To The Daily Sun,
A year and a half ago, Ashland Elementary School faculty and administration began a discussion about student learning and effective teaching. Through their efforts and commitment, Ashland is providing an educational program that continues to meet the needs of our students and maximizes the opportunities for student success.
Students at Ashland Elementary School have made tremendous academic progress since the beginning of the school year. Grades 1-5 have shown a 75 percent increase in reading scores and an 86 percent increase in math scores. Grades 6-8 show similar progress with a 65 percent increase in reading scores and a 72 percent increase in math scores.
Ashland's assessment program is based on state and national standards and student competency for each standard. Competency is determined by collecting evidence through performance tasks such as hands-on demonstrations, oral reports, tests and other written assignments. Each piece of evidence is then evaluated according to the student's level of understanding. To be considered proficient, a student must receive 85 percent or better on assessments. Since grades are no longer averaged, the report card has a different look. A student's report is a comprehensive document that indicates which academic standards he or she is working on and the level of competency. Parents can access their child's academic progress online or, if requested, a paper copy will be sent home.
This year Ashland introduced more technology across all school programs. Technology is used as a tool for learning and to report student progress. Students in the primary and intermediate tiers have access to Kindles as well as the computer lab. Middle tier students have access to iPads (purchased or rented) that are used during class instruction, for individual research and for homework assignments.
We believe that the school has done an exemplary job in providing numerous opportunities for students to interact socially. Some examples are as follows: All School Meetings, Annual Halloween Parade, Winter Recreation Program, Winter Carnival, Pajama Day — sponsored by the Student Council, Monthly SAU Dances, Field Day, and I Love to Read Week. Social skills are also addressed in each class as part of the learning process.
As candidates for the Ashland School Board, we ask for your support. We believe that student success requires quality professionals, sound curriculum and assessment, and well-informed educational and budgetary decisions.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:52
To The Daily Sun,
On Tuesday, March 11, the voters of Gilford will go to the polls to decide how their tax dollars will be appropriated. As a Gilford resident and member of the Genesis Behavioral Health Board of Directors, I ask my fellow community members to vote "yes" on Article 21 to support emergency mental health care for all residents of our town.
Genesis Behavioral Health (GBH) is the community mental health center serving Belknap and southern Grafton counties. A private, non-profit organization founded in 1966 by Dr. George "Pete" Harris, a Gilford pediatrician who recognized the critical need for mental health services in the community, GBH provided behavioral health care to 3,274 Lakes Region children, families, and adults in Fiscal Year 2013.
GBH served 171 Gilford residents in Fiscal Year 2013 and provided $13,986 of uncompensated care – care the organization provided but for which they will not receive reimbursement. Thirty-six Gilford residents used emergency services in FY13.
This critical, safety net organization asks all 24 towns in its catchment area to contribute to the Emergency Services (ES) program, using a formula based upon the town's population to ensure fairness. ES provides any resident of Gilford experiencing a mental health emergency with access to a Master's-level clinician and psychiatrist 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, regardless of their ability to pay. Services are provided through a 24-hour hotline, in person, or via telemedicine to ensure rapid access to care.
We know from the headlines that the mental health crisis in New Hampshire is real. The National Institute on Mental Health reports that one in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year. Without proper treatment, mental illness affects one's ability to work, participate in school, contribute to the community and maintain relationships. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than $100 billion each year in the United States, causing unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives. Reduced access to mental health care leads to increased demand on many of the systems in our community, including emergency rooms, law enforcement, first responders, courts, corrections, schools and municipalities. GBH not only helps those in need, but its services also reduce costs for our town and improve the health and safety of our community.
ES is often the gateway into services for people in need of mental health treatment. Access to behavioral health care was identified as a top priority in the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health's 2013 Community Needs Assessment. Mental health related emergency department visits/observation stays in the Lakes Region are significantly higher than the overall New Hampshire rate (1,541.5 per 100,000 vs. 1,409.9). The need for crisis intervention in our community is evident.
Thank you for supporting GBH for the past four years. Any one of us, at any time, could be in a position to need their services. I am confident that my fellow Gilford residents will choose wisely and continue to appropriate funds to this worthwhile organization.
Dr. Kelley White
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:37
To The Daily Sun,
My name is Peter Fogg and I am running for one of two seats on the Tilton Board of Selectmen. I moved to Tilton in mid-1995, in the house I currently reside. In 1996 I became a member of the Sewer Commission and continue to serve as chairman 18 years later. For the past four years, I have also served on the Parks Commission currently as vice chair, and seven years as a member of the Tilton-Northfield Fire District Budget Committee.
In the past I have served as Cubmaster and Committee Chair of Cub Scout Pack 248 over an eight-year period, as umpire and umpire-in-chief for the Winnisquam Cal Ripken Baseball League for over five years and as coach, manager, umpire, secretary, and co-president of the Tilton-Northfield Little League for over 12 years. I am currently assisting the Friends of Winnisquam Football by maintaining the football field at the Route 132 field where there home games are played.
