi and the board discussed Snow Days and Blizzard Bag Days. It was decided that if it is a tough winter there should be some snow days allowed. But beyond that weather days will revert to a modified remote option.

DuRuosi provided the board with a plan, Inclement Weather Remote Plans, to address this issue. Students would be allowed to take computers home if a possible inclement day is pending. The district will do its best to inform parents the night before. Assignments will be posted on Google Classroom and cameras will be required to be on during direct instruction. To the extent possible the normal school schedule of the day will be followed.

The board approved releasing the Annual Report Card of the District as soon as all the data figures are updated.

The make-up of the Search Committee for the Superintendent shall have the Business Administrator, 2 administrators, 2 teachers, 2 support personnel, 2 parents, and 2 people from the community. It was decided a school board member would not be on the committee.

The board approved accepting the $1,000 donation to the Lamprey River Elementary School for a Triple S award. Timothy Boynton, the son of a former longtime elementary school teacher, Susan Boynton, has established an annual award for an LRES employee to be put toward classroom or school supplies. The title is “Triple S” to stand for “Susan’s Shopping Spree.” The award provides an employee at LRES the chance to win $1,000 to purchase supplies for their classroom or the school in general.


Raymond School Board Goes With New Hampshire School Board Association for Superintendent Search
By Penny Williams   9-23-21

On Wednesday evening, September 22, the Raymond School Board voted to use the New Hampshire School Board Association (NHSBA) to assist them with their superintendent search.

The board held a special meeting to discuss the issue of who would assist the board in conducting their search for a superintendent. They discussed the possibilities and decided that in as much as Raymond boards have used the NHSBA in previous searches they were comfortable going with them despite the $15,000 price tag that was thought to be high.

The board then went over the specific list of things the contract with the NHSBA stated the consultant would be assisting the board with. It was felt that the board wanted the to be chosen Search Committee to actually do some of the things the NHSBA consultant stated it would do. This being the case they questioned why the price shouldn't be lower.

Board Chair Joe Saulnier indicated that he was sure the price would remain the same since the NHSBA consultant would be involved and present even if the committee were taking actions the consultant might ordinarily undertake.

The board went through the NHSBA superintendent contract search list item by item and in the end voted to approve the list as amended by their input.

The timeline remains February as the board wants this board to be the one to choose the next superintendent. However, it was noted that if no finalist is accepted from this initial search the NHSBA will continue to assist the board charging only for transportation costs.


Raymond School Board Vote to Increase Substitute Teacher Pay
By Penny Williams   9-17-21

On Wednesday, September 15, the Raymond School Board met and discussed several issues, among them the difficulties with finding substitute teachers.

Administrators estimated that they are faced with between 4 and 6 substitute needs on a daily basis and they are  not able to fill all of those openings. The board discussed whether raising the pay for substitutes would make a difference in being able to find substitutes.

The board went over the current pay structure - $75 for non- certified teachers and $85 for certified teachers. There was a concern raised regarding what the impact on Para-Professionals would be if substitute pay was increased. It was decided to leave that issue alone for now as well as the issue of finding and securing nurses.

The board, after a lengthy discussion, then approved raising the pay for non certified substitute teachers to $90  and to $95 for certified substitute teachers.

There was an in-depth discussion regarding the requirement that if a team member was unable to get transportation to a game the game would be forfeit. Several emails and comments, including a very impressive one from a sixth grade student, indicated that it is generally felt this is an unfair requirement and speakers and writers wanted the board to reconsider this.

The Attorney had been asked to determine whether the motions made at the previous meeting to allow parents or students to bring team members to an event if they had signed off and were approved to be eligible with respect to licensing and insurance.

The board approved a form parents would need to sign and decided if the same parent would always be picking up or delivering specific students they need not file a form for each event. However, if a different adult was to do the pick-up or delivery a form needed to be filled out and approved. The board discussed and approved the wording of the permission form based on the Attorney's recommendations.

Harmon was alone in still believing that a team should forfeit games if a team member was unable to get transportation to a game. However,  the rest of the board and administration felt that with the new waivers allowing parents and students to transport this would not happen so in general they didn't support his position.

There was a discussion about renting vans for student transportation. It was reported that there really aren't any that would be cost effective and leasing or buying would not be feasible either. It was pointed out that the available 8 person vans would be too small for most teams therefore several would be needed for each event. Primex issued a statement against using 15 person vans.

Harmon stated that he wants to review how to control meal debt from happening. He indicated this has been a problem for a long time but there should be ways the meals program could be set up to reduce this issue. He agreed that small claims can be a deterrent but this isn't sufficient.

It was noted that by law if an elementary or middles school student comes for food the school is required to provide it even if the student has a food debt. The board and administration agreed to look into this and come up with a proposed plan in February to address this situation.

The board appointed Victoria Sandin as a Lamprey River Elementary School Special Education teacher.

The board discussed their previous decision regarding emails being read during meetings. It was decided that only emails would be read that requested that and so long as they are received by 6 p.m. the night of a meeting.


Raymond School Board Discuss Athletic Transportation Problem Due to Lack of Drivers
By Penny Williams    9-2-21

Wednesday evening, September 1, the Raymond School Board met and among the topics discussed was the difficulties dealing with transportation for athletic events.

School transportation difficulties exist across the state driven by a shortage of drivers. The board learned that the student transportation to and from school has been covered although at least one route is overlong and has issues with late delivery of students home. But the real issue lies with transportation to athletic events.

Superintendent David DeRuosi, Jr., reported that there are 46 trips scheduled for Raymond High School team events. However of the 43 trips during the fall season only 8  are covered by the bus company. None of the cross country trips are covered.  Three of four football trips are covered. Only two of seven Jr, and Varsity Volleyball events are covered. Only 3 of 17 girls and boys soccer events are covered. At Middle School, none of the 10 girls and boys soccer events are covered.

The board looked at policies EEBB-Use of Private Vehicles to Transport Students and EEBB-R Parent/Guardian Transportation of their children. There was an elongated discussion  first about what options are available to provide bus transportation.

The contracted bus companies and others contracted have indicated they cannot accommodate the various athletic transportation activities scheduled beyond what have been agreed to. They don't have the busses available because they don't have enough drivers.

