December 21, 2016


Final Revision B


Note:  These annotated minutes are provided by the Rye Civic League.  They have been prepared using the PDF version of the draft minutes downloaded from the SAU50 website on January 1, 2017.  All RCL annotations are in bold italics.  The absence of annotation does not indicate that the RCL has confirmed that the minutes accurately reflect what transpired.  The time stamps are in minutes and seconds relative to the start of the RCL video of the meeting, which is provided by the RCL and is available at  The draft minutes have not yet been approved by the School Board and are subject to change.  Consult the SAU 50 website at for the official minutes once they have been approved and are no longer in draft form.


To be approved by the Rye School Board at the January 18, 2017 meeting.









The regular monthly meeting of the School Board of the Rye School District was held at Rye Junior

High School on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, at 6:00 p.m.






School Board Members: Kevin Brandon, Kate Hillman, Margaret Honda, Scott

Marion, Jeanne Moynahan



Administrators: Salvatore Petralia, Superintendent


 Kelli Killen, Assistant Superintendent


 Suzanne Lull, Principal, Rye Elementary


 Marie Soucy, Principal, Rye Junior High



Staff: Jeanne Brown, Kathie Kennedy




Residents/Visitors: Steven Borne, Carol Ann Mastro, Carrie Yakoula, Joe


Cummins, Paula Tsetsilas, Christine Metzner, Katherine


Errecart, Mike Errecart, Julie Struble




1.      Business Manager Jim Katkin will be retiring in the next few years.  To prepare for that, the SAU has increased its budget to provide for an Assistant Business Manager who would be able to assume his responsibilities.  This will add approximately $140,000 to the annual SAU50 budget, approximately half of which is paid by the Rye School District.

2.      There will be a meeting set up in January or February to obtain parent feedback on the new Social Studies instruction model.

3.      At the request of Selectmen Musselman, the School Board is looking at the possibility of renting unused Junior High School space to the Town.

4.      The School District obtained a legal opinion on the School Board’s ability to spend money that might be added to the budget by voters at the Deliberative Session, or by warrant article, for other purposes.  That opinion was, however, incorrect with regard to special warrant articles, where the Board may not lawfully spend that money for other than the stated purpose. 

5.      Two parents with children in private schools challenged the School Board’s interpretation of a State statute requiring access to school programs for private and home schooled students.

6.      School Board members expressed concern that a parent’s group meeting had disseminated erroneous information and was creating dysfunction by taking votes on matters over which the School Board has purview.





Dr. Marion called the meeting to order at 6:14 p.m.



(0:00 elapsed)



Approval of public and non-public minutes of November 16, 2016 and December 2, 2016.


Mr. Brandon made a motion, seconded by Ms. Moynahan, to approve the public minutes of

November 16, 2016, as amended. Vote: Unanimous.


 Mr. Brandon made a motion, seconded by Ms. Moynahan, to approve the public minutes of

December 2, 2016. Vote: Unanimous.


Ms. Hillman made a motion, seconded by Ms. Moynahan, to approve the non-public minutes of

December 2, 2016. Vote: 4-0 (1 abstained).



(3:12 elapsed)



Mr. Petralia received a memorandum from Rye Police Chief Kevin Walsh to inform the Board of

Selectman and respective school boards regarding the status of a November 22, 2016 meeting with the

Division of Homeland Security. Chief Walsh reported that the crisis plan for Rye is well in place. Mr.

Petralia thanked the staff at RES that represented Rye Elementary very well.


The New Hampshire School Board’s Association Delegate Assembly is January 21, 2017 in Concord,

NH at the LGC Building.



(6:55 elapsed)



Ms. Moynahan made a motion, seconded by Ms. Hillman, to approve the manifest voucher from

November 11, 2016 to November 18, 2016 in the amount of $257,775.84. Vote: Unanimous.




Ms. Moynahan made a motion, seconded by Mr. Brandon, to approve the manifest voucher from

November 19, 2016 to December 7, 2016 in the amount of $465,559.74. Vote: Unanimous.




Ms. Moynahan made a motion, seconded by Mr. Brandon, to approve the manifest voucher from

December 8, 2016 to December 16, 2016 in the amount of $599,967.38. Vote: Unanimous.



Increase in SAU (and thus School) Budget in order to hire Assistant Business Manager (10:12 elapsed)



The SAU 50 Board voted to search for an assistant business manager to begin the succession planning

for Mr. Katkin’s eventual retirement. The SAU 50 Board, with all Rye members in support, made this

decision to help ensure that Mr. Katkin’s institutional knowledge is transferred to a potential

replacement. Because the costs associated with the SAU 50 staff are shared among the districts, Rye’s

share of this position will be somewhere between $60,000 -$70,000. The new assistant business

manager would be working alongside Mr. Katkin for two-three years with the hopes that this person

would eventually become the SAU 50 business administrator.  It was also mentioned that this person would result in an increase in the SAU budget beyond what had been planned. 



