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Gilford board insists on keeping prep times for high school teachers

GILFORD — The School Board on Monday night rejected Superintendent Ken Hemingway suggested calender for 2014-2015 school year that included 15 instead of 24 delayed-opening days at the high school.

After a considerable amount of discussion, the board settled on 21 days — considerably more than the nine delayed-opening days mandated by the recently renegotiated union contract but less than the 24 the teachers have this year.

On a delayed opening day, student arrive at 9 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m., giving teachers two hours of preparation and coordination time.

The rational, said School Board member Kurt Webber, who told Hemingway he would not vote for the calender as it was initially presented, was that board was told the teachers at the high school needed more preparation time.

Member Paul Blandford said he recalled that the delayed-entry days were created because the board had learned that two math teacher had entirely different curricula and entirely different grading standards but were supposedly teaching the same class.

"There is no good reason to reduce the number of delayed entry Wednesdays," Webber said, adding he wanted to go back to the 24 days so the faculty could do "sufficient preparation."

Principal Peter Sawyer said the teachers were "not happy with 15 days at all." He said his personal feeling was 21 days would be enough but said he could live with 18.

At the elementary and middle school levels, the teachers have early student-release days for planning and coordinating curriculum. However, because of athletics and the Huot Technical Center schedule, the high school is unable to let students go home after a half day.

There are nine early release days in the 2014-2015 calendar.

According to School Board Chair Sue Allen, the delayed-openings came about during the administration of former Superintendent Paul DeMinico for the purpose of giving high school teachers more time to coordinate their curriculum toward competency-based grading.

"We wanted to make sure all of the teachers were on the same page as to expectations of student learning," she said.

At the time, Allen said the board and the administrative team determined 24 days of delayed entry — or roughly 48 hours of planning without students in the building — was the appropriate amount of time. It is also consistent with the number of hours elementary and middle school teachers have for planning through the use of early release days.

"I'm very sensitive to the issue of equitable time," she said, referring to the amount of time teachers get to plan and coordinate at each of the three schools.

At their meeting, the equitable time issue between the three schools was briefly discussed but Webber said he wasn't buying it.

"I want the administration to tell me why a schedule at the elementary school should effect one at the high school," he said.

Hemingway said he and the current administrative team believe much of the coordination of curricula has been accomplished as part of the district's planning for the Common Core implementation and that 24 days is more than what the teachers need.

He told the board he wanted to get more instructional time or "seat time" for the students.

"It's always been about "seat" time verses teacher preparation time," Allen said yesterday. "It's a very delicate balance."

The calender also set August 27, 2014 as the first day of school, with the last week in February as winter vacation and the last week in April as spring vacation.

In other school district news, the board voted unanimously to go forward with Phase I of the Gilford Meadows Athletic Fields project.

Allen said Phase 1 includes preparing and seeding the multi-purpose field closest to the Gilford Meadows Condominium along Intervale Road and installing irrigation for the football playing field and the new practice field.

She said they are looking to seed in mid-August so the new field will be ready for fall of 2015.

Allen said the goal is to always have a multi-purpose field and the football playing field available during the multi-phased project.

The project is being constructed through in-kind donations coordinated through the Gilford Meadows Committee and money raised through donations and events.

Hemingway also announced the date of the golf tournament that raises money for the fields is May 17 at Pheasant Ridge Country Club. Hole sponsorship will be $125 and it is $90 to play in the tournament. Anyone who wants to play or sponsor a hole should contact the SAU at 527-9215.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 12:59

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Man charged with stealing drug from Gilford veterinary practice

GILFORD — A former employee of MacDonald Veterinary Services has been charged with one count of possession of controlled drugs and one count of theft for allegedly stealing animal anesthetics for his personal use.

Police affidavits filed in court said Bruce Sanborn, 42, former of 41 Gilford East Drive #A was living in a "temporary rent-free apartment" adjacent to MacDonald's Veterinary Clinic. He had been given the apartment by Dr. Robert MacDonald and was doing janitorial work for the clinic and had a key to the business.

Sanborn had been living there since the end of January, said police, because his girlfriend in Meredith had apparently thrown him out of the house.

At some point, MacDonald realized that some Telazol — which is a brand name for a drug used by veterinarians — was missing. Police said Telazol is a combination of an anesthetic and a muscle relaxer administered to animals during surgery. It is a schedule III drug.

Once MacDonald realized some of it was missing he tested the rest of the drug and found out that what he had in the vile had also been diluted.

Police said he set up a video surveillance system and recorded Sanborn taking a vial out of the refrigerator on March 3 after the business was closed and before they opened the next morning. After Sanborn returned the vial, MacDonald measured the contents and said there was one cubic centimeter less liquid that before Sanborn allegedly took it.

