Official drop outs can usually be counted on 2 hands, or less

CONCORD — In 2010, the N.H. Department of Education changed the way it calculated the dropout rates for individual districts. Before this, the state used one year of actual data and projected it forward for four years and estimated a rate.
Since 2010, it uses the same method as it does for tracking graduation rates.
This system still leaves a number of students unaccounted for but the actual number of dropouts and people who earned a GED from one particular class is more accurately reflected.
Newfound Regional has made the best showing for lowering the number of dropouts. In 2010, the district recorded 8 students as dropouts while in 2014, there were only two. Two others completed a GED or equivalent before October of 2014.
Inter-Lakes has two dropouts in 2014 and three recorded in 2010. The years between were consistent with a bump in 2011 that saw 5 students classified as dropouts.
Belmont High School and Winnisquam Regional High School each recorded one student who dropped out in 2014. In 2010, dropouts numbered four and zero respectively. In Belmont, three student earned a GED in 2010.
Gilford High School recorded five students who dropped out in 2014 as compared to two who dropped out in 2010. In 2010 one student earned a GED while in 2014 two GED were recorded.
Laconia High School saw a significant reduction in the number of dropouts from nine in 2010 to four in 2014. Ten students earned a GED in 2010 while 11 earned one in 2014.
Franklin High School recorded four students who dropped out in 2010 which increased to 10 in 2014. Thirteen students earned a GED in 2014 in Franklin while one was recorded in 2010.
In 2010, Prospect Mountain reported three students as dropouts and in 2014 reported one student as a dropout. Five students earned a GED in 2014 and none were earned in 2010.
The story not told is what happened to the students who were included in the N.H. Department of Education groupings, but not accounted for in either the graduation rate or listed as either a dropout or someone who passed the GED.
For example, in Laconia in the Class of 2010 there were 224 students and 193 of them graduated. Ten of them earned a GED before October of 2010 and nine of them were officially classified as dropouts. That leaves 12 students in that class who are unaccounted for.
Statewide, on average 7 percent of the students who began in a class are unaccounted for, meaning they could be working, dead, or have earned a GED or an alternative high school degree after the October deadline. Students who are home-schooled are also not included in these figures.

Graduation numbers dramatize how Lakes Region class sizes have shrunk in recent years, except for Prospect Mountain

CONCORD – According to statistics provided by the N.H. Department of Education, the 2006 freshman class at Laconia High School, which was the graduating class of 2010, had 224 students.
By 2010, the incoming freshman class consisted of the 149 students who comprised the 2014 graduating class. In five years, the drop in the number of freshman students was 33 percent.
Statewide, there were 16,773 freshmen in 2006 and 14,984 freshman in 2010 — a drop of 1,789 students in public schools. This figure includes state charter schools but doesn't include private and/or religious schools. Over all that represents a 10.66 percent drop in public school students.
Belmont High School had 128 students in freshman class of 2010 and 100 in freshman class of 2010 or graduating class of 2014. This represented a decrease of 23 percent. The Belmont freshman class includes students from Canterbury.
Gilford High School had a freshman class in 2006 of 155 students. In 2010, the freshman class was 130 students or a drop of 25 students or 16.12 percent. The Gilford freshman class includes students from Gilmanton.
In 2010, Newfound Regional had a 116 students in the 2006 freshman class. In 2010 there were 101 students in the freshman class or a 12 percent decline in student enrollment.
Winnisquam had 146 students in the 2006 freshman class cohort while the number of students in the 2010 freshman class decreased to 118 in 2014 or dropped 19 percent.
At Inter-Lakes High School, the 2006 freshman class had 108, an amount that dropped to 93 in the 2010 freshman class. This represents a decrease of 13.8 percent.
The 2010 class in Franklin was 129 students while the number of students in the class of 2014 was 107, reflecting a drop of 17 percent. Beginning next year, students from Hill will be attending the Newfound Regional School District and not Franklin, although juniors and seniors will be allowed to complete their diploma programs at Franklin.
At Prospect Mountain in Alton, 136 students began in the 2006 freshman class while 142 students started in the 2010 freshman class making the Alton and Barnstead area the only area in the Lakes Region that has actually seen an increase in young people coming into to the area.

South Vista Suites featured in new Steele Hill building

SANBORNTON — Steele Hill Resorts officially opened up its new South lodging building during a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29. The resort has already filled two of the three floors in the new structure with guests during an exclusive preview prior to the official opening, and company officials predicted, based on customer feedback, the facility will be a popular choice.

Ground was broken on Steele Hill South over Labor Day in 2014, and work continued throughout the winter, and was finished in early spring. The new building is the second in a string of five that are to be built along the southern side of the resort. During the tour of the new facility, resort President Bill Cutillo, thanked Vice President of Operations Rob Robillard for his dedication to the design and coordination of the project, which resulted in a stunning facility with great views of the Belknap Range and Lake Winnisquam.

Cutillo said the three-story building utilizes a floor plan concept, new to the hotel industry, that allows guests to mix and match the amount and type of rooms reserved, based upon need. Each floor contains one main entrance door that opens up into a small atrium with two additional doors that each lead to both a one room suite and a deluxe suite with a full kitchen and living room. The multi-door concept allows guests to book the main door, giving access to both suites on a floor for a larger party, or one of the doors off the atrium, leading to a singe, two bedroom suite. Additionally, smaller parties can rent just a portion of a two bedroom suite —  a deluxe room and bath only, or a suite with bedroom and adjoining kitchen and living room.

