Rochester School Board
Board Meeting
Central Office Boardroom
December 9, 2008
6:00 PM


Members Present:

Mr. Robert Watson

Mrs. Peggy Parker

Dr. Anthony Pastelis

Mrs. Audrey Stevens

Ms. Caroline McCarley

Mr. Timothy Bruneau

Mr. William Brennan

Mrs. Pam Hubbard

Mrs. Anne Grassie, 6:30

Mr. John Connelly 6:36

Members Absent:

Mr. Mark Torr

Mr. Travis Allen

Mr. Frank Callaghan


Also Present:

Mr. Michael Hopkins

Ms. Linda Casey
Mr. John Shea

Mr. Robert Seaward

Ms. Kate Zacharias

Mr. David Robbins



Mr. Watson called the meeting to order at 6:03 p.m. on a roll call with a quorum present. Members participated in the pledge of allegiance. 


Mr. Shea, SHS Principal began by summarizing the proposal, currently titled Big Step Forward, or Vision.  The proposal is to study and report to the Board on possible changes to the High School programs in Rochester.  This could entail a smaller Spaulding High School of 1,000 students, the Bud Carlson Academy of 100 to 150 students, and a new High School of 350 to 400 students.  The study would cost about $25,000 during this time. The plan is to produce a document that would involve funding sources outside of local tax dollars to create a new school and a changed Spaulding High School.  The cost of the study is primarily to increase one Assistant Principal position to a Deputy Principal position, about a 10% increase in the person’s wages.  This would allow Mr. Shea to focus on this long range plan, create contact for charitable support, and study High Schools that have tried this type of change. 


The focus of the study will be how we might change the educational funding for Rochester’s high school students.  Can we get charitable contributions to begin a new high school? Can we get contributions from the State and National level to make renovations in the current school, renovate a site in Rochester, and/or make curricula changes at all three schools. 


The Board is asked to support only the study at this time.  The report will layout the options in detail, for the Board in Spring of 2010.  At that time, the Board can move forward, change course, or remain with the current configuration.  The planning will involve community support and involvement over the next fifteen months, to gather their feedback and ideas about how to make the High School education in Rochester more successful. 


Board members had several questions about the proposal.  What was the reason for this proposal and what made you start thinking about this issue?  Mr. Shea stated that it was the number of students that aren’t engaged at the School.  We have many students involved in the football team, band and normal high school activities.  We also have a large group of students not invested in the school or educational opportunities.  A smaller school with a more personal approach can engage those students.  It would at least offer an option for students and parents.  The smaller school setting can provide an integrated real world education compared to the current departmentalized education high school program. The schedule in a smaller school can be adjusted and tweaked to


Many Board members supported the proposal but still have various questions they look forward to having clarified. The proposal will be considered under New Business at the Regular Board meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 11, 2008.


Ms. McCarley moved, second by Mrs. Hubbard, to adjourn the meeting at 8:12 p.m. The motion passed unanimously.    


Respectfully submitted,

Mr. Robert Watson

Presentation to School Board

BIG STEP FORWARD Proposal/Vision (BSF)

Spaulding High School leadership team

Tuesday, December 9, 20086:00 pm.


(1) Review, elaboration, and Q&A on the BSF proposal/vision presented and discussed at Instruction

      Committee meetings on Oct. 30 and Nov. 20.   BSF proposal /vision (four pages) is attached.


      * Spaulding High School (1000 students) – one of the best comprehensive high schools in the state.


      * Bud Carlson Academy (100-150 students) – one of the best small alternative schools in     

the state.


      * New high school (350-450 students) – one of the best examples in the country of a whole

         new model of secondary education – innovative, effective, and aligned with the realities

of the twenty-first century.


      * Impact on school district operating budget – not significant.


 (2) Further discussion as to why change is needed, the rationale for the approach laid out in the

BSF proposal/vision, and the goals/outcomes we are aiming to achieve.


 (3) Discussion/deliberation about next steps and prospectively moving forward with BSF. 


(a)   Asking for a vote at the Dec. 11 board meeting approving a thorough exploration of the

BSFproposal/vision which would culminate with a comprehensive and detailed presentation to the School Board before the end of the coming 2009-10 school year. 


     (b) Cost of this sixteen-month process (January/February 2009 through spring 2010)

would be approximately $25,000.


     (c)  If the board were to approve the comprehensive/detailed proposal in the spring of 2010:


            * Transitional/downsizing period for SHS – 2010-11 through 2013-14 (four years).


            * New school planning and development – 2010-11 & 2011-12 school years (two years).


