SUPERINTENDENT Maureen Ward (center) meets with new Special Education Director Jennifer Katz-Borrin (left) and Spanish teacher Cheryl Wood. Elizabeth Cantrall. (click for larger version)
July 22, 2015ALTON — Alton Central School Board provided a time to meet and greet the recently hired administrators and directors before its regular monthly meeting.
Community members and fellow employees attended the event held in the Prospect Mountain High School library and introduced themselves to ACS Superintendent Maureen Ward, Principal Chris Blackstone, Special Education Director, Jennifer Katz-Borrin, Food Service Director Sam Cowan, Technology Director Bill Leonard and Vice-Principal Tom Waldron.
According to school board member Steve Miller, the school board recruited Ward by "talking her out of retirement."
Additionally he stated they had recruited Blackstone, with the help of former superintendent Bill Lander, originally for the job of vice-principal, but were impressed enough to ask she serve as principal instead.
Miller also stated Lander found Leonard, stating he is a "very knowledgeable, very talented individual; we are lucky to have him."
The school board met afterwards in the same room since Alton Central School is still undergoing construction.
School board chairperson Krista Argiropolis opened the meeting and began with public input.
Alton resident Carol Locke welcomed all of the new employees and stated they all seemed very "personable."
She also stated that while she was "pleased to see all the qualifications" these individuals possess, Locke was "dismayed" the search committee she had been a part of was not involved in any hiring.
Locke went on to state the "culture and climate at the school is at an all time low," and it does affect education of the students.
She noted the new administration has a lot of work ahead of them, but she hoped for healing, particularly among the faculty.
Former ACS principal and Alton resident Linda Wilman also spoke during public input.
Wilman stated she sent an e-mail to the school board, which she heard from a board member was "pathetic."
In an effort to hold the board to its desire to be transparent, Wilman said she would address the concerns stated in her e-mail in public input.
However, Wilman was quickly stopped by Argiropolis, as the topic became about personnel issues. Argiropolis offered Wilman the chance to schedule a non-public meeting with the board to discuss those concerns.
Wilman agreed and continued questioning why the school board rejected committee recommendations and hired outside of those recommendations.
"I hear lists of targeted people are being handed out to the new administration," stated Wilman saying if it was true then this was "shameful" and "retaliatory" and, furthermore, "could cause legal issues."
She cautioned the board that if they knew this to be true, they should "fix it."
"Our teachers need to know they are supported for their hard work and excellence," said Wilman.
Joan Cross, the president of the Alton Teachers' Association, also spoke briefly during public input, saying the teachers are ready to get to work.
Cross noted the teachers are very "tech savvy" and the students at ACS are "awesome students to work with."
She stated the teachers look forward to mending some wounds and working with the new administration and directors.
Ward stated it has been a "busy couple of weeks," but there were still a few teaching positions to fill.
She thanked Waldron for coming in and getting the school's safety report completed and turned in to the state on time.
Ward also thanked Pam Forbes for her work with organizing summer school, saying she did an excellent job.
Blackstone thanked folks for helping her become familiar with the construction project and changes being made as well as technology help in getting her set up.
Construction update/water update
Miller reported on the progress of school construction and water issues, stating he had "nothing but good news."
According to Miller the school will open on time and the projects are running under budget
He stated the cistern has been installed, which passed for the fire suppression system and it will be filled within the next two weeks.
Miller also stated the administrative wing and classroom wing under construction are "essentially finished."
The asbestos floor has been replaced and the locks and safety system have been upgraded.
Miller did state there is still a significant amount of landscaping to be done, the parking lot needs to be paved, and there are some modulars still on site, but they have been sold and are waiting on pick up.
"Somebody's paid for those modulars, we're thrilled to death," said Miller.
In other business the school board unanimously agreed to have the New Hampshire School Board Association review the district policy manual at a cost of $1,200.
Ward suggested the district use NHSBA to review the entire policy and make sure it is up to date with current law.
School board member Sandy Wyatt liked the idea, stating it was a better option than Ward spending hours reviewing them only to also have an attorney do the same.
The school board mentioned there was an auction scheduled to fund the ACS eighth grade trip to Washington, DC on July 18 at PMHS.
Ward stated that while this trip is not officially sanctioned by the school yet, she thinks it will be a great trip the students will remember and talk about forever.
The next regularly scheduled ACS school board meeting will be on Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. with the location to be determined due to construction work.