Governor Wentworth Regional School District Year in Review 2009
December 31, 2009
WOLFEBORO — 2009 marked a banner year for the Governor Wentworth Regional School District. Passing the school building bond was the first of many feats to be accomplished over the months that required the dedication, hard work, and overtime of staff, administration and board members alike. Here are some of the year's highlights.
The year 2008 concluded with the board's adoption of a proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 (July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010) equaling $40,417,485, a 4.68 percent overall budget increase and 4.99 percent general fund increase. Talk of a proposal for the Kingswood Complex Renovation/Expansion Project, which was anticipated to solve the middle school and high school space needs for the next 30 years, also began in 2008. By late December, the board approved a warrant article for the project for the March 2009 ballot with a net capital cost to be financed (after 75 percent Vocational Aid and 55 percent cooperative school district building aid on the remaining 25 percent) with a bond of $26,755, 228, to be repaid over 30 years.
The district held its annual Deliberative Session on Jan. 31 for a large turnout of interested and concerned residents.
The most ambitious of the approved warrant articles included a bond proposal for the Kingswood Complex Renovation/Expansion Project that asks voters to raise and appropriate $67,242,614 for new space and renovations to the high school, middle school and Region 9 Vocational-Technical Educational Center. The amount would cover all costs incurred during the project including construction and equipment. Overall the project drew wide support.
To best prepare for election day, the school board held several presentations on the building project throughout the district towns as well as for many area organizations and groups of interested citizens.
Later in the month, the district got a scare when it was announced by officials that Gov. John Lynch had cut out the anticipated 75 percent funding for the Regional Career and Technical Center renovations in his preliminary state budget, greatly affecting the Kingswood complex renovation and expansion project. The 55 percent building aid remained intact, however, so the board voted to go forward with plans, emphasizing that voters will only have to support those portions of the project for which state aid is received, therefore no greater impact to the taxpayer than what was presented would apply. Superintendent Jack Robertson maintained that it was more important than ever to pass the project as incentive for the governor to include the money in the budget. Robertson also wrote to the governor to express dismay about the news.
On March 10, voters overwhelmingly approved the school board's plan for a renovation and expansion of the Kingswood complex (2,954 to 999). The bond needed a 60 percent vote to pass and the school board's plan went through with 74.7 percent approval.
Also passed that day was Article III, seeking funds for a new roof on the Ossipee Central School gym; Article IV, for repairs and improvements for all of the district's buildings; Article V, approving a boundary line adjustment on the Kingswood complex allowing for Wolfeboro to install a cell tower on the water tower; and the district's operating budget. Wendi Fenderson was also voted in to serve three years as the new board member from New Durham, Jack Widmer was reelected to serve as the board's Tuftonboro representative, Ernie Brown was also voted to continue on the school board as a member-at-large and Randy Walker was also elected to another one-year term as moderator.
In the beginning of April, the Governor Wentworth Regional School District board approved calendars for the next two years designed to accommodate construction activity on the Kingwood renovation project. The goal of the changes was to maximize summer time, which is the period when students are not in the buildings at Kingswood and the renovation work can be done safely. Though the calendars for the two years fell short of the number of days required by the state, the proposed total hours of instruction met the standard because the schedule adds five minutes at the beginning of each day in 2009-2010 and 10 minutes a day in 2010-2011.
At a regularly-scheduled meeting, the board recognized three individuals for their service to the district. Former New Durham member Sheri Joy was recognized for her three years of outstanding service, Robertson was presented with a board proclamation recognizing him for his outstanding leadership and effort in getting the Kingswood renovation passed by nearly 75 percent of voters and for his efforts to get the vocational aid restored, and Assistant Superintendent Kathleen McCabe was also recognized for her efforts and dedication to the passage of the bond.
The building committee began meeting with the architects and agreed to approach the Kingswood project in two phases. The first phase was to include the new multipurpose building and athletic field reconstruction and would begin this fall. The second phase would include the high school and middle school reconstruction and would begin in May 2010.
Robertson reported that the legislature's Public Works Committee added back the vocational aid funding for Region 9 and one other district but has dropped regular school building aid from the capital budget.
Though the state building aid was in limbo, the building and maintenance committee soldiered on with regular meetings with the project architects Al Corzilius and Chip Krause regarding concerns and comments gathered by the committee from frequent meetings with staff, faculty and administration.
The district held a public hearing on the new Kingswood building on May 21. The building committee and architects took into consideration all the comments heard from the public as well as teachers and staff and moved forward with planning in greater detail. The board anticipated Phase I would be out to bid by September, aiming for completion by September 2010.
On May 28, the N.H. Senate approved the final budget, restoring state building aid to Governor Lynch's proposed level of $88 million (94.5 percent).
