Liz Faria voiced her opinion that the remaining $500,000 unspent funds for CMS renovation be applied to the 1st bond payment.
Phil Jackson thanked several democrat organizations that helped with the latest school board elections.
Exeter High School student Sophia (senior) discussed the latest ongoing events at EHS. DEIJ senate subcommittees continue.
Two 6th grade students from CMS talked about great things going on at CMS, and a sophomore student from SST/EHS discussed his involvement in the Pre-Engineering program and upcoming involvement in the Computer Science program.
Superintendent Ryan announced the resignation of Matt Lobdell, SST automotive teacher. There will be discussion of a leave of absence and a parent issue concerning a student to occur during a non-public session. He also shared his nomination of a French teacher candidate at the high school. He reported that the candidate has a lot of varied experience, and has already met with Principal Monahan and the world language staff. Board members voted to accept the resignation and hiring. Ryan said that he would contact the candidate (Jennifer Jacoby, currently teaching in Epping).
Ryan then discussed how at CMS there is an increase in students that are requiring additional services. This increase in additional services arose after the budget process for next year was voted on. Some students could qualify for an out of district placement; however, that is costly, so the goal is to service these kids in our schools rather than referring them out. There are currently 16 case managers at CMS and they would like to add one more. Since this position was not budgeted for next year, they will need to use money from the special ed trust fund (balance is currently $531,000.) This position would be at a cost of $105,000 (salary and benefits), and included in the operating budget. Helen Joyce asked if this was an immediate hire or for the fall - for the fall, and the position would then be added to the FY2024 budget. Kimberly Meyer asked if they have to access the trust fund, would they have the ability to replenish it with unassigned funds. Joyce said the replenishment was normally done with a warrant article. Ryan wants it to be reflected in the minutes that they would like to use money from the special education trust fund for this position.
Mike Monahan-EHS: Kids in Government Club, Theater and Spanish have accomplished some great things. SAT occurred in March with no issues. Recently a speaker came to speak to Juniors and Seniors about healthy choices and healthy relationships, and he reported that it was very well received and very outstanding. On Thursday, 4/21, there will be a college and career fair at EHS.
Eris Hersey-CMS: They recently had a 7th grade activity night, and the kids that participated had such joy. She remarked how it was nice to be getting back to what it should be. She reported that SASS testing is going on right now. They recently had an iReady data dinner where district K-8th grade test scores were looked at and shown on a quadrant graph. She expects most kids to be at grade level next year. On May 5th, at 10:30 am, a Holocaust survivor will speak to the 7th grade class, and the Governor will be at the school at that presentation. All are invited to attend.
Slifka asked how CMS was doing with their substitutes (Video Link - 51:02). Hersey reported that it is still a struggle and that Mondays and Fridays are the worst. There are still classes in the auditorium, but the kids were doing well with it. She reported that last Friday there were 12 classes in the auditorium, but that “you wouldn't have heard a pin drop because they were all so involved in doing their work.” She reported that yesterday (Monday, 4/18) there were 18 people out and only 3 subs, and that last Friday (4/15) there were 37 people out. She said they were doing the best that they can with what they have, but there is a shortage. Mondays and Fridays are the days that a large number of staff call out.
Sharon Wilson-SST: They recently had the State Visit Day at SST. It went well but they will have to wait on reports for findings. They have 753 kids enrolled next year and this is the largest class in about 10 years, and a good distribution with all of the programs. Some programs have strong waiting lists. They plan to have an accepted students meeting for students and parents in June. Last week 96 students were inducted into the National Technical Honor Society.
Mollie OKeefe: There had been an issue of checks going out before they had been approved by a board member. Mr. Gauthier is now approving checks before they leave. Grants are all housed in the SAU, but their audit suggests that they be moved to each individual district because the owners of the grants are in each individual district. She reported that this process was going to take time because they need updated software since the current software will not support that. Expenses have increased just recently because there has been an increase of school supplies being ordered; however, there is a large surplus in the budget ($2.8 million) because there are many positions not filled.
District Clerk and District Treasurer are being filled by the same people for the upcoming year.
Paul Bauer asked that administrators reconsider school dances for the future, (Video Link- 1:07:50). He stated that it seems unfair to not hold these events because of negative ongoing events that took place in 2015. Joyce remarked that before Covid she remembered meeting with Mr. Monahan about this issue and the concern was the large number of students that had to be chaperoned. So at the time suggestions were made to break them up to smaller sizes and get assistance from parents to chaperone. She remarked that it wasn’t a board decision, but to open the conversation for the fall. Ms. Hersey stated that they do these at CMS by grade level, and that it comes down to chaperones. Mr. Monahan stated that this could be looked into and considered with changes to how they were run years prior (lights on, separated by grades), as 850 kids in a darkened cafeteria were a recipe for disaster. All agree that these events are only possible with chaperones.
Joyce recently had a productive meeting with Great Bay Charter School (gbecs) on 4/13. They discussed fundraising, the lease agreement and plans for the future. She reported that in regards to the lease agreement, they agreed that if something would happen so that gbecs could not use the Tuck building, they will have one school year’s notice to find a new location. For fundraising, she reported that gbecs has done a wonderful job and that they would like to hold a brunch for board members on May 26th (around 8:45 am) to see their program in action. Peter Stackhouse (principal at gbecs) will have the financials and a list of their needs and Joyce asked for them to have this by mid-September.
