Superintendent of Schools

Marion Anastasia, Ed.D

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July, 2018

Happy Summer!

Although school is not in session, we are busy  at WMRSD!  Summer school sessions at Whitefield Elementary School and Lancaster Elementary School are running strong.  Also, the Futures Summer Camp at WMRHS has full enrollment and is successful in its first year of implementation!

The WMRSD Website is taking on a new look and design.  We are under construction with providing updated content, but take a moment to check it out!

The facilities and custodial crews are extremely busy getting the buildings and grounds ready for September 4th!  We are expecting some new window replacements  at WMRHS along with new bleachers.  The Governor recently  signed the Public School Infrastructure Fund, so the Whitefield Elementary School will be working on a newly designed entrance to the building. More information  to come, soon!   The High School infracture project includes new classroom and entry locks.   At Lancaster Elementary School, the Bioshelter is completed.  All the schools will see some new flooring and paint in specific areas as well.

The District Leadership Team is working to update and revise the Strategic Plan, policies, family and staff handbooks, and most importantly, ensuring  we have high-quality staff in all the schools and departments.  New curriculum documents have been crafted for English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. The Social Studies documents are nearly completed.  We are excited to have the Curriculum Steering Committees share these with the staff this August!

Again this summer, we have a group of teachers and administrators attending the Design Studio conference to expand our competency based learning understanding.  

Personally, I am joining a cohort with  superintendents nationally,  in a year-long academy for Principal Supervision.  I am excited to learn new, effective strategies that are so important in our work. This was funded through Title IIa re-allocation funds for 2018-2019.

I plan on creating a superintendent’s website in the near future with useful links to our work!

Enjoy this beautiful New Hampshire summer weather!

Best,

Marion

March 1, 2018

Dear WMRSD Families,

Given the recent events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the WMRSD Leadership Team and I would like to share our efforts to ensure school safety for all our children and staff.

First, all of our schools have an approved Operational Emergency Plan (EOP) that is developed through the guidelines of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  An EOP contains policies and procedures to follow before, during, and after an emergency. The EOP integrates emergency preparedness activities into one document.  It is the focal point for school planning and preparedness procedures which encompass whole community planning. Our EOP’s are updated yearly and submitted to the NH Department of Education.  
At the beginning of the school year, all WMRSD staff received ALICE training (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) by certified ALICE trainers.   We are now planning a Spring evening event for all our parents/community to inform you of the strategies and methods involved in ALICE procedures.   Please watch for an invitation soon, this will be facilitated by our District Leadership Team, ALICE trainers, and local law enforcement officials.  After the parent information event, we will begin training our students and practicing according to developmental age appropriateness.
On March 20, 2018, we will have a group of WMRSD staff attend the NH DOE training designed to familiarize schools on recognizing school threats and understand how to prevent critical incidents.  This training is intended for administrators, teachers, counselors, support staff, law enforcement, local behavioral health representatives, and additional staff who play a role in threat assessments and/or school safety, security, emergency management and preparedness.  
We have also submitted grant applications to the NH DOE safety and security infrastructure fund.  If approved, our doors and locks on all schools will be upgraded as well as the entrance of the Whitefield Elementary School. We will keep you informed of our grant application status!
Meanwhile, we continue our monthly fire, lock down, and/or evacuation drills as required by law.  
We are fortunate to have a very dedicated, committed staff who care deeply about children and will do what it takes to ensure everyone’s safety.