(17:53 elapsed)



Superintendent Report


Mr. Petralia was at Rye Junior High School twice this week. He was able to observe students rehearsing

for their winter concert. He gave kudos to Ms. Wirth for her efforts in preparing the students. Alison

Dunn invited Mr. Petralia and Ms. Killen to be judges for the door-decorating contest. He added that

he could feel the positive energy in the building. Mr. Petralia complimented Ms. Soucy and the RJH

faculty for a job well done.




Mr. Petralia stated that he participated in the seventh meeting with representatives from RESPA last

Thursday at which, he regretfully reported, RESPA declared an impasse. This means the current

collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will remain intact for 2017-2018. Mr. Petralia felt that they

were getting close in agreeing upon economics and insurance and that unfortunately language issues

were the hang up. Dr. Marion publicly thanked Ms. Hillman and Mr. Brandon for their efforts. Mr.

Brandon added that it helped having continuity with Ms. Hillman at the table since she participated in

RESPA negotiations last year. The Board is hoping that an agreement could be reached next year.




Mr. Petralia shared a draft calendar for the 2017-2018 school year. Mr. Petralia typically receives a

draft calendar template from the Department of Education in October and then the school calendars are built from there. Mr. Petralia hopes that the calendar can be approved at the January board meeting

so families can begin planning. Several interested parties have had input on the draft calendar that will

be presented to the Board later in the meeting.




Mr. Petralia has communication, per request from the Board, from Attorney Lowman regarding School

Board protocols and procedures at the Town of Rye Budget Committee Meetings, upcoming public

hearing, and deliberative session. This will be discussed later in the meeting.



(26:24 elapsed)

Assistant Superintendent Report


Ms. Killen acknowledged Deborah Paul, registrar from PHS guidance department, for her efforts in

compiling the Rye School District graduation data and SAT information. Ms. Killen shared these

results with the Board. Students from Rye were considerably over-represented in the Top 10 and Top

20 in the class of 2016 and had noticeably higher average SAT scores than other PHS students, the

state, and the nation.



(30:19 elapsed)

Rye Junior High School Report


Ms. Soucy shared that the winter musical concert was very successful. Ms. Soucy also shared that there

are many great projects happening in social studies. The 8th grade team put on a very successful

production with their 1920’s performance. Their energy was great and the students had fun with what

they were doing and learning. Ms. Fleming’s 6th grade Language Arts class held an event where the

students researched a country and had to create a menu and plan the food that that they brought in.

Parents were invited to a culminating event where the students shared their menus. In 7th grade, in

Sarah Nice’s class, students participated in a presidential debate from the election of 1860. In Jennifer

Miller’s class, students participated in a version of “Shark Tank” to share their inventions from the

Industrial Revolution.




Many teachers at RJH have been awarded grants from REF. Robin Ellwood received the largest grant

ever from REF for a universal laser cutter; Laura Sunderland will be putting up art around Rye in local

businesses, Alison Dunn will be putting on a corporate field day for 8th graders, Anne Gilbert will be

putting some stand-up desks in her classroom. Student Council sponsored a Food Drive to end the 68

hours of Hunger. HOWLS rubrics are being fine-tuned and teachers will be piloting those this year.

Dr. Marion asked Ms. Soucy how teachers will share examples of the HOWLS in action? Could they

use video or some other way since these habits are hard to judge? Ms. Soucy agreed that grading these

habits can be subjective which is why rubrics should be specific. Dr. Marion referenced Jonathan

Vander Els from the New Hampshire Learning Initiative who is a resource on this topic and would be happy to help.



(35:35 elapsed)

Rye Elementary School Report


Ms. Lull shared that there have been two winter concerts this month. She gave kudos to Ann and

Cindy for their efforts as the concerts were very successful. Both concerts had songs in Spanish and

French from our World Language classes. Each concert had standing room only crowds. There were

many wonderful comments on both concerts.



RES has been awarded three grants from Rye Education Foundation. The first is a collaborative book

project with students in Uganda. Third grade and students in Uganda will each write on the topic of

hope and what does hope mean to them. They will compile all writings and artwork into a book. The

second grant was to create an outdoor classroom for the whole school use. Green Penguin Landscaping

is graciously donating all labor and equipment to help make this happen. The last grant is a puppet-

making residency in grade 4. This grant will connect literacy and social studies, as students create

papier-mâché puppets for their state projects and write/perform a simple production.




Ms. Lull stated that in regards to HOWLS, the faculty at RES is looking for gaps across grade levels

with the Habits of Work and Learning before they build the rubrics. The next step is to look vertically

to see how the habits progress through the grades.




The wellness committee is going to be trying the BOKS program which will give students a brain and

body boost before the start of their day. Parents will be trained by Reebok to run this program.




