Survey launched

The Derry Economic Development Committee has created an online survey to ask residents about the town’s strengths and challenges as they work to come up with ideas for future development.  The survey, which we’ve linked to from this news read, asks up to fifteen questions  if you’re a business owner, including your age, highest level of education, where you shop, where you commute to work, whether or not the Spacetown USA nickname is valuable and some questions about various ideas.  They thank you in advance for taking the time to complete their survey, which will close on December twenty third. 

Auburn: Budget hearing

The Auburn Budget Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2017 Fiscal Year Auburn Town Budget and the proposed 2017-2018 Fiscal Year Auburn School District Budget on Thursday, January 12th at 7:00 P.M. at the Auburn Town Hall.

Soon to be dump site

The Northeast Resource Recovery Association School Recycling CLUB will conduct a Trash On the Lawn Day event at Maple Avenue Elementary School in Goffstown on December 15th.  Under the CLUB’s guidance, students will conduct a waste sort of an entire day’s worth of trash.  All the trash is sorted into categories, weighed and recorded by the students to produce a report showing how much could have been diverted from the waste stream.  The event comes complete with a cranky old man who’ll repeatedly tell the kids to get that stuff off the lawn!  The fun begins at 9:00 AM.

Hooksett Sewer Commission: Holidays interrupt meeting schedule

Due to the New Year’s and Martin Luther King holidays, the Sewer Commission in Hooksett has altered its schedule to meet on January 9th and twenty third at 12 Noon.  These meetings will occur at the treatment plant office.  If you have any questions, please contact the Hooksett Sewer Department at 4 8 5 7 0 0 0 or hooksett sewer @ comcast dot net.  We’ve looked at the agenda, by the way.  There’s a lot of crap there.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Green: Launches school governance organization

The School District Governance Association of New Hampshire has been created as a resource devoted entirely to educating and empowering elected school district officials so they can effectively assert their lawful authority and be responsive to their electorate.  In a release issued yesterday, the group said it was founded because school board and school budget committee members currently have few independent resources to assist them in improving the governance and budgeting of their districts.

The group is a forum of experienced elected officials committed to:

  • Educating elected school district officials as to their proper role and responsibilities
  • Promulgating best practices in good governance and prudent budgeting
  • Formulating model school district policies so boards will now have an independent, alternative resource
  • Proposing and monitoring legislation that enhances local control in education and openness in administration

In making the announcement, S D G A President Donna Green, that all too pesky school board member from the Timberlane Regional School District, said quote: 

Too often school district elected officials abdicate their lawful authority to hired administrators and entrenched interests.  SDGA’s mission is to move the balance of power back to elected representatives for the ultimate benefit of our children’s education.

The Association meets on the first Saturday of the month in Concord.  Voting membership is open to past or present elected officials with fiduciary responsibility over a school district budget.  Non-voting membership is also available for those who share their mission.  For more information please visit S D G A N H dot org.  Green will be our guest this morning to discuss the organization.

Vargas: Tackles instructional time

The Manchester Board of School Committee met last night.  Boy, wasn’t that fun.  The board engaged Superintendent Bolgen Vargas in a dialogue over several items, including what he called developing more and better learning time for students in schools.  This was a follow up to his assertion that Manchester has less instructional time than its surrounding communities, despite having large populations of what he termed vulnerable children that require more time from the district. 

Information given to the board on December second compares Manchester’s one hundred seventy five day, so called hours calendar, to the calendars in Auburn, Bedford, Candia and Hooksett.  Despite having five to six more days than Manchester, those town’s elementary schools have anywhere from fifteen to thirty more minutes of elementary instruction per day.  Vargas said raw time is only part of the equation.  What’s done in that time matters, he said, again emphasizing that the district spends too much time on testing, which was another item he addressed.

Desrochers: Will Vargas do away with what works?

Curiously, and despite his explanation of the process he’s initiated with building level instructors and district academic coordinators, several board members pushed back on the idea that we test too much.  While saying that they agree something needs to be done, they didn’t want to sacrifice what was good about the testing.  This perspective was interestingly illustrated in a question by Ward Eleven School Board member Katie Desrochers who worried that Vargas’ work would lead to the elimination of tests teachers thought were worthwhile.  Anyway, you get the drift.

Ryan: Chose not to.

Also discussed were the methods of notifying the board and public of the coming forums to discuss the embedding of anti-drug messages in the district’s curriculum.  In response to questions posed by at-Large member Rich Girard, Assistant Superintendent David Ryan said he chose not to notify the news media of the forums that will be held at each high school over the next three nights and that principals didn’t want to send notices home with students, so they relied on email and social media postings to get the word out.  Oh, and the board was notified via its agenda, not an email at the time the material was posted on line.

That’s news from our own backyard!  Girard at Large hour ___ is next!