Superintendent's Corner

  • A Community Conversation on Education

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 5/25/2018 3:00:00 PM

    Where will the Raymond School District be in five years?


    How will we get there? 

    You can help determine the answers to these questions by participating in our upcoming Community Conversation on Education, on the evening of June 4, 2018 between the hours of 5 and 8 PM at the Library/Media Center at IHGMS. Our Strategic Planning Steering Committee members will hold this forum to gather input from stakeholders who are truly invested in the future of our schools. Parents, students, citizens, business owners, employees.... anyone who wants to influence the direction of the District in the next five years is invited to share their ideas and perspectives.  The format of the forum will be relaxed and straightforward, with two main guiding questions:

    • What are we doing really well as a school district? (What excites you and makes you proud?)
    • What would you like to see improved in the District? (What are some challenges we need to address together in the next three to five years?)

    Light refresments will be provided in our cool, air conditioned middle school library! You need not spend your entire evening engaged in the forum (although you are welcome to do so). There will be sessions at 5 PM, 6 PM and 7 PM. Please come and have an enjoyable time talking with others who care about our schools and our community -  and influence the future of the Raymond School District! 

    Please note - If you have a hard time getting there in person, several alternatives are available to allow you to participate:

    1. Join the Strategic Planning Facebook Group prior to the meeting and engage through Facebook live with our virtual meeting facilitator, Art Wolinsky! 
    2. Send your thoughts regarding strengths and needs of the District to the committee via email to strategic.planning@sau33.com.
    3. Call our special Strategic Planning Input phone number at (603 200-3038) to leave a voicemail sharing your ideas regarding what's working well in our school system and what should be improved. 

    The Cheshire Cat in the beloved book, Alice in Wonderland said, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there". Together we can make sure that we do know where we are going, and that our future destination is well in tune with the values and needs of our community stakeholders.

    I hope to see you on the evening of June 4th at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School in the library!

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  • Stand Together Against Bullying

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 5/18/2018 12:00:00 PM

    Stand Together

    A safe and secure learning enviroment for every student is the highest priority of the Raymond School District. There are many strategies that we employ as we work to promote and maintain school cultures where all students feel accepted, valued and comfortable. One of those strategies is embodied in our Bullying Policy, which is Policy JICDA (Student Safety and Violence Prevention).  In accord with this Policy, our employees work hard to to detect possible bullying, address and report misbehavior, and investigate it thoroughly. They take steps necessary to respond appropriately and prevent bullying from reoccurring. When warranted, they also take steps to prevent relatiation for reporting. In short, our entire organization works together to prevent and/or address bullying in our schools. 

    Every new employee in our District is required to engage in training pertaining to bullying. On an annual basis, each school holds a refresher training on bullying as well. This year, we held compelling and age-appropriate assemblies at each school that were designed to help students understand the implications of bullying and how to stand up against it . Two outstanding parent presentations were also held in the evenings (one for elementary level and one for both middle and high school level) to help parents learn more about bullying and how they support the children and youth of our community. 

    It's absolutely essential that misbehaviors that may constitute bullying are reported in a timely manner. Reported incidents will be thoroughly investigated, and steps will be taken to properly address reported situations. While not every misbehavior is bullying, it is still very important that potential bullying incidents are reported. Other types of misbehavior that are detected will also be addressed by school administrators. There are many ways to report bullying; one easy mechanism for reporting is our online Bullying/Harassment form. There is a form available for each of our three schools: Lamprey River Elementary School. Iber Holmes Gove Middle School and Raymond High School. 

    Employees, students, parents and community members are all on the same team that works against bullying. Please stand with us, and do all you can to help make sure that our children and youth are protected from bullying and refrain from engaging in it. We must stand together against bullying.

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  • What Will Competency Based Education Look Like in Raymond?

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 5/6/2018 11:00:00 AM


    Every school system should be a unique reflection of the community in which it is situated. Therefore, while there are many interesting and useful trends in the field of Education, it is up to us to decide how we can improve in ways that stay in tune with the values and aspirations of stakeholders in Raymond.
     
    The purpose of competency based education is to better prepare our students for success in future schooling and, most importantly, in life. The purpose of competency based grading is to provide more accurate and meaningful information to parents, more actionable feedback to students, and provide increased personalized learning. In the previous school year, teachers in our District determined what competencies are most important for students in each grade, content areas, and/or course. This year, teachers across our District continue to collaborate to make sure all of the competencies align properly to ensure an appropriate flow (steady scaffolding) of skills, knowledge, and dispositions for students as they move through our school system. Next year, some notable improvements will be underway that will strengthen the educational experiences of all of our students. Highlights are:

    • Academic instruction will focus on the knowledge and skills that we have determined to be most essential for our students’ future success (the designated and aligned competencies).
    • Students will be graded on their performance and progress toward achieving the stated competencies.
    • Important work habits that are key to success in school, post-secondary opportunities and the workplace will be included on report cards.  These work study practices are Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Self Direction.
    • Students will not receive extra credit toward subject matter grades for actions unrelated to their academic performance; nor will they be graded down for actions unrelated to their academic performance.
    • Our schools will emphasize achievement and progress for all by putting in place supports and multiple opportunities for all students to achieve competencies.
    • There will be an increased, articulated emphasis on helping students progress past competency to higher depths of knowledge and levels of application, synthesis, analysis and problem solving.
    • There will be increased consistency across our schools in relation to expectations for students who meet or exceed academic requirements.
    • All students will have a report card that they or their parents can print out.