The RES Science Fair will be on February 22, 2017.




Dr. Marion publicly thanked both of the principals on behalf of the entire Board for their great work

for our students and for reporting out in an organized way on the School Board goals.



(48:07 elapsed)



School Board Goals/Action Items for 2016-2017


Ms. Honda shared a document with the Board that included the Rye School District goals and the work that is being done to reach those goals that is provided by the principals. These will be posted on the

Rye School District websites.


(49:40 elapsed)

The boiler walk-through the next day was mentioned.


Use of unused Junior High School space for Town offices (50:00 elapsed)



Dr. Marion stated that the Board had been asked by Rye Town Selectman Craig Musselman for an

outline of plans for space utilization and whether dedicated space at RJH can be allocated for use as a

town hall. Dr. Marion indicated that answers to any of these questions regarding this topic will need to

come from the Superintendent’s office because of the educational impact in a variety of areas. Mr.

Brandon added that the question asked in May/June by Selectman Mills and Mr. Magnant is different

than the question posed by Mr. Musselman and that we needed clarification as to what the Selectmen

want from the School Board. The Board discussed who should be involved in future discussions. The

Board is not going to be ready for any recommendations by January. Dr. Marion suggested that Mr.

Petralia begin identifying the scope and sequence of work that would need to be done to identify the

best way to deal with this. The Board stated that they want to work with the administrators to provide

input on what is best for the students. Mr. Petralia shared correspondence from the school district

counsel regarding use of school buildings. Dr. Petralia also stated that they know of no law preventing the rental of school space, however the School Board may only spend money for school purposes.  That means that the School District could not expend funds to renovate the building for Town purposes.  The Town would need to expend that money, he said.


(57:10 elapsed)



Joseph Cummins (Washington Road) – Mr. Cummins commented that Barrington town offices were

in Barrington Schools for a time. Mr. Cummins asked for confirmation that the Board responded to

Mr. Borne’s request. Mr. Petralia responded to Mr. Borne’s inquiry. Mr. Cummins said that the RSA

speaks to home education students and not private school students. Mr. Petralia feels that the statute is

quite clear and his position stands. Mr. Cummins respectively disagreed. He stated this is a violation

of the student’s civil rights. Mr. Cummins implored the Board to see the advice of an attorney. Mr.

Cummins wanted the minutes to be edited to reflect that his comments at the previous meeting were

not meant to be disparaging to the staff or the parent group that gathered regarding the 0.2 FTE

reductions at RJH. Dr. Marion stated that he noted that he understood Mr. Cummins’ intentions and

would correct the record in these minutes.



(64:00 elapsed)

Carrie Yakola (Whitehorse Road) – Ms. Yakola thanked the principals for the positive information

in the principals’ reports. She asked the Board if the budget is done annually or every three years. Dr.

Marion responded that it is done annually but it is not necessarily wiped clean. Dr. Marion added that

approximately 85% of the budget is fixed due to salaries and benefits. Dr. Marion added that the Board

is trying to find the most stable path forward but there will always be changes (retirements, new hires,

people leaving, etc.). Ms. Yakola asked where the money comes from to hire, for example, an assistant

business administrator? Dr. Marion responded that the SAU 50 Board is responsible for succession

planning regarding the SAU 50 finances. The money comes from local property taxes for the most

part. Ms. Hillman added that there are two budgets, the Rye budget and the SAU 50 budget that Rye

is a part of. Ms. Yakola asked if taxes will be raised. Dr. Marion responded that yes, the proposed

budget was going to result in an approximate $0.55 per $1000 tax increase and this additional position

would likely increase this to $.56 or $.57 per $1000 of property value.  Editor’s note:  In fact, the correct figure is approximately $.59 if Rye is to pay half of the $145,000 annual cost increase as each $18,841 in spending raises the tax rate $.01.  Dr. Marion said that Residents can vote to increase

or decrease the budget within approximately 10% of the proposed budget at the Deliberative Session.

Mr. Katkin has prepared a budget document that identifies expenditures, increases and impact on taxes.

This document is available to the public.


(71:10 elapsed)

Paula Tsetsilas – Thanked the Board for their time. She is glad to see so many parents listening and

commenting. Ms. Tsetsilas shared that 7th Grade Project Safeguard was invaluable. The side

conversations that occurred during after the event were great and brought the community together for

parents to support their children. Ms. Tsetsilas shared that her 7th grade daughter has picked up two

new sports this year (field hockey and basketball). The basketball team has practices and games

Monday through Thursday which allows the kids to spend weekends with their families (skiing for

example). Ms. Tsetsilas gave kudos to Piper Cronin. Ms. Tsetsilas apologized to Ms. Honda for being

critical of SeeSaw. She has seen great work from both of her students. She recognized Ms. Scally for

the gingerbread project taking place at RES. The gingerbread man is sent to people around the world

and then pictures and information is reported back to the students. Ms. Tsetsilas added that “TTQA”

(Turn the Question Around) has been a concept taught that transcended from Rye Elementary School

and continues at RJH. Ms. Tsetsilas asked if the Board has to have a meeting to add the line item for

the new assistant business administrator. The Board responded that yes, they would need a special

meeting to approve the new budget.