All ground level rooms are handicapped accessible.

The deluxe suites are equipped with a full kitchen with granite counter tops, a full living room that contains a queen sized pull out couch with a Tempur-Pedic mattress, a gas fire place, two high definition flat screen televisions, a washer and dryer, full bathroom, an additional bedroom with a king sized bed, and access to an extended balcony from both the bedroom and the living room. Each room has its own temperature control system, and is surrounded by high quality, sound-proof walls.

The master bedroom suit contains a king size bed, a flat-screen television, a mini fridge and a microwave, a master bathroom with a two person Jacuzzi tub and a separate shower, and access to a balcony featuring an unobstructed view to the east.

Vice President Justin Cutillo said he believes Steele Hill South holds some of the best rooms in the Lakes Region, rooms that will provide guests with an upscale experience and a remarkable view. All guests have access to additional amenities such as two indoor pools and two outdoor pools; whirlpools and saunas; a free nine-hole executive golf course; fishing in the resorts private pond; free racquetball and tennis courts; free use of a health club; hiking/snowshoe trails; horseshoes; a children's playground; X-Box Kinect gaming systems; an on-site food delivery service; and other facilities that are open exclusively during the winter months.

Bill Cutillo thanked the Bank of New Hampshire for their assistance in building a line of credit that helped fund the Steele Hill South expansion. The rooms in the new building are now open for booking.

Laconia architect Peter Stewart designed the building. Conneston Construction Inc. (CCI) of Laconia was the general contractor.

CAPTION — Participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new South lodging building at Steele Hill Resorts in Sanbornton on May 29 were (l-r) architect Peter Stewart, Jon McAuliffe (CCI), Bryant Lehr (CCI), Tania Baert (Bank of New Hampshire), Steele Hill President Bill Cutillo, Steele Hill Vice President Justin Cutillo, Rob Robillard (Steele Hill) and Brian Hurley (Steele Hill). (Courtesy photo)

City budget review begins in earnest with presentations on roads, police & parks

LACONIA — The City Council began its review of the 2015-2016 budget recommended by City Manager Scott Myers this week with presentations from the Department of Public Works (DPW), Police Department and Recreation and Facilities Department. The fiscal year begins on July 1 but it is not unusual for the council to delay final passage until sometime in July so that the Legislature can finish its work and revenue numbers will be clearer.

The highlight of the DPW's budget is a proposed increase in spending on street repairs to begin implementing a pavement management program intended to raise the 306 streets in the city and 82 miles of road to at least "fair" condition. For some years the city has spent approximately $1.3 million on street repairs. The 2015-2016 budget recommends increasing expenditures to about $1.7 million.

In 2012-2013, an inventory and assessment of city streets found that the average "pavement condition index" (PCI)was 63 on a scale where 56 to 70 represents "fair." At the same time, the survey found that 26.2 miles, or 32 percent, of streets are in "failed" to "poor" condition with PCI s between 0 and 55 while 55.8 miles, or 55.8 percent, of streets are in "fair" to "good" condition with PCIs between 56 and 100.

Roads in "fair" condition deteriorate rapidly and the cost of maintaining a road in "fair" condition is a third or a quarter that of repairing a road in "poor" or "failed" condition. Paul Moynihan, director of Public Works, explained that lending priority to the maintenance of roads in "fair" condition makes optimal use of the available funds. At the same time, some streets in "poor" or worse condition can be improved each year. Altogether five or six miles of roadway would be either repaved or reconstructed each year. The goal of the program is to raise the average PCI of city streets to at least 70 in the next eight to 10 years.

Councior David Bownes (Ward 2) asked if once the goal was reached, would spending on street repairs be reduced. Moynihan said that he anticipated that to maintain streets "fair" condition, allowing for inflation, would require annual expenditures of between $15 million and two million for the foreseeable future.

The Police Commission has proposed a budget of $4,979,238, an increase of 2.7 percent, about half of which is represented by a $107,859 increase in salaries and benefits for the 41 sworn officers and 10 civilian employees. Police Chief Chris Adams told the council that his top priority was funding the position of Prevention-Enforcement-Treatment (PET) Coordinator for 12 months. The position, held by Officer Eric Adams, was created in 2014 to address the sharp rise in substance and abuse addiction but was funded for only one-half year.

Captain William Clary advised the council that the cost of policing Motorcycle Week is projected to rise as officers from other departments, who have been paid $34 per hour, will expect to be paid the rate they receive for private details, which ranges between $50 and $75 per hour. He said that $70,000 was budgeted for this year's rally and he anticipated spending close to that amount, but expected to expenditures to exceed $70,000 in 2016. Clary said that the number of both out-of-town officers and New Hampshire State Police has been reduced by 25 percent in the last five years as attendance at the rally has declined and the overall atmosphere has gotten tamer.

Additional seasonal personnel was also a priority for Kevin Dunleavy, director of Pars and Recreation and Facilities. He explained that the department's responsibilities have grown with the opening the Weirs Community Park, expansion of the WOW Trail and downtown riverwalk and improvement of Bobotas Field at Laconia High School. The positions , together with contracted increases in salaries and benefits, account for the $19,403 increase in the department budget, from $666,034 to $685, 437. He said that most of the $50,000 recommended for the maintenance of would be spent on athletic fields and said that the smaller parks —Rotary Park, Wyatt Park, Sanborn Park, Stewart Park — required greater investment.