    Given all these improvements, it’s easy to envision drastic changes in our District. However, the shift to competency based education in Raymond has been purposefully planned to be gradual, and some things will not change at all. A few examples are:

    • Students at the middle and high school level will still have traditional letter grades; the grade scale will not change.
    • Grade point average and class rank will not be affected.
    • New practices will be phased in gradually over time at RHS so that, part way through their high school career, our students will experience no abrupt changes in the way they are graded.
    • All teachers will receive ongoing professional development and support as they use our newly developed and aligned (technology based) report card system. Teachers at RHS will have an additional year of using and testing the system prior to official use.
    The practices and report cards developed at each school have been carefully planned to ensure a developmentally appropriate and consistent flow of curriculum, instruction and assessment as students move through our entire school system. Our schools are all moving in the same direction, but each school has leeway to adjust to the appropriately meet the needs of students at each developmental stage (elementary, middle and high school). To learn more about the specifics of what is planned at each school, please to attend one of our important Parent Forums (also open to interested members of the public). At these forums, Principals will show examples of the new report card format and highlight for parents what will change and what will remain the same in relation to educational and grading practices for the upcoming school year.

     

    If you are apprehensive about the changes that are planned for next year, or just want to learn more about our transition to competency based education, please attend one or all of these important forums on our shift toward Competency Based Education and Grading. Change can be challenging, but it is also necessary for our school system to move forward. We need your support to focus on meaningful and sustainable improvements in the Raymond School System. 
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  • Requests for School Board Agenda Items

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 5/3/2018 5:00:00 PM

    Apple Did you know that a member of the public can request that an issue considered as an agenda item at a School Board meeting in our community? Click here to find Policy BEDB-F, the Request for Inclusion on the Raymond School Board Agenda. This simply form can be completed and submitted to the office of the Superintendent of Schools. Active participation at our School Board meetings is important. Please consider completing the form associated with Policy BEDB-F if you have a topic or issue that you believe should be considered at a formal meeting.

    Thank you.

     

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  • What is Competency and Proficiency Based Learning?

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 4/20/2018 4:00:00 PM

    By guest blogger Mike Whaland, Curriculum Coordinator for the Raymond School District:

    Competency Based Learning is a system of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting and school culture, that is based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education. In public schools, competency-based systems use state learning standards to determine academic expectations and define “competency” or “proficiency” in a given course, subject area, or grade level (although other sets of standards may also be used, including standards developed by districts and schools or by subject-area organizations). The general goal of competency-based learning is to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life.


    Transitioning to Competency Based Education

    Raymond has begun the thoughtful process of moving towards a culture of ongoing learning.  A culture that allows for ongoing learning and multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery in a given competency.  Our educators have been working diligently to develop, align, identify, and in some cases create competencies that represent the hallmarks of knowledge and skill in a given course or content area. 

     

    In practice, competency-based learning can take a wide variety of forms from state to state or school to school—there is no single model, prescription, or universally used approach. While schools often create their own competency-based systems, they may also use systems, models, or strategies created by state education agencies or outside educational organizations. We will work to continue to build our capacity, structures, and systems to transition to a competency based education model that works uniquely for the Raymond School District.  

    Why Competency Based Education

    Competency Based Education allows for personalized learning through improved individualized learning outcomes for all students.  Student agency can be utilized demonstrate learning through extended learning opportunities, problem statements utilizing critical skills to solve real world problems and performance assessments.  Competency Based Learning can improve the accuracy and integrity of our grading and reporting systems.  Students will receive information of their progression towards mastery in all competencies within a given content area.  This information will be vital in providing specific interventions and enrichment opportunities for students so they can reach their full potential in an ever changing world.   

     

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  • 'Do-Over' Presentation for Parents

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 4/13/2018 4:00:00 PM

    On Tuesday the 10th of April an outstanding parent presentation took place in the media center at Raymond High School. Mr. John Halligan shared with Raymond parents, 'If I Could Have a Do-Over'. Mr. Halligan spoke from the heart about his son, Ryan, who committed suicide at the age of 13. He provided relevantRyan Halligan and useful lessons and tips for adults with the purpose of increasing awareness and giving strategies to address depression, bullying (and cybercullying) and suicidal tendancies in youth. More information and many resources can be be found on his son's website -  Ryan's Story. Please review this information to gain insight into the challenges that some of our children may face and what you can do to help.  