(78:21 elapsed)

Katherine Errecart (Forest Green Road) – Ms. Errecart asked what the full salary of the new

business administrator would be and what happens after the two years? Dr. Marion answered that the

exact salary is not known, but approximately $100,000 plus benefits would be approximately

$140,000. The SAU Board is worried that waiting for the end of Mr. Katkin’s tenure before hiring his

replacement would lead to that person being at least being two years behind. Mr. Petralia added that

Mr. Katkin’s duties go well beyond the scope of finance and payroll. He is responsible for providing

Board reports that occur multiple times per month and budgets that occur four times annually among

the districts Mr. Petralia wanted to emphasize the wide range of duties that Mr. Katkin has and that he

has been with the district for 35 years. The SAU needs to plan the successor for gaining the information

Mr. Katkin holds.  Dr. Marion also said that he does not see the need for two high level people, and that it is quite unusual in education to hire a replacement as an assistant in preparation for the more senior person leaving.


Participation in courses and programs by private school and home schooled students (83:04 elapsed)


Steven Borne (Wallace (sic, it’s Wallis) Road) – Asked if the budget is posted and Mr. Petralia stated that it would be

posted the next day. Mr. Borne then asked about the addition of the BCBA behavior specialist and if

this person would be for IEP students or for other students as well. Mr. Petralia responded that a BCBA

a very specialized educator to work with autistic students. Mr. Borne shared a brochure with the Board

on a presentation he went to regarding “The 5 Signs of Mental Health.” He offered that if the schools

want posters, they will ship them to them. Mr. Petralia added that he also attended the presentation on

mental health by Judge Broderick last year. Mr. Petralia will send the brochures to each of the schools.

Mr. Borne then asked \who owns the schools? Ms. Moynahan responded that as long as the building

is being used as a school, the School Board owns it. If it ceased being a school, it would then be owned

by the town. Dr. Marion encouraged Mr. Borne and others to speak in favor of warrant article 4 which

supports the maintenance of the school buildings. Mr. Borne added that he and his wife did not feel

they were part of the community at a function after Project Safeguard because they could not attend.

He stated that the RSA is for “non-public” students, which would include private school students. The

RSA mentions students but not parents. Programs that are new and different need to be communicated

to non-public families as well. Dr. Marion clarified that the Board needed time to review the question

that Mr. Borne had asked. The Board did not deny the request, but needed time to make sure they

think of potential unintended negative consequences. The request to have Mr. Borne’s wife attend was

denied because of the very short lead time between the request and the event. He is hoping in the future

that this “nebulas question” could be answered. The Board wants to take this up in a deliberative

fashion. Mr. Petralia clarified that last year’s request was regarding Mr. Borne’s son’s participation in

the school play whereas this request was about his wife’s attendance at Project Safeguard. Mr. Petralia

noted a date change on the RSA. Dr. Marion stated that the Board doesn’t make policies one case at a

time. Mr. Borne stated the decision was disappointing.


(87:53 elapsed)

Mr. Borne referred to RSA 193:1-c.  He said that it takes a community to raise a child and he and his wife were being excluded from the community.  The RSA says that “access to public school programs by nonpublic…”  Nonpublic is children that go to private schools, so the RSA is clear that any programs that the public school has should be available.  We leave it to Margaret with the communications that when things come up with the programs that they are communicated to the home school children and the non-public children.  The problem with the RSA is that it talks about students, not parents, he said.  Mr. Borne stated that he is meeting with State Representative Kate Murray tomorrow to see if parents can be added to this.  He said that the School Board and RJH Principal had had this conversation last year and he thought that it was behind them. 


Dr. Marion interrupted Mr. Borne and stated that they did not deny anything, but that time was needed to look at this.  There is not a clear line, he said.  He used the example of an eighth grade field trip.  He said that a teacher would find it disruptive to have five or kids that were not there before.  It is a slippery slope and they want to get a better handle on it before they say that everything that the school offers is open to all comers who live in town. 


Editor’s note:  RSA 193:1-c states in part that “[t]he local school board may adopt a policy regulating participation in curricular courses and cocurricular programs, provided that such policy shall not be more restrictive for non-public, public chartered school, or home educated pupils than the policy governing the school district’s resident pupils.  In this section, ‘cocurricular’ shall include those activities which are designed to supplement and enrich regular academic programs of study, provide opportunities for social development, and encourage participation in clubs, athletics, performing groups, and service to school and community.”  See for the full text.


