October 22, 2015 Minutes




Pittsfield School Board Meeting
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Pittsfield Middle High School


Members Present: Mike Wolfe, Chair
Gary Mullen, Vice Chair
Linda Freese
Ray Ramsey

Others Present: John Freeman, Superintendent of Schools
Melissa Brown, Director of College and Career Readiness
Derek Hamilton, Dean of Operations
Danielle Harvey, Dean of Instruction
Donna Lehmann, Director of Student Services
Kathy LeMay, Director of Interventions
Ross Morse, Community Liaison
Members of the Public

Chairperson Wolfe called the meeting to order at 5:31 p.m.


The following items were added to the agenda:
· College Kick Off – Ms. Brown
· UNH Study – Dr. Freeman
· Expenditure report- Dr. Freeman
· Energy Update- Dr. Freeman
· Asian Visitors – Dr. Freeman
· Balloon Rally- Dr. Freeman


On a motion made by Gary Mullen and seconded by Ray Ramsey, the Board voted unanimously to approve the amended agenda.


A motion was made by Gary Mullen and seconded by Ray Ramsey to approve minutes of the October 1st meeting. The Board voted unanimously to approve the minutes as amended.



A. Teacher Leave Request

Under the EAP collective bargaining agreement, teachers are restricted from using their leave time to extend a school vacation. Ms. Harvey brought a request, on behalf of Jenny Wellington, 11/12 ELA teacher, who would like to use three days to extend her February 2016 vacation to go to India. Her trip will include visits to schools, on which she will report to the full faculty at PMHS. Ms. Harvey asked that the board take action on her leave request and define the type of leave, as provided for within the collective bargaining agreement.

In a motion made by Ray Ramsey and seconded by Gary Mullen, the board voted unanimously to approve the teacher’s leave request as additional personal leave as provided by the collective bargaining agreement and to treat is as a paid leave.


It is anticipated that teachers will have completed all year-at-a-glance curriculum documents linked for PES subjects and all year-at-a-glance and syllabus documents linked for PMHS courses. Mrs. Harvey shared highlights of the teachers’ work toward curriculum articulation by sharing samples from the websites at both PES and PMHS.

C. Learning Studios

This fall PMHS staff members are offering fifteen learning studios. Of the fifteen, eleven are semester-long learning studios and four are year-long. For the first time, learning studios will be open to all students in grades 7-12. The selection guide was included in the Board’s packet. A midyear sharing of the learning studios is planned for/ Ms. Freese inquired about the process for selecting topics of the learning studios are chosen. Mrs. Harvey shared that topics are developed through a student interest survey or co-created with students.

D. Grading

Ms. Harvey reported on implementation of changes to the grading policy. The main change is that summative assessments are 100% of the final grade calculation. This month the faculty has been working on how to best report this information to parents, while also sharing an up-to-date picture of the student’s progress.

On October 9th, PES fifth and sixth grade teachers and unified arts teachers began learning more about PowerSchool and competency grading. They will be piloting a competency based report card this year and explaining the changes to parents at the fall parent teacher conference.

E. Mathematics Instruction

Ms. Harvey shared a short video that explains why math instruction is different today than it was in the past. She anticipates sharing this resource with our families later this year.

Mrs. Freese and Mr. Wolfe indicated that the visual representation was a helpful way to understand the difference. Mr. Wolfe suggested that putting the video on the school website could be a good resource for families.

F. The Right Question Institute

In recent years, teachers involved with the Investing in Innovation (i3) grant had done work with a book titled Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. This strategy has proven to be helpful guiding student learning through personal inquiry. Ms. Harvey explained one of the authors, Luz Santana, Presents workshops that focus on helping families to feel more comfortable in parent-teacher conferences by focusing their own questions about student progress. Although a day-long workshop was scheduled for parents and teachers on Saturday, October 24, 2015, the lack of RSVP notification warranted the postponement of the Right Question Institute presentation.

Mr. Ramsey suggested that the feedback he heard from families was that the advertising was a bit off-putting because it suggested parent inadequacy. Mrs. Harvey stated that she would look at revising the ads, which came directly from the Right Question Institute.