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  • New Special Education Director Selected

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 4/5/2018 1:00:00 PM


    I am very pleased to announce that a Scott Riddell has been selected to serve as our Director of Special Education starting on July 1, 2018. Scott has over 23 years of experience in the field of Special Education, and has served as a Special Education Administrator for the past 12 of those years. He is an exceptionally well rounded professional who is knowledgeable, consistent, enthusiastic and articulate. His myriad of experiences and qualifications make him an excellent choice for this key leadership role in Raymond. Please join me in congratulating Scott for being chosen to serve as our Special Education Director! 

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  • Competency Based Education and WHY

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 3/30/2018 4:00:00 PM

    From Guest Blogger Steve Woodward - Principal of Raymond High School!

     

    Competency Based Education & Why?

    RHS KB New Hampshire is one of a small handful of states that have been leading the competency based education (CBE) initiative, but the question remains, why? I believe that ultimately, it is about providing the student and parents will more detailed information about a student is learning.

     

    Some of the key characteristics that distinguishes classes in a CBE program from traditional classes is that students can progress at their own pace.  Understandably, some of us learn quickly, while some of us need more time comprehend material In CBE, students make progress toward class objectives based on demonstrating that they are competent and possess all the skills necessary to proceed to the next step. Some students will demonstrate mastery and accelerate their progress as other students might take more time and practice to advance. 

    Mr. Bickford, principal of IHGMS, compared in the Green Gazette a couple of CBE with a pilot and I am going to build off that analogy. Think about what would happen if we graded pilots using the same traditional grading system. During the pilots final exam he/she scored an 80 on the exam. Maybe the instructor divided the exam into four parts and the student received the following grades on each section:

    ·         Preflight check    95                         

    ·         Takeoff                 85

    ·         Navigation           90

    ·         Landing                50

    In the traditional school setting, we would all agree that the pilot passed. The problem is, none of us will get on the plane with this pilot and this is the issue that CBE addresses. We want all of our students to be competent and proficient in several areas as opposed to focus on the final score.

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  • New Business Administrator Nominated

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 3/23/2018

    Sandstrom I am very pleased to announce that a new Business Administrator for the Raymond School District has been hired to replace retiring Ron Brickett. The nomination of Bonnie Sandstrom was accepted by the Raymond School Board on Wednesday. Bonnie has over 16 years of experience in school finance and has served as a Business Administrator in New Hampshire schools for over 8 years. She is an active member of the New Hampshire Association of School Business Officials, and is described as responsive, thorough, conservative, collaborative and trustworthy with an incredible work ethic. We are so very fortunate to have Bonnie come on board this summer after Ron retires. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Sandstrom to our community.  

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  • RHS Student-Led Activities on March 14, 2018

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 3/16/2018 4:00:00 PM

    RHS March 14th Activities The student-led activities that took place on the morning of March 14th at Raymond High School created a stir in some respects. At the school, the event went beautifully and was, in my opinion, a touching reminder of how articulate and caring our students are; they are compassionate citizens who are doing what they can to influence the world. On Social Media, there were many comments in relation to this event. Some of them revealed some misunderstandings which I'd like to clarify:

    • The brief assembly, followed by the 17 minutes of tribute to the victims of the 2/14/18 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was student organized and led.
    • The students who planned that activity made a concerted effort to make sure that it was apolitical.
    • The activities were voluntary for students; no student was required to participate.
    • Approximately one-third of the student body chose to participate and the otherstudents in attendance chose not to participate. One caveat was that students inside the school during the 17 minutes did hear the names of those who died in Parkland, Florida spoken over the intercom.
    • The activities were respectful and conducted in a manner that expressed unity and caring.
    • Gun control was not discussed (either for or against) during the activities.
    • The activities were originally planned to take place during RAM time (study hall); however, due to the delayed opening the schedule was atypical that day and the students did miss about 30 minutes of class time.

    I am very proud of all of the students at RHS; those who chose to participate and those who chose not to participate in these activities. Every student was respectful and made the choice he or she believed was right.

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  • VOTE - MARCH 13th!

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 3/9/2018 4:00:00 PM

    Vote

     

    PLEASE VOTE in the Town and School District Election on March 13th from 7 AM to 7 PM at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School in the gymnasium! 

    While you are there consider buying a snack or a candy bar to help our students raise funds for upcoming field trips. The 5th grade will be going to Nature's Classroom and the 8th grade will be going to Washington DC.

     

     

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  • Important Summary of School District Warrants

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 3/2/2018 12:00:00 PM

    Raymond School District Warrant Articles for 2018 Voters’ Consideration

    Schools should reflect the values of the community in which Voting they are located. Therefore, it is essential that the citizens of Raymond be activity involved in the process of making School District decisions through civic engagement, deliberation and voting. Please be sure to vote in our Town Election on March 13th from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School.

