$415,254 health insurance refund larger than Laconia schools expected

LACONIA — The Laconia School Board Tuesday night approved $691,7675 in budget line item transfers, with 70 percent of the transfer funds coming from a $415,254 refund from its health insurance provider, Health Trust.
Business Administrator Ed Emond explained that the School District had budgeted for a refund but the refund which was received was larger than anticipated.
Most of the transferred funds went to special education, $388,350 in all, in several different categories.
There was $100,000 for contracted services for special ed, $50,000 for tuition handicap for non-public elementary, $48,551 for a special education teacher at Elm Street School, $75,000 for tuition handicap for a non-public high school, $44,000 for contracted services for special ed, $12,605 for special ed aides at Laconia High School and $12,742 for special ed aides at Woodland Heights School.
The new special ed expenses were offset by transfers of $202,043 from special education accounts, including a transfer of $126,000 from an account for tuition for a handicap student at Laconia Middle School to a non-public school, $48,227 for special ed teacher salaries and several smaller accounts.
School Board member Mike Persson said that in the immediate future the district can expect to see more students with special education needs.
The largest lump sum, $125,000 was transferred to contracted services for building repair which will see a boiler at the SAU office at the Harvard St. School replaced.
$111,994 was transferred to expendable trust funds, which Emond said were created with a $313,8000 supplemental appropriation approved by the city council last year after the School District received a larger than anticipated state adequate education grant.
The trust fund for insurance now totals $250,000 and there is $150,000 in a trust fund for buildings and $25,000 in a trust fund for special education.
The board also got a look at a new Hewlett-Packard Stream, a lightweight Windows-based PC which is similar to Chromebooks and may replace technology currently being used. Costing only $200, it supports Office 365 and has both a web cam and microphone built in.
The board also heard a presentation from Pleasant Street School Principal Dave Levesque and several students about the school's jobs program, which gives students 16 opportunities to participate in a variety of helpful activities such as library assistant and safety patrol, and its Friday Festivities program, which offers variety of learning opportunities from sign language to yoga and Spanish.
Another presentation on the Laconia Middle School's Academic Excellence program was given by teacher Joe Sampson,who said that about 25 students are involved and has resulted in improved academic and behavioral performance by those taking part.

28-acre paintball-gun park at Weirs gains approval of Planning Board

LACONIA — The Planning Board this week unanimously approved development of a paintball-gun recreation park on a 23-acre tract on Endicott Street North (Rte. 3 North) at The Weirs.

The parcel is a flag lot, this is, a rectangle with a panhandle with some 60 feet of frontage on the highway. Tom Selling, who engineered the project, told the board that less than three acres of wooded property would be disturbed. A paved driveway will lead to two trailers — one eight feet by eight feet by twenty feet for storage space and the other eight feet by eight feet by twelve feet for an office — portable toilets, dumpsters and a parking area with spaces for 42 vehicles. The trailers, dumpsters, toilets and parking would be located at the panhandle near the entrance to the property and screened from the road.
The Planning Board specified that the trailers and toilets be placed on gravel aprons and properly maintained and, should the park close, that the site be restored to its original condition.
Selling explained that a one-foot culvert beneath the driveway connecting a wetland and vernal pool, would be lined with three inches of river stones to facilitate the passage of salamanders and other creatures. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is expected to issue a wetland permit for the site. In addition Selling said that bio-detention pond — 100 feet long, eight feet wide and six to eight inches deep — would prove a secondary breeding ground for the salamanders.
Earlier the Conservation Commission, after weighing the environmental aspects of the project, endorsed the plan.
Two or three playing fields, all at least 125 feet from abutting properties, will be delineated in the remainder of the lot. Marty Jacobs, who owns and operates two paintball parks in Massachusetts and is assisting Edward Elfar with the project, said the fields would be demarcated with ropes and ribbons. Each field is designed to accommodate a maximum of 20 players as paintball competition generally engages teams of between three and 10 members.
In response to questions about the impact on neighboring properties, Jacobs said that given the wooded landscape there was no risk of paintball shots straying beyond the bounds of the park. Likewise, he assured the board that the paint dissolves quickly and poses no threat to the environment.
Selling said that park is expected to open by July 4 "at the latest" and to operate seven days a week, strictly in daylight hours, throughout the summer. In the future, Jacobs anticipated the park would open on weekends in the early spring and fall as well as host players throughout the summer months. When the park is closed, the driveway will be gated.
Michael Foote, who owns the abutting property to the north, said that "this is a good attraction for the area" while noting that "it will change the quality of life for the critters out there."

