2022 Raymond School Board Meetings


Raymond School Board Continues Discussion on What to Do About Elementary School
By Penny Williams   9-22-22

On Wednesday evening, September 21st, the Raymond School Board discussed at length what they want to do about the Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) going forward.

There was a difference of opinion among board members with some wanting to start moving on replacing the current school building with a new one , some seeing a better solution would be to add on to the current building, and others wanting to put off doing anything given the needs and demands of the district right at the moment.

Superintendent Terry Leatherman had been charged with bringing some information regarding this issue to the board. He reported that in terms of building aid submission the schedule would be as follows.
* March 2023 - approve Schematic Design fees

* December 2023 - Schematic Designs complete

* March 2024 to June 2024- Prepare State Building Aid application

* July 2024 to December 2024 - Develop Designs for GMP and Permits

* January 2025 - Notice of Award for State Building Aid

* March 2025 - Bond Vote

* April 2025 to August 2026 Construction

* September 2026 - Occupancy

Schematic Design costs will be $120,000 assuming the town builds off of working designs from other school buildings that have been constructed. The cost of preparing the building aid application would be around $20,000. There would be a cost, approximately $40,000, which would include multiple public forums, written content for a website or flyers, renderings and displays.

Safety and Facilities Director Todd Ledoux indicated that the cost of Design Development if the town decided to start construction the first year would run around $360,000 and if the state would award building aid it would be roughly 40 percent of the cost of the construction.

Leatherman stated that land does not need to be secured before putting a building aid application but an estimated project cost would need to be provided.

The board discussed the probable size of the elementary school and it was noted that one large new development has been approved in town and a second is in the process but how many students these would add to the current elementary school community is not known.

Board Chair John Harmon took the position that school district employee wages need to be brought up to be more competitive before the town undertakes the bond/tax burden of developing a new school. He pointed out that if the town has bonds this makes it more difficult to upgrade wages. So from this perspective he felt the long term solution of a new or upgraded elementary school should be delayed.

Board member Joe Saulnier took the position that planning should be undertaken starting now.

The board basically wanted to set the direction for the district with regard to a new or upgraded elementary school. The board finally approved a motion "to approve scheduling of a new elementary school, the process to start in March 2025." by a 3 to 2 vote.

Ledoux gave the board a facilities update. He indicated CIP projects, LRES portables' windows are done and the doors for the rear portable are in the process of replacement. The fencing has been done at the Iber Homes Gove Middle School (IGHMS) as well as installing epoxy bathroom floors at the school.

Part of the IHGMS Stage has been made part of the cafeteria and a new GA GA pit on the LRES playground has been installed.

Safety/emergency training continues and the Emergency Operations Plan is being updated. The district/town wide drill will be at Raymond High School (RHS) this year. ALICE training and practices continue to be presented with 90 day refreshers and all new staff got the full training.

He noted that he is understaffed making accomplishing all that needs to be done more difficult. However, high school students have been enlisted to help and that has worked well over the summer and continues into the school year.

There was an in-depth CIP discussion and the board at its conclusion voted to approve the amended CIP.

The total is $453,750 and Harmon requested that the difference between that and the amount when a grant is subtracted be put into new lines for future projects - one with roughly $50,000 going for technology and roughly $ 23,000 to food service future projects.

The board approved the members of the Executive Director of Student Support Services Committee and approved Dawn Leamer as the board's representative.

The board approved re-establishing the Wellness Committee and approved its members and Cindy Bennett as the board's representative.

 


Raymond School Board Discuss New Lamprey River Elementary School Again and Staffing Issues  
By Penny Williams    9-8-22

On Wednesday evening, September 7, the Raymond School Board discussed where the board members stand on whether to build a new elementary school to replace the Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) which is situated in a flood zone.

Board members held differing opinions on this issue. Board Chair John Harmon took the position that the present school should continue to be used for the foreseeable future. Board member Joe Saulnier felt the time has come to start a definite plan to replace it. Member Tony Clements was very concerned about the fact the present building is in a flood zone and is old.

The discussion went around in circles but eventually it was noted that no plan could be developed until land was acquired for a new school building. Some of the land parcels previously noted as possible for this are no longer available. The board wasn't willing to actually support one of their own looking into potential properties.

In the end the discussion was tabled to the next agenda but Superintendent Terry Leatherman was asked to do some research and to recommend to the board the course of action it should take regarding dealing with this issue.

The three school principals discussed the opening of school. All three felt it had gone well and that for the most part transportation had gone reasonably well.

Some of the challenges discussed were the need for two way radios on buses that connect directly to the schools so when there is a delay the school can notify parents in a timely fashion. This came up because of a broken down bus causing a delay and notification to parents was not timely because there was no direct contact between the bus and the school.

 Filling open positions is the biggest challenge at Middle School and the need to fill the non instructional positions and filling 7 special education Para-professional positions at the High School are the biggest challenge there.

Enrollment is essentially the same as the previous year with a few less students at the Middle School while Elementary and High School are roughly the same.

Michael Hatfield, Executive Director of Student Support Services, who has resigned effective October 7, provided a report on the Student Services which was presented by Leatherman.

There are 281 special education identified students out of the 1,195 district student community. There are 81 students with Section 504 needs with more than half at Raymond High School (RHS) and fewer than 10 at LRES. Currently the district has 16 students in school placement.

Section 504 is part of the rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires the needs of students with disabilities to have those disabilities met as adequately as the non-disabled are met.

There are programs designed to reduce the need for Out of District Placement. Connections at RHS, Leaps and Bounds at LRES and there will be CALM at Iber Home Gove Middle School (IHGMS) as soon as there is a teacher in place for this program. In addition there is transition planning and partnering with families designed to help reduce the need for out of district placements.

A serious issue is the staffing shortage in Special Education.
* LRES needs 3 Paraeducators
* IHGMS needs 1 Special Educator Case Manager, I Special Educator for a new program and 5 Paraeducators
* RHS needs 7 Paraeducators and the Preschool needs 4 Paraeducators.

The district provides parents the opportunity to check their 2.5 to 5 year olds for learning difficulties through Child Find that is offered in November, January, April, and June.

The board accepted Hatfield's resignation and approved the following hires:
* Joanne McCann, RHS Assistant Principal
* Kristen Doherty, RHS SAP Counselor

 


Raymond School Board Vacancy Filled, New Hires Approved and No Athletic Event Transportation Again  
By Penny Williams   8-25-22

The Raymond School Board met on Wednesday evening, August 24, and interviewed candidates for the board vacancy.

After interviewing each of the candidates for the vacant seat on the School Board the board went into non-public to discuss their choice.

The first nomination failed but the second nomination, Dawn Leamer, was approved.  Leamer has previously been on the board.

Chair John Harmon had asked that the board consider having the bus stop located within the Blueberry Hill Development be eliminated. However, he told the board after doing more research and visiting the area he feels that moving the Blueberry Development bus stops to one at the intersection entrance would be unsafe so he was amending his thinking. Now he would like to see the three Blueberry Development bus stops limited to one.

After a discussion the board agreed with Harmon regarding reducing the number of Blueberry Development stops to a single stop. It was left to Superintendent Terry Leatherman and Dail Bus to work out the details.

The board voted to delay discussion of bus routes until a future meeting. Board members need time to review the proposed stops before discussing and approving the bus routes and stops or suggesting changes.

It was noted that as of now there is no athletic event transportation available except occasionally. As such the board voted to approve for the coming school year the same forms used last year for this coming school year to be signed by parents and students to provide their own transportation to athletic events.

The board approved Leatherman's report on his Opening Plan that will incorporate the current CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19.