    I would like to provide a brief explanation of each of the warrant articles that will be considered in order to inform those who will be voting on these important issues.


    Article 1 pertains to the election of School District Officers. Two School Board Members will be chosen along with a School District Moderator, a School District Clerk, and a School District Treasurer.


    Article 2 concerns the Raymond School District Operating Budget. This is the money raised annually to pay for our school system to operate: employee salaries, benefits, supplies, equipment and everything from books to snow plowing, and band instruments to heating oil.

    The operating budget for the 2018-2019 school year as approved by the Raymond School Board and the Budget Committee is $24,283,331. This is a net increase of $303,961 or 1.27% as compared to the current fiscal year. Some highlights of the proposed budget are:

    • At Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES) a first and a second grade teacher were eliminated
    • At Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (IHGMS) an eighth grade teacher and a guidance counselor were removed from the budget
    • At Raymond High School one high school English teacher was reduced
    • One special education administrator position was eliminated in the District
    • Two licensed nurse assistant positions in the District were reduced while a licensed practicing nurse was added
    • Salaries and benefits accounts were adjusted downward to align with estimated (anticipated) turnover and corresponding lower wages for less experienced new hires
    • One math interventionist position was added to teach students at LRES and IHGMS
    • Course materials for expanded earth science offerings were included
    • Salary adjustments for Assistant Principals were incorporated
    • Special education expenditures for tuition and contracted services went up
    • Some increases in equipment, software and other instructional materials were also deemed necessary

    This proposed budget is the product of substantial collaboration and compromise. It was carefully constructed to be fiscally conservative while providing adequate funding for quality education and the continuous improvement of teaching and learning within our school system. It was vetted and refined repeatedly by District administrators, the School Board and the Budget Committee before being presented to the voters of Raymond. If the proposed budget is not passed by the voters, the default budget will be $24,425,410.

    (Recommended by the School Board: Yes - 4; No - 0)

    (Recommended by the Budget Committee: Yes - 5; No - 1)


    Article 3 pertains to the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Raymond School Board and the Raymond Education Association (REA), our teachers’ union. Proposed is a three-year agreement, which calls for collective increases in wages and benefits for REA members. The total estimated cost of the agreement is $408,424 in year one, $390,650 in year two, and $403,531 in the third year. The proposed agreement was collaboratively developed through the negotiation process. Highlights of the agreement are:

    • Teachers may elect to serve as substitutes during their preparation periods at a rate of $18.75
    • The District contribution percentage for insurance premiums for the SchoolCare Yellow without Choice Health Plan (a high deductible plan) will go down over three years (93% to 92% to 91%)
    • A second high deductible Health Plan, (SchoolCare Orange) is available to REA members; this plan has lower premiums for the District and the members, but deductibles are higher. Although the District will pay 100% of the premium, this plan is the less expensive of the two health plan options
    • The agreement requires REA members to pay for half of any potential excise tax that may be incurred under the Affordable Care Act in 2020 (if applicable)
    • The contract language regarding the maximum amount of unpaid Child Rearing Leave for members is clarified
    • Each member advances one step at the beginning of the school year
    • The number of steps in the REA pay scale is decreased from 17 to 15 by the third year of the contract

    The proposed agreement was deemed both fair and appropriate by the Raymond School Board and the Raymond Education Association. One important overarching aim of the agreement is to encourage experienced and effective educators to remain in our District.  

    (Recommended by the School Board: Yes - 3; No - 0)

    (Recommended by the Budget Committee: Yes - 5 ; No - 1)


    Article 4 asks the voters to consider authorizing the governing body of the School District to call one special meeting, at its discretion, to address article 3 cost items in the event that article 3 is defeated.


    Article 5, if approved, will authorize the District to add $235,400 to the Capital Reserve Funds in order to implement the School District’s 2018-19 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Proposed additions to the CIP include $202,544 for the Raymond School District Equipment, Facilities Maintenance and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund as well as $13,142 for the Technology Capital Reserve Fund and $19,714 for the Food Service Equipment Capital Reserve Fund. The Capital Reserve Funds help the District take strategic steps to maintain our facilities or equipment while minimizing corresponding spikes in the tax rate.

    (Recommended by the School Board: Yes - 5; No - 0)

    (Recommended by the Budget Committee: Yes - 6 ; No - 0)


    Article 6 asks the voters to authorize the District to place up to $50,000 from an undesignated fund balance, if it is available on July 1st, into the Equipment, Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund. The purpose of this article is to allow the District to set aside available funds for future use on necessary maintenance projects costing over $10,000.