Finance-Travis Thompson: re-elected chair again. Thompson reiterated from O’Keefe’s report that there is $2.3 million projected in remaining expenses, a significant proportion because of unfilled positions. However, both CMS and EHS are short of about 20 special ed aids, which is stretching the team very thin. He reported that they expect around $3.3-3.4 million unassigned fund balance to be returned to taxpayers. He also reported about a government extension emergency connectivity fund, which was designed for district reimbursements for remote learning. He reported that they are looking into this program for both freshman Chromebooks and faculty devices; however, there are hooks since it is a government program, as you have to purchase, pay, receive and may or may not get reimbursed for devices. But he said it was worth a shot to see if they could get reimbursed. Richard Pratt (EHS) was looking into this program to extend it into Fall 2023
Facilities-Paul Bauer: re-elected as chair. Blue Hawk house (100% funded through grants) is ahead of schedule, since the majority of work is being done in house. Seacoast School of Technology roof replacement will begin two weeks after school ends (since it is a noisy project) and it will be finished before school begins. CMS renewal project: it is essentially complete at this point - the second elevator was built smaller than plans called for without approval, but it was reimbursed by the architect. So there is $500,000 left from the project. Bauer agreed that this needs to go towards CMS, first being the bond payment that needs to be paid, and that any decisions should go through the coop board. Bauer also discussed the CMS sign project, as there are no signs in front of the building. He asked Mr. Lister to look into this and received renderings from Summit Signs. From the two options, the preferred was $3950 and a portion of the $500,000 could be used for this. A motion was made for this and Slifka asked if other bids had been made. None had been done. Board voted to go ahead, with only Slifka voting “no.”
Personnel, Policy & Communications- Bill Gauthier is chair, but was not at the meeting. Before discussing policies, Ryan asked the board to add two dates to the P, P & C calendar. They have 3 administrative searches presently, and he would like to have a meet and greet and interviews so they can nominate the 3 candidates: May 10th, 5:30, at the SAU office for a new CMS curriculum administrator and assistant director of special education; May 17th, 5:30, at EHS for an assistant principal at CMS. Ryan also remarked that around this time of year the board typically gives the superintendent’s office permission to offer employment contracts for teachers over the summer, and then nominations will be presented to the board at the August retreat. The board voted to give him hiring permission, with only Slifka voting no.
Kim Casey talked about a policy on air quality. The policy is that cars shouldn’t be left idling in parking lots or pick-up lines, as there is a concern that this could impact indoor air quality. State law requires this policy to be in place. Facilities will install signs reminding people to not idle. There was also a discussion regarding alternative diplomas for students who are unable to receive a traditional diploma (they currently receive a certificate of completion). Casey remarked that scorecards for schools utilize graduation rates in their scoring, and if students are only receiving a certificate of completion, this affects the graduation rate. An alternative diploma would allow EHS to include them in the graduation rate.
Curriculum and Philosophy-Kim Meyer: is chair and gave the report, (Video Link -1:55:26). She said the study group looking at the weighted GPA system is continuing. She said that several parents had talked about the need for the committee to communicate the purpose of the study group. She also briefly mentioned the relearning and reassessment policy, that started in 2014, and is being re-examined because of possible inconsistent application of the policy. They want to support relearning, but make sure it is not encouraging students to not take assessments because there is an option for a reassessment. She said overall they are lacking a communication piece. She mentioned to Ryan that more needs to go out to parents to say what they are looking at for clarity. As an example of this she stated that one of the parents, *Mr. Lechner, was all against the topic regarding weighted GPAs, but now that he understands what it is, “he’s an endorser and supporter.”
Bauer talked about substitute pay, (Video Link - 1:58:25). His concern was that since Exeter Elementary raised their substitute rate to $16/hour, potential substitutes would choose to go there rather than the coop, so felt that they should also raise their pay to $16/hour. It was discussed that in the new contract paras in step 1 make $16.42 an hour (but they get some options of benefits) and the need to be careful not to have paras decide that substituting pays more. Casey suggested having a community job fair to let the community learn about what it means to be a substitute teacher. Bob Hall remarked that it was completely wrong to have 12 classes in an auditorium, and that they should raise the substitute pay. Slifka felt that raising to $16/hour would not be enough and suggested raising the rate even more - $18 or $20. He remarked that they should have discussed this further at the joint board meeting, so all boards could be on the same page with the rate. Ryan remarked if they are serious about having teachers in the classroom, they need to look into having full time substitutes on the staff. For now they can raise the hourly wage, but should be looking at the permanent subs for next year. Thompson said that if they raise their rate to $18/hour, they will create an arms race among the school districts, and it won’t solve the problem of finding subs this year. Decision was made to match Exeter’s sub rate for now, and then have a discussion among all districts for next year.
* Mr. Lechner has reached out to ExeterPACT and informed us that he does not endorse the removal of weighted GPAs, valedictorian, salutatorian, class rankings or diminishing AP and honors classes.