BROOKFIELD town office meeting room was the site of the first meeting of the school year for the Governor Wentworth Regional School District on Monday, Aug. 11. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
August 14, 2014BROOKFIELD — The Governor Wentworth Regional School District board held is first meeting of the upcoming school year in the Brookfield town offices last Monday, Aug. 11.
Brookfield is the smallest town in the six-town district and is the only town without an elementary school of its own. Brookfield elementary students go to Carpenter and Crescent Lake schools in Wolfeboro.
Brookfield Town Treasurer Marilou MacLean addressed the board during the first public comment section of the meeting, saying she was speaking for herself and not as treasurer. She asked if a system of equal monthly payments of tax assessments could be adopted, explaining that the town pays the district more than $1 million a year and that when half of the tax receipts money owed to the district falls due in June, the town simply does not have the money.
District Business Administrator Mary Patry said that the school board can set when payments are made and what amount. She said the subject of level funding has come up before but deserves another review. Effingham board member Tim Eldridge said his town has the same problem.
Also during public comment Nancy Reynolds addressed the board, saying she had concerns "about things going on at Crescent Lake [School]." She said she had talked with the principal, Jackleen Roberts, and tried to reach someone at the district administrative offices. Superintendent Kathy Cuddy-Egbert asked Reynolds to call and meet with her about the matter.
Brittany Dube of Alton, together with Effingham Elementary teacher Kyra Dulmage and two Kingswood High summer interns, Carly Sedler of Wolfeboro and Hannah Newbury of Ossipee, gave a presentation to the board on the R.A.I.N. Haiti project. R.A.I.N. stands for Real Action for International Need and it involves art exchange as well as projects to help others plan for and achieve sustainable futures.
The Haiti project involves helping students, teachers and parents at Betel School in Haiti to deal with issues such as a lack of clean water and a lack of educational resources. R.A.I.N. produced a video to teach hand washing to Haitian students using the water filtration system they provided and also helped the adults there set up their own school board and create a long term plan. When they began first working in Haiti, Dube said, the adults answered the question, "Do you think you can become independent and self-sustaining without foreign aid" with a "No." Now after two trips to Haiti the answer is "Yes," as people see ways they can take control of their own situation and make a difference.
A third trip in February is planned and Carly and Hannah are helping with the fundraiser of the trip, The Taste of Winnipesaukee, set for Sunday, Aug. 24 at the Wolfeboro Inn lakeside lawn from 4 to 7 p.m, – a gourmet competition between restaurants and chefs around the lake.
More information about R.A.I.N. can be found at www.betherain.org. The handwashing video will be posted on the school district website, www.govwentworth.k12.nh.us.
Cuddy-Egbert brought the board up-to-date on district developments since the last meeting in June. The two-day Administrators Retreat, held each July and organized by Assistant Superintendent Heather Cummings, gave staff the chance to set goals for the coming school year and review how many of last year's goals were achieved. There will be workshops this year on bullying and sexual harassment. Also teacher evaluations will be enhanced to include student learning objectives: it was agreed that the current evaluation system is very close to where it should be.
Eight areas were identified for administrator evaluations as well.
Business Administrator Patry did a lot of research on alternatives to the current notification system which ran as late as 8 p.m. getting out notices to parents. The replacement will be School Messenger, which should be a major improvement. The only feature lacking at present is texting, and the vendor is working on that. Also the new program offers better support when there are problems.
Cuddy-Egbert reviewed the key dates for the opening of the 2004-15 school year:
Monday, Aug. 25, will be orientation day for new staff members.
Tuesday, Aug. 26, will be an inservice day for all staff
Wednesday, Aug. 27 will also be an inservice day as well as a "jump start" day for high school freshmen.
Thursday, Aug. 28 will also be an inservice day for staff and the elementary schools will hold open houses.
Tuesday, Sept. 2 will be the first day of school for all students.
Cuddy-Egbert reported that the Technology Plan for the district was updated in June. The Technology Task Force has set six goals for integrating technology into the curriculum, including professional tech development for teachers so they can share lesson plans online and fully integrating Google aps. Consideration is being given to BYOD (bring your own device) to increase the use of computers at school within the district's budget limitations. Cuddy-Egbert credit Rick Davidson with doing a great job on the plan.
Also reviewed were the ongoing flu vaccination program run by the Carroll County Coalition for Public Health (parental permission required), and foreign exchange students (three this year).
Board member Jack Widmer reported that the N.H. School Boards Association is looking for new board members and that he is serving his last year on the executive board of the association.
Board member Ernie Brown reported on the State of Education in New Hampshire, citing statistics in the July issue of BusinessNH magazine. While Midwest schools have the highest SAT scores, the sample is based on only six percent of students while in New England it is 65 to 95 percent. New Hampshire had the highest scores in New England: 28 points higher than the national average on critical reading, 14 points higher on math, and 27 points higher on writing. "We should take great pride in our teachers," Brown concluded.
Brown also reported that three companies submitting bids to do an energy analysis of school buildings will make presentations on Sept. 3 at 4 p.m. at the SAU 49 office. Copies of the proposals are available at the office.
The next meeting of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District board will be on Monday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Lakes Region Technology Center.