Category Archives: Superintendent

PES Rises Above “Focus School” Designation

For several years, Pittsfield Elementary School (PES) has been identified by the New Hampshire Department of Education as a “focus school.”  This has meant that the Department has calculated that the “achievement gap” between subgroups of students (such as “economically disadvantaged” or “students with disabilities”) has been among the ten percent of schools with the largest gap in the state when compared with the combined index of all New Hampshire students.

As a result of this designation, PES has been required to develop annual improvement plans and has received additional support for this important work from the state.  Among these supports provided by the Department of Education have been an improvement coach, regular professional development, and participation in an annual summertime educational summit by our teachers and administrators.  The Department has also closely monitored PES’s planning, implementation, and annual results.

On October 12, Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut announced that “Pittsfield Elementary School has reached the criteria necessary to exit the status of a … Focus School for the 2017-2018 school year.”  Needless to say, we were very pleased to receive this announcement and are very proud of the fine work of our students, teachers, support staff, and families in supporting the achievement of all students.

In his letter to the district, Commissioner Edelblut wrote “Please share our thanks with your staff for all the hard work and effort to improve your school and community culture, instructional strategies, and support for your teachers and the achievement level of your students.  Your diligent work over the past four years is highly appreciated by all the staff at the New Hampshire Department of Education.  Keep up your good work!  Once again, congratulations!”

Removal of the designation of “focus school” does not mean that PES will cease school improvement work; of course, school improvement is a constant goal.  However, it is important to pause at milestones such as this one to recognize the school’s positive achievement.  Rising above the state’s “focus school” designation is an achievement in which our entire community of Pittsfield can take great pride.

School District Collective Bargaining Agreement

We strongly encourage all Pittsfield voters to cast your ballot in favor of our proposed new teacher contract. This important vote will be held from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19, at Town Hall.

The proposed contract is a one-year agreement that maintains the same salary schedule and benefits offered that were agreed-to in the now-expired agreement in place last school year. No changes to the salary schedule or benefits offered are part of the new agreement.

Because teachers are facing increases in their required contributions to the New Hampshire Retirement System and health insurance, take-home pay is being decreased unless the new agreement is accepted by voters. With a yes vote, experienced teachers will advance a step on the salary schedule, resulting in modest salary increases.

If accepted, the estimated cost of this new contract is $66,486; this represents an increase of $.25/thousand on the tax rate. In other words, a property valued at $100,000 will be assessed an additional $25.00 for the next tax year.

At this point, the district’s fund balance from the 2016-2017 school year is estimated to be about $85,000. However, because bills are still coming in for services provided or authorized prior to July and because the district’s revenues have not been finalized, the tax impact of this estimated fund balance is not yet known.

For more information, please visit the school district website – – and see articles printed in the Suncook Valley Sun over the past three issues.  Please also feel free to contact our superintendent of schools, John Freeman (435-5526 or, with your questions.

Both the Pittsfield School Board and the Pittsfield Budget Committee recommend that you vote yes on this proposed contract.  Your vote is important to our students, our schools, and our teachers.  Please vote yes on Tuesday, September 19, at Town Hall.

Submitted by the Pittsfield School Board

Mike Wolfe, chair; Bea Douglas, vice-chair; Linda Freese, Ted Mitchell, Ralph Odell



We respectfully offer a reminder to all Pittsfield voters that you will have the opportunity to cast your vote regarding a new proposed teacher collective bargaining agreement from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19, at Town Hall.

A letter in last week’s Suncook Valley Sun stated inaccurate information regarding this important vote.  The letter stated that “there will be a special day of voting at the town hall from 7 to 7 on September 19 to reconsider the teacher’s contract that was turned down at the School Meeting last March.”  Make no mistake here, this statement is simply not true.

In fact, several distinct elements differentiate this proposed contract from the one that was narrowly rejected by the voters at school district meeting in March. These differences include:

  • Term: the term of the previous proposal was three years; the term of the new proposal is a one-year;
  • Salary Schedule: the previous proposal included a 1% increase of the salary schedule; the current contract contains no increase;
  • Incentives: the previous proposal included modest salary incentives for teachers to remain in Pittsfield; the current contract contains no incentive salary increases.
  • Maximum Step Increases: the previous proposal included a .1% per year increase for senior teachers on the maximums step; the current contract does not include an increase for senior teachers.
  • Cost: the estimated increased cost of the previous proposal was $113,319; the estimated cost of the new proposal is $66,486.
  • Tax Impact: the estimated tax impact of the previous proposal was $.43/thousand; the estimated tax impact of the new proposal is $.25/thousand.

Following the March vote, the Board reinstituted negotiations with the Education Association of Pittsfield and agreed to a new and different proposal.  While we remain disappointed in the rejection of the previous proposal, we strongly encourage your support of the new proposal with a YES vote on Tuesday, September 19.

Submitted by the Pittsfield School Board

Mike Wolfe, chair; Bea Douglas, vice-chair; Linda Freese, Ted Mitchell, Ralph Odell


School District Collective Bargaining Agreement

A special ballot vote will be held to consider a successor contract between the Pittsfield School Board and the Education Association of Pittsfield (EAP). This vote will take place between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19, at Town Hall.