Detectives said MacDonald was able to recognize Sanborn by his face and by some specific tattoos.

On March 4, police got a warrant and searched the apartment, finding a syringe that MacDonald's wife identified as the same type as some that were kept in the basement — an area Sanborn had once cleaned.

Sanborn was arrested by Meredith Police on Tuesday and turned over to Gilford Police. He refused bail.

He appeared in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday and was released on $25,000 personal recognizance bail. He was ordered to stay away from the MacDonalds and to live on Livingstone Road in Meredith.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 12:52

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Ashland voters being askedto purchase 'new' library building

by Thomas P. Caldwell

ASHLAND — Trustees of the Ashland Town Library, citing crowding at the Scribner Library, are hoping voters will agree to purchase the former Ashland School from the Tri-County Community Action Program. A $950,000, 10-year bond issue will be on the ballot for a decision on March 11.
TCCAP purchased the three-story brick building from the Ashland School District in 2008, paying $1 plus a $44,000 reimbursement to the school district for the demolition of the former high school building. Community Action then spent $1.25 million for restoration and improvements to the school, bringing the building up to code, installing new heating and cooling systems and a zoned sprinkler system, and putting in energy-efficient lighting and windows, as well as building a handicapped entrance and installing an elevator to provide access to all floors.
The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1877-78 and served as a school until 1990. The new Ashland Elementary School sits on an adjacent parcel and the library trustees cite that as one of the attractions of the building: It is a short, safe walking distance from the elementary school so students could use the library for in-school visits and after-school activities.
In addition to the main circulation area on the first floor, there would be three office spaces that could serve as rooms for study and tutoring. There would be triple the current space for a children's room — the Scribner Library has room for only 12 children  — and when the library holds a reading program, they have to remove the furniture from the room. There also would be a computer lab with space for laptop users.
Plans also call for a young adult area on the second floor, with space for the storage of historical records and volumes. The main collection also would be on the second floor, along with the library's audio-visual collection, work tables, and comfortable seating.
The third floor has a large space with original woodwork, blackboards, and a divider that could accommodate large and small community and governmental functions. As an added benefit, the room has great views of downtown Ashland.
The current library is housed in a two-story clapboard building owned by the town and managed by the Scribner Trustees. Library Trustee David Ruell says that, with 1,245-square-feet of space, all shelving is full and adding new materials requires dispensing with older, still-valuable materials. Although the library has a ramped entrance, it is not fully handicapped-accessible, with the second floor inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair, and it has only on-street parking.
The school, by contrast, has a dedicated parking lot with space for 15 vehicles. With 7,920-square-feet of space, it would give the library six times the amount of room for its collections, activities, and storage.
TCCAP has offered to sell the building to the town for $850,000. Having closed the Head Start classroom and discontinued the Housing and Development office, TCCAP has been using just half of one story for its remaining office and no longer needs such a large building.
The warrant article seeks an appropriation of $950,000 because, should the library acquire the building, it would need to make about $100,000 in renovations, including installing a circulation desk at the main entrance and security doors to shut off the library section when the building was being used for public events in the third-floor function room. The library also would need shelving for its books and computer work stations.
While the benefits of the move are apparent, the building's purchase may be a hard sell, coming a year after Ashland's revaluation bumped the property tax rate to $25.12 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The first-year payment on the bonds issued would be $118,750, declining to $97,373 in the 10th and final year. Because the article involves a bond issue, it will take a 60 percent majority vote for the article to pass.
Nevertheless, the library is showing continued growth in usage, having increased the size of its collection by 20 percent in the last three years. Patron visits have increased 16 percent, items circulated increased 23 percent, and computer use has grown 29 percent, according to the trustees.
In order to prove the need, the library is inviting Ashland voters to visit the current library at 41 Main Street and see for themselves how crowded conditions are. Then, on Saturday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the library will be leading tours of the Ashland School at 41 School Street.
The Friends of the Ashland Library will serve free refreshments during the tours, and hold a fundraising raffle. Children will have the opportunity to read to Willow, the reading therapy dog, and listen to stories in what would be the new children's room.
For further information, see www.ashlandtownlibrary.org; call the library at 603-968-7928, or call David Ruell at 968-7716.

 

CAPTION: The trustees of the Scribner Library, also known as the Ashland Town Library, are hoping voters will approve the purchase of the old Ashland School to give them more space for their programs and collections. (Thomas Caldwell photo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

 

CAPTION: The old Ashland School would be transformed into the Ashland Town Library if voters agree to purchase the building from Tri-County Community Action Program which recently renovated the building but no longer needs all the space. (Thomas Caldwell photo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 12:36

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Hathaway report pessimistic but Heritage group not giving up

LACONIA — A report on the future of the Hathaway House prepared by Maggie Stier of the New Hampshire Preservation and Steve Bedard of Bedard Preservation of Gilmanton concludes that "In our estimation, savings this building by moving it to a new location and investing more than half a million dollars in its rehabilitation is not a viable proposition at this time."