Financial Director Marjorie Whitmore went over the figures relating to deciding on whether to build up the Retention Fund to 2.5 percent. The Retention Fund is currently at $448,143. The board voted to add the $9,992 Whitmore specified that would bring the Retention Fund up to the 2.5 percent level.

The board also voted to transfer $400,000 from the surplus funds to the Equipment, Facilities Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund.

Whitmore then reviewed the information compiled in the MS-25 and DOE-25 reports. The board voted to approve both reports as presented.

Leatherman announced the retirement of Robert Bickford, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School Principal as of June 30, 2023. The board approved the following hires:
* Samantha Dean, Physical Science Raymond High School
* James Costello, Social Studies Raymond High School
* Jeffrey Miller, Humanities, Raymond High School

 


Raymond School Board Discusses 2023-24 Budget
By Penny Williams   8-18-22

On Wednesday night, August 17, the Raymond School Board tackled the issue of the 2023-24 estimated budget.  Business Administrator Marjorie Whitmore reviewed the estimated numbers she had for the 2023-24 budget. 

The approved 2022-23 General Fund budget was $25,451,512 to which the Food Service Fund of $626,806  would be added as well as Federal Funds amounting to $720,000 for a total of $26,798,318. The Raymond Educational Association Contract for the first of 3 years in the amount of $409,659 and the Raymond Educational Support Services contract which had a decrease of $51,658 when added brought the budget to $27,156,319.

Whitmore reviewed the estimated Contractual Budget Adjustments that amounted to $1,639,483. The projected 2022-23 Budget with estimated Contractual Adjustments comes to $28,795,802  which is a 6 percent increase with existing programs and would have a $1.25 estimated tax effect based on the most recent assessed valuation.

Board member John Harmon felt that the estimated budget total could be $100,000 less than Whitmore's final estimated amount and he wanted the board to set the anticipated budget figure it expected and would support for the 2023-24 budget. Harmon pointed out the board sets the final budget amount not the administration and he felt what that amount would be should be provided to the administration.

Board member Joe Saulnier disagreed saying he only wants to know from the administration what the needs are for the district and opposed setting a hard number that could be difficult to meet or which might compromise needs.

Given the figures Whitmore provided, Harmon indicated he was looking at an estimated $28,695,802. Saulnier still opted for waiting until the board had the proposed final figures after which the board could make adjustments in October.

During the ensuing discussion it was noted that electric and oil costs could double and as such is something that needs to be taken into consideration. If that happens the $100,000 Harmon subtracted from the estimated budget figure would disappear.

After more discussion the board voted to direct the district administration to plan on reporting the needs for the 2023-24 district budget. Harmon raised the issue of whose definition of need would apply but the board approved working with the administration's assessment of district needs for the budget discussions come October.

The board then agreed to hold the discussions on October 12 and October 13 and have the following meeting to the October 13 discussions to finalize decisions.

The board approved the nomination of the following personnel:
* Abigael Massey - Student Assistance Program Counselor
* Jerilyn Nadeau- Raymond High School Nurse
* Ada Vadeboncoeur - Preschool Special Education Teacher

Resignations accepted by the board included:
* Taryn Ward, Iber Homes Gove Middle School Computer Teacher
* Deborah Daniels, Lamprey Elementary School Teacher

The board approved the two parents submitted by Superintendent Terry Leatherman for the  Assistant Principal Search Committee. The rest of the committee is still being completed and the search committee will begin its work as soon as that happens which should be by next week, Leatherman said.  Board member Joe Saulnier volunteered to be the School Board member on the committee.


Raymond School Board Decision Made on Buses and John Harmon Voted in as Chairman
By Penny Williams     8-4-22

The Raymond School Board reluctantly made a decision regarding buses for the coming school year at the Wednesday, August 3rd meeting.

Superintendent Terry Leatherman said Durham had offered two buses and drivers at a cost of $725 per day for each for a total cost of $536,700.  Funding for this would be possible.

Board members John Harmon and Tony Clements were opposed to accepting the buses at that cost to the district, almost double what they are paying for bus service per bus from Dail. However, Leatherman recommended they accept the offer since this would have the least impact on staff and parents since no start or release from school times would be required if they added the two Durham buses.

After a discussion, the board voted 2 to 1 to accept the Durham bus offer.

Leatherman said at this point he has no information regarding possible transportation for sports but he will continue to work on it.

The board asked that legal be contacted to see what the district can do with regard for recovering money from the non-compliance of the Dail bus contract during the past year and the year ahead since they are only providing 5 rather 7 buses and infrequent sport bus transportation.

The board reorganized.  Board member Harmon nominated himself as chair and the board approved.

There was a brief discussion regarding the proposed well for the Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS).  The cost for test drilling of the well would be between $15,000 and $20,000 and the board would need to go out to bid. The board approved moving forward with going to bid for the project.

The board accepted the resignation of Raymond High School Assistant Principal Dr. Fiona Coomey. The board later went on to address replacing her. The board approved advertising the position and asking that letters of interest be submitted by noon on August 17 by persons interested in being part of a search committee.

The board will then set up the search committee at the August 17, meeting. The committee will include 9 members - two teachers, two Para-educators, two parents, one high school student and two administrators. One of the administrators would be the new Raymond High School Principal but a second would be an administrator who has been with the district for longer so would have a better grip on issues and systems and organization.

The board approved the hire of Travis Glennon as a Raymond High School English teacher.

There was a discussion regarding substitute pay. The past year the budget for this was significantly over spent but substitutes were and remain difficult to find and there are currently empty teaching positions so subs will be needed.

The board decided to table any decision on substitute pay until the next meeting in order to see what surrounding districts are paying substitutes, Raymond wants to be competitive but the board was unsure whether they wanted to increase the current levels of pay. The decision was tabled to the August 24 meeting.

The board discussed Curriculum Work Stipends. Initially $35,000 had been designated for the 2022-23 budget for this but that was reduced to $15,000. Harmon was concerned that the amount should be returned to the $35,000 level as curriculum is such a strategic issue.

The board tabled a decision until the August 24 meeting on the issue of 2022-23 surplus funds,

A letter was read into the record from a high school teacher indicating that the board was misinformed regarding the use of ESSER funds. The letter indicated ESSER funds can be used for teachers.

 


Raymond School Board Delay Transportation Decision Until Next Meeting
By Penny Williams   7-28-22

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, July 27, and discussed the bus transportation issues facing Raymond.

The bus company Dial serving the town, can only provide 5 buses instead of the 7 the district had last year and the 8 it usually has.

Superintendent Terry Leatherman said Durham Bus Company has told him they can provide two buses and drivers and even a substitute driver but have not provided the financial details relating to the buses. Without the financial information the board couldn't make any decisions on this.

The board discussed how combining the high and middle school bus riders would impact the bus routes - length of routes, time to run the routes, and number of students on the routes. The routes would take close to an hour and so arrival, school start and release times would need to be adjusted across the district.

The board after a lengthy discussion decided rather than make a  decision and then have to change it  once the information from Durham is available it would be better for the board to wait a week and make a final decision at that point. Board member John Harmon expressed real concern that waiting any longer than a week would have a negative impact on parents and staffs.

The board decided to continue the discussion and to wait until the August 3, meeting to make the final bus transportation decision.

The board discussed following the policy for filling the school board vacancy created by the resignation last week of Ada Vadenboncoeur.

The board asked that interested parties in filling that vacancy submit letters of interest which will be due by noon on August 24. Those interested will be interviewed by the board on August 24 so must be present at that meeting.

The board approved this decision and date.

The board approved one new hire: Ashley Lewis as a first grade teacher at Lamprey River Elementary School.

 


Raymond School Board Chair Ada Vadeboncouer Resigns
By Penny Williams     7-21-22

On Wednesday night, July 20,  the Raymond School Board met and the board members were surprised at the announcement of immediate resignation from the Board Chair Ada Vadeboncouer.