Options suggested included buying a bus; buying two or three 15- passenger vans; allow parents, players, and coaches to drive students; cancel the Jr. varsity Volleyball games scheduled.

Tony Clements kept insisting it makes no sense for a parent not to be allowed to transport their child and neighborhood children as well. The liability and insurance issues were pointed out.

The Athletic Department suggested allowing students be allowed to drive themselves and siblings to athletic events with parental sign off. They also suggested allowing parents to be able to not only drive their children home from an athletic event  as allowed in policy EEBB-R but to be allowed to drive their student to an athletic event.

John Harmon made the point that if all student team members cannot find or have transportation to an event then the event be canceled. He stated it should be an all or nothing approach.

Saturday games were suggested but this scheduling would have as many issues as the current schedule does, The board then discussed amending or adjusting the two policies in an effort to address the athletic transportation issues. The board first approved taking action on these issues at the meeting.

The board voted to approve  allowing students to transport themselves and siblings to School events (sports events) with a signed parental permission form. Harmon's addition of the whole team being able to get transportation or the event be canceled was attached to this.

The policy on parental transport of students home from events was amended to allow parents to transport their students and siblings to and from events for the 2021-2022 school year only. This time limit was applied to the other approved amended policy change approved.

The three principals reported that the opening of school had gone extremely well with only a small percentage of students absent.

 Iver Holmes Gove Middle School Principal Bob Bickford said they had had a COVID-19 exposure and had followed the notification protocols. He indicated the situation was being carefully monitored. The only Middle School issue was cars backed up onto Epping Street. Parents can correct this by not trying to drop off or pick up their students at the earliest possible moment, rather arriving  just a few minutes later.

Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward said the middle school students taking the advanced Spanish at the high school went well.

Chairman Harmon asked each when the Chrome Books were handed out to students. He objected to students having to wait for their Chrome Book until a parent had registered saying the Chrome Book was just like a text book and should go to students immediately with the only exception those students whose parents don't want them to have a Chrome Book. Superintendent DeRuosi said he would look into exactly what the district policy was regarding distribution of the Chrome Books.

DeRuosi recommended the board approve allowing him to install a new program that will bring consistency to the three schools in the district on all given subjects and issues. It is a leadership plan that will involve small committees of teachers or staff or administrators from the three schools working on where the district is on a number of given issues and then working out where the district should be on the issue and how all three schools would deal with it on a consistent basis.

He suggested the committee members could receive a stipend with the stipend funds coming from the Curriculum Instruction and Assessment position that will not be
filled this year.

The model he proposed is Adapted from the Key Japan's Competitive Success by Masaaki Imai, McGraw Hill.  The Model, he noted addresses the issue that there will be no progress if you keep on doing things exactly the same. He indicated "Toyota’s belief in customer satisfaction, the ability to trim costs but not sacrifice product integrity, build collaboration, establish cross-functional teams and create sustainability drew me to look deeper at this management model." He indicated he would adapt it to meet the districts need to address the current structure of district administration and how the district can consider some efficiency-minded reorganization.

The board approved him moving forward with implementing this program.


Issue of Face Masks Brings Out Residents to the Raymond School Board Meeting
By Penny Williams  8-19-21

The Raymond School Board on Wednesday evening, August 18, heard from Raymond residents how they felt about students wearing masks for the reopening of school.

The vast majority of those who spoke or whose emails to the board were read were against mandating masks for students in the reopening of schools. While a few spoke in favor of a mask mandate most gave generally unsupported information regarding masks, claiming that masks don't work, to masks being filled with disease bearing germs even after being washed.

The whole thing broke down when Robert King, a Raymond driver claimed masks and everything relating to COVID-19 is a fraud and that the board had already been told how to vote. Chair Joe Saulnier tried to stop his aggressive comments but when he just continued Saulnier called a brief recess of the meeting.

Other speakers had claimed, among other things, that  there is no proof of a pandemic, a mask mandate shouldn't be required since children aren't dying, masks become Petri dishes, new masks should be donned every twenty minutes, masks don't make sense, people need to stop listening to the crooks in Washington. One person pointed out that the board members weren't wearing masks.

Saulnier, when the board returned from its 5 minute break, told the audience that no one had told the board how to vote.

The board discussed the question of mask wearing and the majority of the board felt that optional mask wearing was the way to go and the vote was that there would be optional voluntary mask wearing but no mandated masks for the reopening of school.

It was discussed and added to by Superintendent David DeRuosi, Jr., that should the situation in the community, or in the school district change and the NH Department of Health and Human Services send out a mandate for masks in schools, the board would re-examine the issue, taking into account all the relevant data. However, it was noted that transmission data and information would have to reach state specified levels before it would trigger any reconsideration and/or action.

At present it was pointed out that there only a few COVID-19 cases in Raymond and the school principals reported that there were no infections reported last year or this summer in the schools and what few exposures were reported were related to  transmission within the community not the in schools.

A few minor changes were made to the proposed re-opening plan. Board member Tony Clements wanted vaccinated and non-vaccinated students held to the same standards.

Specific numbers and data based on the NH Department of Health and Human Services should be included that would trigger reconsideration. Specific data on what constitutes a surge should be looked at. But any decision would come back for the board to make.     

The board after a long discussion voted to approve the amended re-opening plan with only board member John Harmon voting against it.

The board then entered into a discussion regarding Blizzard Bag Days. Harmon said there needs to be a consistent plan in place. However, it was made clear that the use of Blizzard Bag Days should be considered in the event of a many snow day winter so as to not extend the school year further into June.

The board noted the drawbacks for Blizzard Bag Days such as power outage, or homes without internet connection. However, it was thought that a plan should be in place when a Blizzard Bag Day would make more sense than a snow day.   

DeRuosi, said he would be calling the closing of school the night before and with all the available technology it would be possible for teachers to be prepared to send home Chrome Books and paper assignments when s potential snow day is on the horizon.

For Blizzard Bag Days the board discussed reduced student on-screen time, teacher availability, and that student cameras would be required to be on. It would also be necessary for paper work as well as remote internet coverage for Blizzard Bag Day be provided. There would be a 48 hour after the day period for students to submit the Blizzard Bag school work product.

