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Newfound recalculates tuition formula to sweeten incentive for Hill students to attend

BRISTOL — The Newfound Area School Board has sweetened the pot for the Hill School District, backing out some of the costs that were built into a proposed tuition calculator in an effort to present a figure that is palatable enough to keep the negotiations going.
Hill is seeking to withdraw from its Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement with Franklin and send its middle and high school students to another district. Newfound, Winnisquam, and Merrimack Valley are under consideration, with Franklin hoping to persuade Hill to stay there. Newfound had met with the most favorable response, until Hill learned that Newfound's tuition would be more than $1,000 per student more than the other contenders would charge.

Hill currently sends approximately 90 grades 6 through 12 students to Franklin. Students in the current sophomore and junior classes at Franklin High School would be given the option to complete their secondary education at that school.
Benjamin LaRoche of Bristol, a member of the Newfound board's Hill subcommittee, proposed on Dec. 8 that the board approve a revised tuition calculator developed by Business Administrator Michael Limanni that backed out school board and central office costs from the calculation. Doing so brings the base tuition close to $13,000 per student, in line with what Hill currently pays to Franklin.
Jeff Levesque of Groton objected, saying it would be unfair to taxpayers in the Newfound Area School District who bear those costs.
Don Franklin of Hebron, also a member of the Hill subcommittee, countered that Hill would not have a voice on the school board and that the cost of operating the central office would be the same whether or not Hill students were attending local schools.
School Administrative Unit 4 Superintendent Stacy Buckley pointed out that, under the plan, Hill would remain a member of SAU 18 and would be paying Franklin for central office support. She said issues with Hill students would be handled by the Hill School Board and Franklin's superintendent.
Limanni also pointed out that any costs incurred by Hill students would be billed to them. Hill students participating in the summer program or after-school events would pay for them separately.
The tuition agreement also would exclude transportation costs, as Hill would pay for its own busing; and Hill would be responsible for any special needs costs for its students.
Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater, serving as chair in the absence of Danbury's Ruby Hill, said he objected to the tuition agreement on a number of points, from the cost differential with what local residents pay to the "gray areas" in the agreement that could lead to problems down the road.
Migliore compared the administration of the complex tuition agreement to the handling of the grant for Project Promise, an after-school program. Poor oversight had resulted in a breach of the Project Promise grant terms and the school district is having to repay much of the grant funding as a result. Migliore said a 10-year tuition agreement, with the probability that there would be different board members and different administrators handling it before it comes up for renewal, could prove to be another expensive mistake for the school district.
Having supported an effort to establish full-day kindergarten next year and hearing objections that moving forward that quickly was not feasible, Migliore observed that no one was objecting to quickly cobbling together the Hill tuition agreement in time for a vote in March.
Buckley took issue with the comparisons, saying Project Promise was a grant program that came with stipulations that should have been followed but were not. The tuition agreement, once crafted, will determine the costs and a change in leadership will not affect that, she said.
As for the other point, Buckley noted that allowing students to attend Newfound does not change the programs or require any reconfiguration of classes. Full-day kindergarten, on the other hand, would require staffing changes and classroom realignment, a much more complicated undertaking.
Limanni reiterated that any final agreement would incorporate safeguards to ensure that Hill would be paying for any new or unanticipated costs associated with its students attending Newfound. "This tuition calculator, coming in not much over $13,000, would get our foot in the door with good faith and still let us justify it by asking if we're being fair to our taxpayers," he said.
Just before the vote, Levesque said he still objected to leaving off the cost of the superintendent's office, but he said the value of having an agreement that would bring in approximately $800,000 in revenue exceeds the $60,000 difference in the tuition calculation.
In the end, the school board voted, 5-1, to direct the Hill subcommittee to enter into negotiations with the Hill School Board, using the tuition calculator as presented by Limanni as the basis for a tuition agreement.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 02:48

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Rumney chimney fire displaces resident

RUMNEY — A chimney fire Monday that extended into the walls has left a Buffalo Road woman temporarily homeless.

Fire Chief David Coursey said firefighter were called to the home by the owner who said smoke was coming from the walls. He said she was unharmed and able to leave the home on her own.

He said it appears the thimble for the wood stove was very close to the wood in the walls and the heat eventually dried out the wood and this time it ignited.

Coursey said his department was able to extinguish the fire without any aid from neighboring departments.

He said the home is repairable but there is considerable smoke and water damage.

The N.H. Red Cross is assisting the woman who he said is staying with neighbors.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 02:38

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Barnstead man charged with choking 9-year-old - 149

BARNSTEAD — A Nutter Circle man has been charged with two counts of second degree assault for allegedly applying pressure to the neck of a 9-year-old boy, causing him to experience difficulty breathing.

Robert Brown, 37, was arrested on November 29 by Barnstead Police and later released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail. According to complaints filed with the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, the alleged assault took place at Brown's home on November 15.

Police said the victim is not a resident of Barnstead and required emergency treatment at the Southern Regional Medical Center in Nashua.

Police said the incident involved a case of domestic abuse and was reported to them on November 16. The case was investigated by Barnstead Police and the N.H. Division of Children, Youth and Family Services.

Brown is scheduled to be arraigned on January 15, 2015 in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 02:35

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Sheriff makes big pot bust after serving eviction notice

BELMONT — A Judkins Drive man charged with possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute and possession of a dangerous weapon is free on $10,000 personal recognizance bail.

The Belknap county Sheriff's Department said a deputy went to the home of Hagan Gorgas, 25 to serve him with a notice of eviction and saw a jar of marijuana and marijuana pipes in plain view.

Sheriff Craig Wiggin said Gorgas and a few other people who were in the apartment were detained by them while the sheriffs department and the Belmont Police applied for a search warrant.

In the apartment, Wiggin said police found several pounds of "high-grade processed marijuana" both loose and packaged in jars and vacuum sealed bags, hashish, $4,900 in cash, a loaded 8-mm rifle, a digital scale, large knives, and brass knuckles. He said the estimated street value of the drugs is $25,000.

Wiggin said police continue to investigate and said additional charges and more arrests could be forthcoming.

Gorgas is scheduled to appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on September 22.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 02:33

Hits: 1587

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