Gilford School District embarks on second phase of school renovations

By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The second phase of an elementary school construction project started during Christmas vacation, one of several highlights of a transitional year where a new superintendent arrived on the job in the Gilford School District.
"The first phase of the Gilford Elementary School construction project was completed on time and on budget," reported School Board Chairman Karen Thurston. "The elementary school was closed for the summer while plumbing and cabinet work was completed. Classroom and hallway bathrooms fixtures were changed and updated. There were pipes and outside drains that needed to be replaced and unclogged throughout the summer."
Thurston reported, "Crews will be replacing hot water heaters and clocks throughout the building. The bulk of the second phase will happen over the 2017 summer when electrical and data wiring upgrades will be completed. The second phase of construction will also include duct work this summer."
Voters approved a $2.4 million bond at the March 2016 annual School District Meeting to upgrade the elementary school's entire mechanical, heating/ventilation/air conditioning and plumbing systems. Constructions crews started work last summer.
The Gilford School District brought two new members to the SAU 73 office this past summer, Superintendent Kirk Beitler and Curriculum Director Steve Tucker, Thurston noted.
Beitler, the former assistant superintendent in the Laconia School District, said that one of his major tasks upon arrival would be overseeing the mechanical renovation project at the elementary school. He is the former assistant principal at Gilford High School, as well as former athletic director for Franklin High School and former principal at Raymond High School.
Thurston reported that the mission of the Gilford School District, in partnership with the community, is to actively engage all students "in a broad range of educational opportunities that enables them to make responsible choices and succeed throughout life in a changing society."
Last July, the Gilford School Board identified four goal areas for the 2016-2017 school year including:
• Student learning: Using a common, standards-based, curricular framework across the Gilford School District and writing curriculum using it. This effort includes working with all schools in the district (including Gilmanton) to clarify and develop curriculum; and developing a curricular overview map, reviewing and analyzing student-performance data, developing a common definition of personalized learning and clarifying most effective lesson structures and best instructional practices, and creating a committee that evaluates the district's World Language program.
Gilford School District is in the first full year of implementing a new math program (K-8), Eureka Math, Thurston reported. One of the school board goals is to monitor and check the progress of the K-8 Eureka Math program and provide teachers with professional development opportunities.
• Families and communities: Working with community partners to provide information, programs, interventions and supports for the health and well-being of students; addressing budget, program, resource and curricular issues at two meetings of the Gilford and Gilmanton school boards and the superintendent, two meetings of the selectmen, school board, superintendent and any other needed school and/or community representatives, and school Parent-Teacher Association meetings.
• Resource management: Develop staffing, capital improvement and resource needs/allocation plans based on projected student enrollment; programmatic goals, curriculum, instruction and assessment goals; and facility needs. Other goals include working collaboratively with the Budget Committee and the school board to develop "a fiscally responsible budget" and negotiating a contract with the Gilford Education Association and the Gilford School Board.
• Safety and facilities: Phase 2 of the Gilford Elementary School construction project; a new Meadows Committee to develop and present a plan for Phase 2 for the Meadows property to upgrade or build restrooms, locker rooms and a concession stand; and review School Security Assessments conducted by the State of New Hampshire Department of Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and update entry protocols.
Thurston also credited student performance on standardized assessments in the 2015-2016 school year. The 11th grade Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, scores in the area of Evidence-Based Reading and Writing were the highest in the Lakes Region (71 percent proficient), she reported.
"Over the past five years, 85 percent of Gilford High School students taking Advanced Placement assessments have scored a 3 or above, often making them eligible for college credit. On the new Smarter Balanced assessment in English Language Arts and math the percentage of students in the Gilford School District who were proficient or above in grades 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 has been near or above the state average," Thurston reported.
On Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m., the deliberative session of Gilford School School District Meeting will be held in the Gilford High School auditorium.

Forrester to chair NH Republican Party

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — After serving three terms in New Hampshire Senate and mounting an unsuccessful bid for the governorship, Jeanie Forrester of Meredith has been chosen to chair the New Hampshire Republican Party. "I like challenges," she said.

As the the lone candidate for the post and with the endorsement of Gov. Chris Sununu, Forrester's ascension at the party's annual meeting passed with ease, overshadowed by the mixed response when Jennifer Horne, her predecessor, urged Republicans to scrap their opposition to same sex marriage.

