2013 Year in Review - Part I

Busy year at PMHS

by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
December 27, 2013
ALTON — Prospect Mountain High School welcomed a new assistant principal during the summer and celebrated another successful graduation in June.

In January, the school board approved to withdraw $13,623 for the improvement of instruction fund and to withdraw $92,452 to repair the fire suppression system from the general maintenance fund. There is a lawsuit involving the fire suppression system that is going towards mediation currently and may go to court eventually.

A question was raised about housing seventh and eighth grade students at PMHS, and Principal Jay Fitzpatrick said it would be possible and it would be tight fit. Member Keith Couch pointed out it is something to consider if enrollment numbers continue to decrease.

The board approved changes to the curriculum, and Fitzpatrick said many of the classes were new offerings and some replaced other classes that would no longer be offered.

During the meeting in February, Fitzpatrick reviewed the NECAP scores from the fall. Later in the year, it was determined that these scores wouldn't be used in determining Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) after the state of the New Hampshire received a waiver from No Child Left Behind. A total of 131 juniors were tested, and the students scored higher than that state average and higher than many of the local area schools.

At the beginning of the meeting, a presentation was given by the robotics team, which planned to compete with its robot "Bob" at the U.S. First competition.

In March, Kathy Grillo was elected to a three-year position on the Barnstead School Board, Couch was elected to a one-year position and Krista Argiropolis and Carlos Martinez were elected to the Alton School Board. In April, Superintendent Bob Cullison welcomed the new members and thanked Jeff St. Cyr and Kathy Preston for their time on the board.

Eunice Landry was chosen as the Chair, Arigiropolis was selected as the Vice-Chair and Maureen Fitzpatrick was chosen as the secretary.

The board approved 25 boiler plate polices at the meeting. Member Steve Miller questioned the policy on drug use, which was tabled. He also questioned the policy regarding weapons on campus. He attempted to amend the policy but his motion received no second. The board agreed to create a separate policy regarding restraints.

The board approved transferring $6,000 for repairs on the baseball field and a $23,000 fund transfer to support the vocational school.

During a school board meeting on April 16, Miller again voiced concern about the policy regarding weapons. The board discussed the roof repairs that needed to be done, which will be quite costly. Cullison reported that at the time, 97 of 119 seniors had been accepted to college or a secondary program.

During the school board meeting in May, several students gave a presentation about taking part in the Project Citizen program. The students chose to study the grading policy at PMHS and the hope to change it to a universal policy.

The school board was provided with a new vision statement by the vision team. The new vision was stated: "To be a collaborative educational community that provides constantly evolving in the 21st century for all."

The vision was presented as of a three- to five-year plan that included a vertically and horizontally aligned curriculum.

Jason Hills, the technology director, came before the board to discuss hard drives that were erased on some of the school's computers. The school used the services of a data recovery company that the vendor ultimately paid for, but the board approved emergency funds if they were needed.

Member Terri Noyes reported that work on the softball and baseball fields would be done by the teams, which would save the school a lot of money.

On June 4, the board received a report from Tamara Roberts on the audit. Roberts reported that many of the errors were connected to previous reports. She gave a lot of credit to Susan Dillon, the business administrator for putting in extra hours.

The board approved $21,000 to outfit a new science lab and $1,100 for new math textbooks, with funds to come from the fund balance.

Dillon estimated that there would be about $75,000 in the fund balance at the time.

On June 14, a total of 118 graduates accepted diplomas and celebrated their graduation.

In July, the school board approved the hiring of Ryan Gilpatrick as the new assistant principal. Gilpatrick was previously teaching English at PMHS prior to his move over to the administrative side.

The timing and payment of Barnstead's payment for the assessment was discussed in length by the board. Landry explained that the improvement of instruction fund was funded twice and that that assessment was reduced by this amount. Noyes and Landry went back and forth on the issue. Ultimately, the board agreed to return $15,810 back to the Alton School Board for overpayment of the assessment.

Fitzpatrick reported that 17 students were retained during the school year and given option for summer school. He also talked about the fact that AYP wouldn't be determined after the State of New Hampshire received a waiver for No Child Left Behind. The board approved hiring Andy Callahan as the new facilities director.

During its meeting in August, the board welcomed Gilpatrick as the new assistant principal. The board reviewed and approved a new policy on student transportation. The board agreed that the new policy needed to be broadcast to coaches, parents and athletes. Under the new policy, a school vehicle is required to transport students at all times unless permission is granted otherwise.

During its September meeting, members of the boys' varsity soccer team came out in support of Cory Halvorsen to remain as a voluntary coach.

Fitzpatrick later explained that Halvorsen was a volunteer coach and that he wasn't paid for his help in coaching the team.

Member Sandy Wyatt reported that at the time, the fund balance was approximately $122,000.

Noyes talked about the cost of repairing the roof. She reported that a new metal roof would cost nearly $1 million. The board accepted the resignation of Dillon as the business administrator after holding a non-public session to discuss the issue.

In October, Fitzpatrick reported that the recent History Club field trip to Gettyburg was a success.

The board approved the bid of R&K Landscaping for $29,400 for snowplowing.

Noyes talked about the ongoing work on the fields being done by the baseball and softball teams and thanked the volunteers for their work.

Janice Rice voiced her concerns about the curriculum and said she was still waiting for a response from the board. She had attended several meetings and was disappointed that actions had not been taken regarding alternates to the curriculum and online classes.

During the November meeting, Cullison reported that students had started getting acceptance letters to colleges and universities. Names are posted to a bulletin board in the school when acceptances come in.

Fitzpatrick talked about the food drive that collected 1,400 items that were donated to the communities of Alton and Barnstead.

The board ratified a phone poll to perform temporary repairs on the roof at a cost of $6,000. Miller questioned the policy of using a phone poll and wanted to get a legal opinion.

In December, the board agreed to add the funding to support Project Search at PMHS. After comments from Mark Bingham and students, the board voted to support the program at a total cost of $11,400.

The board also accepted health insurance increases, and the bottom line for the 2015 budget was approved totaling $7,370,107.

They talked about the warrant articles and discussed the failure of the fire suppression system. There was discussion about drafting an article that would allow money from a court settlement to be added to back in to the maintenance budget.

The board discussed the roof issues with Callahan. The school could repair the shingled roof at a cost of $600,000, but this would have to be done five times in the next 100 years. Miller suggested and the board agreed to build a metal roof at a cost of approximately $1 million. The board discussed raising a bond or getting a loan to pay for it, and Cullison said he would look into the issue.

Miller was appointed to the budget committee, as Argiropolis recently stepped down from her position. Miller requested that member Diane Beijer apologize for her actions at a budget committee meeting November. He questioned the policy of having the chair appoint members to the committee and asked for it to be discussed at a future meeting.

During public input, Rice again voiced her complaint about the board not addressing her concerns. Argiropolis said she sent Rice an update. Rice said she still had many questions and felt the board had continued to ignore her concerns.

Tim Croes can be reached at or 569-3126

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