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Alton School Board's 'rejection' of Common Core has no consequence at this point; curriculum 'will not be undone'

ALTON — After a lengthy discussion at its August meeting, the Alton School Board voted three to two not to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative, but it appears that the vote will have no immediate consequences.

School Superintendent William Lander said this week that prior to his appointment, administrators and teachers invested significant time in realigning Alton's curriculum in anticipation of the introduction of the CCSS. "We are teaching the curriculum we've adopted that was approved by the School Board," he said, "and that will not be undone."

The CCSS, sponsored by the United States Department of Education and a consortium of states, have been adopted by 45 states, including by the New Hampshire State Board of Education in 2010. The program sets standards for measuring mastery of English language arts/literacy and mathematics at each grade level that by stressing problem solving and critical thinking are designed to ensure that high school graduates are prepared to enroll in college or enter the workforce.

Beginning in the spring of 2015, the state will replace the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), the test administered to elementary and secondary school students since 2005, with Smarter Balanced, an assessment developed by a consortium of states that is aligned with CCSS.

When the School Board discussed the CCSS in August, State Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) urged the board to reject it, claiming that because the federal government set the standards, which in turn would shape the curriculum, the program would erode local control of the schools. Likewise, Doris Hohensee of Families in Education, a group founded in 2010 to advocate for greater parental control of education, told the board that the CCSS was developed and adopted without the participation of parents or approval of the Legislature. Local and parental control would be lost, she warned, if the CCSS were adopted.

When the issue reached the board again last month, the majority — Terri Noyes, Krista Argiropolis and Carlos Martinez — expressed concern about the intrusion of the federal government and the threat to local control while Sandy Wyatt, who chairs the board, and Steve Miller favored a program they believed would raise standards. 

Heather Gage, director of instruction at the New Hampshire Department of Education, said yesterday that local school boards are not required to adopt the CCSS and there are no financial consequences of refusing to do so. However, school districts are required by state and federal law to administer the assessment prescribed by the state or seek waivers from the state and federal governments to administer a different test.

Gage explained that although federal funding is not contingent on a particular assessment, any alternative must be consistent with the assessment administered by the state. If it is not, she said that federal funding to support the education of low-income students, distributed under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act, would be at risk.

In withholding its endorsement of the CCSS, the Alton School Board has yet to raise the prospect of refusing to administer the Smarter Balanced assessment in 2015.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 01:54

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Merrifield seeking 4th term as Franklin votes today

FRANKLIN — Voters in this city will go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a mayor and some members of city council, as well as four members of the School Board. Voting hours in all three wards will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ward One voters will cast ballots at Thompson Hall (47 Main Street). Ward Two voters will vote at City Hall (316 Central Street). And Ward 3 voters will gravitate to the Middle School (200 Sanborn Street).

Mayor Ken Merrifield is seeking a fourth term and there are no other names on the ballot for that position. Glenn Morrill, however, is conducting an aggressive, last-minute write-in campaign for votes.

All four city councilors that are up for election this year are running for re-election, but only Paul C. Trudel (Ward Three) has opposition — from Steve Barton. Councilor Arthur "Ted" Starkweather (Ward One), Councilor Tony Giunta (Ward One) and Councilor Douglas A. Boyd are unopposed.

Four seats on the School Board are up for election and while there are, officially, no contested races, at least two write-in campaigns have been mounted.

Incumbents Charles "Chad" Carey (Ward One) and Timothy M. Dow (Ward Three) are unopposed.

Former High School football coach Gregory Husband (Ward One) is alone on the ballot but Gwen Hall is seeking write-in votes for that seat.

Likewise, Angie Carey (Ward Two) is the only name on the ballot but Carol Edmunds is asking for write-in votes.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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After fire, Pitman's Freight Room hopes to be open again in few weeks

LACONIA — The owner of Pitman's Freight Room said yesterday that he expects the live music venue to reopen after Sunday morning's fire within a matter of weeks.

Richard "Dick" Mitchell said the fire that is still under investigation could have been a lot worse.

"It would have killed me," Mitchell said. "We put so much into it."

Mitchell said he was told the fire started around 2 a.m. Saturday in the back side of the building, on what used to be a freight loading dock. He said the Laconia Fire Department was returning to the station from extinguishing a suspicious dumpster fire near Hector's Restaurant when Pitman's fire alarm sounded nearby.

He said firefighters were there within one minute and were able to quickly extinguish the blaze. He said a portion of the back wall will need to be rebuilt and there is smoke damage throughout the building.

"It's a miracle that the fire department was so close," he said.

Pitman's, on New Salem Street, is a function hall and live entertainment venue that features live blues and soul music, comedy shows and other events.

According to their Webite, in 1988 Mitchell and his wife Connie bought the former freight station that was built in 1890 by Pitman's Manufacturing — one of the largest hosiery manufactures in New Hampshire in the 1800s.

The first stage of renovations saw the opening of an antique store in one end of the store. The live entertainment portion of the renovation started in 2009 after the Mitchell's renovated the remaining portion of the building, and installed heating, air conditioning, a third bathroom and a 5-sided hickory dance floor.

Pitman's averages one to four shows weekly and is a BYOB venue.

Mitchell said he can't thank the Laconia Fire Department enough for responding so quickly.

"These guys are wonderful," he said.

He said he also wanted to thank his many friends and his manager for the work they did on Sunday re-securing the building and being there when the insurance company came.

CAPTION – ( Pitman Freight Room) Charred insulation and board lies outside the back dock of Pitman's Freight Room. A suspicious fire caused about $20,000 in damage to the building early Saturday morning. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 04:01

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Series of Laconia-area open houses planned as part of Manufacturing Week

LACONIA — A half dozen manufacturing firms and a pair of educational institutions will open their doors to the general public from Saturday, Oct. 5 until Wednesday, October 9 public as the Lakes Region joins the state in celebrating Manufacturing Week.

The week begins on Saturday at Eptam Plastics at 2 Riverside Business Park in Northfield, where the firm, in partnership with the Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC), is hosting a "Day of Play" along with guided tours of the plant between 10 a.m. and noon.

Carmen Lorentz, executive director of the BEDC, said that children of four years and older are invited to "imagine something awesome" then build it, either at home before Saturday or at the factory on Saturday, using cardboard or other recycled materials. There are only 40 places available and participants must register for the event by either calling 524-3057 or e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. All visitors to the facility must wear closed-toed shoes.

On Monday morning, Titeflex Aerospace will host tours of their manufacturing facility at 93 Lexington Drive in Laconia at 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. and in the afternoon Aavid Corporation will host tours at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

On Tuesday, 3M of 1 Paper Trail in Tilton will host tours at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. while the Astro Division of New Hampshire Ball Bearing will host tours at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Wednesday will begin with an open house for the the pre-engineering and manufacturing engineering technology programs at the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School and end with open house for the Advanced Manufacturing programs at Lakes Region Community College from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Scotia Technology will offer tours of its facility at 51 Growtth Road in Laconia at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Lorentz said that open houses and plant tours provide parents and students with an opportunity to become acquainted with the nature of contemporary manufacturing industry, especially the skills its requires and the rewards its offers.
She said these firms, which are among the most competitive and dynamic in the state, are helping to develop the regional workforce that will provide them with the employees who will enable them to prosper and share in their success.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 03:37

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