DeRuosi said he and the administrators would put together a plan for the use of Blizzard Bag Days and just plain old snow days and bring it back to the board for their review and approval.  

Harmon had asked that the board review the District Administrators. He said with enrollment dropping the number of administrative personnel should also be dropping in order for the district to be cost effective and efficient both educationally and financially. He said things need to be done differently and adjustments need to made. The newly reformatted Special Services Department will be hard to evaluate since it has not been in place long enough.

DeRuosi said he  will do a complete review of the administrative positions, their roles and responsibilities and  bring that to the board. He did note that with decreasing enrollment assistant principals would be one area to re-assess carefully with possibly changing their roles or having others step up and assume those roles and responsibilities.

The board approved the hire of Evelyn Martin as a 9th grade math teacher at Raymond High School, filling a vacancy there.

The board unanimously approved Marjorie Whitmore's description of the Surplus Funds Transfer to the Maintenance Capital Reserve Fund Warrant Article8.  Voters were asked whether the School District should raise and appropriate approximately $75,000 to be placed in the existing Equipment, Maintenance, and replacement Capital Reserve Fund. Voters approved this 598 to 582.

The board accepted a $12,008.60 donation from the NH Special Olympics to Raymond High School. The RHS Penguin Plunge team earned $38,940 for NH Special Olympics. In return the NH Special Olympics donates to the school a portion of their funds raised. For this year's Penguin Plunge Special Olympics has donated $12,008.60 to RHS.


Raymond School Board Member John Harmon Pushes for Level Funded Budget
By Penny Williams    8-12-21

On Wednesday evening, August 11, the Raymond School Board met and started the district operational budget discussion and one board member pushed for asking the administration to bring forward a level funded budget.

Board member John Harmon, after Business Manager Marjorie Whitmore went over the budget she had drawn up for 2022-2023, stated and argued for the board to ask the administration to come up with a level funded budget.

Whitmore presented the following budget planning information to the board.

* 2021-2022 amount of $26,237,757

* Contracted Budget Adjustments $383,985 which includes:

    * $288,000 estimated health costs,

    * $16,778 (up 3 percent) Dial Bus Contract

    * $14,618 (up 3 percent) Durham Bus Contract

    * $3,500 increased dental costs up 3 percent

    * $10,000 estimated increased oil costs

    * Bond Principal and Interest down $1,911

This brings the projected Budget for 2022- 2023 with estimated contracted adjustments to $26,621,742, a projected 1.5 percent increase which would cost taxpayers an estimated 0.40 per thousand of assessed value.

Harmon pointed out that there are two teacher contracts to be negotiated this year so this was the driving force in holding the operational budget level. There was a discussion regarding the fact Raymond has 12 to 15 teacher vacancies and is having a difficult time hiring teachers. Part of the reason is that Raymond is on the low end of the teacher pay scale.

Chair Joe Saulnier said he felt it is too early in the Budget discussion to make that kind of decision that would require a level funded budget. He indicated he wants to hear from the administration what they believe they need in order to provide the best possible education for Raymond students.

Harmon didn't exactly disagree but insisted that what the board needs to hear within the level budget are honest and critical needs for providing students with a quality education. To do that things will probably need to be done differently, he noted. The school board decides what cuts are to be made to the proposed budget.

Superintendent David DeRuosi asked if Harmon wanted a level budget that had already made adjustments to address the increased contractual costs. This led to more discussion.

A motion was made to ask the administration to come back with a level operational budget of $26,237,757 which was defeated.

The discussion continued with Harmon stating that the budget has to be what taxpayers can be expected to support. The two teacher contracts will be separate Warrant Articles but the money still comes from the same pockets.

A second motion was made to look at what the administration brings forward as a proposed budget in the amount of $26,621,742, this includes the estimated increased contractual obligations, which the board approved by a 3 to 1 vote.

The board went on to set the budget delivery date to be the October 13, board meeting. The board members want the proposed budget in their hands for review by October 8. The board will then go over the draft budget with the administration at two consecutive meetings October 13, and October 14. The board will do their review and discussion of the budget at their October 27, meeting.

The board approved Jennifer Heyward as the School Board clerk and Aimee Castonguay as an English teacher.


Raymond School District Seeking Grants for Classroom Speaker Project
By Penny Williams    8-6-21

On Wednesday evening, August 4, the Raymond School Board met and heard from Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore thatshe is pursuing several potential grant opportunities for funding for the Public Announcement Classroom Speakers project.

Interim Superintendent  David DeRuosi, Jr. reported that ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding would not technically be eligible to use for this purpose so the decision was made to not pursue that avenue. However, he indicated that ESSER funds would be eligible for the district's need for HVAC improvement and upgrade. This will be looked into.

Whitmore said she has learned about two potential grant funds for the classroom PA system project. One, Public Infrastructure grants is a possibility and has money that will be available in the fall. Another is the Emergency Management Performance grants whose grant funding won't be available until January 2022.

She will apply for both and the decision was made to see whether money could be obtained from these sources before moving forward with getting it from the Capital Reserve Fund.

It was also decided to approach this project one school at a time certainly if Capital Reserve funding has to be used.

The first step is to send out  the letters of intent for the grants. This means that nothing will be happening on this project before winter or spring.

The board discussed the Interventionists in the schools. Board member John Harmon had asked for this discussion because he is concerned the district is not getting the best bang for its buck in this regard.

He asked whether the interventionists work with students one on one or in small groups and act as coaches for teachers.

Elementary and Middle School interventionists, according to the principals, work predominantly with individual or small groups of students. There is little time for teacher coaching.

Harmon  indicated he feels there are inconsistent results and the principals basically agreed.

The board and the principals then went into an elongated discussion regarding assessment tools - STAR and State Assessment.

It was noted that one drawback to STAR is the reports cannot be compared year to year whereas the State Assessment data reports can be. Harmon questioned why continue to depend upon STAR if that is the case but it was noted the two tools actually measure different things and as such are both valuable. But, it was also noted that they are not comparable in terms of what proficiency numbers are.

