Shaker super warns of school closures should First Student go on bus strike


BELMONT —With a Nov. 15 deadline looming, Shaker Regional School District says a possible school bus driver strike may shut the schools down.

Superintendent Michael Tursi told the School Board Tuesday night that while he continues to work internally and with other school districts to try and come up with a creative solution, the bottom line is that if there are no buses, there can be no school.

"Our responsibility is to is to provide an education for all," said Tursi. "It's not fair to say we'll open the doors if you can get there."

Teamsters Local 633 represents the Belmont bus drivers who are fighting over retirement funding during their contract negotiations. The First Student facility in Belmont provides school bus service to Belmont, Laconia, Gilford, Gilmanton and Alton.

Union officials issued a strike notice on Oct. 24 but First Student called for a 21-day cooling-off period that expires on Nov. 15.

Tursi said he has notified parents and the school board about the possibility of the strike and told the School Board last night that he has been speaking with all the superintendents of the school districts that could be affected by the strike.

He said he sent a letter to First Student but has yet to receive a reply.

Board Chairman Sean Embree asked Tursi if there are other companies that could provide bus service, but Tursi said there is little to no competition for school buses in the Lakes Region.

He said that naturally any strike would affect any co-curriculars like sports and other after-school activities because if there's no school there can be no after-school activities.

When asked about extending the school year should there be a strike, Tursi said that Shaker Regional's school year accommodates 10 days of non-school time but that time is also used for snow days.

He agreed that if there is a prolonged strike that absorbs that time, then students will more likely than not be attending school in the summer.

"We are hoping for the best," Tursi said.

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Shaker Regional School District students shine on state test scores

Reading and math scores improved by as much as 24 percent in the past year


BELMONT — Shaker Regional students rocked the state academic world by improving their state-mandated test scores from 2015 to 2016 and besting the state averages by as much as 24 percentage points in some cases.

In all cases but one, reading scores improved from 2015 to 2016 in tests that compare children in the same grades from year to year, such as a 2015 third grade and a 2016 third grade.

But more importantly to Interim Superintendent Michael Tursi, the test for the same students, such as the 2015 third grade and the 2016 fourth grade, also showed improvements as the students progressed a year.

"Hats off to our teachers and our families," Tursi said at Tuesday's night's School Board meeting.

It's been two years since the state adopted Smarter Balanced as a way of testing student statewide to measure their proficiency in reading and language arts and mathematics. Smarter Balanced testing is designed to allow teachers and parents better access to how individual students are performing and to better identify sooner how and where teachers need to give them more support. Smarter Balanced tests are closely aligned with the Common Core.

The tests themselves are computer adaptive, meaning they measure how a student is doing as he or she is taking the test and the questions either get more difficult if a student is doing well or easier if the student is doing poorly. Interim practice tests are available for teachers to do continual assessing.

A breakdown of the results shows that in reading the same group of students had 1 percent in proficiency or better from third to fourth grade, showed 1 percent proficiency improvement from fourth to fifth grade, showed a decline in proficiency of 1 percent from fifth to sixth grade, improved 17 percent from sixth to seventh grade, and improved 2 percent from seventh to eighth grade.

All totaled, in 2015-2016 68 percent of all third-graders were proficient in reading and language arts; 64 percent of fourth-graders were proficient; 65 percent of the fifth-graders showed proficiency; 67 percent of the sixth-graders were proficient; 84 percent of the seventh-graders were proficient, and 75 percent of the eighth-graders were proficient or better. In all cases, Shaker's scores bested the state average scores.

The mathematics scores as compared to the state average were impressive as well.

In 2015-2016, Shaker third-grade students showed a 68 percent proficiency in mathematics; the fourth-graders showed a 54 percent proficiency; the fifth-graders showed a 53 percent proficiency; the sixth-graders showed a 54 percent proficiency; the seventh-graders showed a 75 percent proficiency and the eighth-graders showed as 54 percent proficiency. In all cases, the Shaker students tested far better than did the average student in the state.

Tursi said the district's general plan is to continue to look at the school's instructional practices to improve student learning.

"Overall, we will focus on our strengths and identify our weaknesses," Tursi said.

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Belmont officer on paid leave as investigation into shooting continues


BELMONT – A patrol officer who fired a gun on South Road in the early morning hours of Oct. 28 is on paid administrative leave while the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Division investigates.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen said Wednesday in a written media release that Officer Patrick Riley attempted to arrest 24-year-old Hayden Moon after coming upon his car on the side of the road.

Riley learned that Moon was wanted on a bench warrant for failing to appear in court and attempted to arrest him. Guldbrandsen said Moon "attempted to elude (Riley) and dragged (him) with his vehicle as he escaped custody."

Riley fired his gun in an attempt to arrest Moon. Guldbrandsen said Riley suffered minor injuries but she is now confident in saying that Moon was not injured as a result of the confrontation.

Moon's car was located in Loudon but he remains on the loose. A warrant for his arrest has been issued for felony-level reckless conduct and resisting arrest.

The U.S. Marshal's service is assisting the State Police in searching for him.

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