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Full-day K will be put before Inter-Lakes voters in 2015

MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes School District is aiming to put a proposal supporting all-day kindergarten before voters next March, giving a special committee formed by the district a full year to research it.

School Curriculum Coordinator Kathleen Hill told the School Board on Monday that there are multiple people in the three Inter-Lakes communities who have signed up for the committee and came before the board to seek a school board volunteer.

Meredith member Mark Billings volunteered to serve.

"It's terribly important to have Sandwich involvement because of their multi-aged system," said Sandwich member Howard Cunningham.

According to Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond, Sandwich Center School has one section of kindergarten that lasts about four hours. She said the educational time is about equal to the 2 3/4 hours kindergarteners spend in Inter-Lakes Elementary School in Meredith because Sandwich has "specials" like art and music.

She said they don't have "specials" at Inter-Lakes, which has four half-day kindergarten sessions.

Ormond explained yesterday that Sandwich also has multi-aged classrooms – meaning grades are paired in the same room.

She said the school board has been taking about full-day kindergarten for at least two years and some members wanted to bring a proposal before district voters this year.

Ormond said the board and the administration agreed to take this year and establish a committee, and, should the school board agree, bring the plan forward next year.

Included in the committee's study, she said, are the logistics of having a full-day of kindergarten including the number of teachers needed, classroom space, busing schedules and district costs.

As to the people in the three communities, she said the board wants "clear and open communications" with all of the stakeholders including the business community.

She also said the committee is tasked with including an early childhood education component whereby the district would reach out to parents and expectant parents to let them know that kindergarten is available and how they can work with their children before they enter formal schooling.

At this point in time, she said the Special Education director works with parents of children with special needs long before they reach school age but the rest of the younger children either go to day care or stay at home with a parent.

In addition, Ormond said an early outreach program could also help the district better understand the size of the incoming class.

"Kindergarten (in New Hampshire) is not compulsory," said said, saying that alone makes it even harder to know how many young students can be expected, something nearly all public school districts wrestle with annually.

"This (school) year, we heard from (parents of) six kids who were in pre-school and ended up with 12 new kindergarten students," she said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 11:48

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LRCC To break ground soon on automotive program building

LACONIA — Work on the next addition at Lakes Region Community College, a 15,000 square foot $3.3 million automotive classroom/lab building, is expected to start in late spring, according to college president, Dr. Scott Kalicki.

Kalicki told the 80 or so people attending a legislative breakfast at the college Monday morning that the project will see the current automotive program relocated to the newly built addition and that the 21,000-square-foot space currently being used by the program converted to use by the college's culinary arts program.

He said the culinary arts program's current partnership with Canterbury Shaker Village will be continued and that the program space at the college will have a restaurant facade with a restaurant operated by students which will be open to the public.

Kalicki said that college will also become home in the not too distant future to a mobile diesel technology program, which teaches students to diagnose, service, and repair diesel-powered trucks and equipment. The program, currently located at White Mountain Community College in Berlin, is operating at less than full capacity and is losing in excess of $100,000 a year, due mainly to the reluctance of students to travel that far north.

The program will not move to Laconia until a capital appropriation has been made by the Legislature, according to Community College Board Chairman Paul Holloway, who was at the meeting. The 2016-17 capital budget approved in January by the system's Board of Trustees includes a $5 million appropriation for the new heavy equipment/marine/small engine building on the LRCC campus.

Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) said that funds have already been appropriated for the design of the new culinary center and asked how much of a capital appropriation would be needed. Kalicki said the price to change over the building would be between $500,000 and $750,000.

The college's most recent addition, completed last September, was a $6.4 million, 24,000-square-foot building which houses the nursing, physical science and fire science programs as well as a multipurpose room and faculty offices.

Kalicki touted the virtues of two-year community colleges, noting that a new articulation agreement allows for credits to be transferred to the state's four-year colleges, which can save a student as much as $20,000 in the cost of their education.

He said that the state of the college is healthy, although its costs are high compared to other states. Enrollment has increased to 1,444. Of that number, 488 are full-time students and 956 part-time. But the number of courses being taken has actually shown a slight decline.

Also speaking at the program were New Hampshire's First District Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who said that education is the keystone of the nation's future.

''We need to continue to make education our priority. We absolutely must be able to compete with the rest of the world.''