A. Junior-Senior Prom

Students Gabe Anthony and Noah MacGlashing explained the proposal for the 2016 prom. The prom is scheduled for May 14, 2016, from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at Alan’s Restaurant in Boscawen, which is approximately twenty-three miles from school. Tickets will cost no more than $65 per person, a relatively low price which is established in the hope of including as many students as possible. Theme is Country Chic: Kick the Dust Up. Due to the savings on the venue, a candy bar, keepsake key chains, and a possible photo booth will be considered.

On a motion made by Mr. Mullen and seconded by Mr. Ramsey, the prom proposal was approved unanimously by the Board.

B. Essential Oils Policy

Mr. Hamilton shared the update on the creation of an essential oils policy, a policy that would allow for self-administration of essential oils, natural oils distilled from plants or other sources, by students. A concern had been raised by our nurses that essential oils are not labeled or clearly marked to indicate dosage. The suggestion is to have a doctor’s note and a signed release from the parent for the student to be able to self-administer the oils.

Mr. Wolfe inquired about the storage of the oils. Mr. Hamilton said the recommendation is that the oils could be stored in the nurse’s office where the student could self-administer. Mr. Ramsey asked if this policy would impact items like chapstick and cough drops.

Mr. Hamilton asked for guidance moving forward. The school board asked Mr. Hamilton to gather feedback from parents and report back any concerns to the school board members.

C. School Climate Report

Mr. Hamilton shared a copy of the executive summary of the School Climate Report. Pittsfield has worked with the Center for School Climate and Learning for the last five years. The faculty has reviewed about half of the data and will review the remainder in November. The IMPACT team has started to review at this data as well and will use it to guide their work this year. After the two groups review the data, they will create action plans.


A. College Board Kick-Off Event

Ms. Brown shared information with the Board regarding an upcoming event for PES fifth and sixth grade students, scheduled for November 2, and entitled I am College Bound. The program will include an assembly intended to encourage students to think about college and career options. A panel discussion will be facilitated featuring current PMHS seniors to highlight approaches to post-secondary planning.


A. Adult Literacy Update/Advice Needed

Mrs. LeMay shared the progress that has been made on the research for an adult literacy program in Pittsfield. Through an investigation of local resources, it was discovered that some programming is currently available to residents of Merrimack County. The two programs are Second Start and the Diploma Academy in Concord.

Second Start offers day and evening classes with a focus on preparation for the HiSET exam. The program also provides tutoring services for students who are unable to attend the classes or who need more individualized support, all of which are free of cost. The Diploma Academy awards credit for their classes as students work toward receiving an adult diploma. There is a tuition fee for these classes.

Mr. Wolfe asked if this would address the need of graduates who felt they would benefit from additional instruction. The Board recommended finding ways to reach out to the community to see who might access a resource for post secondary education.

B. Title I After-School Panther Assistance Club (PAC)

The first round of PAC has started and will run for six weeks. This round has a small group of grade five students working on their math skills and another small group students working on their literacy skills. The next rotation will begin in late November.

B. Student Folders

Mrs. LeMay shared that as part of the progression of supports approach to student support, Google folders were created for the students as they were nominated for consideration of extra, supplemental support in academic needs. These folders are accessible to all faculty and administration. This system provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators to share information about a student in an effective manner. Creating a folder for all students will widen the positive impact and have begun the process of creating them. There have already been situations where the folders have increased communication.

Ms. Brown shared that she is also working to standardize the record keeping of the advisors and that records would be included in this Google folder so that relevant individuals can access these as well

A. Donation

By report, Ms. Chassie reported that a significant donation was made by Ms. Paula Finnegan Dickinson of 527 professional books. A motion was made by Mr. Ramsey and seconded by Ms. Freese to accept the books as a donation to the district. The Board voted unanimously to approve the donation. Ms. Freese will write a note of thanks on behalf of the board.

B. Ambassador Program

The PMHS Ambassador Program has resumed for 2016. Twenty seven students have signed up to participate. Our first meeting is Tuesday, October 13, 2015, when we will finalize our charter and begin the work for the year. The work will include continuing with our tours when people come to visit, as well as develop a college alma mater project.