The principals said there are no present plans for changing the roles and responsibilities of the interventionists for the upcoming year. There are a great many students needing the assistance of the interventionists.

Harmon wondered if class size might be altered to free a teacher who would take a leadership role and assist. He also believes there should be coaching for the teachers. Something needs to change to improve the situation he said.

There were three new hires and two resignations.

The board approved hiring Melissa Janes as a Pre School teacher; Jenna Holder as a Middle School Math teacher for the 7/8 math lab; and, Jennifer Labonte as a 7 grade social studies teacher.

The board accepted the resignation of Brittany LaRue as the School Board Clerk since she has accepted the IT Director position and 7 grade Social studies teacher Alexandra Roschewski.
DeRuosi, said he would immediately start working on replacing the School Board Clerk.


Raymond School Board Vacancy Filled and Miss Raymond Scholarship Program Pays off Student Food Service Debt with $7,466 Donation
By Penny Williams   7-22-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday night, July 21, and interviewed the two candidates who had expressed an interest in filling the vacancy on the board and after going into non-public, approved appointing Dawn Leamer to the board.

Leamer and Cindy Bennett were the two candidates who stepped forward to fill the vacant seat on the Raymond School Board. They both spoke briefly and answered questions from board members before the board went into non-public to make a decision.

The board, upon coming out of non-public and sealing the minutes, voted to appoint Leamer to fill the vacant board seat. She will be sworn in and take part in the next board meeting.

The board heard from the Miss Raymond Scholarship program as they donated $7,466.71 to the district to pay off all student food service debts.

Christina Vogel, executive director of the Miss Raymond program said the Miss Raymond, Junior Miss Raymond and Little Miss Raymond and volunteers held bake sales to raise the money.

Vogel asked the board to look into why the food service student debt was so high and to take measures to ensure it doesn't happen again. The board voted to accept the donation and apply it to the student food service debts and thanked the Miss Raymond program and its members for their hard work.

Each of the school principals, Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) Principal Laura Yacek, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School Principal Bob Bickford, and Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward, each gave the board a brief summary of the third term and the end of school events that had been held. It was noted that all felt at least some of the changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic provided improved ways of doings things which all were open to considering adding to their future plans.

Patrick Arsenault, Youth Program Development Coordinator presented the LEAP Update and Before School Program Update to the board.

For LEAP, he told the board the rules have changed and now there needs to be 40 percent free and reduced lunch participants to be eligible for state funding. This is an increase of 10 percent from last year. If the program is eligible for the state grant they will be able to apply for funding in the amount of $165,000 per site  which would mean the district would no longer have to support LEAP in the general fund. He said he was working on reapplying for the grant. However, he said the program may not be eligible for the grant.

He said the Before School program is set to start and has staff in place. There was a discussion regarding whether the program would take 4 and 5 grade students. Board member John Harmon raised concerns about bus issues if this were to be allowed. In the end this decision was put off until the board had more specific information regarding numbers and the busing issues.

There was a discussion about allowing students in suspension to be allowed to access technology to study and hear classroom presentations. This was part of the 2021-2022 Raymond High School Student Handbook Adjustments discussion.

After discussing this the board voted to accept the proposed changes to the RHS Student Handbook as presented at the meeting.

The board went over the Educator Effectiveness Plan Updates and the board was presented with some proposed changes The purpose of the committee was to ensure an evaluation process is in place, aligned across the district to review current practices based on staff feedback.

It was noted that staff feel they don't always receive beneficial feedback and would like more consistent walkthrough and feedback going forward.

Changes recommended included:

* Elimination of track 1 and track 11 and the transition between them

* All teachers will receive 5 walkthroughs annually

* First year teachers will receive scheduled observation prior to December 1

* New educators will receive a summative at the end of their first year, all others will receive a summative aligned with the year of their recertification

* A template is provided to educators that aligns to evidence required for the summative

* Remove the Student Learning Goal Documents and referenced the Raymond School District Professional Development Plan in its place.

After a discussion the board voted to approve the Plan as presented and amended at the meeting.

There was a discussion regarding whether the classroom speakers bids should be accepted. The board discussed this issue and while acknowledging it is a serious safety and security issue there isn't any funding provided for it.

The board did decide the greatest need was at the high school so if it decided to address the issue it would do so there but not try and deal with all three schools, all of which have a need for classroom speaker system replacement.

There was a discussion regarding whether ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding would be eligible to use for this purpose.

In the end Interim Superintendent David DeRuosi, Jr. said he would look into whether ESSER funds could be used for this or whether CIP funds would have to be applied. He said he would return to the board with this information at their August meeting.

DeRuosi recommended the board appoint Brittany L'Heureux, currently an IT Technician, to replace Kevin Federico as the Technology Director and the board approved this appointment.

DeRuosi also asked the board to approve Garret Poltrack, RHS Special Education, Katie Carpenter, School Psychologist and Mark MacDonald Human Interventionist, Special Education at RHS. The board voted to approve these proposed hires.



Raymond School Board Reviews Staff Resignations and One Hire
By Penny Williams   7-8-21

The Raymond School Board on Wednesday, July 7, held a special meeting and spent the majority of the time in non-public but did announce the hires and resignations.

There was only one hire announced and that was Jennifer Pelletier as  Special Education for the Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS), at $40,406. The board approved the hire.

Resignations included:

* Michael Dundon Special Education, IHGMS

* Arielle Kamen, Special Education, Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES)

* Brent Whitney, Math, Raymond High School (RHS)

* Sandra Decato, Social Worker RHS and IHGMS

The board accepted all the resignations.

The board then appointed member Tony Clement to be their representative on the Search Committee for the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.


Raymond School Board Discuss Capital Reserve Fund Expenditures
By Penny Williams  6-25-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, June 23, and held a public hearing regarding expenditures from capital reserve funds.

On the agenda were expenditures up to a total of $361,193 from the Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund to provide for:

* Building the security wall at Raymond High School (RHS)

* Bathroom flooring at RHS

* Update water line controls for RHS

* Upgrade Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) bathrooms

* Replacement of 5 energy recovery units at LRES

The board also discussed up to a total expenditures from the Food Service Capital Reserve Fund of $37,855.