Mr. Borne requested that the School Board get clarification.  He stated that he had spoken with the Department of Education.  The request that was denied by the RJH Principal and the School Board was the request that his wife be able to attend the lecture for parents.  In the future, something that is clearly above the line of the nebulous area should be allowed, he said. 




(93:38 elapsed)

Joe Cummins (Washington Road) – Mr. Cummins stated that the interpretation of the RSA needs to

be reviewed by a legal opinion and he urges that this be done with speed. He said that he did not want to run into this problem with his own child and asked that the School Board save him the court expenses.  To ignore the matter and sit on it puts the Board members in a heightened level of jeopardy, he said. 


Mr. Petralia, addressing Mr. Borne, incorrectly said that the prior year’s request had been for participation in a school play, Bye Bye Birdie.  This year it was for his wife to attend Project Safeguard.  The copy of the statute provided indicates that there was a change on March 26 of this year.  It’s conceivable that something changed since we last spoke about Bye Bye Birdie, he said..  Editor’s note:  In fact the change on March 26, 2016 inserted the words “public chartered school” (or schools) in three locations and made no other change.  See 2016 N.H. Laws 4:1.  Mr. Borne corrected Mr. Petralia, saying that the discussion the prior year was about allowing Rye non-public school students to attend school dances to be with their friends.  The question about the play and sports were hypotheticals that came up during the discussion.  There never was a request to participate in the play, he said.


Dr. Marion asked whether the ability to participate in events should apply to any parent of a child of the exact same age, a parent of a child of any age, or any taxpayer in Rye. Dr. Marion expressed concern about opening the doors of the School to people they do not know anything about.  Editor’s note:  The statute clearly does not extend to taxpayers and refers to pupils.  As the language quoted above indicates, the School Board may adopt policies regulating participation, but only if they are not more restrictive than those that apply to resident pupils.




Advisory Committees


(98:42 elapsed)

Wedgewood Farm Committee


The 8th grade science classes have completed some fabulous scientific work using the Wedgewood

land. There is a Wedgewood Oversight Committee that is more financial and legal. Curriculum

oversight is the responsibility of Ms. Soucy and the teachers. Ms. Moynahan stated that she does not

feel the need for a school board member to be on the committee. Dr. Marion asked Ms. Soucy and Ms.

Moynahan to ask the committee to consider how long the committee needs to remain in existence.

They indicated that they would do so.



Legal opinion on whether Board would be bound by a warrant article’s purpose (101:24 elapsed)

Legal Opinion


Dr. Marion shared that if a person writes a warrant article to raise money for the school and it is

approved, the warrant article cannot delegate what the money is used for. Once a warrant article is

voted down, the Board is prohibited from spending money on that specific item during the fiscal year

in question.  Editor’s note:  Dr. Marion’s view is not completely correct.  It is true that if an amount was added to the operating budget to, for example, increase the hours of the Junior High School Librarian and music teacher, that these funds could be transferred to other line items in the budget by the School Board and not used as intended.  See RSA 32:10, I.  However, any money appropriated by a special warrant article may only be used for the specified purpose and may not be transferred.  See RSA 32:10, I(e).  See


(104:20 elapsed)

RJH Boiler Committee


There will be a walk-through taking place on December 22, 2016.  It was also stated that the boiler replacement is in process.



(104:35 elapsed)

Board Communications


Ms. Honda shared an update on the Board Communications. The School Board will have a place in the

quarterly town newsletter. School Board meetings will be added to the town calendar. The website is

continuing to be developed and designed.



(107:00 elapsed)

Rye Education Foundation


The principals shared updates of what grants were awarded at RES and RJH. The total awarded to the

school was over $47,000. Dr. Marion explained that the laser cutter Dr. Ellwood requested at RJH is

going to be used to make the gear wall that was shown in the documentary “Most Likely to Succeed.”

Dr. Ellwood had written to the teacher High Tech High in California to get the plans. It will also be

used for many other projects in the districts. The Board expressed great appreciation to REF for their

tremendous support of our schools.



(109:55 elapsed)

Portsmouth High School


Honors Class Changes


Ms. Hillman stated that the next meeting to discuss this issue is the PHS parent advisory committee

meeting on January 10, 2017. The 9th grade team is considering eliminating the honors classes for

freshman so they could better place students for their sophomore year. PHS has acknowledged missteps

in the communication of this consideration. PHS has assured parents that they are interested in hearing

feedback. Dr. Marion added that there is a rationale for the decision but the communication was not

effective. The Rye School Board can provide input and rationale but have little impact on the decision.






Carol Ann Mastro shared that PTA is funding some coding robots for Sheila Adams, a Maker Space

for Jacquie DeFreze, and also just completed funding some events for the teachers including a cookie

swap at both schools and holiday gift cards. They will be sponsoring Mother/Son event in March. The

fundraiser will be a Casino Night/Live auction on April 7th.



