For Pelham bus schedules please go to the school district website.

For Windham bus schedules please go to the school district website.

Students Gear Up for NECAP Testing

by Diane Chubb


Quiznos and Chunky’s had special treats for each student taking the NECAP tests in October.

Students at Pelham Elementary School got a treat on Friday, September 28.  In anticipation of the NECAP testing that will be taking place during the first week of October, students participated in the school’s first ever pep rally.

Students gathered in the gymnasium to Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” blaring from the loudspeakers.  Principal Alicia LaFrance and Vice Principal Kathleen Turner got students moving and grooving to the music. 

When the music died down, LaFrance explained to the students that they would be taking the NECAP tests in the month of October.  “Your ability to pass this test shows the community, the state, and the country that you are learning what you are supposed to be learning, and you are good at it.”

LaFrance and Turner took turns getting the kids excited about the test and the surprises that awaited them in January/February when the test results are released.  The screams of glee were deafening. 

The biggest cheers were for the Quiznos’ “drink” that arrived in costume.  He distributed a coupon for a free drink at Quiznos for every student.  Quiznos also promised that each student that achieved proficiency on the test would receive a free kid’s meal.  

In addition, Jim Nagel, the owner of Chunky’s, was on hand, passing out cups for students to take home and “cheer” themselves.  He also supplied each teacher with a pack of pencils for the students to take their tests.  The pencils read, “Do Your Best on the Test.”

NECAP is the New England Common Assessment Program tests, a test is administered to public school students from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island to measure proficiency in reading, mathematics, and writing. New Hampshire had a comprehensive view of performance across grade levels for the first time in 2006. 

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requires that all states annually measure students’ achievement in grades 3 to 8, and in one high-school grade level.  NECAP is a collaboration formed among the states of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont to meet the requirements of the NCLB.  NECAP replaced the annual testing of students in grades 3 and 6 through the New Hampshire Education Assessment and Improvement Program (NHEIAP).  NECAP is administered annually to all students in grades 3 to 8 to measure proficiency in reading and mathematics, and in grades 5 and 8 for writing.

The information from the test scores is used to evaluate the current curriculum and instruction, and to make improvements so that students are meeting the common set of objectives known as grade-level expectations (GLEs).  GLEs define the skills, concepts, or content knowledge a student should be able to demonstrate at each grade level. 

Information regarding the latest NECAP test results can be found at www.ed.state.nh.us .


Principal LaFrance gets students psyched up for NECAP testing with Pelham Elementary’s first-ever pep rally.


Schools Welcome Food Services Director

by Diane Chubb


Megan Bizzarro has joined the Pelham and Windham School Districts as the new Food Services Director.

A new school year has begun, and with it comes many changes and new faces.  Some of these changes are coming to the food services area of Pelham and Windham schools.  

Megan Bizzarro has joined these districts as the new food services director, following the resignation of Rick Sariceno.  Her biggest challenge to date is dealing with the needs of both Pelham and Windham at the same time.  

Pelham and Windham share the same food preparation service.  Meals are made at Pelham Elementary School (PES) because it has the largest kitchen facility.  Approximately 4,000 meals are made every day.  Then the meals are sent to each of the other schools in Pelham and in Windham — 2,100 meals are for students at Pelham schools, another 1,600 go to Windham Schools, and the remaining 250 are for students at St. Patrick’s School.  

Before coming to SAU 28, Bizzarro was the food services director in Concord.  She finds it a bit less hectic here.  “Concord has 5,300 students in 11 different buildings,” she said.  “Here, my challenge is balancing two districts in one building.” 

She also likes being able to see the students.  In Concord, she worked from the SAU office.  “It is nice to be back in school and seeing kids every day.”  

A registered dietitian, she has experience with university dining services, a restaurant in Vermont, nursing homes, hospitals, and the WIC clinic.  Her favorite is school food services.  

Bizzarro is also introducing new changes to the menus at the schools.  “We are incorporating more whole grain items — breads, rolls, breadsticks.  We are also serving more fresh fruit and produce to support the wellness policy.”

Implemented last year, the wellness policy addresses goals in four different areas: nutrition education, physical activity, nutrition standards, and school environment.  The Wellness Committee meets twice a year to review and establish specific goals and to ensure that the wellness policy is in effect.  

