Shaker moderator says voter's intent was to form 'culture' committee that wasn't beholding to the school board
BELMONT — After meeting on April 23 to finalize the parameters of a "culture climate and survey analysis" for the Shaker Regional School District, the school board will be meeting at the Belmont Elementary School at 6 p.m. on May 11 to interview the two companies that submitted bids to do the work.
According to a school board member who spoke to The Daily Sun off the record, the price range for the culture survey is between $14,000 and $19,000, defending on the specificity and range of services desired by the board.
The Daily Sun learned yesterday that 16 requests for proposals were solicited from qualifying companies and two responded — Loyalty Factor, LLC of Portsmouth and PCG Education of Boston, Mass.
According to the posting, the meeting is scheduled to be held in a non-public session, however the validity of the closed-door nature of the meeting is being questioned by The Daily Sun.
The idea of a culture survey stems from a non-binding article petitioned on to the end of the district warrant at the March annual meeting. It expressed a desire to form a separate committee to look at the "culture" as it applied to school district employees.
It was led in part by Moderator Roy Roberts, who temporarily ceded his podium to former Moderator Tom Goulette to speak about the "culture problem" in the district.
Roberts told the assembly that he has received letters and phone calls and that it is his perception that there are some culture problems, primarily within the staff.
Roberts was joined by parent Sunny Dearborn who said that, in her opinion, there is a culture of intimidation within the district. She said some teachers are choosing early retirement and there seems to be a lack of support for teachers and parents.
Other attendees at the district meeting who spoke included two Canterbury parents who supported forming the "culture committee".
Roberts said yesterday that the potential hiring of a private contractor by the school board is not what the people who attended the district meeting wanted.
He said the advisory warrant article that passed asked for an independent committee that contained two members of the school board, two members of the staff and two members of the general community (one each from Belmont and Canterbury) to be named by him as moderator. Roberts said he anticipated there would be some kind of survey performed by some outside company and the issue he has with what the board has done so far is not about the money.
When asked what the difference is, he said the survey they had envisioned would question staff and former staff only and the questions would be driven by the committee, not solely by the school board.
"This way the board gets to control the survey," he said. "It's not independent."
"These people who showed up at the meeting were unsatisfied with nearly every decision the board made," Roberts said, naming the Gale School, the proposed elimination of a high school science teacher and the decision not to have full-day kindergarten as items all decided by the board and reversed by the voters at meeting.
"The message was to have the board step away," he said, likening it to a vote of no confidence. "The board doesn't have any credibility with the community."
Dissatisfaction with the board was also partially reflected in the election when Belmont residents voted incumbent Donna Cilley out of office in favor of Patty Brace. Cilley was on the ballot but because of personal reasons did not actively campaign for her seat. She did not support full-time kindergarten for the 2015-2016 school year.
Canterbury resident Heidi Hutchinson ran unopposed for re-election. Hutchinson also voted for full-day universal pre-kindergarten and against full-day kindergarten.
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 April 2015 11:05
LACONIA — With funds to restore Weirs Beach included in the 2016 budget proposed by City Manager Scott Myers, Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, briefed the City Council on Monday on the recommendations of the Woods Hole Group, Inc. of East Falmouth, Massachusetts for managing the erosion shrinking the beach.
Under contract with the city, The Woods Hole Group began studying the migration of sand at the beach in 2011 and the next year reported that each year approximately 1,200 cubic yards of sand — enough to fill 182 city dump trucks — is swept by wind and water from Weirs Beach into Lake Winnipesaukee and the Weirs Channel. The data collected indicated that some 600 cubic yards of sand was blown from beach by wind, another 500 cubic yards was lost to the action of waves and nearly 100 cubic yards was carried away by stormwater.
In its final report issued in February the Woods Hole Group recommends a number of complementary measures to mitigate the erosion and stabilize the beach. First and foremost, the report calls for "nourishing" the beach with between 7,300 and 9,000 cubic yards of additional sand, which would increase the width of the beach by 60 to 75 feet,
The report proposes supplementing the addition of sand with steps to keep it in place. First, installing sand fencing parallel to the jetty at the eastern edge of the beach would capture sand that would otherwise be swept into the channel. The fencing could trap as much as 600 cubic yards of sand a year, which is equivalent to the annual loss of sand to the wind. Fencing would be accompanied by what the report calls "manual backpassing," or returning the sand captured at the eastern edge of the beach to the western end of the beach every two or three years. Finally, adding 20 feet to the jetty, which reaches about 100 feet into the lake, would significantly reduce the amount of sand carried around the jetty and into the channel.
