Newfound School Board doubles down on request for destination imagination funding

By Thomas P. Caldwell
BRISTOL — Students from the New Hampton Community School who demonstrated their award-winning skit that they hope to take to the Destination ImagiNation global finals in Knoxville, Tenn., got more than they asked for from the Newfound Area School Board Monday night.
The team is doing fundraising to pay for their trip and lodging and Ann Holloran, principal of the New Hampton and Danbury elementary schools, sought $2,000 from the school district to cover the expenses of the two coaches, Samantha Austin and Holly Cook. Instead, Vice-Chair Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater successfully moved that the school board give $4,000 to reduce the team's fundraising needs, and Groton member Jeff Levesque offered to personally give $100, challenging the others to match the gift.
Helping to offset that non-budgeted expense is an unexpected drop in health insurance costs for the Newfound Area School District. Business Administrator Michael Limanni said the rates from HealthTrust are 10 percent less than budgeted for next year. The insurance carrier had been projecting a 9.6 percent increase.
Those are just some of the good news items reported at the meeting. Among the student accomplishments at the high school, senior David Gibson has been accepted to Harvard University, and seniors Nick Tapply and Devon Fields have been awarded football scholarships to West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Amber Plummer was named Lakes Region Player of the Year in basketball and her teammate, Karissa Bony, was named to the All Lakes Region Team.
The Newfound Regional High School Math Team placed fourth of 18 schools in the Small Schools Division of the Plymouth State University Math Tournament, with Josh MacLean being the highest-scoring freshman in the Lakes Region.
The recognition extended to the staff, with Nancy Cate receiving the Louise Sublette Award for her ideas and hard work in increasing participation in the high school breakfast program. The award was presented by the School Nutrition Association of New Hampshire.
The school board also accepted the superintendent's recommendation for bonuses in recognition of the extra effort put forth by her staff. With one vote in opposition, the school board agreed to give a $5,000 bonus to Lori Lane, director of the After School 21st Century Learning grant program, with $2,500 bonuses going to Limanni and Student Services Coordinator Anne Holton.
Migliore was the lone dissenting vote, saying that, while he recognized their contributions, he could not support the bonuses, "given the message by the voters this year".
That message included the defeat of the article providing pay raises to the teachers, and the Newfound Area Teachers Association is looking to reopen negotiations as soon as possible. Setting a date for the preliminary session proved to be a difficult task, however, given the upcoming vacation week and individual board members' commitments. The board finally settled on two dates for the teachers to consider: April 16 or May 6.
After the initial session, the board is looking to hold Saturday meetings and it suggested May 17 as its first choice and May 10 as an alternate date.
The board had similar difficulty in setting a date for the first meeting of the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School Withdrawal Study Committee, but settled on April 28 at 6 p.m.
Monday's meeting opened with a nonpublic session to discuss staff nominations and, later in the meeting, the board approved those nominations, which included the professional staff, school administrators, and school administrative unit administrators.
Finally, the school board approved the naming of the high school track, "The Mills Oval", in honor of long-time coach Earl Mills and his wife, Nancy.