* A new dishwasher at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS)

* A new reach-in cooler at RHS

* POS terminals district-wide

Finally, the board considered up to a total of $8,444 from the Technology Capital Reserve Fund for Category 6 rewiring at RHS

There were no public comments and the public hearing was closed and the board set about discussing the potential expenditures. In addition to those set forth in the Public Hearing ramps were discussed leading to the IHGMS lower soccer field as well as fire pump.

In the end the board approved the water controls for RHS; the Security wall for RHS; the LRES bathroom updates; the IHGMS dishwasher; the RHS reach in cooler; and, the LRES recovery units.

It was decided to do something different to access the IHGMS lower soccer field and the Phone wiring and PA system wiring to be delayed except the board wanted immediate further investigation of the RHS portion. It was noted that Fire Pump discussed has already been done so was removed.

The board approved a number of hires: Melissa Gardner as a IHGMS Reading Interventionist at $38,174; Laura Pierce as a Reading Specialist at LRES for $63,488; Emily Watts as a Math Interventionist at IHGMS for $36,589; Haley Emdike for Special Education at LRES at $ $34,840; and, Robin Lee for Math Specialist at LRES for $55,903.

The board accepted the resignation of Michael Whaland, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment as of June 30, and, Gwen Reed, IHGMS 7th grade ELA teacher. 

The board approved Chair Joe Saulnier signing the  General Assurances paperwork for year 2022 on behalf of the board and the district.

The board then accepted with regret the resignation of long time board member Janice Arsenault, effective June 16. The board requested anyone interested in being on the School Board to send letters of interest to the Superintendent's Office by 4 p.m. on July 19. The board will  review these submissions prior to their July 21 meeting at which time they will conduct in-person interviews and make a decision.

Raymond School Board Change Fall Re-Opening Plan and Interim Superintendent David DeRuosi Jr. Starts July 1
By Penny Williams  6-17-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, June 16, and spent considerable time reviewing and making substantial changes to the district re-opening plan.

Superintendent Tina McCoy went over the plan and many pages were eliminated as conditions have changed since it was originally developed. She indicated the plan she and the board were working on would be a draft plan because she expects things to continue to change between now and the opening of school in the fall. However, the Department of Education requires a plan to be filed and that is what she and the board were working on.

Among the changes that the board approved making to the plan was whether there would be a remote option. There was an in-depth discussion but in the end the board voted  to offer no remote option in the fall.

The board also approved removing the pages involved with Health Screenings. However the discussion about social distancing was an issue that took a lot of discussion. The social distancing of 3-feet in classrooms, lunch, and recess dominated the discussion.

In the end, the board decided to eliminate the section on social distancing but to include using seating charts where possible to make contact tracing easier if it should be needed.

After discussing the issue of masks and social distancing back and forth the board decided to make mask wearing optional. There was an elongated discussion about wearing masks on buses but in the end the section was eliminated and mask wearing in all areas will be optional.

It was decided that sanitizing desks and other surfaces multiple times or after each use has been proven to be unnecessary. The board decided to simply put in the plan that the state guidelines regarding sanitizing would be included be included but that the basic improved daily cleaning by the janitorial staff would suffice.

The board approved the 2021-2022 re-opening plan as amended.

The board and administration recognized District retirees, Becky Hadik after 33 years in the district; Suzanne Lussier after 35 years in the district; Kathy Mutch after 11 years in the district; and, Superintendent Tina McCoy after 4 years in the district.

The board and administration announced and gave the award for "You Make the Difference" to Crystal Ajernian, a kindergarten teacher who on two weeks' notice changed to a first grade remote class teacher and did it was enthusiasm and expertise.

The board accepted three resignations: Megen Cahill, Special Education; Kevin Federico, Technology Director; and, Felicia Formesona. Math teacher.

The board didn't spend much time on the Employee Handbook but  approved it as presented.

Mike Whaland, District Curriculum Coordinator gave his quarterly Report on the District Curriculum and Assessment.

With regard to the Summer programs he said that the Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) Summer Title 1 is fully staffed with 5 tutors. The Iver Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS) Summer Title 1 is not fully staffed but interviewing continues to fill the remaining openings. The Summer Education Camp will be integrated into the Summer LEAP program.

The major challenges going forward include addressing potential achievement gaps as a result of varied instructional modes - hybrid- remote- cohort groups- and so forth over the current school year, he said.

He reviewed student achievement noting that in the Spring STAR 360 Reading Benchmark  LRES had 48.6 percent proficient; IHGMS had 45.6 percent; RHS had 38 percent; with a District average of 45 percent.
The Spring STAR 360 Math Benchmarks showed LRES with 53 percent proficient; IHGMS 43 percent; Raymond High School (RHS) 41 percent; giving a district average of 46 percent.

Technology Director, Kevin Federico reported that all backordered equipment has been delivered and much is already in place. He indicated that 700 Chromebook devices are at end of life with 300 new in place. He suggested pandemic grant money might be used to reduce this gap.

The SAU 33 YouTube for the school district is still going strong, he said. It has streamed the basketball events and the graduation.

He indicated that he recommends building out and implementing Google Meet Kits for the Hybrid and remote education. He said these have a life beyond streaming and can be used in the classrooms effectively. He said training for teachers on how to utilize these has been conducted.

Regarding Chromebooks K-3 grade have devices assigned and will remain in the schools unless a student has to revert to remote. In grades 4-12 the students have the devices and they will keep them for a year and the devices and can back and forth between schools and homes. The district is at a one to one level regarding the Chromebook devices.

After a discussion the board voted to allow the administration to make the final decision regarding RHS class sizes. It was felt the administration would be in the best position to make the determination on class size that would be of the most benefit for the school and the students.

In Other News

* The Raymond School Board is pleased to announce that David DeRuosi Jr. has been selected to serve as Interim Superintendent for the district. DeRuosi will begin his role July 1 and will serve as Interim Superintendent while assisting with the work of identifying someone to fill the role full time. He brings to the district approximately 24 years of administrative experience, most recently serving as the Superintendent at Saugus Public Schools in Massachusetts. Previously, he has also worked as the superintendent of Malden Public Schools and as assistant superintendent of Revere Public Schools, both in Massachusetts. He has also served as principal of Revere High School and as an assistant principal for the district.


