Education

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A middle school student in Seabrook has been criminally charged for making threats to "shoot up" his school.

The students' peers first reported the threats on Friday. On Monday, SAU 21 Superintendent Bill Lupini says that students returned with more detailed and serious reports.

School officials say they do not believe the school was in danger, but the student is not attending classes.

Police say the students' name and many details - including plans for returning to school - cannot be released because of juvenile privacy rules.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

A new coalition in Manchester is launching a community planning process for the city's public schools.

The coalition - called Manchester Proud - is funded by local business leaders and has the support of the school board, school unions, the mayor, and many non-profits.

On Saturday, volunteers fanned out across the city, knocking on about 600 doors to collect input from residents about the city's schools.

Matthew Paulson, via Flickr

The State Board of Education is considering changing the credentialing requirements to be a sign language interpreter in New Hampshire schools.

The proposed rule change would require sign language interpreters to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. As of now, they just need an associate's degree.

Nationally, there's a shortage of ASL interpreters. The Manchester School District has told the state Board of Education that the proposed change would make it harder to fill those positions.

Manchester School District

Teachers in Manchester headed back to work on Wednesday without a new contract.

The teachers' union has been at an impasse with the school board since June.

The sticking point is salary increases.

Sue Hannan, president of the Manchester Education Association, says that in March, the union submitted a proposal that would put Manchester salaries on par with districts in New Hampshire with good teacher pay. Hannan says it would have cost the city an additional $28 million over the course of three years.

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In the 1990s, a string of New Hampshire Supreme Court cases established the state's responsibility to fund an "adequate" education. These days, however, an adequate education is funded primarily by local property taxes, and rates vary from town to town. John Tobin is part of the team leading a charge to pressure the state to pay more of that bill. He is former executive director of New Hampshire Legal Assistance and he represented the plaintiffs in the Claremont Supreme Court cases. Now he is leading education funding forums around the state. NHPR’s Peter Biello spoke with Tobin about his efforts.

Berlin School District

The city of Berlin and its school district will host a forum Thursday that explains how the state funds public education.

They're calling it: "Save Our Schools: Save Education Funding Now."

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky and lawyer John Tobin have led three of these forums in other property-poor towns around the state.

The pair were lawyers in the original lawsuits against the state for adequate school funding more than two decades ago.

 

Many New Hampshire colleges have been struggling with declining applicant and enrollment numbers for years. But a few campuses are growing.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu announced plans last week to study whether New Hampshire schools should be required to start after Labor Day.

But some families who flocked to Seacoast beaches on the holiday Monday said they don’t really care when school starts.

Dawn Szelog’s family had staked out a spot among the crowds at Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye by late morning, as the temperature neared 90.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

At the entrance to John Stark Regional High School in Weare, there’s a big sign that reads: “Premises under video surveillance.”

Principal Christopher Corkery is showing me into the school lobby. On the ceiling are black half-domes with cameras inside.

Daniela Allee / NHPR

Schouler Park sits in the middle of North Conway, right along the main strip of shops and restaurants. There's the scenic railroad station. Families throw baseballs and couples sit and chat on benches.  

On this field, Will Krug and Nick Sanderson have made lots of memories playing flag football.

NHPR Staff

Governor Chris Sununu issued an executive order today establishing a commission to study the impact of New Hampshire schools setting start dates before Labor Day, and to evaluate whether schools should be required to start after the holiday.

(Scroll down to read the order.)

This comes as many New Hampshire kids head back to school.

This year, a record number of schools in New Hampshire are offering full-day kindergarten. At least six districts spent the summer hiring additional staff and amending facilities to boost their half-day kindergarten programs to full-day programs.

That puts the number of districts in the state offering full-day kindergarten to over 90%.

NHPR Staff

The University of New Hampshire and the state's community college system have signed an agreement that will help transfer students interested in studying science transfer their community college credits.

As part of this agreement, community colleges took a look at the depth of what they taught in their introductory science courses, and made sure the content matched up with introductory classes at UNH.

The idea is that way, students start at the right level when they transfer, and not have to take extra time to catch up.

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The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced on Tuesday that temporary rules are in place to expand the state’s Medicaid to Schools Program. 

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr Creative Commons

Melissa Babcock grew up in Pittsfield, went to Pittsfield schools, and now she's the elementary school's PTO president.

But the school district's tighter budgets and cuts to staff and programs have her worried.

That's why, after a forum about how state funding works for local districts in June, she and others wanted to do something about it.

The PTO and a group called Pittsfield Listens organized a roundtable to talk with candidates running for state legislature.

U.S. Air Force; Sue Sapp

What are the biggest issues facing students as they head back to school? We talk with school counselors about academics, safety, emotional health, and how they try to help children succeed in school and at home.