Vadeboncouer told the board she would not be sitting at the night's meeting and was resigning effective immediately as she had an opportunity she wished to pursue and she wanted to ensure there would be no conflict of interest. The board voted to accept her resignation.

Superintendent Terry Leatherman introduced the new Raymond High School Principal, Sharon Wilson, to the board. He then introduced the new School Nutrition Services Director, Tasha Ball, to the board.

Board member John Harmon read the Ray High School (RHS) Fourth Quarter Principal's List and the Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS) Third Trimester-High Honors.

Student Transportation was discussed by the board and resident and former board member Dawn Leamer. Leamer spoke about the transportation issues and mentioned that transportation for sports has yet to be discussed.

 Leatherman indicated that it appears that Raymond will have to deal with having only 5 buses rather than 7 and he continued to suggest a solution would be to combine the high school and middle school bus riders.

Combining high school and middle school students on the five buses would make longer bus routes and would probably require some middle school and possibly elementary school start and release time adjustments.

Leatherman said he has been in talks with other bus companies and it is possible that Dail would be able to come up with two buses from another town to address the Brown and White routes.

Raymond Special Education uses Durham buses and they have no issues at this point in time. Leatherman posted a letter to Raymond Parents and the Community that stated that the district is exploring  possible options to address the shortage of buses that will be available for Raymond school transportation for the coming year.

Board members noted that congestion with buses forced to be late by parent cars dropping off or picking up students will still be an issue making the timing of bus runs even more difficult to plan for. Combining middle school and Lamprey River Elementary School students will not work because here would be too many students for the buses the schools have if combined. One other possible solution would be to combine grades 6 through 12 and then combine grades K through 5 but this isn't a top priority solution.

The board decided Leatherman needed to get the final number of buses he would have and information regarding the number of students on each bus and the routes for the buses and then discuss this with the board on July 27 at a special school board meeting. All that will be dealt with at the July 27 meeting will be transportation issues, buses and routes as well as necessary time adjustments and contracts.

The school principals gave the board their yearend reports and then the board discussed briefly engineering costs for the IHGMS well.  Safety and Facilities Director Todd Ledoux doesn't have the numbers yet so this discussion was tabled until the next meeting.

There was one resignation in addition to Vadeboncouer. The board accepted the resignation of Melissa Seeley, Pre School Special Education Teacher effective July 13.

The board members decided to put off any discussion and decisions regarding the process of seeking a replacement board member for Vadeboncouer. The board members decided they would deal with this at their next board meeting, August 3.

Leatherman talked about creating a working group to address curriculum. He proposed having two administrative people per school but board member Harmon wanted to have only one. The board was in agreement over splitting the focus between math/science and reading/ ELA. Leatherman will be the one to bring information to the board.

Leatherman said he will make his report to the board regarding bullying on September 1. He did think the suggestion to put something on the Web site for parents to read discussing bullying, what it is and what it isn't, might well be a good idea.

The board approved accepting a $8,253.70 from NH Special Olympics. This donation is a percentage of the funds raised through this past year's Penguin Plunge.

 


Raymond School Board Discuss Capital Improvement Projects and Busing
By Penny Williams   7-14-22

The Raymond School Board discussed the Capital Improvement Projects on the CIP 20 Year Plan during the Wednesday, July 13 meeting.

The board went over the facilities related projects emphasizing safety and security projects, technology projects, and food services projects. They concentrated primarily on the years 2023 to 2028 but did look briefly at some projects further out.

One concern was raised about having an appropriate amount for the projects which when they are several years out is difficult given changes in costs. The practice has been to add 5 percent for each year out that a project is listed but some board members felt this might not be adequate and that could mean not enough money was available to address needed projects when the time actually comes.

In the end they concentrated on deciding on projects for the next year. They decided that the Intercom System at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School  (IHGMS) was one project they wanted to address. Getting a van for the district was another. Camera replacements for technology was a third and a couple of equipment needs for Food Service was the fourth.

The cost of these projects was estimated by Finance Director Marjorie Whitmore at $414,355 (although Chair Ada Vadeboncouer 's figure was $417,925). Since some money has already been put away for the CIP projects the board felt putting a Warrant Article in for up to $400,000 again would be appropriate.

The board then went over the fourteen goals that had been previously identified for incoming Superintendent Terry Leatherman. The board wanted confirmation that the goals were achievable.

They went through all of the goals and it was felt all were achievable. However, there was some difference of opinion on when Leatherman might report to the board on specific goals.

Leatherman and Board Member John Harmon disagreed on when he should report on where students were academically. Harmon felt Leatherman should concentrate on where things were at the close of school in June 2022.

Leatherman felt it was necessary to wait and see where students actually were after the summer as some may have attended summer school and might have progressed significantly while others might have regressed over the summer.

The other issue where there were differing opinions was on Curriculum which Leatherman sees as he needing to see the big picture and it overall is not being a quick fix while deciding what curriculum programs provide the best for students given where the district's needs are.

Harmon wanted the current situation with regard to curriculum in place to be the focus with an assessment of where the schools are today and whether students are achieving as expected. Looking at changing curriculum could come later.
 
The board wants Leatherman to assess whether the perceived bullying in the district is correct or not. They want him to investigate how bullying incidents have been handled and whether the district is handling such incidents correctly and whether they are successfully being addressed. When he was to report back on this issue was not decided but would be discussed at the next meeting.

Transportation was discussed at length. There is a problem because the district won't have sufficient buses because the bus company doesn't have enough bus and bus drivers available.

Harmon said the board needs to make some decisions on how to address this situation because parents will need to be informed of any changes in routes and times. Right now there are 4 buses for high school and 5 buses for middle and elementary school students.

It was suggested that one solution would be to combine the high school and middle school students. This will entail longer bus routes and in order for students to be gotten to school on time school time starts may need to altered. The board agreed to discuss this in detail at their July 20, meeting and Leatherman would continue discussing the issues with the bus company.

There was a discussion of whether there could be more parking for high school students and it was determined this needed to be checked out.

Combining middle and high school students for busing purposes would increase the length of the bus routes and the length of time each route would take which then may require the start time of school to be adjusted. The board will go over the information from the bus company on how many students each bus would have if the high school and middle school students were combined and the time changes that would be involved and discuss what is best for the district at their next meeting.

A parent asked what about transportation to sporting events and the board hadn't even gone there yet feeling it needed to address getting the students to school as a first priority.

 


s Raymond School Board Hear District Hires and Resignations
Penny Williams    6-27-22

On Thursday, June 23, the Raymond School Board met and the school district hires and resignations were announced.

The hires included the following:

* Jaimie Dupuis, Dean of Student Support Services at Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES)

* Paula Oliveria, Dean of Student Support Services at Raymond High School (RHS) 

* Alvin Caldwell, School Psychologist, SAU

* Sharon Wilson, Principal RHS

* Kristianne Lemieux, Math Teacher, RHS

* Stephanie Stockwell, Art Teacher, Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS)

Resignations, that all effective June 30, 2022 include the following:

* Maranda Mahoney-Barnett (LRES Teacher)

* Brianah Straffin (IHGMS SAP Counselor)

* Monique Berky (IHGMS FCS Teacher)

The board then discussed the issues and goals they would like to have a specific conversation with the new Superintendent Terry Leatherman at the board's July 13, meeting.