Raymond School Board Discussed Year End Events Policy Decision
By Penny Williams    6-3-21

Wednesday evening, June 2, the Raymond School Board discussed at length the social distancing and mask policy that should be in place for the end of year school activities at all three school levels and after going event by event finally decided that consistency for all was best.

The board approved Superintendent Tina McCoy's suggestion that there should be a consistent policy for all age levels concerning the social distancing policy and masks for the activities that come at the end of the year, celebrations, graduations and so forth. The board approved social distancing at 3 feet and the wearing of masks indoors or outside.

The overall discussion had looked at what the plan was for elementary, middle school and high school activities and decisions were made. The elementary would be to continue the 6-foot social distancing and mask wearing while the thinking of board members was to reduce the social distancing to 3 feet for indoor and outdoor activities scheduled for the middle and high school events. In the end the board approved McCoy's suggestion that a consistent policy of 3 feet social distancing inside or outside with masks.

Graduation is planned as an outdoor activity with four tickets per student but if weather forces the event inside the board ultimately decided to reduce the social distancing policy to 3 feet, allowing families to sit together but maintaining 3 feet from the next family group.  If the graduation is forced inside the ceremony would take place in the gym. Masks would be required. After a discussion it was determined that if families could sit together and the social distancing be reduced to 3 feet then very likely everyone who had a ticket and wanted to attend the ceremony could even if it was indoors.

The Middle School ceremony can be addressed with the reduced social distancing and masks and  like the graduation it was voted to be held outside if possible but if forced inside that the social distancing would be reduced to 3 feet. Masks however, would be worn inside or out although there was some push back on this.

There was a discussion about the high school prom and it was decided that masks would not be required when dancing, eating or having pictures taken.

A parent came before the board and brought up the fact that in the bag of goodies handed out by the Raymond Coalition for Youth to Raymond district students there was a flyer from the New Life Church. She asked who had given permission for the inclusion of this and McCoy said no one had.

McCoy indicated it is her job to check on the bags and contents and to give permission for what is included. However, there had been a mistake made and she had not known about the bags' contents. She agreed it was not appropriate and that additional protections regarding such things as the Coalition bags of goodies need to be put in place so that things like the New Life Church flyer being included aren't given to public school students on school property. McCoy also said she would reach out to the Coalition about this to ensure it not happen again. The board said the parent was welcome to speak with the Coalition as well.

Regarding the reopening of school a letter was read into the record  by Krista Wallace, fifth grade teacher and parent. Her letter spoke against the offering of a remote option come the fall. Other than that there was no discussion beyond noting that there has been a virtual forum open to the public, one for employees and surveys distributed to collect input. More would be discussed at a future meeting.

There was a discussion about whether other town boards and committees and outside organizations using the school building should be required to adhere to the school's mask wearing policy. It was noted that Town Manager Joe Ilsley has been spoken to about the requirement of wear masks in the building.

Board member Tony Clements noted masks are no longer required and he doesn't support requiring other boards to wear masks if using the school building. It was noted the only enforcement really would be to refuse the use of the building. A vote was taken and the board approved allowing outside town boards and committees and organizations to waive the school's mask policy for the remainder of the school year.

Board member John Harmon asked that there be a discussion about Policy IO - class size. He raised the concern that the class size number of 12 should be reduced to 8 so that all students who wished to take a class they were eligible for could do so. Board member Janice Arsenault indicated she wasn't in favor of reducing honors class size but other class size might be considered at maybe 10 student level.

Harmon was also concerned about a teacher who is meeting with a couple of students in a Honors by Exhibition class after school hours and in excess of the teacher's contract hours. There were no decisions made but the board forwarded the class size policy to the Policy Committee for consideration.

The board discussed policy BDB, Board Officers because Board Chair Joe Saulnier raised a concern about the chair not being able to make or second a motion especially if there is a short board.

This was discussed but Harmon made the point that students and employees are required to follow policy and the board should continue to adhere to the policy requirements unless the board changes the policy. Town Attorney indicated that there is no RSA on this and even if with this policy in place a chair made a motion and it passed it would stand. While some board members approved considering changing this policy no decision was made and like the previous policy discussed it was forwarded to the Policy Committee for work.

There was a discussion about creating a wrestling team at the high school. The basic cost would be about $15,800. It was pointed out that it is not budgeted for in the upcoming season. The thinking of board members and the administration was that the creation of a wrestling team/program should go through the budget process for the following year. The board and McCoy agreed it should be considered during the next budgeting season.

The board voted to authorize Saulnier to sign the engagement letter with auditors Plodzik & Sanderson. It was noted the audit won't take place until September and Harmon was concerned about this late date  however it was noted this was the first available date the company had. Seeking a different company would likely result in even a later time.

McCoy announced two retirees: Tiffany Nye, Art Teacher at the middle school and Scott Turcotte, Computer Teacher at the middle school.

She also announced four new hires including: Mariah Maki, Middle School Counselor at $38,575.22; Jennifer Foley, District Coordinator of Student Services at $76,500; Ruthie White, Music Teacher at Middle School at $34,840; and, Maria Eanes, Art Teacher at Raymond High School at $36,589.


Raymond School Board Approves "No Cost" Athletic Trainer Services
By Penny Williams  5-21-21

The Raymond School Board discussed and finally approved no cost Athletic Trainer Services through  the Exeter Hospital at the meting on Wednesday evening, May 19.

Raymond Athletic Director Davinney Brazeau presented the no cost Exeter Hospital proposal to the board.  The hospital would provide an employee 40 hours a week with the Raymond School District the individual's priority. It would be a Physician when possible or a Physician Assistant at all home football games.

In addition, imPACT Baseline Testing would be provided and there would be priority scheduling at Exeter Hospital for athletic injuries. Also there will be a Weekly Injury Clinic at the school or  at an agreed upon location.