C. Concord Hospital Resident Program

On October 16, 2015, John and I presented at the Collaborative Family Healthcare Associations 17th Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. Continuing our history of collaborating with our community, this project highlights the work that the district has done with the Concord Hospital Resident Program. Most significant is the Pre-Adolescent and Teen Center for Health (PATCH) which is housed at PMHS. Their doctors and staff also works closely with our Progression of Support system when assisting families and students in the category of highest need.

D. Good to Great Team

A meeting of the Good to Great Team is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, 2015. Dr. Freeman will gather a group of people, who will be charged with overseeing the task of continuous improvement in the district.

E. League of Innovative Schools

On Thursday, October 29, 2015, a group of people attended the League of Innovative Schools Network meeting in Norwood, MA. Participants included Manuela Bittner-Shuey, Susan Bradley, Lisa Diener, and Stan Smith. Michelle Milstein from the Great Schools Partnership has initiated her coaching of our administrative leadership team, made available through the NextGen Grant of which we are a recipient.

F. Logic Model

A copy of the PES logic model was distributed for review.

G. Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF)

Susan and I prepared for the district’s participation in the NMEF Learning Institute, that was held in Springfield, MA on October 26 through 28, 2015. NMEF is focusing their attention now on the process of continuous improvement. Since we have our Good to Great Team, we are in good shape to meet their requirements during phase two of the grant. The people who attended the institute included Kiza Armour, Susan Bradley, Tobi Chassie, Chris Davitt, Lisa Diener, John Freeman, Danielle Harvey, Kristen Lewis, Ted Mitchell, Ross Morse, and Mike Wolfe.

H. Reimagine Learning

Through our communications consultant, Jane Feinberg, I have been asked to participate on a design team, sponsored by the Reimagine Learning Fund, a project of New Profit, a national venture philanthropy fund. According to their website, the Reimagine Learning Fund is “working to transform the way learning happens in America so all students, including those who may be marginalized or disengaged because of learning and attention or social emotional issues, can achieve academic success.” There was a convening of thought leaders on October 21 and 22, 2015, where I was asked to share the Pittsfield story. They are interested in using what we have learned throughout our redesign to inform their work. It is an honor to have been asked to represent the Pittsfield School District in this endeavor.


RENEW is a structured school-to-career transition planning and individualized wraparound process for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges. Developed in 1996 by staff at the Institute on Disability (IOD), RENEW is being provided by schools, community mental health centers, community-based providers, and IOD staff members to youth. The model focuses on supporting each youth to design and pursue a plan for the transition from school to adult life. RENEW has substantially increased the high school completion, employment, and post-secondary education participation rates among our most vulnerable youth.

We have multiple people trained to support students using the RENEW framework. We have decided to maximize our impact by creating an implementation team, who will oversee the utilization of RENEW to help support our challenged students. People joining me on this team included Anne Banks, Jess Bickford, Melissa Brown, Sarah Carri, James Colburn, Katie Howe, Jeff Martel, and Bill Mitchell. We will be assisted in this effort by a member of the IOD team from UNH.

J. SchoolWorks

Last spring, we were asked by SchoolWorks and the Gates Foundation to participate in a pilot of their evaluation tool, which had been created to evaluate schools on their implementation of student centered learning. We agreed to this, realizing it was a great opportunity to receive some valuable feedback from an outside source. Enclosed in your packet, you will find a copy of the final report issued by the evaluators. The administrator leadership team met with a representative from SchoolWorks this summer to review these findings. We incorporated their findings in identifying our priorities for work during this school year.


A. PMHS Gym Floor

Dr. Freeman shared three options for the repairs to the PMHS gym floor, which is necessitated by damage caused by a previous contractor. The school board members reviewed the options.

A motion was made by Mr. Ramsey and seconded by Mr. Wolfe to move forward with the suit against Higgins Flooring for the complete cost refinishing the floor. The Board voted unanimously to move forward with the suit.

B. Second Start

Dr. Freeman introduced the visitors from Second Start to discuss the upcoming changes regarding funding. Dr. Freeman introduced Kim Haley, Student Assistance Program (SAP) coordinator, Amber Violette, PMHS SAP counselor, and Jim Snodgrass, program director. The program was originally funded through a combination of district and grant funds. The grant now serves students in grades 6-12. Currently services are provided for four days per week. In 2016, the grants will no longer exist. SAP programs are drug prevention and early intervention programs.