Among the topics board members brought up were the following:

* Grading across the district

* Monitoring of teachers to ensure they are receiving what they need for growth

* An Entry Plan from Leatherman with an October follow up

* Review of weekly classroom visits by Superintendent by the board

* Reduction of Tier 2 and Tier 3 student population - perhaps by 10 percent

* Where student population is academically as of the end of school and where it should be headed

* Plan for the school community growth

* Reorganization of curriculum across the district - is it going in the right direction

* Are the district students ready for state tests

* Bullying

* Are teachers getting appropriate Professional Development

* Review by board of Superintendent sitting down with student groups

* Board consistently informed about open positions across the district

* Social Media presence

* Review of academic progress

* Monitor for new people

* Improvement of Web site

* Parent/teacher nights should be stand alone

* District Calendar kept up to date so there aren't overlapping events

* Find money for Superintendent Professional Development

The board and Leatherman indicated they would look at the district goals and these specific issues when they meet on July 13. While unlikely to be able to cover all of the issues brought up it would appear in discussing goals many would be addressed.


Raymond School Board Discuss the Transportation to Sports Events Issue
By Penny Williams    6-2-22

On Wednesday evening, June 1, the issue of transportation to sports events came up again and was discussed.

A parent spoke in public comment and raised some questions concerning the cost of transportation of student athletes to sports events by parents, as well as some questions concerning inappropriate occurrences relating to athletic coaches, and communication, without being specific.

The board discussed the question of whether there might be some way to compensate parents who had the expense of transporting student athletes to away games.

Superintendent David DeRuosi said he had contacted and discussed this with legal and they advised against it. The reason for not doing it is if the district were to do so and something happened the district would be liable.

It was asked if after the school year ends, could parents be reimbursed from funds left off in the transportation budget. DeRuosi said he didn't know but would check with legal about that approach.

Board member John Harmon asked that other districts using the STA Bus company be asked if they had similar transportation issues to those of Raymond, particularly with respect to transportation to away games. The reason bus transportation isn't available for Raymond, according to the bus company, is they do not have staff to drive the buses.

Harmon wants to know if the bus company is looking around the state for available drivers for Raymond bus transportation to away games and if not why not.

Limo service is simply too expensive to be considered. It was noted a cost of more than $1,000 would be incurred if outside buses or limos were used for a round trip.

The board felt that the bus company should pay the district for the services not being provided, The board asked that the administration write a letter to the bus company concerning the fact the bus company is out of compliance with the contract.

The board noted the changes to the Preschool Handbook match the other handbook level changes and approved that handbook. No one was there to discuss the Athletic Handbook or the Raymond High School (RHS) Handbook so these were moved to another agenda.

A Public Hearing was opened for comment on consideration of the expenditure of funds up to $48,976.48 from the Raymond School District Equipment, Facilities, Maintenance, and Replacement, Capital Reserve Fund to replace the Chain Link Fencing at the Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IBHGMS). No one came forward to comment so the public hearing was closed.

The board discussed the fencing with Facilities Director Todd Ledoux. Harmon question why the district felt it necessary to replace the section of fencing by the cemetery at a cost of $11,926. After the board and Ledoux talked it over it was decided it might be considered a safety issue and probably should be replaced.

The other fencing at the IBHGMS fields needs to be done at a cost of $37,050. The board voted to move forward with the only bid they received for the fencing in the amount of $48,976.48 from Dreamworks. This amount is just slightly higher than the amount of $45,202 that was budgeted for the work.

The board then approved the hiring of the following:

* Tasha Ball, School Nutrition Services Director

* Amber McQuaid, Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES)

* Kathleen Grace-Myers RHS Special Education Teacher

The board also accepted the resignation of Derrick Wolcott, RHS Science Teacher , effective May 24, 2022.

Marjorie Whitmore, Business Administrator, reviewed the 2021 Plodzik & Sanderson Audit report.

She indicated the report found that there had been a clean opinion showing no actuarial inefficiencies. However, the letter to the School Board indicated there had been delays, a need for updating policies (which is being done) food service deposit concerns (which she will go over with the new Food Service Nutrition Director) and some concerns with the School Activities Accounts.

Whitmore said the delays were her fault but that this had been a very difficult year which no one had anticipated. She said she would make sure to be on time going forward.

Harmon asked why the school activity funds had so much money in them. This subject was discussed and Whitmore answered his questions except for saying she would look into the Elementary School fund as she agreed it appeared too high.

The audit suggested the need for a Deputy Treasurer which townspeople had voted down.

The board members' memory was that  the board has the power to appoint a Deputy Treasurer but that board had decided to leave the decision to the voters. It was suggested this needs to be looked into again and for the board to know what it can and can't do in this regard.

The agenda was amended to allow discussion of the information received from Kevin Woods, RCTV, that graduation would not be streamed live this year as it is outside and technically too difficult.

There had been a request for the district to contract with an outside vendor to do the live stream coverage. Graduation will be taped and will be available for people to watch the RCTV coverage.

After a discussion the board decided not to change anything but to notify the seniors the coverage would be taped, not live.

The board reviewed first read policies and new and revised policies and then discussed the New Hampshire School Board Association's (NHSBA) request for Resolutions.

Board member Joe Saulnier said he has one he would like the board to review and decide whether to forward to the NHSBA. He asked that the administration to get his proposal in the appropriate form for the board to review at the next meeting.

DeRuosi told the board he had decided instead of a You Make A Difference teacher award he decided that given this difficult year and the wonderful way the district has responded to it that this year it would be A District That Makes A Difference with a luncheon at each school on the last day for teachers, staff and employees with board members encouraged to attend.

The board discussed whether they wanted to store the videos of the meetings and have them available for three years for people who wish to look at them.

IT Director Brittany L'Heureux told the board she records each meeting and there is plenty of storage room on SAU 33 Google Drive and a link from the written minutes to the video of the same date could easily be put in place.

Harmon argued that this would take time and money for a service that really isn't needed. However, after a discussion it was decided to do this for a year and revisit it after a year to determine whether to discontinue it or continue it on the proposed three year basis.

 


Raymond’s Last Day of School Remains June 20
By Penny Williams  5-20-22

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday evening, May 18, and among the decisions made was to keep the last day of school June,20.

The subject came up in comments from the public and from the student representative Alyison Miller.

The board, after a discussion, voted to stay with the last day as Monday, June 20, despite the complaint that some would need to come in for just an hour and a half.

Selectman John Harmon noted that education is the business of the schools and the students need to attend the scheduled days of education.

Selectman Cindy Bennett wondered what teachers thought about the issue.

In the end the board agreed that June 20 will be the last day of school.

The board held a public hearing concerning expenditures of funds totaling $100,463.34 - $59,066.04 for upgrading bathroom floors at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS) and $41,397.30 for replacing windows and doors at Lamprey River Elementary (LRES) trailers. The funds would come from the Raymond School District Equipment, Facilities Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund.

There were no public comments but the board took the two bids up.

They received two bids and the lower bid, from Dreamworks at $41,397.30 was recommended as the bid from JBC was much higher, $78,563. The budgeted amount for the window and door replacement was $67,803.  

The Dreamworks bid is for replacement of 14 windows and 8 outside doors of the LRES trailers. The board approved the Dreamworks bid.

 Only one bid was received for resurfacing existing epoxy bathroom floors at IHGMS and that bid was from Northeast Flooring.

The Northeast Flooring bid was for student bathroom floors and two adult bathrooms and the main office bathroom for a total of $69,056.04. The amount budgeted for this project was $67,803, so like the previous project the bid was under budget.

The board voted to approve the Northeast Flooring bid.

Director of Health and Wellness, Jessica Caron presented the District Leadership Team study and work. She went over the multi tier system of support for mental and social welfare.

There were focus groups that looked at Truancy, Data Collection, Immediate Response to Student Crisis, and she summarized these for the board and the teams for each of the focus groups explained where they were at on the project.

It was noted that a real need for each of the teams is teacher representation. However, given the shortage of staff this hasn't been possible.

