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March 26. 2013 12:18AM

Title 1 job proposal gets tabled in Nashua

NASHUA - Despite an impassioned plea from Superintendent Mark Conrad, the Board of Education tabled a motion Monday night that would have approved a new job description for the district's Title 1 coordinator.

Conrad asked the board to approve a motion that would create a new position by changing the current Title 1 coordinator position, which is held by Pat Burns, into a director position. Conrad said the director would have the authority of a school principal.

The district has five elementary schools - Amherst Street School, Dr. Norman W. Crisp School, Fairgrounds Elementary, Ledge Street School, and Mt. Pleasant - designated as Title 1 schools, or schools that receive federal funding to help low-income students meet state standards. Conrad told the board the director position would be an important way to change the district's approach to these five schools, which aside from Ledge have shown little to no improvement for many years.

He added that having one person oversee all five schools, someone who can serve as a sounding board for school principals while overseeing what is working and what is not, would be invaluable to the district.

Many board members raised concerns that the job description of the new position was too much for one person to handle, while others had more specific concerns.

"I am not sure standardization is a way to get better achievement," board member Thomas Vaughan said. "I find that each of those schools has a different flavor and slightly different approach."

He added it might make more sense to have a number of different ideas and try to take things that work in one school and export them to the others

Conrad responded that the director position would not restrict the different schools from trying unique approaches.

Board member Sandra Ziehm said she was not in favor of the motion in part because she does not like the idea of more money being spent on one set of kids as opposed to another.

"I think when you target certain groups and give them more resources than others, it's not fair. I don't like the process," she said.

She added that to her Title 1 is, "just another federal program where they are telling us how to breathe, and I guess I resent that."

After much of the night was spent debating the motion, the board reached a decision to table the proposal for future consideration. Board President Robert Hallowell said a special meeting might be called in the future to further discuss the issue.

In other news, the board voted to approve a new telecommunications contract with FairPoint that Hallowell said at a previous meeting is expected to save the district thousands of dollars. The board also approved altering the Ledge Street School property so the Big Day of Serving can build an outdoor classroom at no cost to the district. The board also approved Phase 3 paving to begin at Elm Street Middle School at a cost not to exceed $125,975. Hudson paving received the contract.


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