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I implore Laconia School Board to find way to reduce student/teacher ratio

To The Daily Sun,

(NOTE: The following open letter to members of the Laconia School Board was submitted for publication.)

The front page story "12 School Jobs May Be Cut," in The Laconia Daily Sun on Feb. 12 states that these cuts are necessary to meet budget requirements of the city's tax cap. Superintendent Mr. McCormack's comment that class size will remain within "acceptable standards or a maximum of 25 students per class for kindergarten through second grade and a maximum of 30 students for grades 3, 4, and 5" does not provide me solace.

First, according to my review of the state Department of Education website, I could not find an enrollment policy that states the standard that was listed in the article. I would ask the board to inquire from our superintendent as to the source of these "acceptable standards."

Second, current studies support a 15-1 ratio in K-3 and 22.4 to 24.5 ratio in grades 4-5 (National Educational Policy Center).

Third, when I taught science at Laconia High School, I had enrollments of 30 students. Even at a high school level, such numbers were less than ideal in providing a quality education. As principal of Belmont High School, with support from then Superintendent Mike Cozort, we kept class size at Belmont High between 20 and 25.

In conclusion, I implore the board to find the means to reduce the teacher/student ratio from what is projected in this article. If there needs to be a higher ratio, then additional classroom aides are needed to support those classrooms.

Having class sizes within Superintendent McCormack's standard is a folly that will have long-term effects on our local youth.

Marcia Hayward

Belmont High Principal, Retired

Laconia

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Bristol Select Board has created toxic environment, driving employees away

To The Daily Sun,

I have been asked recently why I would want to run for the Board of Selectman in Bristol. There are a number of reasons but one of the first and foremost is that I believe in our community. There is so much positive that goes on here. I live here not because I have to but because I want to.

I have watched over the past year as we lost more and more of our valued employees. The environment of the Select Board has become toxic and it is difficult to keep good people when they don't feel valued. We had one of the best town administrators in the state of New Hampshire. He valued our community and worked diligently to keep us on a positive economic track. People are leaving because there is a vocal minority that is disrespectful and downright nasty in their treatment of the town employees. It is important to value people that work hard to give us the services that we as taxpayers have said that we value.

We, as taxpayers, have shown at Town Meeting that we value the level of service that is provided by our town departments. We may not always agree with every penny and where it goes but we have proven again and again that we appreciate the services that are provided.

If you watch the Budget Committee meetings you would be led to believe that our department heads are sneakily trying to slide all sorts of frivolous items into their budgets. They are made out to look as if they don't know how to prepare a budget or do their jobs. I find it disheartening to see this type of micromanagement happening.

I do believe in the need for a Budget Committee and I truly value the time that they put in for a thankless job. They have the opportunity to review budgets, ask the tough questions and make a decision on the bottom line. Then, at Town Meeting, we, the people, make a decision as to whether we agree with all of their decisions or if we wish to make a change. The process becomes muddied when there are personal agendas at work and what appears to be a "witch-hunt" against certain departments. This has been the case this year. Questions are asked on camera with what appears to be the intent to make it look like there is some impropriety happening within our town departments. These questions could easily be asked when the department heads are present to answer if answers are what is truly desired.

What I can guarantee you if I win a seat on the Select Board is that I will be impartial and base my decisions on the facts and not rumors or misconceptions. You will not see me pairing my name with anyone else that is running. I am running for what I believe is right for our town based on my many years of living and working here. I am not afraid to make hard decisions but I promise you that they will be in a respectful and collaborative manner. I believe it is time to bring integrity back to our system and I promise you that this is what you will get if you choose to vote for me.

Les Dion

Bristol

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