(115:50 elapsed)

SAU Technology Committee


Ms. Killen stated that the Technology Committee has met and the members have begun looking at

different learning management systems. A sub-committee will be looking at what is already being used

to see if any of those can accommodate and/or supplement a learning management system. The

Committee would like to be able to make a recommendation for the schools to use next year.



Social Studies Model and parent feedback (117:30 elapsed)

Special Issues


Ms. Hillman stated that there already was an action item to get feedback from parents regarding the

social studies model at RJH. This past fall was too soon to be soliciting feedback but a meeting should

be set up for January or February. Ms. Soucy asked about the purpose of a Special Issues meeting. Ms.

Hillman stated it is usually two school Board members and opened to parents to solicit feedback on a

specific topic of interest. The Board discussed providing some information on what is being done with

social studies currently so the input from parents can be informed. Ms. Honda added that teachers could

provide feedback on focus areas that could be supported by the integration specialist.



(120:50 elapsed)



The Board’s goal is to have the survey presented to parents in May 2017. Ms. Hillman asked the Board

to consider hiring someone to enter data from the surveys if that will increase responses and motivate

the students to encourage their parents to respond to the survey.






(124:08 elapsed)

2017-2018 School Calendar


Mr. Petralia shared the draft calendar for 2017-2018 with the Board. The Board discussed reasons for

alignment with Portsmouth (transportation and families with students in both districts). The calendar

is drafted with alignment to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The draft calendar included three

floating workdays for teachers to complete classroom preparation, parent/teacher conferences and

District PLCs. Ms. Killen shared that the floating days are based on feedback from teachers that the

number one thing they want is more time with their colleagues and what will be the best model to meet

the needs of the teachers. The Board discussed advantages and disadvantages based on consistency

across the SAU. Dr. Marion questioned if the two hours after school are actually two hours, because

people are often tired as compared to a day with no students where they are fresh. Dr. Marion suggested

that the Early Release days be used for the PLCs. Ms. Killen responded that some groups functioned

well with an administrator and some did not. Travel time made it difficult for teachers of different

schools to be settled in to do the work. Teachers want to meet with other grade level counterparts in

different schools. Dr. Marion stated that he wants to see evidence. Ms. Killen responded that there are

over 500 curriculum documents that are evidence of the work being done. The Board discussed

leadership in the PLC groups and having teachers facilitate PLCs. Ms. Killen shared that leaders are

emerging and there is a gradual release of responsibility. Ms. Hillman and Dr. Marion both stated that

they would advocate for professional development for creating expertise among the teachers to help

facilitate these groups. Mr. Petralia stated that he would be looking for feedback so the calendar could

be approved in January. Dr. Marion stated he would like more concrete accountability for the PLC

floating day.



(161:27 elapsed, minutes are out of sequence relative to the meeting and video)

Filing Dates for Elected Officials


There will be two seats open for the Rye School Board. Ms. Hillman has indicated that she is not

intending to run again and Ms. Moynahan is interested in running again. The dates for filing are Wednesday, January

25, 2017 to Friday, February 3, 2017 (at the town hall) and interested parties must be registered voters to file.  Dr. Marion encouraged early sign up, as other candidates who might be thinking about signing up might avoid doing so if they view the candidate who signed up earlier as acceptable.



(155:00 elapsed, minutes are out of sequence relative to the meeting and video)

Agenda Planning


The Board discussed rearranging the School Board agenda to accommodate the big ticket items and

people that may want to comment.






Board reaction to November 29, 2016 parent meeting (164:55 elapsed)


Paula Tsetsilas (Rock Orchard Lane) - Ms. Tsetsilas provided a document to the Board. She stated

the purpose of the meeting held on November 29th was to distribute information so that parents feel

as though they have been a part of the discussion from the beginning. It was well attended with

representation from parents of all grade levels. Ms. Tsetsilas stated that many parents have approached

her with support and ideas on how to help since that meeting. She outlined the major points that are in

the document which included: 1) updating parents about the social studies integration and how it is

going at each grade level. Parents want to know if students are meeting the standards and if teachers

need resources, parents want to help. 2) Understanding enrollment trends and how as a community

they get ahead of this. What departments need to be engaged by parent groups? Ms. Tsetsilas added

that at a town planning meeting someone brought up the need for more affordable housing in Rye. 3)

Strategic planning so that parents can see goals set by administration are available to parents as well

as progress towards those goals and 4) Understanding why parents that are choosing to send kids to

private school are doing so. The principals responded that they do exit interviews.


(173:55 elapsed)

Ms. Hillman responded to Ms. Tsetsilas and asked what the intention of the parent information meeting is. She

stated that some misinformation was presented and she has some concerns with what came out of that

meeting and what is the expectation for the School Board after that meeting.