Please feel free to contact me with any concerns!  Our WMRSD family hopes that you and your children are enjoying the winter break!
Best,
Marion

__________________________________________________________________________

December 11, 2017

WMRSD Board Accepts Proposed 2018-2019 School Budget at December 11, 2017 Meeting
by Dr. Marion Anastasia & Ms. Sheila Goulet


Dr. Marion Anastasia, Superintendent and Ms. Sheila Goulet, Director of Finance presented the White Mountains Regional School District’s 2018-2019 proposed budget for Board approval.
The $20,458,244 budget (operating  budget=$19,013,244) was approved by the WMRSD School Board on December 11, 2017.  It represents $521,443 less than the 2017-2018 operating budget. The budget includes the teachers’ salary increases of $205,798, for year 2 of their Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Given that the support staff negotiations are underway, their salaries will appear as a separate article in the Warrant.
SchoolCare health insurance rates increased 2.7 % and 2.6 % (depending on which plan the subscribers choose) for teachers.  This includes a $77,203 premium holiday.  The support staff rates increased 3.7%.  This also includes a $61,703 premium holiday.  Although there are increases in the rates, the overall health insurance budget decreased by $90,000.00 due to individual staff members’ plan changes. There are no increases for dental insurance for the FY’19 school year.  
The closing of the Jefferson Elementary School has an approximate savings of $609,500.00.   The current JES staff will be assigned to new positions/schools according to the Collective Bargaining Agreements for teachers and support staff.  The transfer of the school building’s ownership to the town of Jefferson will appear as a separate article on the Warrant to be voted on by the public.  
Our budget process is driven by the goals of the WMRSD’s Strategic Plan. We strive to attract and retain high quality teachers by offering competitive salaries and benefits.  Technology continues to ramp up so that all students in grades 6-12 will have a 1:1 device; and the schools are equipped with appropriate infrastructure to support our technology.   New, innovative offerings and models are created in all our schools to provide rigorous learning opportunities both in and outside of the school buildings. There are structures and resources available for interventions for all learners.   Teachers are continually honing their skills with ongoing professional development.  The buildings are being maintained and getting upgrades to comply with safety regulations and appropriate learning environments.  A capital plan is underway to address the long-range goals for all our facilities.  
We also generate revenue by attracting students from choice schools, obtaining alternative funding sources through tuition, grants, and maximizing federal grant strategies. We are collaborating with neighboring SAUs to share resources and professional development efforts. Next year, we will be receiving $1,100 for each kindergarten student in the District with the new Keno funding.  
The estimated tax impact for our communities is:  Carroll -$.35; Dalton -$1.05; Jefferson -$.44; Lancaster $.51; Whitefield -$.88.    The district is projected to lose $255,600 in Adequacy Aid (per estimates received by the state) with Lancaster seeing the largest decrease ($237,572).  
The December 11, 2017 budget presentation is available on the SAU36 website www.sau36.org . The Public Budget Hearing and presentation by the board is scheduled for Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 6:30 PM at WMRHS (snow date is Thursday, January 11, 2018). The Deliberative Session is scheduled for Monday, February 5, 2018 at 6:30 PM at WMRHS (snow date is Wednesday, February 7, 2018).

November 27, 2017 WMRSD School Board Meeting

Where: WMRHS  Media Center

Time: 6:30 PM

Please join us at the November 27th School Board meeting! Guests from the New Hampshire Department of Education will explain Adequate Education Aid.   You will learn how Adequacy Grants are determined and calculated; and the implications for local tax dollars. The presentation will be approximately 45 minutes.

Following the Adequacy Aid discussion, our guests from the NH Department of Education will share the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated NH State Plan, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  This discussion will be approximately 45 minutes as well.

If you cannot attend the meeting in person, please know that you can view it on our website under the School Board tab!   We hope to see you then!

NH ESSA Plan

August 25, 2017

Welcome back to the 2017-2018 School Year!  

Do you realize that this year’s kindergartners will be the class of 2030?

The custodial and buildings & grounds crew have done a tremendous job this summer getting the schools and grounds ready for our learners who will return on September 5th!  

The priority for our facilities are cleanliness and safety for students and staff.

This year, our efforts will continue to be shaped by our Strategic Planning goals and action steps.  We will be focusing on clarity in curriculum, driven by our Curriculum Steering Committees for Math, Science, Social Studies, and English Language Arts. Included in this work is data analysis so that the instructional and behavioral decisions we make are data- driven for all students.    Grades K-5 will be using a new math program, Bridges.  Teachers will be receiving professional development along the way as well as support provided by the math teacher-leaders.  