Superintendent David DeRuosi went over the Strategic Planning Charge and overall proposal from the NH Association of School Boards, and their facilitator Robert Dolan.

Harmon questioned why the committee membership number differed from what the board had approved. DeRuosi said he would get back to his group and check on this.

As of June 15 the board wants to be able to seek to fill any committee vacancies that exist after the members who originally volunteered have been asked and responded as to whether they still want to volunteer on the committee.

The board approved the cost of the facilitator at $5,000 and approved the Strategic Plan charge as proposed with the amendments made by the board. The board approved the proposal for the Strategic Plan.

The board had a discussion about whether to raise the price of school meals for the coming year and those costs were presented.

A motion was made to increase prices by 25 cents at the elementary level, 30 cents at the middle school and adult level, and 35 cents at the high school. However, the motion failed and after further discussion it was decided prices should remain as presented and the board can revisit the issue in the fall when they have more current information.

The board then embarked on listening to the proposed changes and amendments for the student handbooks. They got through the elementary level and the middle school level but ran out of time for the Raymond High School (RHS) student handbook discussion and it  was tabled for the next meeting.

Due to the time constraints and the need for a non-public meeting, the board approved adjusting the agenda to address only the manifest, nominations/resignations and for the board to go into non-public.

This left Student Transportation, Summer School Tuition, Monthly Financial Update, NHSBA Resolutions, Committee and Superintendent Reports, correspondence and other, as well as the approval of minutes and the RHS  Student Handbook discussion for the next meeting.

The board approved the following hires:

* Chelsea Thibeault, LRES Teacher

* Brianna Turner, Special Education Case Manager LRES

* Jenna Davis, Social Worker at IHGMS

* Stacey Darwent, Teacher at IHGMS

The board also accepted the resignation of Gregory Pantazis, SAP Counselor at RHS at the conclusion of the school year.


Raymond School Board Approves Accepting and Expending Unanticipated Funds
By Penny Williams    5-5-22

On Wednesday evening, May 4, the Raymond School Board approved accepting and expending unanticipated funds.

The board held a Public Hearing regarding the unanticipated funds but no one spoke. The board proceeded to approve accepting and expending the following unanticipated funds:

*Federal State and Private Grants - $1,668,576.23

*Impact Fees - $53,788.27

*Special Education Aid - $407,475.03

*SchoolCare - Health Refund - $217,942.96

*SchoolCare Dental Refund - $33,778.27

*Health Trust Refund - $44,798.90

The board discussed the Technology Committee's Charge and the Committee make-up. The Technology Committee Charge was approved in 2017. Technology Director Brittany L'Heureux would like to have a meeting. Members of that committee should be contacted to see if they want to continue and then seek new volunteers for any openings.

The board made a preliminary change to the committee composition. changing the Classroom Teacher from just one to one from each school as well as doing the same for Support Staff members. The board eliminated a Budget Committee member and a Para-professional, Library Media Specialist, and Director of Curriculum.

As for the Charge having the Vision and Mission reviewed annually and the board to get a report on the Policies and Procedures Related to Technology presented to the board at the first meeting in May 2024 were the only changes or additions and it was approved by the board.

The board approved adding Kathy Lee to Iber Holmes Gove Middle School Support Staff, and parents Michelle Dubin and Dana Zulager to the Strategic Planning Committee.

Superintendent David DeRuosi introduced Mark Dolan, NH School Board Association, as the facilitator for the Strategic Plan Committee Facilitator. Dolan was the person in-coming Superintendent Terry Leatherman has selected.

Dolan suggested his plan for the Strategic Planning but the board made specific changes, predominantly to the timeframe. Dolan suggested an important element is a Leadership Conference and he suggested a summer meeting. After a discussion the board agreed the Leadership Meeting is critical but instead of holding this during the summer as Dolan suggested the board decided it should be held during the day already reserved for committee work on June 23. Then the committee would begin its regular meetings in July and have a final product by the end of December 2023.

The board approved the hiring of Daniel Bartlein as Physical Education Teacher and Kayla Stickney as an Elementary School Teacher.

Todd Ledoux, Facilities Director, gave the board the bids for the HVAC Controls. EEI, who conducted the vendor search had four vendors review the RFP but only two bid on it.

Ledoux recommended the low bidder, ENE, whose bid was $446,096.  He asked the board to approve this so the company could start as soon as possible.

The board amended the agenda to seek action on this and then approved ENE's bid. The plan is to start this summer and hopefully have it completed before the start of the new school year.

The controls will be installed at the Middle School and the High School.  The funding for the project will be ESSER Funds so accepting the ENE bid is pending ESSER Funds coming in as expected.

Ledoux also said there were two bids for the zero turn mower. Both had the exact same amount - $18,277. The board decided to go with the vendor that said they had one in house, Turf Depot.

Lamprey River Elementary School Principal Laura Yacek answered board questions relative to looping. She noted that some planned looping classes will not happen in the coming year simply because it wouldn't work but she has several looping classes and hopes to have more the following year.

The board approved the Summer Board Meeting Schedule.

There was a discussion regarding whether to return to charging for Summer School. It was decided more information was needed and this was tabled to the next board meeting.

Board member Tony Clements volunteered and was approved as a member of the Search Committee for the Dean of Student Support Services.

 


Raymond School Board Adjusts School Calendars Last Day and Start Day
By Penny Williams     4-21-22

On Wednesday evening, April 20, the Raymond School Board approved the adjusted School Calendar for 2022-2023.

Superintendent David DeRuosi had heard complaints about the proposed changes to the calendar and the last day for seniors at the previous meeting and the board had suggested he go over the calendar again for a final decision at this meeting.

DeRuosi said the calendar now would have the last day of school be June 13 with the first day August 29.

As for this year's seniors' final day it would be June 3, with graduation on June 10.  These dates addressed the earlier concerns expressed by students and staff.

The fourth grade teachers will be looping this coming year. The board learned about the benefits of looping and after hearing from two of the fourth grade teachers on their eagerness to do this the board members basically indicated they were on board with it.

Board member John Harmon expressed concern over the possibility that there might be a fourth grade class and teacher for whom looping wouldn't work and asked if there was a plan for that. DeRuosi said he would go back to administration and consider how such a situation might be addressed.

DeRuosi and District Business Administrator went over how the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER 111) funds have been spent.

The iReady Assessment Testing system has been chosen and a four year contract has been covered by ESSER 111 funds. This assessment system will replace the current STAR system.

ESSER111 funds will also be applied to adding 2 social workers for 2023-2024. The SAP Grant for a SAP Counselor, if it is approved, would allow the two additional social workers to have a social worker in each school and one at large for the district.

 ESSER 111 funds will also bring in two School Psychologists putting one in each building.

ESSER 111 funds will also cover a Special Education Teacher and a Para-Professional to bridge the transition behavior issues for students in fourth and fifth grades.

ESSER 111 funds were also spent on Constellation and that along with the additional social workers and School Psychologists will address social and emotional and behavioral issues at all three schools.

There was a discussion about extending the current contract with the district's  Special Education Transportation vendor. The cost for the extended year would see increased daily bus rates as well as a $30 per hour over time as well as other increases.

The increases amount to more than a 20 percent increase and Harmon wondered if it wouldn't be better to go out to bid.

Whitmore told him the bus companies are so short handed that in her opinion no one would respond to the bid request.

DeRuosi said he felt it was in the district's best interests to accept the increases and extend the current Durham Bus contract for a year. After more discussion the board voted to approve extending the contract for a year.