"I didn't take anything for granted," Forrester said. "I ran like I was in a race out of respect for those who supported me." She said that she retraced the steps of her campaign for the gubernatorial nomination, traipsing up, down and around the state to meet city, town and county Republican committees.

Before serving in the Senate, Forrester, who first tasted politics as an aide to Gov. John H. Sununu in the early 1980s, was best known for work as a town administrator and community organizer. She led successful community development programs in Plymouth and Meredith and became a well known figure across Belknap and Grafton counties, experience that should serve her well in tending the grassroots of the party. Open, amiable and gracious, Forrester, known as "Toxic Jeanie" among Democrats, nevertheless brings sharp partisan elbows to a job that requires them.

Forrester inherits a party, which for the first time since 2004 holds the governor's office as well as the House and Senate, but not one of the state's four congressional seats. Moreover, the party is divided, or as Forrester acknowledged, "We are a party of diversity," then rattled off the factions — the House Republican Alliance, New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, Tea Party, Free State Project and, not least, the Trump supporters.

"There are so many factions and I intend to engage every one of these groups," Forrester said. "Their voices must be heard and their opinions must be respected."

Conceding not everyone will agree on everything, she said, "We'll look for common ground and find others things we can agree on. Anyone who wants to meet with me, I will meet with."

Forrester said she had an invitation from Aaron Day of the Free State Project and Liberty Caucus, whose independent bid for the United States Senate arguably cost the GOP the seat held by Kelly Ayotte.

"If he wants to meet," Forrester said. "I'll meet with him."

Forrester touted her candidacy for the party chair with the slogan "Make New Hampshire Red Again," which she said signaled "putting into practice what I learned while running for governor." That includes pursuing an aggressive fundraising campaign, engaging members of the business community, strengthening local party committees and recruiting promising candidates. She said that in 2016 the party targeted much of its resources and efforts on state races while in 2018 there will a greater focus on the federal contests with the aim of capturing at least one if not both of the House seats held by Democrats.

Forrester said that with 2016 proving to be a record year for fundraising, the GOP is in a sound financial condition and positioned to become even stronger. As a candidate for the party chair, she supported breaking with past precedent and making it a paid position, which easily carried the state committee by a vote of 268 to 90. She said that the specific terms remain to be defined by the executive committee while stressing "I intend to be full time." She said that she has begun assembling a staff for what she emphasized "will be a team effort."

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On the Record - how your representatives voted, Jan. 26, 2017

The New Hampshire House of Representatives convened on Thursday, Jan. 26, in Concord and took up several bills of interest to local residents. Here is how your state representatives voted:

• On tabling an amendment to House Rule 43b which would have prohibited a bill being voted on in committee on the same day as its public hearing, Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Fields, Flanders, Fraser, Howard, Lang, Maloney, Plumer, Silber, Spanos, Sylvia, Vadney and Varney voted YES in favor of tabling; Reps. Fisher and Huot voted NO against tabling (so the amendment itself could have been voted on); Rep. Comtois had an excused absence.
The amendment was tabled by a vote of 200-165.

• On tabling an amendment to House Rule 63 which would have required House members to complete a gun safety course before carrying a concealed weapon in the State House, Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Fields, Fisher, Flanders, Fraser, Howard, Lang, Maloney, Plumer, Silber, Spanos, Sylvia, Vadney and Varney voted YES in favor of tabling; Rep. Huot voted NO against tabling; Rep. Comtois had an excused absence.
The amendment was tabled by a vote of 208-156.

• On "Inexpedient to Legislate" (killing the bill) for HB 206 to grant a marriage officiant a license for a single civil ceremony, the fee from which would go into a fund for domestic violence programs, Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Fields, Fisher and Flanders voted YES in favor of Inexpedient to Legislate (to kill the bill); Reps. Huot & Vadney voted NO against killing the bill. The bill was killed by a vote of 204-152.

• On "Inexpedient to Legislate" for HB 278 which would repeal the crime of criminal defamation since the sponsor says it is so rarely used, Reps. Fields, Flanders, Fraser, Huot, Lang, Spanos and Varney voted YES to kill the bill;
Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Comtois, Howard, Maloney, Plumer, Silber, Sylvia and Vadney voted NO against Inexpedient to Legislate so the bill could be voted on. Rep. Fisher had an excused absence.
The bill was killed by a vote of 262-92.

The next House Session is Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. at the State House in Concord.

– Kate Miller, former state representative, of Laconia

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