Landlord turns to finely-ground seashells as way to treat bedbug infestations

LACONIA — A local landlord is now using diatomaceous earth to treat the bedbugs that continually pop up in his apartment houses throughout the city.

Diatomaceous earth is extremely finely ground seashells that is placed in electrical outlets and around floors. When and if a bedbug travels through it, the salt clings to its body and it dies.

"Bedbugs are an ongoing problem with every landlord and almost everyone who moves in already has them," said the landlord who didn't want to be identified. "I'm doing everything I possible can to get rid of them."

"You know, I have never, ever gone out and brought bedbugs into my home or my apartments," he said.

He said the city policy is that once bedbugs are reported to Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Riley, who is the city health officer, the landlord has 48 hours to respond and come up with a plan of action.

He said he and his managers spray for five consecutive weeks and use the same chemicals that the professional use.

The landlord said he also been accused of having bedbug in one of his buildings when he didn't. He explained that he has a no pet policy and one of his tenants brought in a cat.

When the tenant refused to get rid of the cat, he began eviction proceedings and within a day of being served the eviction paperwork, the same tenant reported to the city that he had bed bugs and he was forced to treat the apartment.

In previous interviews, Riley suggested that people who discover they have bed bugs should wash all of their linens in hot water as well as any clothing that may have been on the floor after the space has been treated.

He also suggested that people stay away from used furniture, especially that which is seen by the side of the road, because if it carries bud bugs they will gradually gradually travel to every piece of furniture in the house or apartment building.

Ayotte touts Export-Import Bank during visit to EFI in Meredith

MEREDITH — During a visit to EFI yesterday, United States Senator Kelly Ayotte had ample opportunity to address two issues near the top of her agenda — assuring advanced manufacturers an appropriate workforce and reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Scott Schinlever, senior vice-president and general manager of EFI's Inkjet Solutions division, explained that the company designs and manufactures wide-format digital printers and inks, together with the software to manage print projects, and exports about half of its output to customers in 140 different companies. The company employs 837 people, 350 of them in Meredith, where the printers are manufactured, of whom about a third are engineers. "We're the Microsoft of the Lakes Region," Schinlever remarked.

Recruiting employees with the appropriate aptitude and skills, particularly engineers, Schinlever said is "always a struggle." He noted that EFI finds itself competing with other advanced manufacturers in the state and region for a relatively small and rapidly aging workforce. He suggested that "we have glamorized the white collar jobs" and overlooked the rewards and opportunities of manufacturing employment.

Schinlever said that on the shop floor there are employees who started at $15 per hour with benefits who are now earning $100,000 a year.

Ayotte replied that she has heard the same from other advanced manufacturers across the state and has offered several proposals to encourage workforce development. With Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware, she sponsored a bill to establish a competitive grant program that would distribute $100 million to states each year to fund initiatives to foster the skills required for manufacturing employment. She has also introduced legislation to designate 25 universities as "manufacturing universities", which would provide incentives to more closely align the content of classroom curriculum with the needs of advanced manufacturers. Likeise, Ayotte contributed to amending an education reform bill to encourage increased enrollment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs in secondary schools.

Schinlever also asked about the future of the Export-Import Bank, which finances and insures overseas purchases of goods made in the United States when other lenders are unable or unwilling to bear the political or commercial risks inherent in the transactions. He noted that while EFI is the leader in its industry it lacks the capacity to finance the growing volume of its overseas sales, which he expected would represent 60 percent of its output.

Ayotte, a staunch supporters of the Export-Import Bank, explained that its authorization expired at the end of June and the Senate included re-authorization in a highway and infrastructure bill endorsed by a bipartisan majority. However, re-authorization has stalled in the House of Representatives, where it is opposed by many conservative Republicans for catering to special interests at the expense of American taxpayers. Ayotte said that she is hopeful that when Congress reconvenes the opposition in House can be overcome and the bank reauthorized.