    (Recommended by the School Board: Yes - 5; No - 0)

    (Recommended by the Budget Committee: Yes - 5; No -1)


    Voting on the preceding warrant articles will take place on vote Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 at the Iber Holmes Gove Middle Middle School Gymnasium from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

    I’d like to thank the entire Town of Raymond for its ongoing support of public education and its willingness to engage in the decision-making process through active civic engagement and voting. Every perspective helps us make sound decisions for our children and our community.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Tina H. McCoy, Ed.D. – Superintendent of Schools

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Be Informed and Vote on March 13th

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 2/23/2018 12:00:00 PM

     Vote

    March 13th is an important date for our community; it is the day of our town vote. Voting will take place at IHGMS from 7 AM to 7 PM. It's essential that as citizens as possible come out to express their opinions on March 13th. This will ensure that the District (and the Town) move forward in a way that is in accord with the values of our community.

    There are many ways for voters to prepare for voting day by becoming knowledgeable about the issues under consideration. 

    For example, you will find a Voter Information Page on the District website. Here you will find copies of the warrant articles and much more! https://www.sau33.com/Page/42

    You can also access our Green Gazette Special Edition newsletter, which describes and explains each warrent article. This can be found at https://us16.campaign-archive.com/?u=25f17452e448deea35c28bfcc&id=ad491b8724

    Finally, if you prefer to access information through brief videos that describe and clarify the warrant articles under consideration, you can go to RCTV to watch those: https://raymondtv.viebit.com/.

    Your informed vote matters! Please be sure to come out to vote on March 13th and remind your friends, family members and neighnors to do that same! 

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  • Student Work-Study Practices Essential

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 2/16/2018 12:00:00 PM

    Communication, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking/problem solving, literacy and self direction: 
    Collaboration

    These 'student work-study practices and 21st century expectations' are the cross cutting skills that all of our students must acquire in order to be flexible, lifelong learners who can adapt successfully to changing circumstances. Given the rapid changes that now (regularly) take place in our society, it's never been more important for us to directly teach these skills across the curriculum and throughout the school day. 

    One important hallmark of competency based grading is that academic competencies and  work-study practices are reported on separately. The purpose is to provide parents and students with a clearer, more accurate picture of how the student is performing at that moment in time (at the 'snapshot' time that grades or progress reports come out). 

    At the teacher in-service day in March educators will have a unique opportunity to collaborate and deliberate expectations and practices for explicitly teaching work-study practices and 21st century expectations in developmentally appropriate ways from preschool through grade 12. An opportunity to 'tap into' the expertise of all of our educators at once will be amazing. I can't wait to see what our professionals will learn from each other on March 13th.
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  • School District Deliberative Session 2/10/18!

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 2/8/2018 4:35:00 PM

    Raymond Voters to Consider Several School District Warrant Article Deliberative Session

    The annual School District Deliberative Session for Raymond will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday the 10th of February at Raymond High School. Members of the public will then have the opportunity to consider and debate warrant articles that will be voted on in the Town Election on March 13th at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School. In addition to selecting School District Officers, the citizens of Raymond will be asked to weigh in regarding:

    •      A proposed operating budget for the fiscal year 2019. This budget includes the funds raised annually to pay for the school system to operate; everything from salaries and benefits, to books and band instruments, to snow plowing and heating oil. The total District budget that will be presented on February 10th is $24,283,331, a 1.27% increase over the current year’s budget. The calculated default budget of $24,425,410 will go into effect if the proposed operating budget does not pass in March.
    •      A new agreement between the Raymond School Board and the Raymond Education Association (REA). Proposed is a three-year agreement which calls for increases in wages and benefits for the union members. The total estimated cost of the agreement is $408,424 (year 1), $390,650 (year 2), and $403,531 (year 3). Some highlights of the new agreement are a gradual reduction of the District’s insurance premium payments for one health plan offered, the addition of another health plan choice with lower premiums, the option for teachers to substitute during their planning periods (compensation - $18.75), and clarification of the maximum amount of unpaid child care leave available to a union member.  
    •      Whether or not to authorize the School Board to call one special meeting, at its discretion, to address cost items related to the proposed teachers’ union contract if the new agreement between the District and the REA agreement does not pass in March.
    •      The addition of $235,400 to the Capital Reserve Funds in order to implement the School District’s 2018-19 Capital Improvement Plan.
    •      Authorization for the District to place up to $50,000 from an undesignated fund balance, if it is available on July 1st, into the existing Equipment, Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund.

    All members of the Raymond community are encouraged to attend the Deliberative Session in February and to vote in March so that they can be a part of this important decision-making process.

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  • More on Competency Based Education

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 2/2/2018 12:00:00 PM

    Wonderful things are happening in our schools! Above and beyond that, educators are working hard to find ways to continually improve teaching and learning for all of our students. Guest blogger Bob Bickford, Principal of Iber Holmes Gove Middle School, wrote this article on Competency Based Education, a model we are shifting toward. I hope you read on and enjoy learning more about this important topic! 

     

    What is Competency Based Education?
     