Savannah Maher/NHPR

Students in Parkland, Florida started school today six months after a shooter killed 14 of their classmates and 3 adult teachers and coaches. A group of  teenagers from around New Hampshire spent the day rallying for gun control measures in their own state. 

The 25 students, who held a press conference followed by a march around the State House this morning, are part of what they call the "lockdown generation" -- kids who have grown up preparing for the possibility of a mass school shooting. 

Flikr Creative Commons / rex libris

The New Hampshire state Board of Education has adopted new computer science academic standards.

David Benedetto is the STEM and Computer science administrator at the New Hampshire Department of Education. 

These new standards will focus more on technical skills, like coding and data analysis.

"[It's] sort of bringing in these things to modernize our technology education, and hopefully relate that to other areas of study as well,” Benedetto said.

Schools across the state would have a few years to make plans to incorporate the new standards.

Jackson Lewis Law Firm

After weeks of public pressure, the Bedford School District has hired an attorney to examine how and why three district staffers came to serve as character witnesses for Kristie Torbick, a former Bedford High School guidance counselor who plead guilty last month to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old Exeter High School student. 

The State Board of Education has released a statement regarding recent Facebook comments made by a Department of Education employee.

Last week, Anthony Schinella, the department's communications director, made posts criticizing a gathering of state business leaders focused on diversity in the workforce. 

He wrote that increased diversity could bring more crime and create a "cesspool." 

The Board said it's "deeply disappointed" by the comments and that "our public schools are and ought to be welcoming to everyone." 

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Around 80 students from China have spent the summer in Chester, New Hampshire, practicing their English and learning more about American culture.

Via audio-luci | Flickr Creative Commons

Last August the New Hampshire legislature passed a bill that would allow schools to be reimbursed for part of the costs associated with things like speech therapy, mental health counseling and nursing for all students who qualify for Medicaid.

Previously that reimbursement was only available for some students who qualify for Medicaid. But schools are not yet taking advantage of this additional federal money. 

Bedford School District

Former Bedford Superintendent of Schools Chip McGee resigned Friday, weeks after he authorized a high school staffer to testify on behalf of Kristie Torbick, a former Bedford guidance counselor who plead guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old child. 

For many parents in the district, McGee's resignation is only a first step in resolving the issue. 

Via audio-luci | Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire is set to receive a $140,000 federal grant to help communities address asbestos contamination in schools.

The state's Democratic congressional delegation announced this week that the money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would be directed to the New Hampshire Asbestos in Schools Program.

Savannah Maher/NHPR

Parents in Bedford are calling for action after district officials allowed Bedford High School Dean of Students Zanna Blaney to give character testimony on behalf of Kristie Torbick, a former district counselor who plead guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student in Exeter. 

At Torbick's sentencing hearing earlier this month, Blaney described her as a "pro when it comes to making a student feel heard" and said she had never been concerned about Torbick crossing boundaries with students.  

Courtesy SPS

St. Paul’s School in Concord has hired one of its former math teachers to serve as interim rector for 2018-19 school year.

 

Amy C. Richards has been hired to replace current rector Michael Hirschfeld, who retired a year earlier than originally planned. Hirschfeld told the St. Paul's community in May that he was leaving early because it had been "an usually painful time for the entire School community and also for my family."

Wikimedia commons

The Dunbarton school district had an extra million dollars in the budget, and that means some extra money for taxpayers.

A judge ruled last week the school district couldn't hold an emergency meeting about the excess funds. With that ruling, the excess funds will now go toward reducing the tax rate, but only for one year.

That means someone with a home assessed at $300,000 would see a decrease of about $1,000 in their taxes.

Clem Madden is the vice chairman of the school board.

"The accumulation of these funds took everyone by surprise," he said.

After a vote to break the tax cap, and then a reversal of that decision, the Franklin City Council Wednesday night finalized a school budget for the next year. But it still falls short of what the school board requested.

For children who rely on free and reduced price meals during the school year, including 50 percent of public school students in Laconia, summer vacation can mean 10 weeks of food insecurity. 

That's why 10-year-old Maia Heller is up early on her first day of summer vacation, volunteering for the Got Lunch! Laconia program. 

"It feels really good that I know they need some food and I'm helping them get it," Heller said as she packed apples, carrots, and jars of peanut butter and jelly into grocery bags. 

Google maps

 

A fifth-grade student in New Hampshire who wants to stop bullying has told her school board that she's been threatened to get shot in the head with an AK-47 assault rifle and buried in her backyard.

Delanie Marcotte, of Pollard Elementary School in Plaistow, said she's a victim of bullying. She read a letter before the board last week saying her parents contacted the school about it, but it continues. She asked the board what it would do to protect her and her classmates. Her father shared her comments on Facebook.

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