Parents Plan Pre-hearing Rally
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, April 24, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The School Board has called a special meeting for Thursday to reconsider its decision to cut seven teaching positions as part of a plan to restructure Hampton Academy.
The 7 p.m. meeting in the Marston School cafeteria comes after parents and teachers blasted the board for changes it made in several nonpublic sessions regarding the renomination of staff.
At 6:30 p.m., parents and teachers will hold a rally outside the school to oppose changes that include going to "vertical schedule," as well as eliminating the consumer science and technology education programs. School Board officials said changes came from the need to eliminate excessive teacher planning periods during the school day.
The board directed Maureen Ward, the School Administrative Unit 21 assistant superintendent, to develop a schedule without multiple planning periods that was more focused on improving academic skills. The result suggested the academy was overstaffed. Layoffs were based on seniority in accordance with the teachers contract.
School officials said a change to vertical scheduling does not mean the school is reverting to a junior-high philosophy. The new schedule has the same characteristics as a middle school, but cuts planning times. Class size will remain the same, and reading will be taught as a core subject in Grade 6, officials said. Students will also have library, computer literacy and unified arts programs to better prepare them for high school, according to officials.
Numerous parents criticized the changes, stating they were outraged the decisions were made without input from teachers or the community. Adding to the controversy was the resignation of Principal Chris Sousa and the layoff of Christina Hamilton, a candidate for New Hampshire Teacher of the Year.
The parents formed the Hampton School Board Watchdog Group and established a Web site, www.stopthehamptonschoolboard.blogspot.com. The teachers union also formally asked the board to reconsider its decision.