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:56

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High Schoolers Take Part in their own Winni Dip

LACONIA — It was a chilly day Sunday with a brisk wind whipping in from Paugus Bay as some 49 high school students from a dozen different school districts across the state took part in the first-ever High School Winni Dip at the Margate Resort to raise funds for the New Hampshire Special Olympics.
Modeled on the Winni Dip conducted by law enforcement agencies for the last six years, the event raised over $12,000 with the top fundraiser being Shaun Chase of the Inter-Lakes School District's Middle Tier, who raised $747.50. He was at the event along with Inter-Lakes Athletic Director Jeff Cloos and Inter-Lakes Middle Tier teacher and Unified United Sports basketball coach Tracy Burhoe.
Other local school districts represented were Winnisquam Regional, Prospect Mountain and Laconia High School.
Taking the plunge for Prospect Mountain were Roy Poslusny, day shift custodian a Prospect Mountain, 17-year-old Alex Furtado and Hunter Sanborn, a 15-year-old freshman.
Poslusny said that he has taken part in the Penguin Plunge at Hampton Beach and last year was in the Winni Dip while Furtado has made the Penguin Plunge twice. It was Sanborn's first ever event and he said the day was ''quite chilly'' and that the jump into the water was sure to make him even colder.
''I'm so pumped I don't feel the cold.'' said Furtado, who like many of the participants was wearing a prom gown.
Sean Cashman of Laconia, a 17-year-old Laconia High School junior, was the only representative from that school. He wore shorts and a button-down collar and tie and said that the water was cold, but not so bad that he couldn't handle it.

The Winni Dip is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a year-round partnership between Special Olympics and the state's public safety officials that raises funds and awareness for the athletes of Special Olympics New Hampshire.
"The partnership between Special Olympics and New Hampshire's Law Enforcement is a great one, the members of (torch run) help us throughout the year by raising funds and awareness for our organization. They also help at many of our events by handing out medals to our athletes, and participating in ceremonies at our competitions," said Mary Conroy, Special Olympics president.
Saturday's sixth annual Winni Dip drew 118 ''dippers" and 22 teams and raised over $66,000 with the top fundraiser being Woodstock Police Chief Doug Moorhead, who raised $5,570.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:55

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Gilmanton voters hear from 3 candidates vying for seat on school board

GILMANTON — Gilmanton voters packed the school gymnasium Tuesday night for candidates night hearing from the three candidates for School Board. One seat is available.

Dr. David Strang introduced himself as a "fiscal conservative" who said he considers education one of the most valuable things society does but said it is the responsibility of the School Board to spend taxpayer money wisely.

He said if elected he would work toward a long-term plan for the School District so it wouldn't find itself needing a modular unit to combat over-crowding that the district should have seen coming.

Strang also said now is the time to be discussing the contract with Gilford that is slated to expire in 10 years.

Identifying himself as a "fiscal conservative" opened Strang up to a line of questioning from one man who wanted to know if he was member of the Tea Party — something the questioner said fostered a "destructive environment."

"Are you fiscally conservative or our you fiscally responsible," the man asked Strang who replied that he could make an argument that the two terms are synonymous.

Strang said he supports the ballot question, Article 14, that raises and appropriates the $133,661 dollar for the modular because at this point in time the School District has no choice. His point was the district needed better planning.

He didn't say if he was a member of the Tea Party.

Incumbent Michael Hatch is running for his third term on the School Board and described himself as "fiscally responsible."

He said in his six years of service, Gilmanton School has improved under the soon-to-be retired tenants of No Child Left Behind and that the district has addressed many of its former deficiencies.

Hatch said there is a Space Needs Committee that is being formed to discuss the growth of Gilmanton and its expanding student population. He also explained that the School District budget contains many items that are beyond the control of the School Board — like Gilford tuition rates and Special Education costs — and said the board did the fiscally responsible thing by returning the excess in those two line items last year by returning the money to the taxpayers.

He also said the district has come a long way with regard to maintenance and repairs within the school property. He noted the improvement to the facility, including some security updates, that have made it a better place for teachers to teach and a safer place for students to learn.

"I think this School Board has done a good job," he said.

He also said townspeople should put an end to the personal attacks against members of the towns governing boards. "I've seen them written in the newspapers and it should stop," he said.

Hatch replied to one man who kept asking why the School District didn't foresee the student increase "bubble" by saying it did foresee it but when any talk of expansion was raised at a district meeting a few years ago, it was "shot down" by the body.

"People have short memories," he said.

Frank Weeks has served on the School Board in the past but did not serve last year.

He said he didn't want to characterize himself as a fiscal liberal or a conservation but as someone who doesn't want to make cuts that would effect the students or their ability to learn.

He said he likes sending Gilmanton's students to Gilford and, if elected, supports continuing in that direction, noting the only other choices are to build a school, go to another district, or splitting up the children and sending them to a variety of neighboring districts.

Weeks said he doesn't like to make rushes to judgment and that if he is elected will "listen without judging."

He also put in a plug for the Gilmanton Year-Round Library saying it was an invaluable tool for the children in Gilmanton.

Election Day is March 11 at the Gilmanton Academy upstairs in the auditorium. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:53

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