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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remember this?: Timberlane community wants academic improvement

Remember this story from the Eagle Tribune, two years ago? We are Still waiting!

From Today's Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane community wants academic improvement
By Meghan Carey
Staff writer

PLAISTOW — Extracurricular activities are stronger than academics at Timberlane Regional High School, according to some parents.

The voices of 43 parents who recently participated in an e-mail survey speak louder than their sum. Some 44 percent of responding parents said the quality of a Timberlane education has declined in the last three to five years, and 70 percent said academics are what need improvement at the high school. Approximately 1,600 students from Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown students attend Timberlane High.

Those parents aren't alone. Local bloggers and discussion board members are echoing the sentiments online. Four local blogs and online forums have had a flurry of postings in the last two weeks under threads labeled "Timberlane has lost its way" and "Timberlane is going down the tubes."

While the posters allege the school administration doesn't see what's going on, Superintendent Richard La Salle said last week he knows improvements are needed at each school.

"I think that there's always a problem with quality," he said.

Administrators have targeted reading and writing at the elementary and middle-school levels as the areas that need immediate attention, La Salle said. At the high school, the superintendent said he has a problem that just 70 percent of graduates go on to some form of college. The statewide average is 75 percent.

"In this day and age, I think the minimum standard is some form of post-secondary education," La Salle said. "We have to get that number up."

At the elementary and middle schools, a new reading program is already in place. Teachers use six steps to help them identify students who are struggling with reading before their grades start to reflect it, La Salle said. His hope is that will prevent students from falling too far behind now, especially since reading is a basis for all subjects.

Anne Isenberg, a mother of two from Atkinson, was recruited this spring to work on the Strategic Planning Committee. She said there's a discrepancy between the community's opinions of the school district and what the district is doing.

When she and her family moved to the area in 1995, she started talking to people about the schools. What Isenberg found was a community distrust in the schools — and she says that hasn't gone away. A lesson in public relations would help the situation, she said.

"They have been very quiet," Isenberg said of school administrators. "They have to realize that without any communication, the rumor mill fills in."

Improvements in communication can go both ways, according to School Board member Stephen Brown.

There's a time at every meeting for parents and taxpayers to make comments about the district, but that time is rarely used. Brown said it's a much more appropriate forum than posting on blogs.

"We listen, we discuss and reply to those comments," Brown said. "We are constantly striving to make the school district better."

The Strategic Planning Committee, which is made up of parents, administrators, teachers and a School Board member, is striving to do the same.

Isenberg and Kate Delfino of Atkinson, two of the parent representatives on the committee, are taking their roles seriously — starting with conducting the parent e-mail survey.

Isenberg said she didn't have every parents' e-mail address, but tried to get the survey to as many people as possible. The results are not scientific and from a narrow segment of the population, but both women said they are still indicative of parents' general opinions.

"It's one piece in a very large puzzle that we are putting together," Delfino said. "It's really just to be able to quantify some of the thoughts and concerns that are on some parents' minds."

Thirty-five percent of those parents said the quality of a Timberlane Regional High School education has stayed the same. Just 12 percent of those surveyed said it had improved over the last three to five years. Forty-four percent said quality has declined.

When asked what the strengths of the high school were, most parents said performing arts and athletics. Safety and security, clubs and special interests tied for third.

Academics didn't make the list.

Whether community sentiment changes in the future, the plan is to change the education provided to the students over the next 10 years, La Salle said.

The Strategic Planning Committee is collecting data from another parent study, state assessment testing, SAT and ACT scores, and the NHEIAP — a state Department of Educational improvement and assessment program — report, the La Salle said.

When the data is turned into a 10-year plan this fall, La Salle said it will be used as a planner during the coming budgeting process and for the years to come.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a parent of a child in this system but as a taxpayer, I should be getting these surveys as well. I want to know what is going on too. I'm paying, why aren't I getting the same information?

Also, Atkinson is under represented on the School Board thanks to LaSalle letting Baldwin keep his seat while not here to do the work.


is this going to be recognized as a problem in this town?

Anonymous said...

You dont want to be accused of attacking our police Lt. now do you?

