Save it till Labor Day?

Laconia mulls later start to the school year


LACONIA — School officials plan to poll parents and tourism businesses this week to see if the Laconia School District should start its school year later, maybe even after Labor Day.
"Normally it's said in passing, 'I wish we could stay after Labor Day,' so why not check it out?" said Superintendent Brendan Minnihan, explaining the rationale for a possible shift in the schedule.
This school year, staff arrived on Aug. 23, and classes started for students on Aug. 30. Barring delays due to snow days, the school year is scheduled to end Wednesday, June 14, with a teacher workshop scheduled on Thursday, June 15.

Minnihan said he wanted to explore different schedules, based on feedback.
"Most schools in New Hampshire start before Labor Day still. There are some, especially if they have major fairs associated with their towns, that start after Labor Day," Minnihan said.
On Tuesday, Minnihan told the Laconia School Board that feedback to administrators indicated a desire to start later.
If the district resumed its current schedule, dubbed Option A, staff would return on Tuesday, Aug. 22, and students would come back Tuesday, Aug. 29. A second option, dubbed Option B, would stagger the schedule a week later.
"Part of our process is to seek input from others," Minnihan said, "and one of the pieces of input that we received is that the 22nd, 23rd and 24th is pretty early in August for teachers and staff to come back. Could we consider doing the 28th, 29th and 30th, and then have students come back on the 31st and 1st?"
Another option, dubbed Option C, would push the start of school to after the Sept. 4 Labor Day holiday.
"What happens to the calendar if you start after Labor Day, which would end the school year on Monday, June 19?" Minnihan said, posing a rhetorical question to the board.
Board member Mal Murray said, "Before we vote on this, if we're going to change from (Option) A, which is kind of the basic schedule, I think it ought to go to the public." Particularly to push past Labor Day, Murray said, the public should weigh in. "It's a change. To me it's a big change. You're coming back after Labor Day," he said.
School board members Aaron Hayward and Stacie Sirois suggested a hybrid schedule, slightly shifting the dates to late August.
Hayward said the current schedule, if resumed, would bring staff back Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 22-24, and then students would return Tuesday, Aug. 29.
"That four-day weekend of Friday and Monday is a waste of time," Hayward said.
Instead, he said, staff days could be Thursday, Friday and Monday, Aug. 24, 25 and 28, and school could start on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
"If we were to push that and say Thursday, Friday and Monday were your staff days and then school starts on the 29th, you'd then have a three-day week with kids," he said.
Board member Michael Persson said tourism businesses should have a say in the schedule, especially in the case of a later start.
"It just always struck me that we're in a tourist area, and a lot of these kids, sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school, have summer jobs, and sometimes (when school starts) it's still part of the summer season for a lot of these businesses," Persson said. "It would be interesting to hear what the tourism businesses have to say about whether that's had an impact on them and their willingness to hire our high school students as opposed to bringing people from overseas."
In a post-Labor Day start, a few snow days could force school to run through the end of June, but the tradeoff is students could work through the end of the summer season, Persson said.
Sirois said, "You'd have to find out from the businesses, I guess, whether having kids at the tail end of summer is more important than at the beginning of summer."
Minnihan said he would email the proposals to parents and also send a similar survey to the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Lakes Region Tourism Association.
Minnihan said one wild card is the Huot Technical Center. Four school districts send students to the center, and the district's calendars need to be close to the schedules of the sending schools, he said.

Minnihan said he hoped for a prompt turnaround on survey responses, ideally within the week so a recommendation can be developed for the next school board meeting on Jan. 17.
Anyone with feedback about the district schedule can email Minnihan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Women found sleeping in storage space lead to drug arrest


SANBORNTON — Police charged a man who was renting a space in a Bay Road industrial building with possession with intent to sell methamphetamine after following up on a complaint on Tuesday that two women were sleeping there when they shouldn't have been.

Robert DuPont, 53, of Sanbornton is also charged with possession of methamphetamine and resisting arrest for allegedly trying to get away from the arresting officer.

Police Chief Steve Hankard said an officer went to 31 Bay Road to check out the complaint and found an apartment in an office space near a small auto and motorcycle mechanic shop that DuPont runs.

In the unlawful apartment, police saw a clear plastic bag containing less than an ounce of methamphetamine and packaging materials.

"It was more than just for personal use," said Hankard, who added that while the methamphetamine was all in one package, there were packaging materials as well.

Sanbornton Police received a search warrant and, a New Hampshire State Police K-9, found multiple guns, documentation of drugs sales, and additional packaging materials.

Additionally, Fire Chief Paul Dexter determined that the apartment was unlawfully constructed, according to life-safety codes, and DuPont and the property owners were served notice of the issue.

The property is owned by Allen Michael LLC and is in an industrial zone according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State website and Sanbornton property tax records.

Hankard said the property owners were fully cooperative with police and the two women were visiting DuPont. They were questioned and released.

DuPont was held overnight on $5,000 cash bail. Hankard said he was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon at the Belknap County Superior Court but the Belknap County Attorney's office decided to hold the case for indictment. DuPont is no longer incarcerated in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Help for crash victims

GoFundMe page set up for family hurt on Monday


GILFORD — A friend of the four people who were injured in a collision Monday night on Lake Shore Road has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help pay for the family's medical bills.

Kimberly Martin of Center Barnstead said on her page that the family doesn't have any insurance and, because of the severity of the injuries to Brent Stranger and his 2-year-old daughter, Arianna, the family will be hard pressed to pay off the medical bills.

She said Sarah Kunst, who was the passenger in the 2003 Ford Focus, suffered a broken arm and will need surgery, but that she and her newborn son, Aiden, are home. Martin posted that Aiden is fine.

Stranger was driving the car headed east toward their home on Mount Major Highway when it collided with an Ford Econoline van being driven by James Willingham of Pine Street in Laconia, who was headed west toward Laconia.

In her post, Martin said the van swerved into Stranger's lane; however, Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said he could neither confirm or deny that because the accident reconstruction investigation by his department is not completed.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Brent Stranger and Arianna were still at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, where they were flown in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

Police said father and daughter were on the driver's side of the car, which suffered the most damage in the offset head-on collision.

Willingham, Kunst and baby Aiden were taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital, where all three were treated and released.

In an email sent to The Laconia Daily Sun, Martin said that the page has gotten over 1,000 "hits" and that she thanks everyone for their contributions, thoughts and prayers.

The page may be found at

01-04 GoFundMe page for crash family

The GoFundMe page for the family involved in a serious collision Monday night in Gilford had gained more than $5,000 by Wednesday afternoon. (Screenshot)