LPD officer who appealed reprimand agrees to compromise discipline

LACONIA — A police officer who was reprimanded by the Police Commission over the summer for entering an rental apartment in April of 2014 with a landlord, on his request for assistance, call has reached a mediated agreement with the commission.

According to records obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court, Patrol Officer Brandy Enis agreed the incident that occurred on April 17, 2014 would be considered a Class II violation with a written warning and not an "unsatisfactory performance" entry on her personnel record, as was previously imposed by the commission.

The agreement also cover two previous disciplinary incidents.

For an incident that occurred on February 21, 2014 where she failed to file appropriate reports in a timely matter, she agreed to a Class II violation as opposed to an "unsatisfactory performance" entry on her record. She also agreed to a two- day suspension whereby she could use one compensatory day in lieu of taking both days unpaid.

For an incident that occurred in December of 2013 for not creating a separate case file for a complaint from the Laconia High School that she thought was on ongoing case for a different patrol officer, she agreed to a Class II violation with a written warning.

Apparently the one thing the two side have either failed to agree upon, or which there is still some confusion about, is what fees the commission will pay and what fees Enis will pay.

Enis signed a docket marking that said "Neither party; No further action; No interest; No costs; No fees."

In a motion filed recently by the commission, it requests the court to hold a hearing to enforce its version of the settlement whereby Enis will pay for the mediator and their attorney fees.

The newest hearing will likely be held later this month.

Although this personnel matter was by law a non-public item, Enis asked the Police Commission to have her disciplinary action heard in public. At that hearing, a number of city landlords came to support Enis for he assistance to the landlord in question.

The city contends that when Enis entered the apartment, she was doing so without a warrant and had potentially violated the tenant's Fourth Amendment rights.

The final order said neither party could have any contact with the media about this matter and no one from either party responded to The Sun's phone calls.

Sandwich school will add teacher to deal with 4th/5th grade buddle

MEREDITH — Without a word, the Inter-Lakes School Board last night approved the recommendation of Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond to hire another teacher at Sandwich Central School, where the 27 pupils enrolled in the multiage fourth and fifth grade class is a third more than the ideal of 18.

Linda Ristaino, a para-educator at Inter-Lakes Elementary School where she has worked for 13 years, was appointed to the position at a salary with benefits of $39,845 pro-rated for the 90 days remaining in the school year.

Before the holidays Principal John Hansen said that a handful of parents expressed concerns and the situation was discussed with parents at a meeting in December. To lighten the teacher's responsibilities, the sixth grade mathematics teacher has been instructing the fifth grade pupils. Moreover, for about six weeks a special educator taught reading and language arts to fourth, fifth and sixth grade pupils. He said that the fourth and fifth grade class would be split into two classes with pupils in each grade in both classes.

In November, 2005 a committee projected future enrollment in the district. Hansen remembered that enrollment at Sandwich Central School was forecast to reach the "high 50s" and remarked "we've got 72 in kindergarten through sixth grade right now." He suggested the recession contributed to the rising enrollment as house prices in the town fell to within reach of homebuyers and some young families returned to Sandwich to live with their parents.
In anticipation of the board's decision, Hansen said that the classroom furniture was shuffled to accommodate the two fourth and fifth grade classes after school yesterday.