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Joyce Endee

Wakefield explores possibility of joining school district

District approves draft tuition proposal for Middleton

November 15, 2012
TUFTONBORO — Build it and they will come. This philosophy seems to have some bearing for the Governor Wentworth Regional School District since the completion of the Kingswood complex renovation and expansion project this past fall.

In recent weeks the school board has heard from not one, but two surrounding districts interested in becoming more involved in Governor Wentworth to varying degrees.

Having heard first from Middleton school board regarding the possibility of a tuition agreement between the two districts that would enable Middleton's seventh through 12th grade students to attend Kingswood Middle and High schools, at its Nov. 5 meeting the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board heard of another request, this time from Wakefield School District, asking about the likelihood of its becoming a part of the already largest geographical school district in the state.

Superintendent Jack Robertson reported to the board that in a meeting between himself, Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert and SAU 64 Superintendent Jay McIntire talk of Wakefield potentially becoming a part of Governor Wentworth was brought up as requested, said McIntire, by the Wakefield School Board.

The idea, as in times past when it has been broached, did not initiate much interest amongst the school board members who agreed that they were not interested at this point in adding another town to the district.

"Given the cooperative formula [of Governor Wentworth] and so forth," said Robertson of adding a seventh town to the district, "it would really raise havoc with all the dynamics."

Currently Wakefield School District has an area agreement with Rochester to send high school students to Spaulding High, but is allowed to send a few tuition students each year to Kingswood. The board agreed that it was content with continuing the existing arrangement and would even entertain the idea of expanding upon the tuition-based enrollment if that was something Wakefield would be interested in discussing down the line.

Board members asked that Robertson contact the Wakefield School Board in regard to this decision.

Though the board may not be interested in adding a new membership town to the district it is considering adding tuition students from Middleton.

In response to the Middleton School Board if Governor Wentworth would consider accepting Middleton's middle and high school students on a tuition basis, the Governor Wentworth board requested that Robertson draft an abstract of what such a contract might look like.

Robertson provided board members with the conceptual document and highlighted some of its stipulations.

The tuition agreement and agreed annual tuition rate would cover specific costs pertaining to regular programs offered, including special education and classes taken at the Lakes Region Technology Center, explained Robertson.

Calculated according to many variables, an estimated annual flat fee of $30,000 would be required of Middleton in order to cover a host of services said the Superintendent. The tuition rate for both the middle school and high school students would be set at approximately $10,651.77 per pupil and would be adjusted on an annual basis according to changes in the general fund budget.

This agreement, said Robertson, is favorable for Middleton compared to its current area agreement with Farmington, which is due to expire.

If taken into effect, possibly beginning with the 2014-15 academic school year, Governor Wentworth could possibly generate upwards of $1.4 million in revenues.

However potentially beneficial to both the students and the district as a whole, a tuition agreement would not just be a simple matter of two parties signing a document. A lot of detail and administrative coordination beyond what goes on in the classrooms would need to take place in order to facilitate a successful partnership. Items such as student record keeping, administrative support, student discipline, and extra costs due to situations beyond the agreement such as the use of one-on-one aides or out-of-district placement would all have to be considered.

As a very preliminary step the board approved that Robertson take the example abstract to Middleton in order to facilitate further discussion.

Other news

Blizzard bags have been distributed district-wide and should be lying in wait at students' homes for that fateful first snow day.

"The teachers have done just a phenomenal job," Cuddy-Egbert said of the corresponding online sites created by each grade level and department, "they're just terrific."

An announcement as to if a snow day will be utilized as a blizzard bag day will be included in the Alert Now message received by parents during inclement weather.

The board approved two student trips at the high school level that are scheduled to take place this spring.

Felice Carr, World Language Department Head at Kingswood, proposed a three-day field trip to New York City. Intended to broaden student exposure to cultures and languages, the itinerary included attending French and Spanish plays, eating at Cuban and French restaurants, visiting the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library as well as The Cloisters Museum and Gardens and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Participating students would also get to view the 9/11 memorial, visit Ellis Island and the Trump Tower as well as several distinct chapels. The trip, slated to take place mid-March, is open to all students and fundraising options will be provided to those interested.

Invited by the Souhegan High School baseball team to join them on a trip to Bradenton, Fla. during which they'll get to listen to speakers, meet minor league baseball players, participate in community service work, and of course, play ball, the Kingswood boys varsity baseball team will travel in April.

The next meeting of the full school board will be on Monday, Dec. 3 at Carpenter School beginning at 7 p.m.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
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