In return there would be some marketing opportunities for the hospital such as banners hung in the gym or at the field; announcement of the relationship at games; representation on the school website; and, ads indicating Exeter Hospital Sports Medicine is provided for the Raymond School District.

Board member John Harmon objected to the advertizing aspects of the plan. He indicated that there is a policy that prohibits some of the proposed advertizing but admitted the policy could be waived or amended.

Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward pointed out that the cost of the Athletic Trainer Services for  the district has been as much as $36,000 for a year and this proposal would have no cost. The provision would go through the end of the school year. It was also noted that banners would have to be approved by the school board.

The program is grant funded. The board approved this proposal subject to going through legal. The board members voted to approve except for Harmon.

It was noted that a poll of students showed that 55 percent of the seniors were headed to college which meant 37 students. Of that number 29 chose four year colleges and 8 chose to 2 year community colleges. It was also noted that trade schools drew several students.

Harmon asked that the board discuss the Raymond High School Freshman Seminar. He expressed concern that the skills involved therein should have already \been taught to the incoming freshmen.

Woodward and Shelley Tudisco discussed and explained the Freshman Seminar. They pointed out that it is much more than basic academic curriculum. It addresses building community and how to successfully navigate the first year of high school. In addition it plants the seeds for students to start thinking long term and about career choices.

The seminar also addresses pressures the students will face and address social, psychological, and life skills students need. It provides incoming freshmen with new academic skills they need to be able to deal with what high school presents such note taking.

The board heard an update on the Food Services from Food Service Director Judith DiNatalie. She went over the changes and adaptations the food service personnel had to deal with in addressing meal preparation and distribution during the remote and hybrid learning periods during the pandemic as well as the issues faced in terms of not only food preparation and distribution but acquisition and storage.

Harmon expressed concern that the Food Service is always in a deficit situation and he wanted to know what could be done to correct this.

DiNatalie discussed the issues causing the cost, pointing out that free breakfasts and lunches were Federally mandated and will continue for any student who wishes either or both through June 30, 2022.

Harmon pointed out that the school district isn't getting reimbursed in full for the free meals. He expressed concern that tax payers are actually paying at least in part for the federally mandated free meals.  It was noted that there is little the Food Service Department can do about that but as students return to school DiNatalie felt the deli growth and the return of the vending machines would help.

There was a long discussion regarding the wearing of masks by students at recess. The board went over the guidelines issued by the State and CDC as well as reviewing what their own policies called for.

After going over the pros and cons of following or not following the guidelines the board decided to vote on whether to allow waiving of the social distancing  guideline during recess and mask wearing or to remain with the district's policy. To waive the current policy was defeated and then the board voted to retain in effect the present district policy regarding social distancing and mask wearing at recess.

With respect to the HHIAA Guidelines regarding spring sports the board had a similar discussion. The board was asked to decide whether Raymond district spring sport teams could compete with other schools who are not required to wear masks and ask those schools when competing at Raymond to meet and follow Raymond policy.

The board voted for the district to align its policy with the NHIAA policy guidelines for spring sports. It was noted that Raymond can recommend visiting school teams should wear masks and social distance as much as possible.

The board approved the hire of two new personnel. They approved Kimberly Capen as a Special Education Teacher at Raymond High School with a salary of $65,156.

They approved the hire of Jenifer Lee at the Lamprey River Elementary School as a School Counselor with a salary of $35,411.


Raymond School Board Learns About Project Aware
By Penny Williams   5-6-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, May 5, and Director of Student Behavioral Health, Jessica Caron, went over Project Aware.

Project Aware focuses on partnerships and collaboration between state and local systems and is designed to promote healthy development of students and  prevention of  youth violence. Three school districts were selected by the Department of Education, Raymond, Hillsborough/Deering, and Hudson.

The goal of Project Aware is to increase mental health awareness among students; provide training to school staff and other adults who work with students; and,  to detect and respond to mental health issues. Further, it is designed to connect students with behavioral health issues and their families with needed services.

Caron joined the Raymond School District just weeks before the pandemic shutdown. However, she and her team have been involved with numerous project activities such as updating suicide prevention and crisis response training for staff with responsive classroom training for Middle School started. Caron has worked to expand the Student Assistance Program, Social Workers and to provide training for Behavioral Health staff members.

A big piece of this effort is the District Leadership Team that consists of 7 community members and 14 district members. The team has been convened and is being trained and given data to review.

A mission statement has been developed. A parent communication survey is active and a teacher focus group will be convened to review survey results. The outcome is to strengthen meaningful family engagement through increasing effective communication about student academic achievement and social and emotional and behavioral health wellness.

Support for students is delivered on a three tier basis dependent upon need. Tier 1 is a school wide approach involving classroom management, youth action group, prevention education and support curriculum Tier 2 targets supports for at-risk students  through small group or brief individual support for identified students. There is a vaping education component connected to this level of support. Tier 3 is individualized services for the highest-risk students involving the school social worker, the student assistance program counselor, Seacoast Mental Health Clinic, and constellation programs.

Caron said the next steps include adopting a universal screener by Fall 2021 to flag students for referral. In addition, there will be continued review of quarterly Quickbase data with tier 2 and 3 providers to refine and enhance support.

Social workers and adult protective service people will be trained in Functional Behavior Assessment and the Student Assistance Program Counselors will be trained in the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach. The District Community Leadership Team will continue to meet to complete action planning.

The board had only a few questions. Superintendent Tina McCoy said the work Caron and her team have done has made a big difference for students.

This lead into a discussion about what the district is doing to replace the services of the YEES program that was eliminated during the budget process.

There are 14 students involved and district and community resources are being targeted to replace the YEES services. Caron noted there is an individual plan being created for each of the students involved. In addition, community resources and supports systems are being checked and the school crisis teams are being trained to respond to student needs. Students will have a specific go to person.

The board continued the discussion about extending the school day to provide extra help to students to overcome the educational learning losses caused by the pandemic. Member John Harmon started this conversation at the previous meeting but the rest of the board and administration indicated that adding 10 minutes to the day's schedule at the three schools would entail a great deal of logistics and effort and provide little or no benefit. It was also pointed out that the three schools are already at the maximum allowed instructional time. So this went no further.