The board voted to accept the following members of the Strategic Planning Committee. They would be: Jennifer Pelletier Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS) Teacher; Kristin Nivison, Lamprey River Elementary School  (LRES) Teacher; and, Gretchen Gott, Raymond High School (RHS) Support Staff. Previously approved members are the school Principals, Director of Student Services or designee, Incoming Superintendent Terry Leatherman and board members Harmon and Chair Ada Vadeboncoeur.

The board voted to accept the following as members of the Nutritionist Search Committee: Marjorie Whitmore, Business Administrator, Linda Burke and Shannon McGhee Food Service individuals, and board member Joe Saulnier.

The board acknowledged RHS students achieving the Principal's List (all A's in third quarter). Assistant Principal Brigitte Cunningham noted all the Middle School Students who had reached the Honor Roll and above during her report on the school.

Pat Arsenault and some students told the board about the renewal of the popular Education Expo events, the latest of which was held at the Middle School Gym. One more will be held on May 19, at LRES.

The board and members of the Raymond Educational Association signed the collective bargaining contract.

There were teacher and student concerns expressed about class scheduling and a committee will be created to review and address developing a day to day school scheduling that works for RHS.

The board approved the hiring of Lisa Colburn, LRES Math Specialist and Jennifer Schaeffer, RHS Math Teacher.

The board accepted the resignations of Meredith Hallman RHS Counselor and Casey Matthews, First Grade LRES Teacher.

 


Raymond School Board Approve Adding Teachers to H.S. Principal Search Committee and Students Express their Concerns
By Penny Williams   4-7-22

At the Wednesday night, April 6, School Board meeting, a Raymond High School teacher, who is a parent and a resident, told the board that the Principal Search Committee needs to have more than one teacher on it. The board at their last meeting had essentially determined that the Search Committee would have 1 School Board member, 1 teacher, 1 support staff member, 1 administrator, and 2 parents.

Teacher Dean Plender made it clear that the proposed make up of the committee was not adequate and more emphasis should be placed on teachers who will be the ones actually working with the chosen principal. He went on to indicate that teachers don't feel valued in Raymond and that teachers need to feel part of the process of selecting a new principal. He asked the board to reconsider.

The board discussed the search committee make-up and after a long discussion, Board member John Harmon made a motion to approve the following members of the Principal Search Committee, which the board had increased in size to include 2 teachers and 2 support staff.

*Teachers Bill Hayes and Kim Moyer

* Support Staff Gretchen Gott and Ann Roman

* Administrator Jessica Caron

* Parents Dana Zulager and Danielle Karcz

* School Board member John Harmon was appointed by the board.

A group of students came before the board to express their concerns about the change in the senior final exam days and graduation.

The students made the case that to make this change at this point is unfair. They also said and supported that this class has had to suffer many losses in terms of events and classroom learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this was just one more loss as it would preclude their senior trip.

Teachers and students made the point that the final exam on the proposed date would not be a rigorous exam as no teacher would be able to grade a rigorous exam in the allotted time.

But more unfair is the proposed time would not allow for a student to be able to make up a possible point difference needed to graduate. The point was made that things had been handled differently for the last 18 years and worked so why change it now when this change carries negative impacts on students.

After the board heard all of the concerns from students, parents and teachers, they decided to table the issue until the next meeting to allow Superintendent David DeRuosi to look into the proposed change further.

Student member to the School Board, Alysion Miller, weighed in on all of the foregoing issues and added a few others including questioning the changed grading system, safety concerns in the parking lot at time of dismissal and,  lack of discipline with the fights that are taking place without the Resource Officer being present and disengaged students slipping through the cracks.

She summed up her comments by saying she is concerned because the board and administrators don't seem to listen to student comments or to value them.  There is a disconnection between the school board and the teachers, she added.

The board thanked retiring School Nutrition Services Director Judith DiNatale and the Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) Secretary Deborah Dellas, both of whom were long time district employees.

The board signed the new Collective Bargaining Agreements and approved the changes DeRuosi made to the Reopening Plan, which now is aligned with the current CDC and State Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.

DeRuosi spent a lot of time describing the changes he and his team have made to the District's Organizational Chart and accompanying job descriptions. He indicated he has discussed this with incoming Superintendent Terry Leatherman and Leatherman expressed his appreciation of DeRuosi getting this done before he takes over.

Harmon had a slew of questions and comments and concerns and DeRuosi agreed to take his and the other board members' comments and suggestions back to his committee and made some adjustments and bring the document back to the board at their next meeting.
 
The board decided on the committee to search for DiNatale's replacement and after tabling several agenda items due to time constraints. That committee will have 1 school board member, 2 teachers, 2 food service support staff, 1 administrator and 2 parents.

The board decided that the Strategic Planning Committee would have 2 school board members, 1 Superintendent, 3 teachers - one from each school, 3 principals - one from each school, the Director of Student Services, 3 parents and 1 citizen.

 Leatherman had told DeRuosi that the suggested May dates to address the Strategic Plan would work for him. After a discussion the board settled on meeting on May 26 for work on the Strategic Plan and having Friday, May 27. in the afternoon available if needed.

The board approved the hiring of Shona Emery as a Special Education Teacher and Elizabeth McGovern as a Reading Specialist. The board also accepted the resignation of Jennifer Lee, LRES Unified Arts Social and Emotional Learning.   

 


Raymond School District Superintendent Ready to Move On From COVID Restrictions and School Board Re-Organized
By Penny Williams   3-25-22

The Raymond School District Superintendent discussed moving on from COVID restrictions with the School Board on Wednesday, March 23.

He indicated he wanted to discuss his plan for moving forward to eliminate the option for students who are quarantined due to COVID-19 to participate in remote instruction.

Superintendent David DeRuosi  told the board he would like to bring back to the board at the next meeting his suggestions for re-evaluation of the district's re-opening plan given the new CDC regulations. He noted that he has been working with his administrative team to develop the roll back on all COVID instructions and re-evaluate returning to the end of year events such as field days and Kindergarten visit nights.

He said his suggestions would include how the going forward a child in quarantine would be instructed and he noted that quarantined individuals can shorten the ten day period to five days but when returning must wear a mask for days 6 through 10.

It was thought that some kind of remote learning needs to be available to anyone quarantined but principals and teachers need to make changes on how they handle this going forward. DeRuosi said it is important for the district to return to as near to normal as possible to get ready to start the next school year.

The board agreed and member John Harmon suggested that DeRuosi bring his proposed changes to the re-opening plan for the board to review and decide on. Harmon said eventually the re-opening plan will just go away.

The board re-organized appointing Ada Vadeboncoeur as Chair and Joe Saulnier as Vice Chair. New board member Cindy Bennett was appointed as secretary.

There was an in-depth discussion about the contract with Energy Efficient Investments, Inc. for work on controls in the Middle and High School. The bid amount isn't current and there was concern that it needs to be re-bid for accuracy. Initially four vendors looked at the work on controls in the buildings but only Energy Efficient Investments responded.

Safety and Facilities Director Todd Ledoux said he had hoped to get this done prior to the next school year. He doesn't think the district is locked in on this bid but the district has decided to partner with this vendor.

The plan is to pay for this with ESSER 111 funds. Harmon suggested finishing using ESSER 11 funds for this and whatever isn't covered by those funds get from ESSER 111.

However, he felt it would only be prudent to go out to  bid again to see if the present $425,000 is good or if there has been a change given today's circumstances. He told Ledoux he wanted to see a bid for each individual school control work and a combined bid as well. Ledoux said he would get started on this and when he has the bid information he will return to the board.

DeRuosi asked the board if May 16 or May 23 would work for the board to work on discussing developing a Strategic Plan and to appoint a committee to do that.

The board was on board with this timeframe but wanted to determine which date new Superintendent Leatherman would be available to participate. DeRuosi suggested it would be best to retain an outside facilitator for the development of the Strategic Plan and the board agreed.

