Spaulding High School’s Move-on-When-Ready Pilot

Spaulding High School’s Move-on-When-Ready Pilot


Walking into Mrs. Ford’s Economics class, I noticed a group of students scattered on the floor enthusiastically talking about supply and demand.  Other students were sitting alone while working on their chromebooks.  A small group of students sitting at a round table were debating whether or not the China trade war was good for America.  This was personalized learning at its core. When I asked the teacher about the learning expectations, she explained that students were all at a different place in the unit.  Some chose to work collaboratively, while others chose to work on their own.  Some chose to prepare for a summative, while others had already completed the summative and were working on the next task.

“I have seen huge improvements with student engagement.  My students do not seem as stressed because they work at their own pace,” said the teacher. “This has really allowed me to personalize instruction for every student.”

What was observed in Mrs. Ford’s classroom is part of a pilot program that allows students to work at their own pace while choosing assignments that are personalized. Since Spaulding High School moved to Competency-Based Education nearly 10 years ago, the goal was to evolve to  a “move on when ready” model that focused on student learning rather than seat time.

In the fall of 2017, Principal Justin Roy formed a committee of teachers to make this theory a reality.  Collaboratively, this group worked to define the four common elements that would be evident in each of the Move on When Ready courses: self direction, personalized instruction, real world connections, and student collaboration.  The teachers were ready to take the challenge.

The Spaulding Community has been very supportive of this pilot program.  “I am very excited to see the enthusiasm from both students and teachers.  The idea that we are focused more on student learning rather than seat time has proven to be very engaging for our students.  The level of “buy in” has far exceeded my initial expectations,”  said Spaulding Principal Justin Roy.  “There has been a significant change in the mindset of my teachers as the conversations have shifted to a focus on how students learn.”  Currently, there are 12 MOWR classes at Spaulding, and that number will be doubling next year. These courses are offered in all subject areas and with all academic levels of students.

Overall, students have responded positively.  One student reported, “I like being able to work at my own pace.  I like that I can choose what project to work on”.  Another student explained, “I was never really a good student and did not really do my work.  This has been very good for me because I am motivated to complete my work so that I can finish senior English early”.

While this pilot has been highly successful, there are still logistics that need to be finalized.  As the number of these courses double, master scheduling will be a top priority so that students will be able to move on to another course offered at the same time.

Any district that is interested in this pilot program is encouraged to contact Spaulding High School or the Superintendent’s office.


Potential Attendance Zone Changes

DATE: JANUARY 11, 2018

School districts periodically need to change school attendance zones to ensure that schools
have room to serve all of the students in its boundaries. The Rochester School Department
is considering a change to the Chamberlain attendance zone. Our Instruction Committee
and full School Board want to ensure the best possible instructional environment for its
students and this change will help to more evenly distribute students across our schools.
Families currently attending Chamberlain will not be affected by this new zone change. The
school board is recommending “grandfathering language” for school years ‘19-’20 through
Proposed language to be added to Policy JECC – Assignment of Students to Schools :
If a student will be enrolled at Chamberlain in grades one through five for the following
school year (2019-2020) their incoming kindergarten sibling will be enrolled at
Chamberlain. If an older sibling had attended the school but is not currently enrolled,
the student will follow the district’s zoning.
Families in the newly rezoned area are able to petition to Eastside schools based upon
class size availability.
If you would like more information, please consider attending our informational forum at
Chamberlain Street School on January 28th at 6:30 pm. To view the changes to the
attendance zone map, please visit our district’s blog at


Proposed change to Attendance Zone-1426ath

New Assistant Superintendent

Press Release

January 10, 2019

The Rochester School Board has approved the hiring of Ms. Sandie MacDonald as Assistant Superintendent of school effective July 1, 2019.  The recommendation came after an interview process that included screening by the current and incoming Superintendent, tours of various schools, meeting with Principals and other administrators and a final interview with Board members.  Ms. MacDonald’s experience includes Bureau Administrator at the New Hampshire Department of Education from 2016 to present, Assistant Superintendent in SAU16 for 4 years, Director of Curriculum in Gilford NH, and a Teacher in Barnstead and Pembroke.  

Ms. MacDonald has a Bachelor of Science from Franklin Pierce, Master of Science from Southern New Hampshire University, Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from Plymouth State and a Doctorate from Plymouth State University.  

Mr. Repucci:  “I am very excited to add Sandie’s leadership and curriculum experiences to our team.  She has the qualifications and traits necessary to take on this important role”.

Mr. Lynch, Chair of the Rochester School Board stated he is excited to bring her experience to the District both as an Assistant Superintendent and her work with the Department of Education.

Mr. Hopkins stated we are developing a great team for next year and in the future.  She has experience in many aspects of our work and will add new ideas to the District.  


School Funding 101 Forum

The Rochester School Board invites you to attend a School Funding 101 Forum.

October 10, 2018 6 to 8 p.m. in the Spaulding High School Auditorium

“The current state funding system allows for children in school districts with more valuable real estate to benefit from higher per-pupil spending, while their parents pay property taxes at much lower rates.” – Attorney John Tobin

Students and taxpayers in property poor towns do not get their fair share of limited education funding in New Hampshire. The Claremont lawsuits that challenged the state’s school funding mechanism were intended to remedy that but inequities remain.  In fact, after an initial improvement, the tax burden on property poor towns has returned to about what it was before the lawsuit.

Executive Councilor Andy Volinsky and retired head of New Hampshire Legal Assistance John Tobin, two of the Claremont attorneys, are traveling the State holding forums in which they educate citizens and local leadership about how the combination of, primarily, local property taxes, with a little additional state and federal funding school funding finances our schools.  They make the funding system as it exists today understandable and show how it is not fair to New Hampshire’s property poor towns and taxpayers.