(New voters are encouraged to register to vote to have your voice heard on this critical issue; absentee ballots are available.)

The EAP represents the school district’s teachers and other categories of educators such as guidance counselors and librarians. The recently-expired collective bargaining agreement is available for review on the district’s website and through the SAU office by request.

The EAP does not represent other categories of employees, such as administrators, paraprofessionals, office staff, or custodians. The agreement between the Board and the EAP is the only collective bargaining agreement within the district.

The recently-expired agreement was in effect between 2014 and 2017. For each year of this contract, the employee’s share of health insurance was increased by 1% per year, and the employee’s share of the dental insurance was increased by 5% per year.  Modest salary increases were also included.

The Board and EAP had reached agreement on a replacement three-year contract that was put before the voters in March. Unfortunately, the voters rejected the agreement by a 95-81 vote.  This action brought the two sides to the negotiation table again this spring, and another agreement was reached.

The new agreement, which has a one-year term, makes no changes in the salary schedule or the benefits offered. However, returning teachers will advance a “step” on the salary schedule based on the additional year of teaching.

These step increases vary within the salary schedule.  For example, a teacher holding a BA or MA degree would gain slightly less than 2.5% for an increase from last year to this year, and such a teacher with 16 years of experience would gain approximately 3.25% for an increase.

Without a new agreement, the previous agreement will remain in effect. However, because employees will bear increase costs for health insurance and retirement system contributions, take home pay will actually be lowered when compared with last year unless the teachers move ahead on the salary schedule based on experience.  With a YES vote, teachers and others represented by the EAP will receive modest increases.

We remain very disappointed that the previous agreement was turned down in March, but we now urge you to support our fine teachers with your YES vote on September 19.

Submitted by the Pittsfield School Board

Mike Wolfe, chair; Bea Douglas, vice-chair; Linda Freese, Ted Mitchell, Ralph Odell


School District Meeting: Deliberative Session

Thank you to the many Pittsfield citizens who participated in last week’s Deliberative Session, which was convened to discuss the proposed new collective bargaining agreement between the Education Association of Pittsfield (the teachers) and the Pittsfield School Board.

Many opinions were expressed, representing a wide range of ideas; topics included the property tax rate, health insurance plans offered to employees, school funding, and teacher salaries, among others. We appreciated the opportunity to hear from so many engaged citizens.

Rest assured that the message regarding health insurance and cost containment has been heard loud and clear. As was stated during the meeting, the Board has met with insurance pool representatives and is considering several options that will provide our full-time employees with adequate health insurance while saving money for Pittsfield taxpayers.

The proposed contract provides for continuation of the most recent contract, which recently expired.  Because of increase cost of health insurance contributions and retirement system contributions, returning teachers will be receiving smaller take-home checks unless the new contract is approved by voters.

The cost of the new contract is estimated to be $66,486, which represents a $.25/thousand tax rate increase or $25.00 in new taxes for a property valued at $100,000.

We urge you to vote YES on the one warrant article to be considered at our upcoming vote: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 19, at Town Hall.  New voters are encouraged to register to vote to have your voice heard on this critical issue; absentee ballots are also available.

Finally, we thank Moderator Gerard LeDuc for conducting a civil, well-organized meeting during which all speakers and all sides were respected.

Submitted by the Pittsfield School Board

Mike Wolfe, chair; Bea Douglas, vice-chair; Linda Freese, Ted Mitchell, Ralph Odell

Pittsfield School District – Vote on Teacher Contract

School Meeting
7:00 p.m., Thursday, August 17, PES

Vote on Teacher Contract
Tuesday, September 19, Town Hall

What is SB2?

  • “SB2” is the name of the official ballot referenda form of government. (For more information on SB2, see
  • SB2 can replace the traditional town meeting form of government for voting on school funding, teacher contracts, and other articles.
  • Voters in Pittsfield voted to change to the SB2 form in March 2017, and SB2 is currently in effect for the school district.
  • District meetings will now have two sessions:
    • The first session, known as the deliberative session, is for explanation, discussion, debate, and amendments to warrant articles;
    • The second session, known as the voting session, allows voters to cast ballots to decide on articles, but does not allow for debate or discussion of articles.

Why are we having another district meeting?

  • In March, Pittsfield voters rejected a proposed teacher contract; this vote left the teachers without a contract beyond June 2017.
  • Following that vote, the voters then approved the calling of another district meeting to consider another contract.
  • In June, the School Board and teacher union agreed to new contract terms for 2017-2018, a one-year contract.
  • Another district meeting is now scheduled to consider the new proposed contract.
  • For this meeting:
    • The first session – deliberative session – will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 17, in the PES gym.
    • The second session – the voting session – will be held on Tuesday, September 19, at Town Hall during normal voting hours.

 What’s in the new proposed teacher contract?

