City Elementary Schools will send out new Report Cards

LACONIA — Elementary school students will be bringing home new report cards next month which will reflect shared standards across all of the schools and provide parents with more information about their child's progress in mastering each area of learning.
Gail Bourn, the school district's academic coordinator for teaching and learning, told the Laconia School Board Tuesday night that the new report cards are based on Common Core standards and have been developed over the last year by school district committee which included teachers and school administrators.
She explained that it marks the first change in report card standards for city schools since 2003 and brings together all of the information in one system which can be accessed by music, art and phys ed teachers as well as classroom teachers, making it easier to compile information and maintain standards.
Tara Beauchemin, principal of the Elm Street School, said that parents were surveyed to help identify what they wanted to see in new report cards.
Bourn said that the template for the new report cards is almost completed and that meetings will be scheduled with parents of elementary school students the last week of October, just before grades close, to explain the report card changes.
Board member Malcolm Murray wondered how long it will take teachers to do the report cards and Bourn said that it will take no longer than the old report cards.
She also noted that the standards based system used to measure student progress will also make it easier for teachers to identify when students are having problems and some form of intervention is needed.
Christine Gingeralla, director of the Project Extra program, reported on the project's summer program, which she served 444 students in Grades K to 8 in a four-week program.
Beth Vachon, assistant director of the Project Extra program, and Sarah Downing, special education director at Elm Street School, said that the STEM-based summer programs helped students develop a better understanding of science and technology and were very popular with the students.
Interim School Superintendent Phil Mcormack said that having a program like Project Extra is something which sets Laconia apart from other school districts in the state and provides ''a type of intervention that will make a difference'' by providing additional learning time for students.

Fuse box fire spreads through multi-family home on Messer Street

LACONIA — A rapid, efficient response by Laconia firefighters, assisted by crews from Gilford, Belmont, Tilton-Northfield, Meredith ,Sanbornton and Franklin, limited damage to a multi-family residence at 121 Messer Street, next door to Uniformly Yours, from a fire that started in the basement at about 3 p.m. and quickly climbed through the walls to all three upper stories. Firefighters had the scene under control in about 45 minutes.

Deputy Fire Chief Kirk Beattie said that Lieutenant Jay Ellingson and his crew from Central Station arrived to find fire in the basement and smoke on the upper floors. They quelled the fire in the basement, which apparently arose from the electrical panel. Told there were people inside, firefighters entered the building to find fire rising in the space between the exterior and interior walls characteristic of balloon framing. Beattie said there was fire in the walls, floors and ceilings on all three floors. Crews from several departments worked throughout the building, stripping the walls to find the fire and extinguish it. Two firefighters atop the aerial on Ladder One cut the roof, but as the fire below was contained found no need to open it.

Beattie credited the prompt arrival of companies from Laconia, including nine off-duty firefighters completing a paramedic class, Gilford and Belmont with preventing the fire from spreading further.

There are five units in the building, two on the ground floor and first and one on the third floor, with some eight adult residents, none of whom were injured. Most occupants found alternative housing, but the Red Cross and Laconia Police were seeking homes for two adults. Firefighters removed a caged ferret from the building, but a resident said that the whereabouts of a second ferret were unknown.

Beattie estimated the value of the damage to the building at approximately $50,000 and placed an equal value on the contents lost or damaged in the fire. The cause of of the fire remains under investigation.

Public hearing tonight for $8-million bond to build new county jail

LACONIA — Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy says that a public hearing on a proposed $8 million bond issue to build an 18,000-square-foot, 64-bed community corrections center and make upgrades to the current Belknap County House of Corrections is in the process of being scheduled for October 27 at 7 p.m.
He said that he had talked with Belknap County Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) about the date and says that the convention will meet on November 2 at 6 p.m. to vote on the bond issue, which will require a two-thirds majority from the 18-member convention.
At a meeting in early September, Belknap County Commissioners voted unanimously to support the plan developed by SMP Architecture of Concord, which calls for spending $7,171,928 for a community corrections center as well as $491,000 for upgrades to the existing county jail, which currently has 87 beds. County corrections Interim Superintendent Keith Gray said that parts of the current jail which are too difficult to renovate would no longer be used, leaving the current facility with a capacity of 60 inmates.
The proposed cost of the community corrections facility includes a $700,000 contingency fund.
Additional items were budgeted at $668,300.
Also included in the overall operating plan are security and program costs, which are estimated at $650,000 for hiring six additional Department of Corrections staffers and contracting with private firms to provide programs aimed at helping offenders deal with drug, alcohol and mental health problems before they are released into the community.
Kevin Warwick of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., a consulting firm hired by the county to develop programs for a community corrections center, has noted that Belknap County currently has the lowest staffing of any county jail in the state with only 30 staff members and a capacity of 93 inmates. Carroll County has 36 staffers with an inmate capacity of 60 while Grafton County has 54 staffers and a capacity of 115 inmates. Sullivan County, which served as a model for the plan developed for Belknap County, has a 56 staffers and a capacity of 95 inmates.
He and Ross Cunningham, who was corrections superintendent in Sullivan County when its community corrections facility was built, both say that doing nothing is not an option for Belknap County as the county faces the possibility of lawsuits unless its facility meets federal standards, which it does not.
DeVoy is chairman of the Jail Planning Committee, whose members include Warwick, Cunningham, Keith Gray, Interim Superintendent of the Belknap County Corrections Department, Deb Shackett, Belknap County Administrator; Dustin Muzzey, Belknap County facilities manager; Brian Loanes, director of the Restorative Justice Program, Nicole Mills and Tamara McGonagle, staff members at the Belknap County Corrections Department.