    In the most basic terms competencies are what we want students to know and be able to do at the end of a course; what knowledge and skills we want them to master. There are some distinct differences between competency based education and what most of us consider as traditional teaching and learning.

     

    Traditionally when we think of a course that we took in school everything we did in that class was given a grade and those grades were averaged together to come up with a course grade. As long as that averaged grade was not a failing grade, then we would “pass” that course. Traditionally those classes met for about 120 hours over a school year, that is what has been referred to as a Carnegie Unit for about 100 years.
     
    In competency based education we know that there are distinct concepts and skills that are part of each course. In order for our students to be successful as they progress through their education they need to master those concepts and skills before moving on to the next level.
     
    For example, in English class we want students to be able read and comprehend both literature and informational texts. We want students to be able to write complete sentences, paragraphs, and essays. We want them to be able to write for various purposes. In English class we also want students to be able to speak and listen effectively. These are all competencies in English Language Arts.
     
    Each competency is important and we need to students to master each one before moving on to the next level of a subject. Traditionally we would have averaged all the assignments together for all those different concepts and skills to determine if a student was ready to move on. In that traditional process a student might be able demonstrate that they can read, speak and listen well but have significant struggles in writing; passed reading, speaking and listening and failed writing. I think we all agree that being able to write effectively is a skill everyone needs to be successful at. If a student failed a course, traditionally they would need to take the whole class over, even the areas that they did well at.
     
    In competency based education if a student is struggling in one or more areas there are opportunities to relearn those concepts and skills and additional opportunities to demonstrate mastery before moving on. All competencies for a course are equally important and all need to be mastered before moving on to the next level of that subject. There no longer is averaging together different knowledge and skill sets.
     
    Think of a pilot and all that they need to learn. They need to learn about how a plane flies, the science behind it, and they need to understand all the different systems of the plane. They need to be able to check the plane to ensure that it is safe to fly. A pilot needs to be able taxi, take off, navigate, make the necessary maneuvers to get where they are going and then they need to land. In order for a pilot to obtain their license they need to demonstrate their mastery of all these concepts and skills, competencies, plus more. You can bet that their scores for each are not averaged together. Would you want to fly with a pilot who mastered everything except landing?
     
    As we transition to competency based education you will be hearing more about the different elements of competency based education. The list from Competencyworks.org includes:

    • Students advance upon demonstrated mastery.
    • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
    • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
    • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
    • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.
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  • Raymond Voters to Consider Several School District Issues

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 1/26/2018 4:00:00 PM

    Raymond School District Raymond citizens will soon have the opportunity to weigh in on important decisions related to their schools. An operating budget of $24,283,331 will be proposed (an increase of 1.27% over this year) along with a new agreement between the Raymond School Board and the Raymond Education Association. The estimated cost for the updated teachers’ union contract will be $408,424 during the first year ($390,650 and $403,531 in years 2 and 3 respectively). Also under consideration will be the potential allocation of $235,400 to pre-established Capital Reserve Funds, and the proposed authorization for the District to place up to $50,000 from an undesignated fund balance (if available on July 1st) into the existing  Equipment, Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund. The warrant articles under consideration in Raymond this year are the products of substantial collaboration and compromise. That being said, the decision-making process will continue at the Annual School District Deliberative Session (2/10/18 at Raymond High School) and the March Vote (3/13/18 at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School). All community members are highly encouraged to participate in this important process.

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  • Administrative Book Read!

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 1/19/2018 3:00:00 PM

    The administrative team is planning a 'book read' which may ultimately be expanded to all educators in our District. The book is very relevant to our impending shift to competency based grading; it's called Grading Exceptional and Struggling Learners.

    Under a traditional grading model, many educators have never felt 100% comfortable about how to effectively and fairly grade students who are struggling for documented reasons (educational disabilities or limited English proficiency). This book tackes the issue in the context of standards based or competency based grading. Now is the perfect time for us all to think deeply about the logistics of competency based grading and the implications for all students including those who struggle. 

    Grading Exceptional and Struggling Learners, by Lee Ann Jung and Thomas Guskey, is a 'quick read' that offers specific guidance to educators who want grades to be both meaningful and encouraging - even for those really 'tough to grade' students. Building off of their substantial work on standards-based (another name for competency based) grading, the authors outline practices that allow teachers to use grades to communicate the performance of students in relation to three types of goals: product, process and progress. Multiple examples, using students with different types of learning characteristics and needs, are cited. 

    If you are already familiar with standards-based grading, this book may be a little redundant for you.  However, its' review of basic concepts and readability make it an excellent choice for a group or whole staff to read and discuss collaboratively.grading

    One word of caution: If you are looking for tips on grading exceptional or struggling learners outside the context of standards-based grading, this is not the book for you. The practices (reforms, actually) described in this book must be implemented as part of our systemic transition to standards-based grading practices.