Ms. Hllman said that:


“…I get confused on this parent session and what the intention is or was or is going to continue to be.  The confusion lies in much of what is coming out of it seems to be things that we cover here… I get concerned about the amount of misinformation that was at that meeting.  And then, it becomes, oh we have this parent meeting and it almost seems like non-School Board members are providing information that perhaps is not accurate.”


Ms. Hillman referred to a list of ten things that might come out of a parent meeting that might or might not get done and might conflict with School Board decisions.  She said:


“Whose process is it exactly?  And, I mean this respectfully.  Because, there’s a School Board that sets these policies and actions and they hear from the audience, and I don’t mean that we don’t want to, but I just want to figure out where this fits with what the School Board, who has been elected to govern, fits.”


Editor’s note:  The video of the parent session is available at:  The RCL has reviewed the video and believes that, while there may have been misunderstandings among the parents, the information conveyed by the primary presenters, Paula Tsetsilas and Steven Borne, was not incorrect in any significant respect. 


Ms. Tsetsilas responded that in her opinion there should be two-way communication between the parents and the School Board. She stated that the School Board is elected and there is a responsibility of the School Board to listen, but asked to be corrected if that is incorrect.  Ms. Hillman referred to three way communication and a third leg that is getting misinformation, although not purposefully.  Ms. Tsetsilas said that As parents, it takes time to digest change and this meeting was a way to help people understand what

the changes were. Dr. Marion added that he had suggested changes to Ms. Tsetsilas and they weren’t

made in the final presentation. There were assumptions made. Ms. Tsetsilas shared that parents felt as

though the consultant position at RJH could be represented differently. Ms. Hillman responded that if

the meeting is not a School Board meeting, then what is it? She stated she has reservations with how

it works with the School Board agenda. Mr. Brandon added that the Board wants to make sure there

isn’t a belief that the parents set the School Board agenda. Votes held at a meeting like the parent one

don’t have standing power. The Board wants participation at the School Board meetings.


(180:50 elapsed)

Mr. Brandon said:


“What we want to make sure is that there isn’t a belief that a subset, and again I applaud the interest, but a subset of parents that are going to set the Board agenda.  The School Board (inaudible).  We want participation.  What is dysfunctional is to create extra coordinating groups that actually hold votes.  Those votes don’t have any standing, honestly.  What has standing, though, is a room full of parents who are going to speak to the Board, where we don’t have to respond actually, Scott’s made that abundantly clear in the past…”


School Board members are parents too, Mr. Brandon said, so they have parallel interest in many issues. He added that many comments made at the parents meeting were inaccurate. For people that have not been consistently coming to

School Board meetings, it would not be possible to backfill everyone on what has occurred thus far.

The best thing that can occur is to have more parents at school board meetings. Ms. Tsetsilas responded

that the intention was not to run up against the School Board. Parents want to know if they are investing

enough in our schools. We don’t have dedicated social studies teachers. She added that she is not

intending to continue with the meetings but was excited to engage parents in the budget process and

the issue with declining enrollment. Ms. Honda added that it could be a good idea to get people that

were in attendance at the meeting to rotate attendance at School Board meetings. There are ways for

people to get the information (Facebook, PTA, etc.)



(186:45 elapsed)

Carol Ann Mastro (Wallis Road) – Ms. Mastro stated that the most important piece is getting people

at the School Board meetings. Parents need to take the initiative to find the information they want to

know about. They can email the principals, email the School board. Some of the ownership has to go

back on parents to get involved.  She said that she obtains the videos and posts them.  Editor’s note:  The RCL has been videotaping the School Board meetings, uploading them to the Internet and providing the link to Ms. Mastro so that the videos can be accessed even before the monthly Civic News is published.  These videos have been consistently receiving high numbers of hits.



(188:41 elapsed)

Michelle Tominsky – Ms. Tominksy thanked Mr. Petralia and Ms. Honda for the efficient

communication about the Board meeting. She also thanked Paula Tsetsilas for lighting a fire. Parents

are busy yet concerned and it will take team work to solve the issues. Ms. Tominsky asked if there is

cyclical data for the town based on people aging out.  She referred to 25-30 years of enrollment data. The Board responded that there is data but it may not be that detailed or go that far back. Ms. Tominsky suggested having student council kids at the voting booth to help improve parent survey results.


