The 2019-20 year can be characterized as a year of stability and growth for the Ray School community. We completed our first full school year with Principal, Lauren Amrhein, and Director of Student Services, Lisa Marie Arroyo, and their leadership and vision have brought many positive initiatives to our school. Collectively, we remain focused on building a sense of community with monthly character traits that underpin morning announcements, morning meetings, and school-wide assemblies to celebrate who we are. While we are proud of the education that we provide, our teachers and administrators continue to innovate across the curriculum. Several grade levels are piloting new models of differen- tiated instruction in math and reading, as we continue our work to best meet the needs of every child in ourschools. The Ray School staff and administration have continued their work aligning our science curricula with the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the New Hampshire State Board of Education, with Bridgman grants and partnerships with Dartmouth College and the Montshire Museum offering new opportunities to bring even more hands-on science learning to the classroom. Experiential learning in all areas of the curriculum is truly at the forefront of our educational programming, from year-round weekly outdoor classrooms in our lower grades, to the major project units at each grade level, to our integrated art, music and physical education curricula, to interdisciplinary performances spear-headed by our Spanish program. Our children are actively involved in discovering the world around them, identifying problems, and finding ways to solve them.
I would like to highlight several items in this year’s district budget:
- We recognize that many in our community are dealing with increased taxation as a result of the recent reas- sessment, and we have tried to keep this potential increase in mind throughout our budget deliberations.
- Our 6th grade tuition costs continue to fluctuate due to changing class sizes. The decrease we anticipated in 2019-20 as a small 5th grade moved on to RMS was not fully realized, as we welcomed 15 new 6th graders to our district at the start of the year. This will result in an additional $300,000 in the 2020-21 Hanover budget, in order to fulfill our tuition agreement with the Dresden district. Additionally, as we began preparing for last year, the 6th grade enrollment numbers will again increase in the 2020-21 school year, resulting in an addi- tional budget-to-budget increase of around $600,000. We will be drawing $270,000 from the 6th grade tuition fund, which was established in an attempt to smooth this annual volatility, in order to offset the increases as much as possible. In the coming year, we hope to reevaluate the formula for funding 6th grade tuition.
- Out-of-district special education costs will increase slightly next year. We continue to ensure that our mindful management of support services within our building provides the most cost-effective, educationally advantageous student services possible. In light of the unpredictable volatility in special education expenses, we have maintained our Special Education Reserve Fund to help cushion us in future years, but will not be adding to it in 2020-21.
- Our enrollments have continued to rise across almost every grade level, generating class sizes in some grades that stretch the upper limits of our targeted range. Last year, we approved the addition of a K/1 teacher and a one-year teaching position in the upper grades (3-5), in order to accommodate an anticipated overall popula- tion increase in those grades. Due to the enrollment increases we have seen over the course of this year, our approved 2020-21 budget maintains staffing at its current level, in order to maintain our targeted class sizes across all grades.
I will again conclude this letter by thanking our many community volunteers for the countless hours you contribute to making our school such a unique learning environment for our children. There are many ways to contribute to our school community – as a volunteer, a substitute, PTO member, cultural ambassador, or attendee at a board or committee meeting. While the growth of our student population presents the need for budgetary and logistical adjustments, we are excited that the vibrant school community we are building continues to attract new families to our district. The Hanover School Board and school administration know that the excellence of our schools depends on the support and involvement of our community, and we are grateful for the confidence that you have placed in us and your tremendous support of our schools. In a climate of ever-increasing economicand educational pressures, we will continue to refine and evaluate our programs to meet the high standards we demand for our children’s education, while being mindful of the financial costs to our community.
— Kelly McConnell, Chair, Hanover School Board