Bizzarro is also looking into menu changes at the middle schools.  To date, the middle schools have always been served the same meals as those served at the elementary schools.  However, she recognizes that the older students have different food preferences.  “Elementary students tend to have a ‘chicken nugget’ palate, while middle school students have more ‘steak and cheese’ tastes,” she laughed.  

She is working with the students directly to come up with foods that they like and that travels well.  

Because the food prepared at PES must be transported to Windham, not everything works .  She is working with other food service directors to determine what travels better.  “There are no trade secrets in this business,” she says, because they share a common goal of providing nutritious and tasty meals for the students.

Unfortunately, the prices of those lunches and milk have increased.  Hot lunches are now $1.75 for students and $2.50 for staff.  “We are not immune to price increases,” explained Bizzarro.  Indeed, with a gallon of milk costing up to $4 at the local grocery stores, she is challenged to provide meals that meet USDA guidelines and still keep them at a reasonable price.  

Her goal is to come up with a budget that is independent of the regular school budget, and that is more self-funding.  That way, she won’t be taking any funds away from the classroom.  

Bizzarro has other changes in mind as well, and she is working with students at Pelham High School’s marketing class to come up with new ideas.  “They are a fabulous group of students,” she says.  

The schools will be introducing new prepackaged meals that contain all the ingredients for a healthy lunch.  First will be a salad meal, and she hopes to bring in a yogurt meal as well.  In addition to including all the components for nutrition, the prepackaged meals will speed up line time.  

“Line times are a challenge in every school,” says Bizzarro.  “The challenge is getting students through the line and still providing customer service.  You want to get to know the students, ask them about their test, and cheer on their accomplishments.”

She is also working on a plan to provide all parents with an exact nutrient analysis of every meal served in the schools.  “We are really close now,” she says. She hopes to have a definitive list within a year.  

She is also looking at software, similar to the Parent Portal, that would allow parents to see exactly what their children are purchasing for lunch each day.  The system would also alert parents when additional funds were needed for their child’s lunch card.  

And what about food allergies?  In recent years, there are more cases of children with food allergies to items like nuts, wheat, eggs, and dairy.  Bizzarro admits that this is a tricky piece for schools, and it is actually a bigger problem in Windham than in Pelham.  

“I want to work with parents to help their child be successful.  We can do that by making our schools and kitchens safe,” she says.  “It is not an easy issue to deal with.”

She invites parents of children with allergies to contact her directly and set up meetings.  She welcomes parents to come to the kitchen and examine the ingredients used in food preparation.  

Megan Bizzarro can be reached by calling Pelham Elementary School at 635-8875, or you can email her directly at mbizzarro@pelhamsd.org.  


State Senator Updates Windham Officials

by Barbara O'Brien

State Senator Robert Letourneau began his legislative update to Windham selectmen with a not-so-positive comment. “There’s not a lot of great news coming out of Concord,” he said.  Letourneau, who lives in Derry, but whose district includes the Town of Windham, met with selectmen during their board meeting on Monday, September 24.

Among the negative issues mentioned by Letourneau were increases in automobile registrations at the state level, increases in land transfer fees, increases in court fees, and an increase in the tobacco tax of 28 cents per pack of cigarettes.  Letourneau also said he fears anticipated state revenues for this year won’t be as high as what was originally estimated. Costs are up; revenues are down, he told the selectmen.

On a positive note, Letourneau said that legislation was recently passed at the state level to assist both veterans and members of the New Hampshire National Guard. The survivors of military personnel killed in Iraq or Afghanistan will now be eligible for the New Hampshire Medal of Honor, which is currently being designed. Included in the same bill is legislation that will also assure privacy for those attending military funerals.

Letourneau said he fully supports the submission of a recent grant application made by Windham Fire Chief Tom McPherson, in regard to adding additional full-time firefighters to the department, a plan that uses federal funds for a significant portion of the expense.

As for the Depot Renovation Project in Windham, Letourneau said he is looking into the status of a 25-year lease agreement with the state of New Hampshire through the Department of Resource and Economic Development (DRED). The lease is needed prior to any work actually beginning on the project, Town Administrator David Sullivan said. The cost of the work is being partially paid for by the state, with the remainder having been approved by voters at a town meeting.