Ms. Haley outlined the program’s four core components: prevention education series (with sixth graders), parent supports, staff supports, and individual/group counseling. Second Start can also provide referrals for students to other services outside of the school and external resources as may be helpful. In addition, Second Start has provided information blasts as part of their Environmental Initiatives.

Data was shared from the 2013 PMHS Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In the survey, 53% and 32% of PMHS students stated that they had used alcohol and marijuana, respectfully, one or more times. The data indicated that over 50% of Pittsfield’s youth did not see risk in participating in substance use. Ms. Haley also shared the data on the perceived effectiveness of the SAP counselor from both the educator perspective and the parent perspective. The most recent survey data indicates that the percentage of students who that they see the risk in substance abuse has increased.

C. UNH Study

Kiki Vissing, a doctoral candidate from the University of New Hampshire, has proposed a study of school change and community engagement in Pittsfield as her dissertation topic. She plans to work on this study through the spring of 2016. The study will involve reviewing public documents and interviewing members of the community, students and faculty members. Dr. Freeman asked for School Board approval of her project.

In a motion made by Ray Ramsey and seconded by Linda Freese, the board voted unanimously to approve the study.

D. Expenditure Report

Dr. Freeman shared the first quarter expenditure report with the Board. He informed the Board the balance is healthy, but that it is very early in the year and that all obligations have not yet been encumbered.

E. Energy Update

The community group met for the second time on October 21. They are pursuing an energy audit, as well as oil for oil replacement for the boilers. They are also in the process of consulting with New Hampshire Wood Energy Council to provide a no-cost feasibility study looking at wood chips or wood pellets.

F. Visitors from Asia

The district has received a request from the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire to host visitors, a group of educators from Southeast Asia The group will visit on Monday, November 2; their area of interest is rural education.

G. Balloon Rally

Mr. Hamilton and Dr. Freeman met with Laura Okrent, who represented the Suncook Valley Rotary Club, this morning to debrief the Balloon Rally. Laura will be the lead from the Rotary moving forward. She presented a draft of changes that can be made to the layout of the field for the next Balloon Rally. She indicated that the location of the rides will be adjusted for next year and that the helicopter placement worked well this year.


A. Budget Committee

Mr. Ramsey indicated that the budget committee was concerned about the proposed addition of a police officer at PMHS in the role of school resource officer and was included in the police budget report. Dr. Freeman indicated that the public hearing is Tuesday, October 27, on adding the Student Resource Officer for PMHS, and that the memorandum of agreement between the department and the district, a job description, and financial needs would be presented to the Board for consideration in November.

B. Foss Scholarship

Mr. Wolfe mentioned that if any school board member was interested in joining the committee, they would be happy to have them.

C. Vacant Position

Mr. Mullen shared with the Board that this may be his last board meeting as he is relocating to Barnstead. Dr. Freeman, Mr. Wolfe, and the other members of the board thanked him for his service over the last four years and wished him well.


The next School Board meeting is scheduled for November 5, 2015, at 5:30 p.m. at the Pittsfield Middle High School.

XIV. PUBLIC INPUT (Second Session)

Ross Morse asked if the quarterly expenditure report was in line with this time last year; Dr. Freeman noted that he would research the answer.


On a motion made by Mr. Mullen and seconded by Ms. Freese, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 7:27 p.m.


A Public Hearing was opened at 5:35 p.m. on HB 507. At the last meeting there was a modification to ECAA in response to the HB 507. The bill originated over concerns for teacher privacy. Administration must receive permission from all parents for any recording in the classroom. Policy ECAA states that the board will hold a public hearing and then seek parent permission for video to be taken in schools.

Dr. Freeman explained that video is often used in classrooms. For example, the PES music teacher would like to record students so that she could use the video to assess student growth. Additionally, students often create video for projects.

Mr. Morse asked if the regular media release policy would cover the videotaping. Dr. Freeman suggested that there is a distinction, since HB 507 specifies the location of the videotaping to the classroom.

No other public comments were offered.

At 5:39, Chair Wolfe closed the public hearing.