The board approved of the changes DeRuosi made to the job description for the principal search. It was decided after a lengthy discussion that the committee should have a school board member, a high school teacher, high school support staff, high school administrator and 2 parents.

The board discussed and went through the liaison assignments and decided to finalize this at the next meeting.

The board accepted a $1,365 donation from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention which was one of the organizations that worked with the district on presenting the behavioral health and wellness trainings on March 14. The organization offered to pay for lunches for the session participants and this is reimbursement for that cost.

The board accepted the resignations of  Marlene Jones, second grade teacher at Lamprey River Elementary School and third grade teacher Maureen Desiosiers at the school.

The board signed the MS-22 2022-23 form.

 


Raymond School Board Signs Consultant Contract with New Superintendent Terry Leatherman
By Penny Williams   3-3-22

The Raymond School Board met briefly Wednesday evening, March 2, and added signing a Consultant Contract with the newly appointed Superintendent to the agenda.

Terry Leatherman, presently Principal of the Barrington Middle School with years of education experience, is the new Raymond School District Superintendent. The board authorized signing a Consultant Contract for Leatherman covering the period of March 15 through June 30th. He will assume full Superintendent status effective July 1.

The board thanked Raymond High School senior Mason Lord for being the student representative to the board. They wished him well for his college career.

There was just one resignation but it was a big one. Superintendent David DeRuosi asked the board to accept the resignation of Raymond High School Principal Steve Woodward effective June 30. The board voted to accept Woodward's resignation.

The Merrill family spoke to the board expressing their concerns regarding deficiencies and difficulties students face when having to depend on remote learning during quarantine periods.

The Merrills indicated that there are a number of issues with the program which negatively impact students. DeRuosi said he would look into their concerns and attempt to rectify the issues.

The board accepted a $1,000 donation from the NHC Property Management for Raymond Varsity Baseball.

 


Raymond School Board Discusses the Use of Surplus Funds and Names Three Superintendent Candidates
By Penny Williams   2-20-22

On Wednesday night, February 16, the Raymond School Board met and one of the things the board discussed was potential projects that could be addressed with Surplus funds.

Todd Ledoux, Safety and Facilities Director suggested that the board might consider replacement of the back steps at the Middle School; intercom speakers at all three schools; and sport fields steps. He also indicated that lighting, boilers and other equipment could be considered as well as adding outside speakers.

He noted that the intercom system replacement and upgrade was bid at $389,000. The thinking is this might not have to go out for rebid but given changing costs due to supply and other relevant issues the cost may have increased and re-bidding might be required.

The Middle School back steps are an ADA requirement and a bid for this project would be needed. The Sports fields steps are also an ADA issue and he suggested a walkway, parking area, steps and lighting would be necessary.

The board discussed what the surplus can be used for. Chair Joe Saulnier said the surplus funds can be used for whatever the board decides. There was a suggestion that surplus funds should go back to the community, the teachers and those who put in the work and these projects being suggested that have been on the table for several years should have been addressed in the past and should be addressed in the budget.

Saulnier made a motion to explore two projects for surplus funds use - the intercom speaker system and the back steps at the middle school. Board members John Harmon, Dawn Leamer, and Ada Vadeboncoeur opposed the motion.

Superintendent David DeRuosi told the board they are working on the strategic plan. He talked about some of the issues involved and that they want to examine action steps to determine where the district is at present.

There was a discussion about threat assessment at the schools. It was noted that teachers need to be updated on how to respond to a threat and what action to take. DeRuosi said ALICE is reviewed annually as are action drills and how to deal with a possible suicide needs to be provided. It was thought a Professional Development Day might be assigned to deal with a live active or ALICE drill.

The plan is to look at the Strategic Plan currently in place and see where things stood in 2019 and then assess where they stand now and possibly provide a three year post pandemic strategic plan.

It was suggested that further work should include the new superintendent so it should happen in the spring. However, the Strategic Plan Committee should start trying to determine where things stand as of now.

The three finalists for the Superintendent position - Caroline Arakelian, currently Assistant Superintendent SAU 21; Ronna Caderette, Superintendent of SAU 58; and, Terrance Leatherman, Principal Barrington Middle School - will be introduced at a meeting to be held on Wednesday, February 23.

The board accepted the resignation of Food Service Director Judy DiNatalie effective April 8. They discussed the updated job description for the position and approved it and it will be posted.

The board discussed bus routes briefly which can be found on the School District Web site. It was decided that all information regarding bus routes need to be provided to the board 5 days before school starts so parents can be informed. The board approved what was presented.

 


Raymond School Board Food Service Director Report's Facing Multiple Challenges
By Penny Williams    2-3-22

On Wednesday evening, February 2, the Raymond School Board heard the Nutrition Services Update.

Nutrition Services Director Judith DiNatale made the challenges to the program abundantly clear when she said the Nutrition Services program is facing a triathlon of challenges.

The first challenge is getting the information out to the residents and families that Meals are Free again this year but only for those students registered for Free & Reduced  Eligibility.

Breakfast participation is up at both Middle and Elementary schools and lunch participation is up at Raymond High School (RHS) with breakfast almost double previous years.

The second challenge is the shortage and supply chain issues. The program is constantly faced with items being unavailable or back ordered. This at times has forced the program to get items from other outside sources such as Amazon or Walmart at greater cost. Menus are subject to (occasional) change more often than usual.

But the final challenge DiNatale said, is the most difficult. This challenge is staffing. There are unfilled vacancies, few to no candidates, and COVID related illnesses. With only 14 members in the department it ends up in a contingency operation situation when only 2 are out as well as vacancy issues.

Despite the challenges she said the program is managing to feed the students.

The board discussed substitute Nurses/LPN daily pay rate. The district is not able to get substitute nurses and the district's rate of pay is lower than many, from $125 to $160 a day. However, having to go to an outside resource company is even more expensive.

Chairman Joe Saulnier suggested raising the rate of pay to $200 but others felt this was too high. In the end the board approved raising the daily rate of pay for nurses/LPNs to $150, retro-actively effective to January 31.

The board then discussed pay rates (hourly) for Food Service, Para-Professionals and Custodians. One thing they all agreed they had to be careful about was not paying subs more than regular employees.

After discussing for a time the decision was made not to make any adjustments to Para-Educators rate of hourly pay.

However, the board approved increasing Food Service rate to $10.50 an hour and Custodians to $12.50, all of the foregoing effective retro-actively to January 31.

RHS Principal Steve Woodward gave his report in which he told the board that RHS Computer Teacher Sandra Swiechowicz, is an awesome asset. Because of her work the school has been selected by the College Board's Advanced Placement Program for the 2021 AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award.

While the school has faced and continues to face challenges he said 22 percent of students made the Honor Roll or Principal's List.

The Superintendent Search Process was discussed and it was decided that the three candidates would be taken on school tours to meet with administrators and students on February 23, each candidate to be accompanied by a school board member. On February 24 at 5:30 p.m. interviews would be conducted.

Swiechowicz and her students presented projects they had participated in during the last semester to the board. The students provided their digital portfolios.

The board approved scheduling the District-In-Service Day being moved to Monday, March 14.

The board discussed taking pictures of athletes and posting them around the schools. This was found to be a favorable idea when the board agreed that pictures would be taken of students involved in any activities not just limited to athletic events. It will be left to each school principal as to how this will be conducted.

 


Raymond School Board Discusses Sixth and Eighth Grade Student Trip Issues
By Penny Williams   1-20-22

The Raymond School Board on Wednesday evening, January 19, discussed both the sixth grade trip to Nature's Classroom and the eighth grade trip to Washington D.C.

The Nature's Classroom trip in March has two location options, one at Freedom, NH and the second at Groton, Massachusetts.