Finally, the report suggests erecting two adjustable groins, extending our into the lake to stabilize the replenished sand, would extend the life of the restored beach. The authors of the report estimate that after five years only half the additional sand would remain without the groins compared to three-quarters of the additional sand with the groins. After 25 years only a quarter of the additional sand would remain without the groins compared to nearly half with them.
The estimated cost of the measures ranges from $438,000 to $576,000, with the cost of adding sand to beach representing the largest single cost at $200,000 to $300,000. Dunleavy said that estimates include the cost of permitting, engineering and construction.
Dunleavy explained that sand added to the beach must be treated and washed to eliminate phosphorus, an unwanted nutrient that impairs water quality, which increases the cost. He suggested the fencing could be installed this spring or summer, very likely for much less than the $8,000 to $9,000 estimated.
Myers has recommended borrowing $300,000 for the engineering and construction phases of the project. Finance director Donna Woodaman said that $40,000 appropriated for the project in 2014 but not expended has been carried forward and the city's share of revenue from parking fees at Weirs Beach amounts to another $42,000. Finally, a fund accrued from beach passes designated for the maintenance of the city's beaches has a balance of about $36,000.
Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) remarked "it's a lot of money," but quickly added that she is "all in favor of revitalizing The Weirs." The council will likely next consider the project when it reviews the 2016 budget.
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 April 2015 10:57
LACONIA — For the second straight year, a long and cold winter has led to a decision not to hold the traditional "shakedown cruise" of the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship.
Chris Secord, director of sales for the Mount Washington Cruise Lines, said that uncertainty over whether or not Lake Winnipesaukee would be ice free by May 4 prompted the decision not to host the annual rite.
''We decided that rather than sending out 150 invitations and then having to contact people at the last minute about a cancellation, that it made more sense to cancel the event altogether''' said Secord.
Lake Winnipesaukee was declared ice-free on April 24, one day later than last year, and for the second straight year many observers had predicted that ice-out wouldn't take place until May.
The cruise, which has served as an official state inspection voyage, has for years has given state and local officials, members of New Hampshire's tourism industry, and the media the opportunity to climb aboard and observe the ship as she moves through her annual operating maneuvers on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Jim Morash, captain and part owner of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation, said that the cruise became a tradition in the mid 1980s after the cruise ship was lengthened to 230 feet.
The ship will soon depart from its winter home in Center Harbor to move to its summer home at Weirs Beach and will make its inaugural run of the season on Mother's Day, May 10, with champagne cruises at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The M/S Mount Washington's official season runs from May 16 to October 18. Daily cruises depart from Weirs Beach and service the ports of Meredith, Wolfeboro, Center Harbor and Alton Bay. With a capacity of 1,250 passengers, the Mount Washington serves as the largest restaurant in the state and a popular gathering point for school proms, college reunions, large corporate celebrations and weddings.
In addition to operating the 230-foot long 'Mount,' the parent corporation also owns and operates the 74-foot U.S. Mail Boat Sophie C., and 68-foot Doris E.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 April 2015 12:58
GILMANTON — About 30 people stopped by the newly rehabilitated Gilmanton Academy building Saturday for an open house, celebrating the reopening of the historic building that had been closed since sustaining severe water damage in early January.
A sprinkler pipe burst in the attic of the historic building this winter, sending water cascading throughout and causing about $137,000 in damage throughout the building and causing it to be closed for about 2 1/2 months.
Town employees worked in a modular building placed behind the academy until it reopened at the end of March.
The repairs included a fresh coat of paint throughout the building as well as the replacement of nearly every computer terminal and piece of furniture.
Wiring was replaced throughout the building as was the ceilings and carpets. All of the floors were redone.
Town Administrator Arthur Capello said all of the feedback was very positive and townspeople were happy with the way the building looks. Capello said some minor upgrades were also done to the outside of the academy including the handicapped ramp.
He said the most frequent comment he heard was that the inside of the building looked clean and new.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 April 2015 12:54
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