2022 Raymond School Board Meetings

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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