School Calendar Change – Last Day for Students: Tuesday, June 20

As you likely know, we’ve had an unusually high number of school closings this winter due to weather and road conditions here in Pittsfield. (I’m hoping that we’ve seen the last of snow for a long while!)  In fact, we closed school for seven days this winter.  These closings would delay the final day of school until the last week in June:  Monday, June 26.

Because of this lateness, our Pittsfield School Board has shortened the school year. The last day of school for the 2016-2017 school year will be Tuesday, June 20, which will be a half day for students.  The last day for preschool students will be Thursday, June 15.

Our School Board is authorized to shorten the school year through a count of hours of instruction required by the New Hampshire Department of Education rules. Although our school year will fall four days short of the traditional count of days, our hours of instruction easily exceed the state’s requirements.  Our Department of Education allows school districts to choose either the count of days or the count of hours in determining the official school year.

Parents, guardians, and family members may be interested to know that special events during our final week are now scheduled as follows:

  • High school baccalaureate: Thursday, June 15
  • High school awards ceremony: Friday, June 16
  • High school graduation ceremony: Saturday, June 17
  • Eighth grade promotion ceremony: Monday, June 19

Our school calendar for our 2017-2018 school year has also been approved by our School Board.  You’ll see that our first day of school for students is scheduled for Tuesday, August 29.  In the meantime, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for fewer school closings next school year.

Important Upcoming Budget Meetings & Information

This year’s Pittsfield Budget Committee hearing on the school district and town budgets will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8 (snow date:  February 9), in the PMHS lecture hall, and Pittsfield’s annual School District Meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, in the PES gym.  As always, all Pittsfield voters are strongly encouraged to participate in these meetings, which will determine the budget for the district’s schools for the 2017-2018 school year.  This budget will provide the basis for the school portion of Pittsfield’s tax rate.

As many residents know, the Pittsfield Schools have been engaged in very important work to personalize learning for all our students. This transformation is based on new knowledge about how people learn as well as changing workplace demands for our graduates.  Importantly, these changes also respond to the community’s demand for stronger outcomes for Pittsfield’s youth.

Thanks to the hard work of students, school staff, and community members, Pittsfield’s schools have emerged as models of personalizing instruction in recent years. Visitors from across the nation – approximately twenty groups or teams have visited the schools per year over the past five years – to learn from us better ways to help children learn.  While most of these visitors have learned from PMHS, we’re very pleased that we are now also hosting visitors to PES.

While we don’t believe that we have finished our schools’ transition, we are heartened to see the data that indicate improvement across a range of indicators. For example, in 2012, 66% of our graduates were accepted by post-secondary educational institutions; in 2016, 83% of our graduates were accepted.  In 2013, the average per student scholarship award for our graduates from all sources amounted to $8675, while in 2016, that average had jumped to $14,514 per student.

State Reduction In Education Funding

Understanding The Impact In Pittsfield

Since August, the Pittsfield School District School Board, administration, and faculty have been preparing the district’s 2017-2018 proposed budget for presentation to the voters of the district in March 2017.  While the balance between the district’s tax rate and the obligation to provide an education to the children and youth of Pittsfield creates an annual tension, this year’s budget development is presenting a greater challenge than usual.  This has occurred for several reasons, and this article is the first of several that will review this process and challenges for Pittsfield voters.

A critical aspect of budget planning is consideration of revenue sources to support the schools.  Schools in New Hampshire are funded from two main sources:  (1) the state, through its “adequacy grant” and (2) the local school district, through an annual district assessment.  This school year – 2016-2017 – the state is estimated to contribute $4,256,824.22 to the operation of Pittsfield’s schools, while local Pittsfield taxpayers are estimated to contribute $3,908,583.00.  Lesser amounts of funding are available from other sources, including federal and competitive grants.

The state’s contribution has been the subject of much discussion and several lawsuits claiming that the education of children and youth is a state responsibility; this issue has been raised in many states over the past fifty years.  The most famous of these lawsuits in New Hampshire is known as the “Claremont Decision” and centered on the argument of five towns – including Pittsfield – that the state’s system of funding was unconstitutional, disadvantaging children and youth property-poor towns.

White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools

The second annual White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools took place on Monday, September 12, in Washington, D.C.  About two hundred district and state education leaders from across the United States, along with leaders from other government agencies, foundations, and research entities participated in the one-day event.

The Summit was designed to be a part of a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students and to catalyze new thinking on the challenges and opportunities for … making progress, especially at the state and district level.  New Hampshire was represented by seven educational leaders; I was honored to be invited and participate in the Summit.

In addition to remarks and statements by leaders from the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Science Foundation and others, our U.S. Secretary of Education John King also spoke to the group.  Dr. King advocated for a “leadership environment that supports innovation” while he celebrated progress made that has resulted in the highest high school graduation rate in our nation’s history.

Dr. King encouraged participants to continue to “rethink high schools” to better prepare students for success in life, to help students find their passions, to support students in developing strong relationships with adults, and to engage young people in creating a “vision of their future” by rethinking “what students experience in their classrooms,” developing critical new skills – both academic and non-academic, and expanding “opportunities for kids.”