Harmon wanted to discuss bus transportation where needed - after school or for the summer school programs - stating he didn't want lack of transportation to be a barrier to students getting the help they need. The board and administration agreed with this and there is funding available to provide additional busing where needed.

The discussion went on to additional teachers for after school and summer programs as well as additional specialists for the coming year at all three levels. The board agreed with the principal's requests and the board was unanimous in agreeing that it was on board with the direction this component of the development of teacher, staff and classes for after school and the summer programs as well as for next year is going.

Harmon had also brought up the fact that at least two emails sent to the board doing earlier meetings had been missed and he wanted to make sure this didn't continue to happen.

It was decided that emails would not be accepted during meetings but emails sent prior to meetings that the sender wanted read into the minutes would need to state that. Emails sent before the meeting that relate to agenda items can be considered during public comment or correspondence.

The board approved two appointments. Monique Sournier as the Middle School Family and Consumer Science Teacher with a salary of $49,228, and Barbara Kelly as the Assistant Director of Student Services with a salary of $85,000.


Raymond School Board Plan To Provide Student Learning Support and Recovery
By Penny Williams    4-22-21

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, April 21, and the district's school administrators and teachers detailed their plans to help students recover the learning losses suffered during remote and hybrid education.

Superintendent Tina McCoy noted that all students have been impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions that were placed on education and learning. She indicated that the district has plans at all levels to provide ways for students to receive compensation in curriculum and social and emotional aspects of  learning.

Director of Student Services Michael Wayland went over the ways the district plans to support curriculum indicating the main focus will be on providing ways and means for helping students regain their competencies in math and ELA in particular. The summer program will be robust and include Title 1 for elementary and middle school level students. The plan is to have Summer Ed Camp and there will be six weeks of summer school - three 2 week periods, all designed to support competency recovery. Invitations for eligible students for Summer School will be sent out and students will be assisted in moving at their own pace.

First up was Lamprey River Elementary (LRES) School Principal Laura Yacek and some of her staff who went over their plans for helping students fill in the gaps and catch up.  She indicated that her school programs and plans go beyond curriculum with an emphasis on small groups working and collaborating

The teachers are engaged in developing several models of instruction for the next year all designed to support and address the need for helping students regain curriculum competency.

The models include a Multi-Age Model which would see classes that include, for example, both kindergarten and first grade students or both second grade and third grade students. Flex Sharing is another model which would mean a class would have two teachers and finally a looping model where the teachers and students who were in grade one move up and are in grade 2.

The teachers emphasized the different models that included Team Teaching, Parallel Teaching, Station Teaching, and, Alternative Teaching. The plan is to get students into the model that will best address how they learn as well as their learning needs.

Yacek said to make this all work for the maximum benefit there needs to be an additional Reading and an additional Math specialist hired for this one year to help the unusually large number of students needing help in reaching curriculum competency. CARES ACT funding would be available.

Principal Robert Bickford, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS) Principal indicated that much of the specifics mentioned by the elementary administrators and teachers such as addressing not just curriculum competency but addressing social and emotional needs, holds true for the middle school students and these will be addressed in similar fashion.

He said the Summer School will be geared to address helping students in reaching curriculum competency. He indicated that work is taking place right now in addressing some of the student needs and issues with a view to helping them recover curriculum competency. He noted that the educational losses are at all levels and programs and plans addressing these losses are at all levels. There is an increased number of interventions especially during the intervention block.

Bickford said to be successful with this effort to help the unusually large number of students needing assistance to recover core competencies he recommends the hiring of two additional interventionists. Like the suggested Reading and Math specialists for elementary he thought CARES ACT funding would be available for this one year hire.

Steve Woodward, Raymond High School (RHS) Principal, said that the Summer School program plans and current after school programs are all geared to assisting students recover curriculum competency. He suggested that it would be a big help if the ninth graders could begin school a few days ahead of the rest and participate in the Jump Start Program in the fall.

The board got off on another track discussing a suggestion by board member John Harmon to lengthen the school day adding perhaps 10 minutes of instruction daily.

McCoy noted that to get permission to do this the actual required school instruction hours would need to be met or get a waiver from the Department of Education. Bickford noted he already has had to build in a down time in his schedule to meet this requirement. Harmon felt this could be done without having to alter teacher contracts but no decision was made.

The board had been in session for almost 4 hours at that point so a vote was taken to see if they could continue after 10 p.m. This was voted down and Chair Joe Saulnier made the decision to skip several agenda items to which Harmon objected saying the board had not voted to do that. Saulnier pointed out that he had the authority to do it.

As a result the board skipped down to discuss Spring Sports and it was noted that transportation, which is the biggest issue in getting teams to other schools for games due to the lack of bus availability, had been largely resolved except for a few dates and these are still being worked on.

Saulnier asked for a board member to volunteer to represent the board on the Search Committee for the Special Education Director. Board member Tony Clements volunteered and was appointed.

McCoy went over a list of resignations that included:

*Nicole Bertrand, LRES Counselor; Marissa Nerenburg LRES Special Education Counselor; Kate Grieve School Psychologist IHGMS; and, Michelle Horowitz, IHGMS Music Teacher.

The board approved the appointment of Kelsey McDermott as the RHS nurse.

The board also approved advertizing for 30 days for an Interim Superintendent.

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.
























Top of Page


Back to all School Board News articles





Raymond School Board Members

Visit the Raymond School District website

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

"You are what you do, not what you say you will do."
~ Carl Gustav Jung ~

Make your actions look like your words.

"Bullies need people to control, and when they can’t play the game with you, they find another victim."

Don’t become their victim.
~ Claire Cook ~
The Wildwater Walking Club

Develop an attitude of Gratitude !!
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
~ Melody Beattie ~

"Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.

For, indeed, that’s all who ever have."
~ Margaret Mead ~

To be Successful you must be Significant.

Success is measured by status.

Significance is measured by Value & Contribution.

~~ Darren Hardy ~~
SUCCESS Magazine

Leadership is not whether you make mistakes; everyone does.

It’s how you face up to them and fix them.

~ Wall Street Journal ~

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!"
~ Sir Walter Scott ~