Cost of the trip is $300 per student and $1900 for the three buses roundtrip. At this point Principal Bob Bickford recommends the Groton , Mass. location strictly in terms of weather. A student petition with 82 signatures was presented to Bickford and  to the board seeking the trip.

Bickford said that there would need to be 10 chaperones and he felt they would be able to get that many. Asked if students had to be vaccinated by Nature's Classroom rules the answer was no they don't.

The board after a discussion approved the 6th grade trip to Nature's Classroom.

Chairman Joe Saulnier asked to amend the agenda so the Washington D.C. 8th grade trip could be discussed since payment is due this coming Monday. The board approved and discussed the issues regarding the trip.

There are 68 students signed up and only a few have dropped out because of the trip requirement that those going need to be vaccinated. A few have been added. The board discussed briefly whether they should chose a different destination but nothing came of this discussion.

Driving this discussion is that the payment due to the company on Monday and once made it is non-refundable. At the time of this discussion the trip could be cancelled and parents get their money back. The board, after discussing the issues, decided to move forward with the Washington trip as proposed.

Superintendent David DeRuosi presented a follow - up on Social and Emotional Needs of Students and Potential Health In-Service Day. He presented data and statistics on poverty, homelessness and trauma suffered by students and outlined the educational impact of these on student abilities to learn.

He suggested one thing the district could consider for addressing these issues in the Raymond school district was to use ESSER money for a wrap around home/school professional who would meet with and work with students and families. He also suggested training on how to assess these issues and address them for teachers and Para-Professionals. Outreach to local resources is important and necessary he noted.

He suggested using election day as a Professional Development Day devoted to this. Use of this specific day for this was not welcomed by all board members. DeRuosi indicated he would talk with the committee about perhaps choosing another day for the Risk and Assessment and Social and Emotional and Behavioral training.

The board decided that they would add, as a future agenda item, a discussion of what the board views as the best use of the district surplus.

The board decided to sign the School District Warrant at another meeting even though that probably would mean having to hold a special meeting for that purpose. There were no changes made to the articles at the Budget meeting the board was told.

Board members volunteered to present and discuss the articles on the Warrant .

The board accepted the hire of Taryn Lytle as the Computer teacher for the Middle School.

The board voted to approve the Memorandum of Agreement with Raymond Educational Association and the Memorandum of Agreement with the Raymond Educational Support Staff.

 


Raymond School Board Ratifies Raymond Educational Support Staff Contract
By Penny Williams    1-11-22

The Raymond School Board met Monday evening, January 10, at 5:30 p.m. and ratified the proposed Raymond Educational Support Staff (RESS) Contract even though the board couldn't verify that RESS itself had formerly ratified it at that time.

The board discussed the proposed contract and briefly went over the main points of the four year deal.

*  The cost of the first year is a reduction of $51,558;

* The cost of the second year is a positive $171,930;

* The cost of the third year is $127,535;

* The cost of the final year is $162,371 for a total of $410,179.

The salary increases are $1.75 for year 1; $1.25 for year 2; $1.00 for year 3; and, $1.30 for year 4.

The board noted this is a more competitive contract. Their hope is this will result in the district being able to retain more people.

The board voted to ratify the proposed RESS four year contract.

The board briefly discussed the upcoming Deliberative Session that will be January 12. The options are to hold it in the cafeteria as was done pre-Covid or go back to holding it in the gym as they did last year.

Board member John Harmon spoke up saying he favored the gym so that everyone would have the opportunity to socially distance. The other board members agreed.

 


Raymond School Board Discuss Provision of Social and Emotional Services at Length
By Penny Williams   1-6-22

The Raymond School Board met Wednesday, January 5, and the most involved and lengthy discussion revolved around social and emotional services for students.

The discussion resulted from the presentation of Jessica Caron, Director of Student Behavioral Health who reviewed what the district has done to replace the YEES support services that were removed from the budget. The point was that students who have social and emotional problems are not going to be able to learn easily or well.

Caron noted that YEES had supported 14 students at the Iber Holmes Gove Middle School and the Raymond High School. YEES provided these students proactive check ins throughout the day. The YEES program provided daily contact with a student's family or caregiver. The YEES program provided de-escalation and crisis response as well as transportation as needed either of an emergency nature or a planned transportation.

Caron went over what has been done  for the YEES transition including reviews with YEES staff, classroom observations by Constellations Behavioral Associates  (CBA) staff, meetings with the community and discussions with caregivers as well the development of individualized transition plans for each student.

Contact was attempted with all the students families but only 8 of the 14 were successful. Tentative transition plans were developed and adjusted through the Student Intervention Teams. These plans will make the following support services and resources available including: Student Assistance Program Counselor, School Social Worker, Tier II Supports services; and, Seacoast Mental Health Clinic and FastFORWARD programs.

The point was made that students can't learn if they are stressed or upset or in need of social and emotional services. A balance is needed. Caron brought up the point that during this stressful and difficult time when staff and teacher shortages are severe, behavioral support people have had to pitch in and help with wherever is needed and this has a negative impact on the social and emotional and behavioral  support services.

It was suggested that social and emotional services need to be balanced with educational and physical services. Superintendent David DeRuosi suggested that ESSER funding, (which will be available through 2025) should be used to provide special CBA staff. In fact he suggested that two such people should be hired.

These people would not be educators, they would have different skills and have different work and schedules from teachers and other staff. They would be devoted strictly to providing the social and emotional support services for identified students need. The fact that Caron's survey had indicated that 1 in 4 students are at risk socially added to the sense of importance of this discussion.

There was a discussion regarding the training of teachers and staff with regard to social and emotional needs. Board member John Harmon suggested a special Professional Development Day should be devoted to providing this training and added to the calendar. He indicated that giving up one educational day for the improvement of social and emotion resources and provisions made good sense. The board, while not all on board, basically supported his suggestion.

DeRuosi said that for the overall social and emotional services program to work it needs to have all participants buy into it and that starts at the top he said, specifically with building principals. But for it to be successful, everyone has to buy in from teachers, staff and parents to administration.

The board thanked Caron for the review of the program and the measures she has developed and put in place to address student needs now that the YEES program has been eliminated.

The board discussed again whether vaccinated and unvaccinated students should be treated the same way. Board member Tony Clements noted he feels he can't have his child in the school if this isn't the way things are going to be handled because vaccinated students, who are not required to quarantine after an in-home exposure but test negative, allowed to be in school can still spread the disease.

There was a lengthy discussion with Clement and board member Dawn Leamer expressing their support for treating vaccinated and unvaccinated students the same with regard to quarantine while Harmon and Ada Vadeboncoeur  basically against that with Chair Joe Saulnier remaining quiet. In the end the board voted 3 to 2 against the motion to treat vaccinated and unvaccinated students the same so the Opening of School protocols remain the same.

Director of Safety & Facilities Todd Ledoux reviewed what projects his department has managed to accomplish. He indicated the water control issue at the high school and the safety wall at the high school had been completed. At Middle School the bathrooms are all now ADA compliant and air replacers have been implemented.

Despite being short staffed he said the ALICE training has been conducted and the day to day operations carried out. In addition, the exterior lights issue at the high school had been attended to again and were fixed.

Harmon went over the changes to the Raymond Education Association 3 year contract agreement that the REA has ratified. He indicated the first year of the three year contract would increase costs by 5 percent for the $409,659; the second year would increase costs by 1.5 percent for the $437,208; and, the  third year would increase costs by 3 percent for the $458,938 increase in costs. The board voted to ratify the agreement.

The board approved accepting a $1,000 donation to Raymond High School from Hannaford Helps Schools.

The board accepted the December 22, 2021 resignation of Raymond High School Special Education teacher Mark Belanger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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