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School board pleased with high attendance on Columbus Day

First complete pass at the 2012-13 budget will be at Dec. 5 meeting

October 27, 2011
BROOKFIELD — For the first time in a long time the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board held a monthly board meeting in Brookfield, the only town in the school district without an elementary school (Brookfield students attend Carpenter and Crescent Lake Schools in Wolfeboro).

Board member and Brookfield resident Ernie Brown's wife Susan displayed the town's trademark hospitality by making homemade cookies for everyone to enjoy. The full board met on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in the town offices building, a short trip that another board member from Brookfield, Dr. James Manning, said he rather enjoyed.

Superintendent Jack Robertson began the meeting by saying that he was pleased with the turnout during the unanticipated school day on Columbus Day.

Given the late September start for both the high school and middle school modifications were made to the academic calendar to ensure that state standards were met. This meant that students at both schools were required to attend class on what was for the rest of the district a day off due to the holiday.

"I'm grateful for the wonderful attendance ratio and everyone involved," he said of the 87 percent attendance at the high school and 86 percent at the middle school, though he admitted, "having to take a holiday is not easy."

While the Kingswood Complex building project may have been to blame for the schedule change, Jim Rines, School Board and building and maintenance committee member, reported that work at the site is currently on schedule.

One major milestone was that the middle school gymnasium was given the okay for a certificate of occupancy, which will allow the high school volleyball team a chance to play some home games this year.

The joint effort and planning of North Branch Construction and Athletic Director Andrea Ogden were responsible for this accomplishment, said Brown.

"We're slowly closing the gap on these things and it's exciting to see it happen," he commented.

Other major work being done includes parking lot construction, brick and roof work, and window installation.

"The plan," Robertson said, "is to make sure the entire shell is buttoned in before winter so we don't have to pay for any winter conditions out there."

With a reduced workforce of 120 and November approaching fast, North Branch Construction employees have their work cut out for them once again.

The school board, already "knee deep into budget season," reviewed a tentative budget timeline for the district.

After meeting with the administration and each of the building principals, the preliminary adoption of the budget is scheduled to occur at the board's Dec. 5 meeting. The final adoption will follow on Jan. 2 and the school district's Deliberative Session has been planned for Saturday, Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. Town elections will be held the following month on March 13.

Stacy Trites updated the board on some of the things currently being worked on at Academic Affairs committee meetings.

Trites informed the board that the district's technology task force has taken on the topic of "blizzard bags" and has begun investigating whether or not their use will be a possibility for the district. The idea is to be able to provide students with lessons they can access from home in the event that a snow storm closes the schools.

The first step in doing this will be a survey sent out to staff and families to assess Internet accessibility, as online work could be a major component to the implementation of blizzard bags.

If it's discovered that the vast majority of the students and staff have Internet access the team will work with teachers to develop lesson plans that must be in line with the curriculum. Because of the time it will take to develop appropriate take-home work, even if "blizzard bags" are deemed by the task force to be a good way to make "snow days" count, the program will most likely not be ready for this academic year.

Trites said that the Director of Curriculum, Heather Cummings, has been working tirelessly to transition the district from the Grade Level Expectations system to the Common Core State Standards assessment system adopted by the state about a year ago. In doing so Cummings has been collaborating with staff and teachers at each grade level and talking with the University of New Hampshire in order to assess what it requires for college readiness.

The goal is to have the high school in line with the Common Core assessment before the state's mandated implementation date of 2014-15 school year.

Trites said this work is in line with the district's ongoing development of the competency-based work and assessment.

A Student Recognition Committee has been formed and given the job of pinpointing what the district would like to encourage in its students and how it can best recognize individuals for their hard work. The crux of it all, explained Trites, is "how do we inspire all students to do their best and then recognize them for it?" Rather than simply an honor roll-type recognition, the committee is looking at components of the current Kingswood Scholar Program for ideas.

The Middle School restructuring team, created as a result of its Schools In Need of Improvement standing, is in the implementation phase meaning it is outlining tasks to be completed in each goal area and devising timelines for completion.

The High School Student Advancement Team, made up of faculty and parents, is looking at what the school is doing to provide students with opportunities needed to succeed. Though students aren't doing particularly badly, the group would like to provide a program that could help each individual achieve at a higher level.

Lastly Trites reported that the implementation of Google Apps has been a more demanding process for the Information Technology staff than anticipated, but will hopefully be ready by mid-November. Google Apps for Education is a free suite of hosted e-mail and collaboration applications designed exclusively for schools and universities, according to the Google Apps for Education Web site.

The Governor Wentworth Regional School Board will meet next at Tuftonboro Central School on Monday evening, Nov. 7, beginning at 7 p.m.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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