Selectman Roger Hohenberger asked Letourneau about the widening of the Route 93 corridor, a section of which includes Windham’s Exit 3. Recent news out of Concord has been that the ever-climbing cost of the project is resulting in a serious lack of money to proceed as planned.

Hohenberger said he heard that current plans are to only widen Route 93 to four lanes from Salem to Windham; a move Hohenberger believes will only relocate the existing traffic bottleneck from the Massachusetts state line north to Exit 3 in Windham.

Letourneau confirmed that priorities have changed with the proposed Route 93 expansion, due to financial concerns, but the state is going forward to repair any “red-listed” bridges up to Exit 5 (North Londonderry), as well as the construction of several new park-and-ride facilities, including bus terminals intended to lessen the number of commuter vehicles using Route 93. A total of 1,700 new parking spaces will be available at the park and rides, he said.

Seven years ago, the Route 93 project was estimated to cost $200 million, Letourneau said. It’s now up to $800 million. In the past three years alone, he said, the cost has escalated by 15 percent per year.

In answer to a question regarding when the Route 93 project might be completed, Letourneau shrugged his shoulders. He said he just hopes he’s still alive when it’s finished.

Hohenberger also asked about mandating full-day kindergarten for all children in New Hampshire. Letourneau said he voted against the bill. It is Letourneau’s understanding that if an all-day kindergarten program is mandated, then the state must foot the bill for the program. They wouldn’t have to pay for any building projects, though, to house those kindergarten programs, Letourneau said.


New Salt Shed Facility Needs to be a Priority

by Barbara O'Brien

Windham is expected to vacate the existing facility housing its road salt by the end of 2008, based on a prior agreement made with the State of New Hampshire.  That gives the town a little more than a year to figure out where the new facility is to be built, what it will include, and who’s going to pay the bill.

Transfer station manager Dave Poulson brought the issue up for discussion again during the selectmen’s September 24 board meeting.  Poulson has raised the salt shed relocation issue numerous times during prior meetings.

Poulson, a member of the Windham Salt Shed Committee, said committee members have been meeting regularly and evaluating possible sites for a new facility.  Poulson also said he had contacted an engineering firm, one which is familiar with the area, in regard to evaluating the “Wilson Property” as a possible location for a new salt shed/highway maintenance facility.  The Wilson property is located adjacent to the Windham Transfer Station on Ledge Road.

At this point in time, nobody knows the cost of building a new salt shed/maintenance garage, Poulson said, “not the highway department, not the DOT” (State Department of Transportation).

Discussions have been underway with the DOT for some time in regard to the state and the town putting up a joint facility, Poulson said.

Selectmen agreed that the time has come to get a final answer from the DOT; discussions between town officials and those at the state need to be put on and kept on the front burner.

The scope is so different if the town goes with the state or doesn’t go with the state, Selectman Roger Hohenberger said, adding that it is imperative that state officials make their intentions known very soon. 

Poulson said that even if the town and state go in jointly for a salt shed, the highway department will still need a maintenance facility.  Poulson said he doubted that the state would come up with the money for maintenance bays for the town.  Hohenberger said he didn’t know where the idea of adding maintenance bays for the town (to the salt shed) had come from.

Poulson said he doesn’t even know if the Wilson Property will work for the state.  “We're still in limbo” on that score,” he said.  Poulson said he feels the site evaluation process and plans for a new salt shed have been very “fragmented” so far.

“What if the state backs out?” Poulson asked.  “We need to have a contingency plan if the town (Windham) has to go solo,” he said.  “We're under the gun for 2008,” Poulson said.  “The state isn’t.”

Selectman Bruce Breton suggested using a state engineer to do a site feasibility study, instead of hiring a private engineering firm.  Breton said town officials need to put pressure on the state for answers.  “If they say ‘no’, then we need to go with Plan B,” Breton said.

Poulson said he feels that state officials at the DOT are ready to collaborate, but need additional information on the town’s plans for building a dual facility.

Selectmen advised Town Administrator David Sullivan to contact state officials and to give them 30 days in which to provide an answer as to their plans for building a salt shed in the Windham area.

Selectman Dennis Senibaldi emphasized the importance of keeping this project “on the front burner.”

New Hampshire State Senator Robert Letourneau has also been asked to check with DOT officials in regard to plans for building a salt shed within the Town of Windham.

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