            * New school opens with 9th & 10th graders – 2012-13 school year… and we roll out to full

               enrollment over the next two years (9th, 10th, 11th graders in 2013-14 and 9th-12th graders

 in  2014-15)

* It would be in 2014-15 that we would have an SHS of 1000 students, a new school of

350-450 students, and a BCA with 100-150 students.




Spaulding High School/secondary education in Rochester



Shea /Oct. 30, 2008 (four pages)




 A. Spaulding High School (& Creteau CTE Center) – approximately 1000 students.

  w With eight strategic/critical areas of focus.

 B. Bud Carlson Academy – approximately 100-150 students.

 C. New high school – approximately 350-450 students.








A. Spaulding High School (including the Creteau Career & Technical Education Center)

Target enrollment of approximately 1000 students.  Comprehensive program with rigorous academic programs (including CTE programs), high quality special education services, a breadth of extracurricular offerings, a much greater focus on service and leadership development, competitive interscholastic athletics, and a quality performing arts programs…

and a strong sense of community and a culture of high expectations.  With an information/ technology infrastructure that supports teaching and learning and that provides better data for more-informed decision making (at the administrative level and in the classroom).


1. Strong school-within-a-school Freshman Academy serving 250-300 students in a discrete

    space with its own faculty and principal/director (leaving a sophomore-junior-senior program/

    high school of about 700 students).  Focused on the critical transition year from middle school

    to high school, the Academy will reduce drop out and retention rates – as well as better

    engage and prepare all students for success in high school


    The Freshman Academy is now in its third year.  We should be where we want to be by the 

    fifth year (2010-11).  Prospective schedule change (#3 below) will likely be critical to forward



2. More tightly focused and strengthened school curriculum/course offerings aimed at getting all

    students to targeted competencies (essential learning outcomes) – via constant instructional

    improvement and measured varied and well-aligned assessment strategies (scored/graded in

    a manner most helpful and useful to students and others). 


    Process has been in the works for a few years.  Detailed plan/timeline is now in place to

    complete these efforts over next two years – to be wrapped up in 2010-11.


3. Ideal school day schedule (and school year calendar) in place to maximize effectiveness of

    teaching and learning – via best mix of shorter and longer periods and frequency of class

    meetings, appropriate mix of semester/year-long classes, built-in time for teacher

    planning/collaboration, greater flexibility for alternative/non-traditional pathways, etc. 


    Faculty voted overwhelmingly to tackle this last spring/summer.  Process is now beginning –

    and should be wrapped up/implemented in 2010-11 or 2011-12.



4. Significantly increased number of quality/rigorous options (or alternative pathways) for

    earning high school credits (i.e., demonstrating competencies on essential learning

    outcomes) – for at-risk students, highly-engaged/successful students, and all of the

    students in-between. 

    Already moving in this direction.  Should be where we want to be within three or four years

    (by about 2011-12 or 2012-13)


5. Campus fully “settled down.”  Clear, reasonable, and consistently enforced/reinforced

    expectations for all students – with fully-staffed school safety team at the center (along with

    powerful school culture set by principal/administrative team) – producing far fewer

    disruptions to the learning environment and a stronger sense of community and support.


    Have made significant progress over past year. And will continue to make progress – but

    school size is not helpful.


6. Homeroom/advisory program providing all students (and their families) with a single adult

    advisor, a comfortable weekly check-in, a homeroom/advisory peer group of approximately    

    16-18 other students, and an effective vehicle for school communication, course selection/

     registration, etc.


     Program now in its second year.  Should be solidly implemented and firmly established by

     2009-10 or 2010-11.


7. No classes (or very few) with more than 24 students.  Ideal class size of 16-22 (with some

    exceptions).  Smaller faculty (and administrative, support, guidance team) but slightly

    decreased faculty to student ratio. 

    Class size to be achieved, ideally, via enrollment reduction (several years from now). Short

    term improvements would require more teaching positions.


8. Facilities no longer overcrowded nor in need of expansion – just renovated and reorganized

    in some areas.  And technological resources (computer labs, Smartboards, etc.) updated/   

    expanded.  (Note, for example, that with 1000 students, we can have three school lunches in

    the current cafeteria much more comfortably and at more appropriate times.)


B. Bud Carlson Academy

Enrollment of approximately 100-150 students (grades 9-12) at separate school (located at community center).  Innovative program aimed at better serving students who are least likely to be successful at Spaulding.


Launched this year.  Should be solid, well-established, and at optimum enrollment within next 2-3 years (by about 2010-11).