(192:13 elapsed)

Joe Cummins (Washington Road) – Mr. Cummins questioned the Board if the district was pulling

out of NEASC. There are resources through New England School Development Council that do

enrollment projections. Mr. Cummins suggested that Board look into this. Mr. Cummins

complimented the parent group that met and stated that the Board should give feedback to them on

what went wrong and let them meet again. Mr. Cummins stated that he has seen policies be waived,

why not waive them for Mr. Borne’s request. Mr. Cummins stated that his son would like to use his

own money to invest in a vending machine at RJH. The Board advised that he submit the request in

writing but that food service will need to be involved. Mr. Cummins thanked the Board chair for the

John Dewey references on experiential education. Mr. Cummins indicated that he acquired and read

some of Dewey’s writing and was pleased to see that Dewey advocated having students learn skills

and content and not solely project-based learning. Dr. Marion responded by saying that he agreed that

Dewey, like many of us, are advocating for a balanced approach.  Mr. Cummins stated that he disagreed with Mr. Brandon, and believes that it is wonderful to see democracy in action.


(200:25 elapsed)

Steven Borne – Responded that the parent meeting occurred because this stuff is not easy to

understand. People don’t know what to do to help and it is helpful to have someone explaining how

things work. The meeting got momentum going. Mr. Borne questioned how can we become the district

that has to turn away kids because we are at capacity? Mr. Borne stated that conveying to the town that

when their taxes go up because of the school, it’s increasing the value of their home. Mr. Borne asked

why does RJH have a bad reputation. Ms. Hillman responded that comments like that are what start

rumors. She said, “We have a really good school.” Mr. Brandon added that despite all the changes, the

new plans provide for full functionality for students. Mr. Brandon then asked, “How does this

information get lost? People latch on to a negative and are not looking at the big picture. Whether we

have 200 or 100 students, the complexion of the kids will still be good. There are so many positives

with the schools. Ms. Honda is doing a great job communicating.” Mr. Borne responded that perception

is reality and perception needs to be explored. Mr. Borne stated that he puts in a huge amount of effort

in trying to understand the issues going on and it is still difficult.



(209:15 elapsed)

Paula Tsetsilas (Rock Orchard Lane) -Ms. Tsetsilas added that being part of the process is important

and now her trust is in the administrators moving forward with the decisions. People get nervous with

change but if the administrators and Board can tell people that things are going to be okay. Ms. Honda

stated that another strategy could be reaching out to the real estate community to get people to move

here and continue to convince people that this is a good place to be. Ms. Tsetsilas responded that there

is a public relations issue in Rye with the water issues and the cancer cluster.




Ms. Hillman stated that she would love to see people get as engaged in positive discussions as they are

about the negative. Once the negative conversations get out, the community festers on them. Dr.

Marion added that the Board welcomes and is always willing to engage the public.



(214:04 elapsed)

Mr. Cummins asked for forty more seconds.

Dr. Marion stated, for the record and the benefit of the video, that even though there are rules about public comment, they welcome the public and engage in dialog even though they don’t have to.  He gave Mr. Cummins the forty additional seconds, but pointed out that Mr. Cummins was between them and going home.

Joe Cummins (Washington Road) – Mr. Cummins stated that he wants to dissociate from attackers

and agrees with the School Board that we are not going to change demographics significantly. Mr.

Cummins mentioned a charter school in Nashua that doubled their waiting list. Mr. Cummins suggested

that if the schools could tweak up math and science scores it could draw more interest. Dr. Marion

responded that we are not trying to become a math and science academy but are trying to be a great

school. Change is uncomfortable but sometimes necessary.



(216:08 elapsed)

Jeanne Brown (RJH Teacher) – Wanted to comment that it is not fair to say the library will be open

more. It will be open more than it is this year, but not more than it has been in the past. This is because

Mary Coombs has had teaching responsibilities this year. Dr. Marion agreed.



(159:01 elapsed, minutes are out of sequence relative to the meeting and video)


Editor’s note:  The formatting has not carried forward properly in converting from the PDF file.  Consult the official minutes for a more understandable version of this table. 








Action Item


In Progress






Begin planning for special topics

meeting related to getting parent

feedback on social studies model.








Post the school board budget








Resurface idea of student survey this









Look at 8th grade science NECAPS to

try to understand the results we are

getting and if there are actions we need

to take to improve scores.






Jim Katkin


Provide board with information

necessary to have a discussion regarding

use of unassigned fund balance at year







Jim Katkin


Create a prioritized summary of facility

and building maintenance plan with

associated expense related to plumbing,

electric, boiler to build long term

infrastructure. Plan should include some

history with regard to scope of work that

has been completed in history and build

in accountability for vendors








Review plan to amend RJH dress code

policy for the 17-18 school year




(216:48 elapsed)




On a motion made by Ms. Moynahan, seconded by Ms. Honda, the board entered non-public session

at 9:55 p.m., in accordance with RSA 91-A:3, II (c). Vote: 5-0.






On a motion by Ms. Honda, seconded by Ms. Moynahan, the Board return to public session and sealed

the non-public minutes at 10:25 p.m.






On a motion by Ms. Honda, seconded by Ms. Moynahan, the Board adjourned their meeting at 10:28