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Board to address 'unclear' petition tonight


February 09, 2011
The School Board is hoping that tonight's Deliberative Session will shed some light on the petitioned warrant article that attempts to change the district's administrative structure, deciding Monday night not to vote on it until they have a complete understanding of its intent.

The board also asked for advice from legal counsel, who said the article can be advisory only.

The article alludes to the taxpayers' majority vote back in 1998, when Gilford withdrew from SAU 30, including Gilmanton and Laconia to form a single district. While taxpayers voted on behalf of this separation from SAU 30 and for the formation of a contrasting administrative structure, which did not call for the position of the superintendent, School Board members at the time decided this structure would not be in the best interest of Gilford or its students.

The Gilford School District has since run similarly to many surroundings schools, including an implemented superintendent position. The article asks that the School District go back to their previously proposed structure, which would omit the superintendent position.

Gilford Superintendent of Business Scott Isabelle said Monday night that legal counsel informed him that the legislative body cannot direct the School District to take on a different structure, even if the article passes this March.

"If the warrant passed, it would be viewed as an advisory only," said Isabelle.

Isabelle also pointed out that the article has not been satisfactorily explained.

"The sponsors at the hearing did not speak to this issue or explain what this is all about. We are not completely sure what this plan is that we are voting on," he said.

While School Board members had considered voting against the warrant, they decided to wait on an official vote until after the School District's deliberative session tonight to make sure they completely understand what they're voting on.

While sponsors have said this asks the district to follow through with a change in administrative structure, proposed and voted on in 1998, some members felt somewhat differently.

"I think the intent is that there was a plan in place to function without a superintendent. We need to make sure it's clear that the School Board at the time had never approved this," said Chair of the School Board Kurt Webber. "Also, from what we know so far, no one other district our size functions without a superintendent."

In other news, Superintendent Paul DeMinico informed the board that Lakes Region superintendents have joined together to discuss school schedules changes. While members of the School Board have expressed concern with an annual mid-February vacation and its affect on students, DeMinico and area superintendents are looking to take the discussion one step further and look at long term, "global elements."

"All the superintendents had opinions and personal preferences, and we are currently working toward a research based calendar and discussing what makes a good instructional calendar," said DeMinico.

He said this discussion will be readdressed in the spring and ideas could even be implemented in next school year's calendar for 2012-2013, focused on studies that point to the best schedule for student instructional enhancement.

DeMinico said area superintendents have even considered the option of taking on a year-round structure in future years.

School Board member Paul Blandford said he had some concerns over this "global" discussion, and felt that the point of addressing February vacation and its potentially negative impact on finals, which follow February vacation, should be the first focus of discussion.

DeMinico countered that there should be no reason that operational issues and global issues could not be discussed at the same time. He said the discussions only differ in the fact that one is focused on current schedule changes versus long term schedules, which both aim to benefit student instruction in the end.

School Board member Sue Allen, working closely with the current superintendent search committee, informed that board that the superintendent search is still well underway. Candidates Night, with the four remaining candidates, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the Gilford High School cafeteria.

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