C. New high school in Rochester

Enrollment of 350-450 students attending a new tuition-free public school (charter, pilot, district-run, or another organizational structure) with a focus such as entrepreneurship (both private/

business and public/social entrepreneurship) or some other appropriate and powerful unifying theme.  The school will have an innovative cutting-edge academic program (integrated curriculum, project-based learning, etc.) tied closely to the surrounding community (internships, apprenticeships, various forms of collaboration) – but extracurricular and athletic options will be limited.


Start-up funding (likely $5 to $10 million) for renovating and furnishing an existing local space/building to be raised via grant, state, federal money – not local property taxes or municipal bonds. 


School of choice.  If oversubscribed, interested students to be selected via lottery.


With timely board approval to simply explore this option, the hope would be to have seed money

committed, facilities identified, and charter (of some sort) established within next 2-3 years –

with the school opening a year or two later – as early as 2012-13 (with enrollment phased-in).




We are not serving all of our students well enough.  The drop out rate is too high.  The percentage of students going on to post-secondary education is too low.  Truancy is a significant problem.  Far too many of our students are at-risk and disengaged from the learning process.  We are doing poorly on standardized tests such as the SAT and the NECAP.  We have been labeled by the state and federal government as a school in need of improvement.  Not all of our students are getting adequate support at home or from the greater community.


Fundamentally, Spaulding High School is too large (enrollment-wise).  Academic results across the full student body, disciplinary data, and the low level of engagement among a significant number of students are all indicators/symptoms.  We are also bumping into facilities/space issues and constraints.  And a growing body of research/data is pointing to the problems (and failures) of large schools – and the positive results and successes of smaller schools.


The vision outlined above is in line with the recently launched New Hampshire initiative to redesign our state's high schools and secondary education system.  It is also in line with the growing national movement to overhaul secondary education – much of it focused on reducing school size.


Spaulding's current principal – with the background and credentials of an entrepreneurial reformer (including significant start-up and fund-raising experience) – is uniquely qualified to lead these efforts. 


We have the leadership at the district level and in the community to achieve this vision.  We have the will, talent, and creativity at the high school (and now at BCA) to make this happen.  Despite the issues and problems we are faced with, we have a significant number of achievements and successes (many of them recent) to build on. 


The timing is right.  During difficult economic times is precisely the appropriate time to be planning and doing the ground work for five years out – and beyond.  


Cost of taking next steps and exploring possibilities is minimal – less than $25,000.


Longer-term costs are comparable to current operating expenses.  Annual district expenditures per high school student will be approximately the same.  (School administration/overhead should actually decrease.)  And the start-up costs of prospective new high school are to be covered by outside funding.  The case for support – based on both the size and needs of our high school and the needs of the greater Rochester community – will be a very compelling one. 


Lastly, we have no real choice but to act boldly.  Responsibly, deliberately, thoughtfully – and boldly.  It is the right thing to do. 


Outcomes for Rochester high school students (five years out):


w More students (all students) learning more (reaching targeted competencies), better prepared

   for (and more eager to pursue) post-secondary options, better prepared to find and pursue

   meaningful and fulfilling work, and better prepared for (and more motivated to engage in)

   civic/citizenship responsibilities.


w Fully engaged, high quality, hard-working, and proud faculty/staff serving all three schools.


w Student bodies at BCA, SHS, and the new school that are spirited, engaged, and proud.  And

   all students participating in at least one extracurricular activity. 


w Average daily attendance up to at least 95%.  Ideally with the top 5-10 rates in the state.


w Drop-out rate lowered to under 10%.  Ideally closer to 5%.


w Approximately 75-80% of our graduates going on to post-secondary schools – and all of them

   (or at least 90% of them) identified as successful and still enrolled one or two years later. 


w Fewer than 25 ten-day suspensions (or longer) earned/given out at SHS, BCA, and the new



w All NECAP/NCLB AYP targets met in all areas in need of improvement.  No more SINI – and

   no more DINI. 


w An overwhelmingly and stunningly positive NEASC accreditation review in 2014.




Seeking a timely “green light” to properly and fully explore the vision outlined above (ideally within the next three months).  Hopeful that an Instruction Committee meeting devoted solely to this proposal could be scheduled before Thanksgiving.

Cost of properly and fully exploring this vision (probably a 12-16 month process): approximately $25,000.


Exploratory stage would culminate (in the spring of 2010) with an extensive and detailed proposal for the board’s consideration – and either an approval vote or not.  (Needless to say, the board would be involved every step of the way leading up to this proposal.)