The High School is adding adding another STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) cohort of 9th graders this year!  Last year’s  9th grade STEAM cohort will continue on for their second year as 10th graders.

Our newly formed Systems of Care (SOC) Leadership Team will be working to help us address the mental health needs of our students and provide support and resources  for families and teachers.

Communication through the WMRSD website, school websites, Facebook, Twitter, email- blasts and press releases will be more frequent as we make a concerted effort to improve our communication by the entire administrative team, teachers, coaches, and staff members!  We want your feedback!

The Middle Level model is coming to fruition as the teams have been planning all spring and summer for our 6th-8th graders at Whitefield Elementary and Lancaster Elementary Schools.

The ground will be broken next week at Lancaster Elementary School to make way for the bioshelter that will be built on the space where the old barn was located.  Watch for updates and stories from LES as the project progresses!

We have many new talented staff members joining the WMRSD community! We will provide mentoring to them as they acclimate to our District.  We are fortuntate that they chose WMRSD as their workplace!  Please join me in welcoming them!

Please feel free to contact us with any feedback, comments, or questions. Our doors are open to you!

Best,

Marion

 

What Do We Mean by ‘Right-Sizing’ the District?

 

Our recently adopted WMRSD Strategic Plan includes a strategy to “create a plan for rightsizing the district that supports our educational goals and ensures equity for all students.”  

 

Right-sizing includes examining, researching, and taking necessary action on facets of the organization such as: Educational, Human Resources, Structures & Finance, Policy, Cultural, and Leadership.

 

The plan is taking shape:

 

We are working with the New Hampshire School Administrators Association (NHSAA) to embark in an assessment of educational programs and facilities as well as a demographic trend analysis. NHSAA will include researching the key areas identified above to determine our program needs.  The pertinent data from the 2007 NHSAA facilities study will also be reviewed.  An analysis of educational spaces for the high school and three elementary schools will focus on a complete demographic assessment of the communities, and create an understanding of local educational programs, their compliance with state expectations, and their adaptability to 21st century learning.  In the end, NHSAA will create a profile of how existing space is utilized in all of the district’s buildings, with an analysis of educational efficiency.

 

An example of action already taken, is the transformation or our maintenance and custodial services for WMRSD. Through the recommendations of New England School Development Council (NESDEC), we have revised job descriptions, work hours, and the supervision of the custodial staff. WMRSD has joined a local custodial buying group to save on supplies and janitorial services. A 5 year capital facilities plan is underway to identify and project major expenses for the upkeep of our buildings.

 

Our special education delivery service model has been transformed so that we can utilize a formula to determine staffing in each building according to individual students’ needs.

 

Given that our aim is to have a laser-like focus on teaching and learning, the educational transformation is taking shape with the formation of curriculum steering committees with representation from grades K-12. This will ensure consistency and equity across all grades and schools. The work ahead will include viable curriculums,  research-based grading practices, creating a local comprehensive assessment plan, and identifying instructional best practices.

In transforming teaching and learning, district leaders want to create a system in which students assume ownership for their learning. Through a culture of continuous improvement, our instructional model is moving toward embracing a learner-centered paradigm of education.  Plans for structuring schedules will accommodate this shift with a 6-8 grade middle school model and a continuation of the high school block scheduling to include extended learning opportunities and alternative pathways for high school credits.

We are using our professional development funds more wisely by offering professional development embedded within the school day, facilitated by teacher-leaders.

 

 

Technology is ramping up with every student having Chrome Books in grades 6-9. This will expand each year so that in the near future, students in grades 4-12 will have access to their own Chrome Book. Along with the technology comes the necessary building infrastructures as well as the associated professional development so that teachers and administrators are using the tools effectively.