I am employed as a high school mathematics and AutoCAD drafting teacher at the Winnisquam Regional High School where I have taught for the past 13 years.
I am running for selectman for several reasons. I have been working on budgets for the Fire District for seven years now and about 18 years as a Sewer Commissioner. When spending money raised through either taxation or user fees my philosophy is to prudently spend what is necessary to keep the operations working properly without going overboard. I believe this is evidenced by raising the sewer user fees only twice in the past 18 years. Any new major sewer projects have always come with 50 percent or more grant money, in order to reduce the cost to the taxpayers.
I have worked with the town departments such as land use to create a procedure that assures all applicable boards and commissions would be notified before any new projects coming before the Planning Board for site plan review. This procedure assures boards like the Conservation Commission the ability to provide valuable input on wetland, drainage, and other potential impacts on the environment. Before this procedure was implemented, applicable boards and commissions often found out after the site plan approval was approved when it was too late to offer pertinent advice.
Another reason for running is to create better collaboration and cooperation between our boards, commissions, and departments. We have many experienced people in town, and we should better tap into their expertise. If possible, we should examine whether it is more cost-effective to complete work with our existing employees or look at the possibility of subcontracting this work.
I would like to open a dialogue with the surrounding communities to investigate whether or not sharing costs on services and/or equipment is beneficial to all parties. Sharing costs on items like a recycling truck or working with another community to contract picking up our recyclables might provide greater leverage in discussions with Bestway/Casella. Items like street sweepers, graders, excavators that are either purchased or leased for longer time periods between two or more communities may be cheaper than hiring outside contractors.
My experience has taught me to look for practical approaches to solve problems and to listen to both sides before making a decision. I ask for your vote on March 11.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:29
To The Daily Sun,
The following letter is in response to a letter by Lou LaCourse which was published on March 5:
In your letter to The Daily Sun, you asked how we are going to lose our property rights and stated that no one ever tells us how that will happen. There were two meetings held in Alton this past September to discuss workforce housing. One was held by your town planner supporting workforce housing and the other by those in opposition. The opposition spelled out in detail how the private property rights of Alton taxpayers would be affected. It is imperative for Alton residents to attend such meetings in order to be informed as to the positions of both sides of an issue. Apparently, you were unable to attend those meetings.
Mr. Wittmann and those who agree with him are not supporting removal of private property rights, but are in support of maintaining local control of those rights. The workforce housing supported by your town planner authorizes the federal and state governments to usurp the rights of the taxpayers of Alton in deciding how private property owners can use and develop their land. They accepted funding from the state which was provided by the federal government and such money doesn't come to the State without some cost.
I suggest that you research the federal property development plan which they are attempting to impose on the State called the Granite State Future sustainable communities program. You can go to granitestatefutures.org. for detailed information. On page 15 of the HUD document (HUD-1044) which is part of this program, they discuss "Strategy to Address Barriers..... "to the successful implementation of their plan. They state that in New Hampshire "Anticipated barriers include NH's strong tradition of individual property rights and resultant resistance to planning and zoning."
Workforce housing is just another federal and state government overreach.
Some will tell you that the federal government's role is merely that of an adviser even though millions of fed dollars are provided. Under a similar plan, Westchester County, N.Y., agreed to build 700-plus units of affordable housing. During that program the feds came back to them and told them that they had to build in excess of 10,000 units. Westchester is now embroiled in litigation with the feds. This is costing millions of dollars in legal fees and the additional building that they are being asked to do will cost tens of millions without any fed money.
Do you want that for Alton?
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:23
To The Daily Sun,
Bristol Election Day is March 11. Voting this year will take place at the Marian Center at the foot of Newfound Lake. Many people don't know this because voting has traditionally been held at the Bristol Old Town Hall on Summer Street. In addition to the new venue, there are a number of new candidates running for town offices.
One for example is Andy O'Hara, a long-time Bristol resident and owner of APT Plumbing. Andy is running for Bristol selectperson for a three-year term. Another new candidate is Paul Manganiello, of Bristol's Basic Ingredients on Route 3A, who is likewise running for a three-year term. Both of these candidates are fiscally responsible and care about bringing viable businesses into the beautiful, newly renovated downtown Central Square.
Of course there are other candidates as well so check them out at "Meet the Candidates" on Saturday, March 8, at the Minot Sleeper Library on Pleasant Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Voters can make a better informed decision afterward.
So please attend this friendly, social, informational gathering. You will be glad you did.
The Bristol Budget Committee is also a hotly contested race. Dave Carr is running for re-election, and John Thouin is hoping to be newly elected to the Budget Committee. Hoping to hold onto his current seat on the Budget Committee is Kevin MacCaffrie.
Whatever your choice of candidates it is important that you vote on March 11 at the Marian Center on West Shore Road between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:20