School board endorses PTO proposal
Couch appointed as Chairman; Beijer named vice chair
March 29, 2010
BARNSTEAD — School board members gave their blessing last week to a proposal from Principal Tim Rice to establish a new Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at Barnstead Elementary School.
Explaining during the board's March 23 meeting that the school's former Parent Teacher Association (PTA) disbanded last year due to a lack of participation at its last few meetings, which made it impossible to elect new officers, Rice said he had seen growing support for a new organization at "principal's coffees" and other social events held at the school over the past few months.
"We've made significant progress," he said, adding that he had researched the rules and regulations for creating a PTO and felt that enough seed money had been gathered through donations at a recent dinner to move forward.
Although organizers could technically have gone ahead without the board's consent, Rice felt that an official endorsement from the board would go a long way toward drumming up support.
Agreeing with Rice that reviving a parent-teacher organization would be a positive move for the school, the board voted unanimously to support the idea.
In keeping with tradition, the board started off last week's meeting (its first since this year's elections) by appointing new officers.
Former vice chair Keith Couch was named as the new Chairman, while Diane Beijer assumed the position of vice chair.
Board member Kathy Preston was appointed to the position of Secretary, in which capacity she will be assigned to take minutes whenever the board's recording secretary is absent.
Adopting a practice used by the school his own children attend, Rice announced last week that at the end of each sports season, he will now present the board with a report identifying the athletes who also managed to earn spots on the Barnstead Elementary honor roll.
The correlation between participation in sports and high achievement on the honor roll during the Winter season, he said, was "pretty amazing," with 92 percent of male athletes in grades five and six and 85 percent in grades seven and eight making the honor roll, while 97 percent of female athletes in grades five and six and 87 percent in grades seven and eight earned high marks in the classroom, as well.
Board member Eunice Landry commented that her children had always performed better in the classroom when they were involved in athletics because participation in sports gave them structure.
While she appreciated Rice's efforts to recognize the school's scholar-athletes, Preston urged him not to place too much emphasis on sports at the expense of students' achievements in the arts.
Following up on the confusion that arose during this year's annual School District Meeting about how many students are currently housed at Barnstead Elementary, Rice reported that as of March 16, a total of 526 students were enrolled.
That number, however, has gone up slightly since then, he said, adding that another new face would be joining the school the following Monday (March 29).
Beijer asked whether Rice had an estimate as to how many home schoolers might be planning to enroll their children in middle school in the fall.
Rice said he did not yet have that information available, as home schoolers do not usually start coming in for tours of the building until later in the spring.
Superintendent William Compton commented that residents from surrounding communities, such as Pittsfield and Gilmanton, have recently begun showing an interest in transferring their children to Barnstead due to dissatisfaction with their own school systems.
Asked whether the new enrollees were concentrated in any one particular grade level, Rice said they were "spread out" across all grades.
Technology audit results
Updating the board on the status of the Technology audit recently completed by the Nashua-based Single Source Group (SSG), Compton reported that the audit revealed a major issue with the school's "sonic wall" (a form of Internet security), which he said is causing the entire system to "slow down considerably."
Business Administrator Amy Ransom added that the product currently in use simply can't handle the volume of usage it is currently experiencing at the elementary school.
Compton said the SAU office had received a proposal for an alternative system, but planned to get through the rest of the year with the current system.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board approved the hiring of a new boys' track coach; accepted a letter of retirement, with regret, from a Title I tutor; and accepted a letter of resignation, effective at the end of the current school year, from middle school Language Arts teacher Jacquelyn Blanchette.
The board also approved a series of new policies pertaining to the Grading System, Promotion and Retention of Students, and Changing of Student Grades, and learned from Special Education Director Anna Williams that a new paraprofessional will have to be hired by April 5 for an autistic student newly enrolled in the fourth grade who needs a one-to-one.
The board's next meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 13, at 6 p.m. in the elementary school media center.
Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org