     

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  • Competency Based Education (CBE): The road ahead…

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 1/12/2018

    Great things are happening in our schools as we increase our focus on competency-based education. An important part of our shift to competency-based grading is building a common understanding of what competency-based education is and why we are moving in this direction. To that end, please read and enjoy this important article by guest blogger Bryan Belanger, Principal of Lamprey River Elementary School. 

     

    Lamprey River Elementary School (along with the middle and high school) continue our work toward becoming a Competency-Based District.  This work started over two years ago and will continue to evolve over the next few years.  As we regroup and move forward at LRES, we wanted to take some time this month to gauge teachers, paras, and parents on their familiarity and understanding of competency-based education.

     

    During the week of parent conferences we collected information by asking individuals in each group to rate their understanding of Competency-Based Education on a scale of 1 (no idea) to 4 (expert).  Our survey was not particularly scientific, but it gave us some interesting information. The scores were tallied and averaged and these results may be helpful in moving forward. Teachers rated their understanding at 2.8, Paras 1.95 and Parents at 1.8.  This information leaves us with the question, “How can we increase familiarity and understanding of competency-based education for all stakeholders?”

     

    So here we go - the first of a series of articles to help share our progress and vision moving forward…..
     
    What is it?

    Competency-based education is a model that allows students to progress through curricula (a curriculum) based on their mastery of clearly defined competencies. Using this model, students take as much or as little time as they need to understand the material.  This change shifts our focus from grades to student learning.  Feedback is quick and frequent, and it includes a progression from formative to summative assessments (“Formative: Given throughout the learning process, formative assessments seek to determine how students are progressing through a certain learning goal.  Summative: Given at the end of the year or unit, summative assessments assess a student's mastery of a topic after instruction”).  Using this personalized model, each student is working at their individual level in each subject area.  Imagine it as a learning progression, as you prove competency of a certain skill your instruction moves on to the next level (with or without other classmates).

    Where are we going?

    Lamprey River Elementary School teachers have spent many hours over the past two years writing, aligning and refining our competencies based on the educational standards defined by the NH Department of Education.   By analyzing and unpacking the core subject area - English Language Arts (Reading and Writing), Math, Science (Next Generation) and Social Studies (C3 Framework) - standards by grade level, our teachers have begun to build the framework for the pathways our students will take through their learning experience.  This work also includes our unified arts teachers, who have also been working on establishing competencies for their subject areas.

    In order for LRES to continue our transition to CBE, it is critical that we support teachers as they adjust instruction with the idea that they may have 18 students in their class all with different needs. This shift also puts a higher demand on intervention teachers and para-educators.  This will change the way traditional classes are organized, how we use technology and the integration of project-based activities where work is assessed and validated through tools like portfolios and presentations.

     

    What next?

    While teaching a class with varied academic needs is not a new practice for teachers at LRES, in order to successfully meet the additional demands created by the CBE model, it will be critical that we provide teachers with additional time to collaborate, observe and develop their curriculum.   These teams of teachers will also continue to spend time developing assessments (projects, tests, presentations, etc) that allow students to show their mastery of the skill and to track student progress through the competencies.  This work will likely lead to discussions about report cards, progress reports as well as intervention and enrichment.

     

    We hope this article brings a little more clarification on CBE and the future of learning and teaching at LRES!

     

    More Resources:

    NH Department of Education Competencies  https://www.education.nh.gov/innovations/hs_redesign/competencies.htm

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  • New Years Greetings

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 1/5/2018
    It's been six months since I assumed my position as Superintendent of Schools here in Raymond, and I have genuinely enjoyed becoming acclimated with the community and the District. With guidance from the Raymond School Board and our Strategic Plan, the District is moving ahead in a variety of ways. A few of the highlights or priorities have been:

     

    • Cooperating with the Town as they constructed a public well on District property
    • Hiring an exceptional new Coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
    • Progressing toward and refining Competency Based Education in Raymond
    • Increasing our presence on social media (please 'like us' on Facebook) and started a Community Newsletter
    • Starting a partnership where RHS students teach French to kids at LRES
    • Providing academic support to students without pulling them out of their classes
    • Preparing an induction manual for para-educators
    • Engaging in successful contract negotiations with the Raymond Education Association
    • Establishing a technology committee to develop a five year plan for technology
    • Proposing a budget for 2018-2019 that is fiscally conservative but adequate for our students
    • Working to increase student engagement, rigor and relevance at all levels
    • Promoting consistency and a team oriented 'district-wide' perspective

     

    There are wonderful things happening in our schools every day. That being said, we are continually working together to improve the educational services and supports that we provide to every student. On behalf of our administrative team and the entire District, I would like to remind community members that we are here to serve you. The new year of 2018 will be an exciting one, with many substantial improvements across our school system.


    Happy New Year! 

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  • Season's Greetings!

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 12/22/2017

    School vacation is here! Happy Holidays to all of the folks in our greater educational community: students, families, citizens, employees and all those who are associated with our District. Your contributions throughout the year are truly appreciated. Now it's time for a well-deserved period of relaxation. 

