by Thomas P. Caldwell
HILL — With two unexpected school closings adding to the four snow days the district has experienced so far this year, the Hill School Board last week elected to exempt those two emergency days from the makeup calendar.
Hill schools closed Dec. 18 when the fuel oil ran out and the school could not get an immediate delivery. The superintendent called off school again on Feb. 7 due to a frozen pipe. With the snow days that had occurred prior to the meeting, that left just two snow days on the calendar and, with a storm moving in that evening, officials were concerned about being able to hold to the June 19 final day of classes.
Dr. William Compton, who is serving as the interim superintendent for School Administrative Unit 18, said he would like to get Hill back in line with the Franklin School District, and he suggested a way to do that. He said that RSA 189.1, which requires 180 days of school, offers a choice of using school hours instead of days. The requirement for an elementary school is a minimum of 900 hours of instruction. He noted that Hill's calendar contained approximately 1,000 hours and, with the closings so far, the district still has 993 hours available within the existing calendar.
Dr. Compton recommended that the board vote to exempt the two emergency days which still leaves Hill "well beyond 900 hours" and allows the district to realign with Franklin, with four snow days still available.
Curriculum Coordinator Tracy Bricchi pointed out that making sure the district ends the same day as Franklin also allows the teachers to participate in a professional development day that Franklin holds the day after classes end.
The school board also discussed participation in Franklin's Class Day Parade, an annual, community-building end-of-school event in which the students and staff of all Franklin schools march up Central Street to a crowd of parents and friends. In a poll of Hill parents, 15 indicated support of the event, two were opposed, and five were undecided.
Chair Shelly Henry said that, when one looks at the cost of transportation to Franklin and the loss of class time, it did not make sense to her. She noted that Hill students already do a Halloween walk and other local events, and board member December Fortin suggested that they might do a town parade, perhaps on Memorial Day.
The board directed Principal Jay Lewis to look into the cost of participating in the Class Day Parade.