Anonymous said...

Apparently the ten year plan hasn't been administrated. Could it be that LaSelle has been to busy in finding a way to hide raises he's giving to the top non-preforming administrators? I remember him saying the taxpayers have no right to vote on their raises. In fact, they are so well hidden in his budget, not even a selectman knew raises were being given.

Perhaps the taxpayers should insists that the school board take a lesson from Rhode Island and fire all administrators and keep the teachers. With an 800 million budget, we don't want to wait till fifty percent of our students quit school, right?

Curt Springer said...

to first poster:

LaSalle did not let Baldwin keep his seat. That was Baldwin's decision to make, and nobody could overrule him.

Anonymous said...

True, but can anyone tell me what LaSalle does to justify the $160,000 his job costs us per year? He is the 3rd highest paid superintendent in the state, only Manchester and Nashua get more.

Anonymous said...

Look at what's happening in Rode Island! Firing all the teachers! This could get the ball rolling for Charter Schools and I am all for it. They should be firing the administrators also.

Anonymous said...

Actually that school in RI has a grad rate of 45%, and the superintendent asked for the teachers to spend an extra 25 minutes with students per day. everything else he asked he was paying $30/hr for. Union refused, he only had one option, fire everybody.

Anonymous said...

If anyone could get a copy of our union contract, perhaps we could get rid of our administrators. Perhaps someone should get a copy, unless of course LeSelle won't let us see it. If so, LeSelle has learned from Consentino how to violate taxpayer rights. The only good thing about that is LaSelle doesn't have to power of the badge to arrest us on false charges.


Anonymous said...

Unless the school board members do something, this will continue.

Where is the outrage? Where is the representation we deserve? Where are those who pointed fingers now?

Have you heard anymore about the illegal budget and meetings?

Has anyone who can do something, doing anything?

Mrs. Copp? Mr. Mullen? What now?

Anonymous said...

We have a ineffective school board. It's time for change and I hope the other towns take advantage for a chance at change. Let's get rid of the incumbents and vote in new blood. Out with the old, in with the new. I'm looking for a shake-up in this year's election. My wallet can't afford it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Curt Springer, I'm so surprised you haven't commented on the illegal budget meeting. Not even in your own town blog. So unlike you. Why no opinion/comment?

Anonymous said...

Instead of hard work, schools these days are just hiding behind often useless curriculum based more on the ideology of the education elites than what really works; hard work in the classroom.

Of course, remember; if Timberlane upped the academics, that means lower grades for many kids, especially those kids whose parents aren't involved with their children's schooling, and we all know what that means.

If we up the academics we'd just see a bunch of people bitching here about how "unfair" the school was to their little precious baby! And so we come to the REAL problem in education these days...

Uninvolved parents. But what the heck, it's easier and more fun to bitch at the school...

Anonymous said...

Why don't you stop trying to start a class warfare between the parents and teachers, and come up with some real solutions. Parents and teachers care about giving the students the best education they will need for the rest of their life. The only thing that counts is results. Results don't come without hard work and planning. We aren't getting results now and that must change. For a annual price tag of 800 million and rising, we have to have results. If the administration can't do the job, then it's time to get rid of them. Not later, but now.

Anonymous said...

Ok, you can't answer that question.........your points are invalid. You are a good liberal. We can't AFFORD liberals in CRUNCH TIME. Real people have to come to the forefront, and you or your arguements are NOT the solution we need.

We need REAL PEOPLE to come forward to solve the problems YOU and your POLITICAL FRIENDS have caused for us.

Now GET OUT OF THE WAY and let the REAL PROBLEM SOLVERS take over.


Anonymous said...

Looks like more teachers in Ma. are being fired and schools being closed for lack of performance. It's working it's way north. Wonder what Timberlane administrators will do when it hit them? They will say the PARENTS should be fired in order to correct the problem, instead of offering their resignations.

Looks like LaSelle took CON-sentino's class of DECEPTION and DECIET and passed with flying colors.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to post this but I wanted to ask if anyone has heard of National Clicks?

Can someone help me find it?

Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn't have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.


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