Andover School Board Minutes, September 7, 2021

By Beth Page

Condensed from approved minutes.

In Person Board Present:
Brandon Adams, Adam Jones, Dan Newton, Lisa Burbach, and Aimee Menard

Administration Present:
Mark MacLean, Dennis Dobe, Dennis Audet, and Beth Page

Public Present:
Caroline Boucher

Board Chairperson’s Report
Aimee thanked folks for the respectful dialogue at the August emergency meeting and for the community turning out to share their concerns.

Public Comment
No public comment.

Principal’s Report
Principal Dennis Dobe relayed that the first week of school had a few expected bumps, which appear to be ironing themselves out. Overall, his optimism continues to be strong. Athletic teams and clubs are getting started for the year. 


Dobe spoke of COVID concerns impacting Open House, and he described alternatives being considered as opposed to the traditional Open House model. He noted that the students have been doing incredibly well with wearing masks. The Board gives Principal Dobe their full support on his decisions pertaining to Open House.

Dennis Audet reported that the new skid steer was delivered today. The plow/sander has not yet been delivered. He plans to build a shed in the next few weeks. 


Audet discussed the locks throughout the building and that he got a quote from a local company to update our door lock system. He is looking into a grant to support funding for this project. 


Audet discussed windows throughout the building. Mark suggested supporting needs through the CARES Emergency Relief Fund. The school has a previous quote for the large windows in the old wing; it was suggested to bundle the two window initiatives together. 


Lastly, Audet discussed the freezer in the kitchen.

Old Business
Adam and Brandon met with the Tuition Review Committee on August 17. The current tuition agreement that Andover School District (ASD) has with Merrimack Valley (MV) expires in 2024. 


April 6, 2022 is when the Tuition Committee meets again; at that meeting the committee will recommend which school district they’ve chosen to tuition to for High School. The finalized agreement is to be completed by March 2023. 


So far, the committee connected with SAU 85 Sunapee, SAU 18 Franklin, SAU 59 Winnisquam, SAU 65 Kearsarge, and SAU 4 Newfound. All five SAUs are interested in further conversations.

Adam would like to hold an informational community meeting in October to review the six options (to include MV) with constituents, and hear their concerns/questions. Adam also discussed the consideration of allowing parents to apply the established tuition price to a different, parent-choice high school. 


Lisa labeled that as School Choice; has Andover had that in the past? Mark shared that a tuition agreement has been in place with Merrimack Valley for approximately 40 years. Prior to that, there had been some flexibility with school choice. 


Dan believes that the MV tuition agreement was instituted as a result of a historical lawsuit.

Adam feels that there’s a lot of intangible benefits to tying with Merrimack Valley. Mark suggested that transportation and SAU services be part of the conversation as well. 


Aimee is trepidatious about presenting School Choice as an idea to the town, and feels it should be clear that there’s no vote at the October meeting; it is purely informational. 


Lisa feels that purchasing SAU services is different than a tuition agreement. Mark described a scenario where the tuition agreement is not with MV; in that case, there would need to be further discussion about SAU services.

If ASD changes SAUs, that will directly impact the educational programs afforded to Andover students. Mark noted that the financial details of tuition agreements should be non-public discussions. 


The board tentatively chose Tuesday, October 26 at 6:30 PM for this informational community meeting. Transportation costs, Special ed costs, SAU services, and program options/costs will be inquired about, with information to be shared at the October meeting.

New Business
Aimee would like to entertain a motion to vote on proposed resolutions from the New Hampshire School Board Association (NHSBA). The Andover School Board is a member of NHSBA.

“Resolution #8: The New Hampshire School Board Association shall establish and maintain a scholarship fund for Student Representatives who have served on their district’s school board during their high school career.” 


NHSBA recommended not to support it as a Resolution. No discussion. Lisa, Adam, Brandon in favor of not supporting this resolution; Dan opposed. The motion carried to support the NHSBA position of not supporting this resolution.

“Resolution #9: NHSBA will advise and confirm all SAUs are paying and segregating dues/payments to NHSBA in accordance with RSA 15:5.” 

No discussion. All in favor. The motion carried to support the NHSBA position.

“Resolution #10: NHSBA supports diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects in our schools, is committed to the concept that free and open dialogue around such concepts as racism and sexism is a vital component to education, and opposes any actions which limit this free exchange of ideas.” 


No discussion. Lisa, Adam, Brandon in favor; Dan opposed. The motion carried to support the NHSBA position.

“Resolution #11: The New Hampshire School Boards Association calls upon the New Hampshire Legislature to fund a Post-Graduation Transition Program for each school district to provide a continuum of guidance for graduate transition from high school to vocation, college, and career.” 


No discussion. Lisa, Brandon, Aimee in favor; Brandon, Dan opposed. The motion carried to support the NHSBA position.

“Resolution #12: Whereas NHSBA supports equity and inclusion in all aspects of education (Continuing resolution #5) and; Whereas NHSBA opposes any branch of New Hampshire government adopting or supporting curriculum standards that usurp state’s rights and de-emphasize and limit local control of curriculum and local school board oversight (NHSBA Policies and Beliefs V:K) and; Whereas NHSBA supports state and federal legislation that affirms the responsibility for education resides with the states, which have delegated to local school boards the power and authority to adopt policies, establish priorities, and provide accountability to direct the operation of the schools, including the school system’s mission and goals, organization, budget, program, curriculum, and services, all essential to the daily operation of schools, consistent with state laws and regulations (NHSBA Policies and Beliefs V:N), Be it resolved that the NHSBA oppose legislation such as, but not limited to, HB 544 or HB 2 of 2021, containing language that promotes an unconstitutional restriction on free speech that could thereby deny New Hampshire public school students of all races and genders the opportunity to think critically, openly, and inclusively about subjects such as racism, systemic racism, and sexism.”


No discussion. Lisa, Adam, Brandon in favor; Dan opposed. The motion carried to support the NHSBA position. 


The board is interested in appointing Lorrie Carey as ASD’s official delegate to attend the NHSBA Delegate Assembly. Ms. Carey will be contacted to determine her interest in this position.

Superintendent’s Report
Mark feels that the school opening this year went very well. He expressed enthusiasm about the changes at AE/MS; new staff, staff in new professional roles, new opportunities for student learning, etc. Resuming the in-person aspect of things is very exciting this year, which is why we are fighting so hard to afford our students that opportunity. 


The board may want to reach out to the Andover Budget Committee, as budget season is approaching. Mark also gave kudos to the ASB for putting in their due diligence on the tuition agreement review.