Nine retiring faculty and staff were recognized at a June 1 reception. Retirees included: Donna San Antonio, who served 25 years providing a supportive network for teens within the district; Susan Astle, a teacher's aide for 29 years; custodian Philip Thornton who worked in the district for 21 years; Fred Williams, a guidance counselor with the school system for 30 years; teacher Bob Coolidge, who taught many years at the high school; Deb Richter, a diagnostic prescriptive teacher at the New Durham School and psychologist for the district; Pat Allen, a sixth grade teacher at Ossipee Central; Donna Snow, who is finishing her 22nd year as a second grade teacher at Tuftonboro Central School; and Al Rose, who taught for 20 years at the middle school.
On June 13 the district graduated 199 students at a graduation ceremony held outdoors at Kingswood Regional High School.
Assistant Superintendent McCabe retired from the district after dedicating 19 years to Governor Wentworth schools.
The district was noticed by New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry, Ph.D. for its notable achievement of maintaining a very low, possibly non-existent, dropout rate.
Dr. McCabe was awarded a 2009 New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award, recognized by her colleagues for the work she has done for the district over the past 19 years, McCabe is the first recipient of The Dennise Maslakowski Phi Delta Kappa Education Award.
Though not a requirement, the Governor Wentworth Regional School District Building and Maintenance Committee presented the Wolfeboro Planning Board with the site plan design for the Kingswood renovation and expansion project Aug. 4, at the Wolfeboro Public Library. After discussions, the planning board agreed on six recommendations for the school district. Chair Jim Rines thanked the planning board for its recommendations and noted that their concerns would be duly considered by the district.
In planning Phase II, the committee agreed that it would continue to comply wherever it can with planning board regulations. The committee volunteered to return to the planning board when plans for Phase II are more concrete.
Tom Beaudette of Hopkinton was hired as the Clerk of the Works for the expansion and renovation project, to begin Oct. 1.
The school board hosted a reception for the new staff members working throughout the district Sept. 28 for the 19 positions which were filled at the start of the year.
The late Howard Bean Sr. of Wolfeboro was honored on Kingswood's Memorial Rock.
Charlene Seibel was nominated to again represent the board on the New Hampshire School Board Association (NHSBA).
Robertson informed the board of the administration's desire to attain CHPS certification for New Hampshire High Performance School status. If acquired, the district will receive an additional three percent in building aid (approximately $1.8 million). The certification process requires the district to meet many standards falling under the categories of Policy and Operations, Indoor Environmental Quality, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, as well as others. This means, Robertson concluded, that the board would be seeing many new policy recommendations and revisions in order to update the current standards.
Phase I of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District renovation and expansion project at the Kingswood complex went out to bid.
In respect to the building aid Robertson reported that the state continues to try to shift its obligations back to the local level. He reviewed a letter he submitted to a joint subcommittee of the House and Senate discussing building aid and emphasizes several issues, such as equality for students.
Widmer voiced his frustrations on behalf of the taxpayers. "We sold a bond in the good faith that the state would come through" with the money, he said. He asked that the taxpayers believe in what the board is trying to do. If building aid for existing projects is affected every school district in the state will feel its effects. "Voices will be quite loud if the state reneges on its past promises," Robertson stated.
Bidders from the select list include nine general contractors, five site contractors, five turf contractors and seven mechanical contractors. In addition, CMK Architects has provided 175 drawings for Phase I alone plus two volumes of specifics.
North Branch Construction, Inc. of Concord was awarded the bid for Phase 1 of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District's Kingswood Complex expansion and renovation project on Nov. 10.
A total of 12 qualification packages have been received for the next phase, Phase II, so far.
A groundbreaking ceremony for Phase I was held Dec. 2.
The board received news that the district would still be receiving the approved state building aid for the Kingswood complex renovation and expansion project.
Robertson explained that the district came in "just under the wire." The Kingswood complex renovation and expansion project funding will remain intact.
The board voted to adopt a preliminary budget for the fiscal year 2011 budget for July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 with a 3.01 percent increase ($977,552) for the district assessment.
In an effort to control budget growth, the committee and administration announced it would be employing several techniques including an overall workforce reduction by 2.1 percent (through normal attrition and cutbacks in part-time positions), consolidation of class sections at all grade levels, employing no new positions, maintaining class sizes at or below state averages, and meeting all IEP requirements.
Phase I of the Kingswood complex renovation and expansion project continued to progress steadily. North Branch Construction has "been right at it," reported Robertson on the progress so far.
Phase II site work is anticipated to begin in late April or early May.
The school board meets for its first meeting of 2010 on Monday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Vocational Center.
The Deliberative Session for March 2010 town elections is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30, at 10 a.m. in the high school auditorium.