Gilford School Board to hold special meeting to deal with vacancy at top of Middle School administration

GILFORD — The School Board will meet next week to decide how the leadership of the Middle School will be handled in light of the sudden resignation of Sydney Leggett, the school's first-year principal.

The board, last evening, scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, March 19, at 6 p.m. when it will consider recommendations from Superintendent Kent Hemmingway on how to deal with the vacancy.

Hemmingway told the board that he and other members of the School District's leadership team have been discussing changes to the district's "leadership structure." He provided no details, but said discussion of those potential changes were taking into account staffing levels and the district's declining enrollment. Hemmingway said that he and the leadership team planned to meet again today to further consider the matter. He said he planned to have recommendations to bring to the board in time for next week's special meeting.

Leggett, who became Middle School principal last fall, announced last month that she would resign at the end of the current school year. Leggett is joining YET — a newly formed education consulting firm — headed by William Lander, who is stepping down as part-time superintendent in Alton. Prior to becoming Gilford Middle School principal, Leggett served as curriculum coordinator in Alton.

In early February, Alton School Board voted to pay YET $125,000 for one year of services for a superintendent and a curriculum director. But the board rescinded the decision after protests against the action.

In other business, Hemmingway told the board that the district is preparing for the coming Smarter Balanced Assessment tests which will be given to students in grades three through eight and to high school juniors to determine their knowledge in English language arts and mathematics. Students will take the tests on computer.

Hemmingway said one option in the future would be to have the Scholastic Aptitude Test replace the Smarter Balanced test for high school juniors. But he said such a move would require approval at the state level. He said that if the SATs became the standardized test for high school juniors the fee for the test would be covered by federal funds.

NOTES: The board heard a presentation by the Gilford High Schools robotics team which placed fourth among 40 schools in a state-level competition on Saturday. The team now goes on another competition on March 20-22 at the University of New Hampshire. About 25 Gilford High students are members of the team. . . . . . The board gave its blessing to a plan by the Thompson-Ames Historical Society to sponsor a farmers market on the grounds of the Benjamin Rowe House. The market would take place on Saturdays starting in June and continue through September or October. The society asked for the board's endorsement because the Rowe House sits on School District land. However, the building, built in the 1830s, is owed by the town, and the Historical Society leases it for $1 a year and maintains the single-story Cape-style house, and opens it for public tours and other events. . . . . . The board heard a presentation by the Gilford High School business and wood-shop classes on a project to make shadow boxes used to display the American flags used at the funeral or burial ceremonies of deceased residents of the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton. Sean Walsh, the school woodshop teacher is hoping the students will be able to make 65 boxes a year. Funds for the project were raised by students in the business program who sold their own make of brownie mix.


Lawmaker majority not buying relatively rosier revenue projections for Belknap County Nursing Home

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention cut $470,00 from a proposed increase in 2015 revenue estimates for the Belknap County Nursing Home last night during a meeting at the Belknap County complex which was attended by only 13 of the 18 state representatives who are convention members.
The largest cut was for a $370,000 increase to the Medicaid Home Care line, which would have brought it to $3,370,000, which is $200,000 less than was actually received in 2014. A motion to approve the increase lost on a 7-6 vote.
The convention stuck to the proposed $3 million revenue estimate in its working 2015 budget, which will not be finalized for another two weeks.
They also turned down a proposed $100,000 increase to the Medicare Part A line, which commissioners sought to increase from $900,000 to $1 million. That increase was defeated by a 9-4 vote.
Legislators did approve a $250,000 increase in nursing home revenue coming from the state, which had been budgeted for $750,000 by the former commissioners. That passed on a 7-6 vote. Commissioner Dave DeVoy, the apparent new chairman of the commission (see story on page 1), said that over the last four years the average of revenue coming from the state for that category was $1.25 million.
DeVoy told convention members that he was comfortable with the revised 2015 revenue estimates that he and fellow commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) developed during an all-day work session on February 13. The work session was held in order to come up with a combination of budget cuts and enhanced revenue estimates that would meet the convention's plan to reduce the amount to be raised by taxes in proposed 2015 county budget by $1.1 million.
DeVoy pointed out that the revised revenue estimates of $8.8 million developed by the commissioners for the nursing home was actually $500,000 less than the nursing home received last year.
Taylor defended the proposed increase in revenue estimates against criticism that it was overly optimistic by asking ''do we budget in anticipation of a disaster and pass it it on to the taxpayers before the disaster happens.''
Those changes in revenue estimates are not supported by former Commission Chairman Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who was apparently ousted from that position Monday morning. Last week Burchell said they were unrealistic and offered a budget plan of his own which would cut eight jobs, including the county administrator and finance director, and reduce the increase in the amount to be raised by taxes from $1.4 million to $454,051, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
Burchell said last night that he would not propose a detailed budget but recommended that convention members consider an alternate budget developed by former County Convention chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith).
Convention clerk Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) said that he thinks that the state's fiscal situation is not as bad as portrayed, noting that his committee projects a two percent increase in state revenues. He also said that both of the state senators from the area are committed to maintaining nursing home reimbursements at a high level.
The convention tabled by a 7-6 vote a motion by Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont) to cut an appropriation for Belknap Economic Development from $75,000 to $25,000. The convention will ask the agency to appear at next Monday's convention meeting to justify its annual funding.

Wind closes Parade Road for a time

LACONIA — High, gusting winds from the north blowing across Windermere Heights yesterday afternoon caused Parade Road to temporarily ice over and likely caused an unnamed woman to loose control of her pickup, go off the road and roll over.

Sgt. Dennis Ashley said at the same time, three other cars skidded off the road because of high winds and ice.

He said police closed Parade Road because of the crash, and because multiple cars were off the road, needing a number of police cars and rescue vehicles, as well as a tow truck, to assist the drivers.

"(The wind) just came out of nowhere," said Ashley who noted it was relatively calm when he arrived at work before 3:30 p.m.

He said the initial call for the rollover accident came to police at 4:38 p.m. and police closed the road at 4:51 p.m.

Ashley said a vehicle from the Public Works Department was not far away and came immediately to salt and sand the road. Parade Road reopened at 5:12 p.m.

He said the driver of the pickup was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital with what appeared to be minor injuries. Her truck was towed.

The other three vehicles were able to drive away after some assistance getting back on the road.

Rte. 106 from Laconia to Belmont village, Parade Road & Meredith Center Road on tentative DOT fix list

LACONIA — Less than a year after city officials met with then commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) Chris Clement at City Hall. to discuss the condition of state highways serving the city, the DOT has tentatively scheduled more than 21 miles of roadway for improvement during the 2015 construction season.

The four projects are the 6.8 miles of Rte. 106 (Parade Road) from Lexington Drive to the Meredith roundabout;, 5.9 miles of Meredith Center Road between its intersections with Rte. 106 (Parade Road) in Laconia and Rte. 104 in Meredith, 3.5 miles of Rte. 11-B from its intersection with Rte. 11 (Sawyer's Daily Bar/Patrick's Pub corner) to the Weirs roundabout and 5 miles of Rte. 106 South from South Main Street in Laconia to its intersection with Rte. 140 in Belmont village.

The scheduled projects are subject to sufficient funding and pavement conditions.

Last August Mayor Ed Engler and City Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) City Manager Scott Myers, Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), met with Clement. Their major concerns included Rte. 106 and Rte 11-B, but also Lily Pond Road (Rte. 11-C), which provides access to the Laconia Municipal Airport.