     

    "Merry everything and a happy always"! (unknown).

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Tina McCoy - Superintendent of Schools

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  • BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR JUULING!

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 12/18/2017

    Sadly there is a new way for people to get a strong dose of nicotine quickly without smoking, and kids are obtaining these devices. There is now something called Juuling (trademark), which is a device that looks similar to a USB. It is easy to carry to school and conceal because of its size and benign appearance.  Watch this news story about Juuling so you can take the first step in becoming aware about this issue. Thanks to Bob Lemoine, (RHS Library-Media Specialist) and Raymond Coalition for Youth (RCFY) for bringing this issue to my attention! 

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  • Winter Has Arrived!

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 12/12/2017

    Making the decision to close school, adjust the school day or cancel activities due to weather is not my favorite part about being Superintendent, but it is necessary to protect the safety of our students and employees. Here is a brief synopsis of the steps I take to make the decision and inform those who need to know when inclement weather will impact our school schedule.

    I monitor weather reports on an ongoing basis, but when a storm is anticipated I will keep close track of how the situation is unfolding. In addition to watching the news along with everyone else, I make calls to Police Dispatch, our bus company, and our Highway Superintendent. I also remain in contact with other Superintendents in the region to see how the roads are in neighboring towns. Unless a storm is clearly continuing through the night into the next day, the decision to close or delay school is usually made very early in the morning, preferably no later than 5:00 AM. 

    Once the decision is made, there are many groups of people to contact. I quickly inform the Raymond School Board, key administrators in the District, and both (regular and special) of our transportation companies. Just before I send out automated messages to families and employees through Alert Solutions, a quick message is posted on the Raymond School District Facebook page (be sure to ‘like’ our page). Next, the information is provided to radio (WZID & WBZ) and TV (WBZ and Channel 9) stations.

    When the initial notifications are done, I inform the Seacoast School of Technology and Police Dispatch. The information is soon posted to the District website and to RCTV.

    When power and internet access is down, it can be a real challenge to take all of the steps needed to properly notify the greater educational community of closures or delays. For this reason, we have some contingency plans. There are four key individuals (who live in different directions from Raymond) who have the capability to use the systems needed to notify folks of closures or delays. If this does not work, as a last resort, there is one telephone number that I can call to ask the company (Alert Solutions) to send out a message on my behalf. While this does not link with other systems such as our website or TV/radio stations, it will provide a message to families and employees who most need to know if our schedule is changed due to inclement weather.

    If school is already in session and conditions worsen unexpectedly, I may decide that it is necessary to release students early or cancel after-school and evening activities. If and when this occurs, notification will be sent to parents from the schools.

    I’m hoping for a mild winter this year, but we’ll be ready one way or another!

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  • Reaching Higher Toward an Unlimited Future!

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 12/6/2017

     

    I’m so happy and proud to acknowledge some outstanding young people who were inducted into the Reach High Scholars Program on the evening of December 5, 2017. Before I began as Superintendent of Schools here in Raymond, I learned of the Reach High Scholars Program. I was truly impressed. Very few communities have such an organization, that offers a range of opportunities to help students chart a course to a college that they might previously have thought to be beyond their grasp. The more I learn about this program, the more I realize what an asset it is for our students and our school system.

     

    What’s most impressive, however, are the students themselves. That’s because becoming a member of the Reach High Scholars Program requires more than being ‘a smart kid’ or working hard in school. It’s much more than that. What is takes is an openness; a mindset that says, “I can do more.  I can compete with anyone. There is no limit to what I can accomplish. I have faith in myself and my capabilities. I’m going to shape my own destiny by saying ‘yes’ to new challenges and opportunities. I’m not afraid to stretch beyond what is comfortable for me in order to achieve at higher levels. I’m open to anything".

     

    This open, confident mindset is an attribute that will serve these students well not only in high school or college, but in life. None of us know the future, but by reaching continually higher these students are preparing themselves to excel in any future situation. As they were inducted into the Reach High Scholars Program, they said yes to all that the program has to offer; yes to opportunity, yes to rigor, and yes to a very bright future.

     

    On behalf of the Raymond School District I’d like to congratulate all of these students for being accepted into this outstanding program and for embarking on this special journey of achievement.

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  • Competency Education is Not All About Grading

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 11/28/2017

     

    One of the greatest misunderstandings about Competency Education is that it is all about grading. In fact, Competency Education centers much more on the process of teaching and learning. Students and teachers in a true competency based system focus primarily on achieving goals or objectives; becoming competent in relation to clearly defined academic expectations. There are still grades, but the grades are determined not by averages, but by accomplishments over time. In the words of one colleague in a neighboring school district, “if you are still averaging grades, you are not doing competency based education”. This is a fundamental shift in the way we report on our student’s performance in their classes, but it is a productive and beneficial shift.

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