Andy and John’s “School Funding 101” forums are a great opportunity to understand New Hampshire school funding and discuss with fellow citizens and two of the most knowledgeable and clear education funding experts in the State.

Highly successful forums in Pittsfield, Derry, Newton and Berlin have been completed with hundreds in attendance and many questions answered.

Rochester: 6:00 to 8:00 PM, October 10 at Spalding High School, 130 Wakefield Street, Rochester NH.  

If you want further information you can look here:

Vision Meeting September 27th, 6 to 8 p.m.

Dear Parent, Staff and Community Members,


The Rochester School Board would like to invite you to participate in the Strategic Planning Process.   We have surveyed the community, had a retreat and now we would like to engage in visioning work. We would like your feedback on a vision for the Rochester School system.


The event is planned for September 27th from 6 to 8 p.m. in the first floor conference at the Rochester Community Center.  Please come and provide your feedback. If you are unable to make it but have suggestions about the vision, mission or other thoughts, email to:


Please let us know if you plan to attend, email at :




A mission statement is a concise explanation of the organization’s reason for existence. It describes the organization’s purpose and its overall intention. The mission statement supports the vision and serves to communicate purpose and direction to employees, customers, vendors and other stakeholders

Current:  “The Mission of the Rochester School Department is to ensure quality educational experiences


Proposed Mission

The Rochester New Hampshire School District provides a personalized education for all students Pre-school to Grade 12.  Students will be prepared as educated, responsible, and contributing citizens, who can read, write, communicate, and calculate with clarity and accuracy using current technologies and resources.

Our Vision in ten years ???  What does success look like ?  If we ignore the constraints, what would we do differently ?

A vision statement looks forward and creates a mental image of the ideal state that the organization wishes to achieve. It is inspirational and aspirational and should challenge employees. Questions to consider when drafting vision statements might include:


  • What problem are we seeking to solve?
  • Where are we headed?
  • If we achieved all strategic goals, what would we look like 10 years from now?


We will create a vision for Rochester Schools  during the meeting on September 27th.


Michael Hopkins

FY 2019 Budget Proposal

Updated City Council Schedule

The City Council announced May 8th, the following changes.

May 29th will be the public hearing on the budget, not May 22nd

June 12th is the planned vote on the budget.

May 8th and May 15th,  City Council Workshops sessions, other departments will be presenting

May 29th, City Council Meeting and Public Hearing on the budget,  Public Comment opportunities at the public hearing

June 12th is the expected vote on the budget.  If they can’t make a decision on the 12th, it could be extended until the 19th.

In most cases, Council meetings do not have public comment sections, but workshops do have comment sections.

Here is link to the video of the City Council meeting where the budget information was reviewed.  Beginning at about the nine minute mark of the video the budget information is reviewed.

FY 2019 School Department Budgetcc (2)-1ckhj47

Some Additional information sent to City Council on May 6th.


Why should the City Council support the School District Budget proposal

Below are some of my notes from the presentation to the City Council.

  1. It makes economic sense.  Supporting a strong school system in the City enhances the economic conditions in the city.  We help provide the workforce to the community. One example is 12 students entering the composite program at Great Bay Community College as Seniors at Spaulding High School.  They will complete the program and be available to work for local businesses at graduation. Home values increase when schools are supported by the community.  The opposite is true when funding is reduced.
  2. There is a fundamental problem with the tax cap.  54% of the operating budget is covered by local taxes.  The CPI increase helps for that 54%. The CPI increase cannot support the loss of revenue and the new expenditures required by the State.  46% of the budget does not go up based on the CPI, but actually goes down. The loss of revenue does not remove the requirement to provide services.
  3. The State stopped paying 35% of the NH Retirement employee rate in 2011.  That is $1,703,842 in next year’s budget.  If we still had the State paying 35%, our budget would be $1,703,842 lower.
  4. The State Adequacy is reduced by $407,384 next year.
  5. If we had building aide, it would have provided additional revenue of $820,479.
  6. Special Education costs have increased for next year by $562,649.  Special Education requirements would supposed to be funded at the 40% level from the Federal Government.  They have never come close to that amount.
  7. Medicaid, another revenue stream that supports our required services for special education students will be going down by $360,000 next year.  
  8. The tax cap places city schools at a disadvantage.  Schools with town meetings vote on a budget, if it fails they have a default budget.  The default budget takes into account reduced revenues from the State, increased expenses from the State, and bonding projects already approved..  It allows continuing services to be provided. The tax cap does not do that.
  9. Communities that do not get State adequacy funds, meaning they are property rich, are not impacted when the adequacy aide is reduced.
  10. Look at our cost per pupil.  Spaulding High’s cost per pupil is early 20% below the state average.
  11. Look at what the budget would be if we met the average cost per pupil of the State. Just the difference at the High School would be 1400 students X $3,070 = $4,298,000.
  12. Communities with a tax cap, Nashua, Manchester, Somersworth, Dover.  All have had a tax cap adjustment at some point.
  13. FY 2019 School Department Budgetcc (2)-1ckhj47

Flu and illness advice

I wanted to share some reminders to all of us about fighting colds and flu.

We are all aware that the winter months bring illness. Colds, influenza like illness, strep and stomach viruses all seem more prevalent during these months. So that we may work together to avoid the spread of illness here are some reminders:

(CDC Guidelines)

Avoid close contact with sick people

While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible

If you are sick with a fever or with flu-like illness stay home for at least 24 hours once your fever is gone without a fever reducer except to get medical care if needed.

Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (or cough into your elbow) throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands with soap and water (if not available- use hand sanitizer)

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects contaminated with germs like the flu.