Nevertheless, after reading the report at its meeting yesterday, the Heritage Commission agreed to pursue a private developer or investor willing to acquire, move and renovate the Italianate home, which was built in 1872 by Samuel Clark, a prominent lawyer. "I'm not willing to give up looking for a developer," declared Pam Clark, who chairs the commission, "and Charlie (St. Clair) certainly isn't."

Stier and Bedard estimated the cost of moving and renovating the building would fall between $563,400 and $751,200, adding "our estimate for a building of this age, type and condition would be at the higher end of that range." The estimates exclude the cost of a new lot for the building.

In September, Cafua Management Company, which purchased the property in 2000, applied for a permit to demolish the Hathaway House, lending urgency to the effort to preserve it. After meeting with Greg Nolan of Cafua, to discuss alternatives to demolition Clark recently acknowledged that if the building was to be preserved, it would have to relocated. The entrance to the Dunkin' Donuts outlet next door runs within 10 feet of the front door of the Hathaway House, effectively foreclosing prospects to convert the building to a either a residential or commercial use at its current location.
Last month Stier and Bedard visited the property where they found the exterior in poor condition but the finishes and features inside in sound condition and the floor plan largely unaltered. Because the building is not of post-and-beam construction, it is not feasible to take it apart and reassemble it on another site. But, it could be moved. Bedard noted that a building of comparable size was moved about a mile along Route 4 in Epsom at a cost of $80,000, much of applied to lowering utility lines.
Stier and Bedard noted that there is a half-acre building lot nearby at 903 Union Avenue, amid other homes dating from late 19th and early 20th centuries. The property is owned by attorney Phil Brouillard, who has approached the Heritage Commission. The lot is assessed as residential land at $39,100 and listed at $199,000, though Brouillard indicated that he is "willing to negotiate."
They anticipated that renovating the building would require a new foundation and replacing or repairing the sills. New electrical and HVAC systems would be required, along with bathroom facilities. Missing windows and storms would have to be replaced. Carpets would be removed and floors refinished. Walls and ceilings need repair. The building would need to be repainted inside and out and exterior trim would require replacement or repair.

Finally, to qualify for a commercial use, the building must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They estimated the cost of renovation at between $150 and $200 per square foot.
Stier and Bedard note that the cost of moving and renovating the Hathaway House far exceeds the value of similar buildings in the city. For example, a similar building downtown housing professional offices is currently listed for $299,900. Furthermore, they presume that the remaining historic buildings along Union Avenue are all at risk. They observe that the center of Lakeport is dotted with empty storefronts and doubt that "a rehabilitation of the high-style Hathaway House would be a catalyst for additional residential or professional office usage in this location."
"The Hathaway House," Stier and Bedard consider "a very large and risky project." The find that a non-profit organization would be "hard-pressed to justify taking on such a large, capital -intensive project" while a private investor would be dissuaded by "the gap between rehab costs and actual or future real estate value. In our estimation," they remark, "the numbers simply don't add up."
"Be practical and realistic," they suggest. "Recognize that not everything can be saved."
Instead, Stier and Bedard recommend taking steps to salvage some components, record the history and document the condition of the Hathway House while commemorating it with a marker at the site or a display of photographs, perhaps at the Dunkin Donuts outlet. They also offer a number of suggestions for fostering support and marshaling resources to preserve other historic resources, including compiling a fund to acquire threatened properties and providing incentives for private investment in historic buildings.
Although Cafua will complete its application for a demolition permit, Clark said that Nolan agreed to "provide a reasonable window of opportunity to explore the possibility of relocating the building. He said that at this time the company had no specific plans for the property." Clark said that Nolan assured her that "there is no imminent time frame for demolition" and should the company decide to pursue that course the commission would be given sufficient notice to salvage what it can from the building.
The commission voted unanimously not to sign the demolition permit, which Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that she intends to issue. She told the commission that by not signing it "you are making a statement."
Clark told the commission that Sarah Anderson of Gilford, who has been in the forefront of the preservation effort and questions the estimates in the report, has been doing "due diligence" and speaking with building movers and contractors in search of more accurate estimates.
Meanwhile, Clark said that since Nolan indicated the commission would be allowed time to explore relocating the building, she intends to seek a developer or investor. She said that she will approach city officials for funding to place an advertisement or request for proposals in the national media as well as consider listing the Hathaway House on the real estate market at the suggestion of Rickey Persons, who attended the meeting at her invitation.

"Moving the building is still on the table as far as I'm concerned," she said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 03:32

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