 

A strategy to attract and retain high quality staff is to offer a competitive salary and benefit package. If the communities vote for the 2017-2018 budget and the warrant article that supports the newly negotiated teacher’s contract, this will become a reality for WMRSD!

 

The WMRSD has the ability to respond effectively to changing student needs; even with fewer dollars. The high leverage strategies included in our strategic plan will help us operate efficiently and effectively with a focus on what’s in the best interest of our students.  Our strategic plan can be found on the sau36 website.

 

Rightsizing is not an isolated event. Rather, it’s a process that requires continued self-examination as our student population changes.

January 4, 2017

The FY18 WMRSD budget presented reflects a -0.38% decrease (-$74,475) from the FY17 operating budget and a -1.47% decrease (-$309,475.00) from the FY17 total appropriation.

 Total Appropriation: $20,735,235.00  

 Operating Budget: $19,290,235.00

Location

 

Current

2016/17

Proposed

2017/18

$ Change

% Change

2015-2016

Budget

2015-2016 Expense

District

$6,357,831

$5,078,838

-$1,278,993

-20%

$6,228,101

$4,336,307

JES

$878,689

$1,044,137

$165,448

18.83%

$1,045,622

$1,044,164

LES

$4,556,952

$4,837,520

$280,568

6.16%

$4,519,989

$4,324,683

WMRHS

$5,707,548

$5,785,183

$77,635

1.36%

$5,774,100

$6,348,958

WES

$3,543,690

$3,989,557

$445,867

12.58%

$3,573,765

$3,399,917

Sub Totals

$21,044,710

$20,735,235

$-309,475

-1.47%

$21,141,577

$19,454,032

Less  Grants & Food Service

$-1,445,000

-$1445,000

$0

 

 

 

Less Surplus Articles

-$235,000

$0

-$235,000

 

 

 

Total

Operating

Budget

$19,364,710

$19,290,235

-$74,475

-0.38%

 

 

 

This budget includes the support staff salary increases for 2017-2018 warrant article approved 3/2016.

 

This budget does not represent the warrant articles (including teachers’ negotiated salaries/benefits for FY18 and FY19).  Teachers are still negotiating; this warrant article will be populated at the 1/9/17 Board meeting provided the negotiations are finalized.

 

The individual schools’ budgets appear to be inflated over last year’s budget.  The rationale for this increase is that we have included in each school’s budget the actual expenses that were formerly in the District budget.  This includes Technology, Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment, Special Education and ESLO expenditures.

 

Reductions and Additions FY18 Budget

Staffing Reductions

& 14 +/- and/or restructuring of programs.  We are confident that these positions will most likely be retained due to staff attrition (retirements, resignations, refusal of contract, and leave of absences).   It is premature at this time of year to identify specific staff/positions  that may be affected, if any.  There will be a reduction in central office personnel, to be determined.

 

Staffing Increases (In Response to the Strategic Planning Data)

Facts about New Hampshire Education Adequacy Aid

 

In 1991 and 1997 the NH Supreme Court ruled that the system in New Hampshire used to fund education was unconstitutional.  (Claremont Lawsuit, Lisbon, Claremont, Pittsfield, Franklin, Allenstown)

New Hampshire has not yet met its obligation stated in the Supreme Court ruling.

School districts receive:

o   $3,561 per student

In addition:

o   $1,780 per free and reduced lunch student

o   $1,915 per special needs student

o   $696 per English language learner

o   $696 per student who does not read at third grade level beyond third grade.

WMRSD cost per pupil average: $16,748.95

NH education adequacy aid does not come close to what WMRSD spends per student.

The stabilization grant (the portion of adequacy funding given to poor communities) is being reduced by 4% per year until it is gone in 25 years.

WMRSD’s total FY18 stabilization grant is $3,370,527

Total loss: $134,821  (a year for 20 years)

New Hampshire no longer makes payments to the N.H. teacher’s retirement fund, shifting all of those costs to the teachers and districts. (11% increase = $96,000)

Special education catastrophic aid has been reduced.