Ayotte remarked that many companies in New Hampshire, like EFI, have urged her to support re-authorization and added that export markets are become increasingly important to the success of manufacturers in the state.

CAPTION: Scott Schinlever, senior vice-president and general manager of EFI's Inkjet Solutions division in Meredith, shows United States Senator Kelly Ayotte, some of furnishings, clothing and artwork printed on the company's wide-format digital printers. Save for a leather sofa, everything in the room — and 75 percent of the billboards in Times Square — was printed on one of its products. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/ Michael Kitch)

Pleasant Street School learns having total strangers observe teaching methods pays off in student achievement

LACONIA — Some people probably thought Pleasant Street School Principal Dave Levesque was a little bit off his game when in late 2014 he recommended bringing a group of total stranger teachers into his classrooms to learn why some of students weren't thriving.

But with the support of Academic Coordinator Gail Bourn and Asst. Superintendent Kirk Beitler, that's exactly what Levesque did and the number of students who met growth targets in math jumped from 46.6 percent at the start of 5th grade to 83.6 percent by the end of the school year.

All Levesque needed to do was go to Harvard University and learn about "instructional rounds", which sounds like something that might take place at a hospital.

An instructional round in the education field is nothing more than inviting a group of educators from a different school district to critically observe a classroom and jot down what they see the students doing. A group of six Pleasant Street School educators, including Levesque and Bourn spent two weeks at Harvard learning what kinds of problems could be addressed, what specific behaviors to look for, and what kinds of questions to ask the students. They brought their training back to their teachers who observed other schools.

Laconia joined Manchester, Pembrook and Allenstown as a school with a group of people trained in the Harvard program.

Bourn and Levesque explained that the difference between the instructional rounds model and the traditional model is that the teachers themselves identify the problem and then, with the data collected by teachers from other districts, come up with their own solutions. Levesque said the rounds and their observations are teacher-based and not a top-down effort. Every classroom, including Special Education and Title 1, was evaluated.

At Pleasant Street School, which was the first school in Laconia to get the instructional rounds training, the teachers identified the What I Need (WIN) time, which is time set aside for small group instruction, as something that wasn't being used effectively.

A group of visiting teachers trained in instructional rounds came to Pleasant Street School to observe the WIN times in the fifth grade and they collected unbiased and comprehensive data. They observed the students and asked them questions about what they were learning and if it excited them to be learning it. If not, the outside team asked the students what they thought would make it more interesting.

For example said Bourn, in one math class, WIN time observers noticed that nine children got a drink, a few were doodling, and a few didn't seem to be participating at all.

"They weren't engaged," said Bourn, who said Laconia's teachers needed to figure out why and change it.

What they learned from the data was that the teaches weren't always seeing the distinction between the entire classroom and small groups. She also said the use of WIN time was different in different classrooms and the students wanted more consistency.

"The rounds were grounded in facts," said Bourn. The after-action was that the the teachers built a common language and created a common goal — narrowing the focus of how the 30 minutes of blocks of WIN time would be used.

Bourn said the district offered after-school professional development to its teachers and 90-percent of them participated. She said they worked the problems out collectively and came to a consensus as to how to better use the time help the students who needed a little more attention and how to keep the students who didn't need extra assistance engaged in school work.

As an additional benefit, she said teacher evaluations improved after they had the outside rounds of observers give them the facts that allowed them to better help individual students.

Levesque said that as "nerve-wracking" as it was to have strangers evaluating the classrooms in the beginning, the Pleasant Street School teachers now welcome the second set of eyes. By the end of school year 2015, 13 of the 15 classrooms at the school met their student growth targets.

The next step for the instructional rounds is to expand it to Elm Street School and eventually bring it to Woodland Heights and the Middle School.

Levesque also said that because Laconia was one of the pioneer districts in instructional rounds, other school districts are looking to Laconia for help in establishing WIN times and using Laconia's teachers to get some training for their own instructional rounds programs.