Loss of adequacy aid creates an adversarial relationship between the taxpayers and the school district.  Taxpayers are expecting, unfairly, that the school budget be reduced in order to keep their tax rate from increasing.

This situation is not sustainable and has many consequences to the school and town.  Ultimately the town and the school will suffer greatly from a loss of services and programs for its citizens and students.

 

 ______________________________________________________________________

October 7, 2016 In-Service Day

Teachers are learners, too!

 During the White Mountains Regional School District October 7th teacher in-service day, the elementary and middle school teachers of Jefferson Elementary School, Lancaster Elementary School, and Whitefield Elementary School participated in Responsive Classroom® Training.  This was the first of four sessions planned for the 2016-2017 school year.  

The White Mountains Regional High School teachers participated in a series of trainings specific to block scheduling, Career and Technology Education (CTE), and instruction and assessment strategies.  

The administrative assistant/secretarial staff and the Central Office staff was provided training in various Google applications.  They learned the functionality of the applications as they directly apply to their positions in the schools/offices.

The Responsive Classroom (RC) approach to teaching stresses social, emotional, and academic growth in the school community.  Given that ‘how’ children learn is as important as ‘what’ they learn is driven by our beliefs; the academic success of every child is tied to building strong social-emotional skills.   The RC training was divided into three groupings.  The first, RC for Elementary Educators,  is designed for introducing the approach.  During these sessions, teachers focus on the skills and practices of building a positive community, effective management and engaging academics.  The second, RC Advanced Course for Elementary Educators, is designed to focus on advanced RC teaching practices and strengthen existing practice.  Lastly, RC for Middle School Educators, focuses on middle level skills such as advisories, guided practice, interactive modeling, preventing and responding to misbehavior, and interactive learning structures.  The four key domains of RC are: Engaging Academics, Positive Community, Effective Management, and Developmental Awareness.   The second of the four sessions is planned for the January 13, 2017 in-service day.   Two additional sessions, RC training for para professionals and RC training for Administrators, will be offer in January as well. The last two sessions will be offered in March and June 2017.

 

What is Block Scheduling?  This type of scheduling organizes the day into fewer, but longer, class periods to allow flexibility for instructional activities.  WMRHS has transitioned into block scheduling this fall. Given this, teachers are learning effective strategies and structures to optimize the extended learning time.  The ‘block’ influences teaching, and shapes the interactions between teachers and students.    The most valuable benefit of these longer periods is the opportunity for more in-depth learning and project-based instruction.  This continues to be a work in progress!  

September 2016

Welcome to a new school year! This is an exciting time to be in education!

At our opening of school in-service, the staff worked on the protocol:  “Making Sense of the Work Underway”.  This is an effort to further understand our system’s current initiatives and strategies.  We identified the following categories to focus our work: 1.) Curriculum; 2.) Assessment; 3.) Instruction; 4.) Healthy Students/Safe Schools; 5.) Professional Development & Growth; 6.) Resource Management; 7.) Community Engagement; and, 8.) Facilities.  All 200 of our staff members had the opportunity to weigh- in on initiatives that are a priority to them.  This information along with the long-awaited Strategic Planning objectives (nearly finalized), are  taking shape to inform  the direction of the District.  Please stay tuned;  we hope  that the Strategic Plan will be presented at the Oct 24th School Board meeting for final approval!  Special thanks and gratitude to the Strategic Planning Committee members.

WMRSD is making an effort to shift from a culture of teaching to a culture of learning.  The role of a teacher is to engineer situations in which students learn effectively.  This empowers students to learn;  giving the responsibility back to students. We believe that students learn from when they are actively involved in their learning and when learning is fostered in a culture of curiosity,  motivation, energy, collaboration, independence and accountability. Research clearly indicates that what is needed is teachers to foster a classroom culture of questionings and deep thinking.