Berlin School District gets grant to create regional vision for education in valley

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — The Berlin school district has been awarded a $94,155 grant to work with SAU 20 on a yearlong process to create a valley-wide vision for educating the Androscoggin Valley’s students. At a time of declining state funding and student enrollment, the charge is to look at how rural school districts can work together to generate a range of alternative plans to create better schools.

Superintendent of Schools Corinne Cascadden informed the city council that the district just got word last week from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation that it had approved the grant. The project will run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 30, 2018.

The council held a first reading on a resolution accepting the grant and tabled it to allow for a public hearing at the Nov. 20 council meeting.

Cascadden described the proposal as transformative, noting there is no model for what the districts are looking to do which is create a new education future based on regional collaboration.

Part of the process will include what the grant application terms “a robust community engagement process.” A project manager will be hired along with the civil engagement organizations, North Country Listens and NH Listens.

A steering committee will be established with administrators from both SAUs, school board members, students, parents, teachers, elected officials, business and community leaders, city and municipal representatives. The committee will collect input from a diverse mix of voices through community conversations, focus groups, interviews and surveys.

The N.H. Center for Public Policy will provide data on subjects such as demographic data, state education funding changes and financial impacts on local communities.

At the end of the process, the effort will conclude with ideas and priorities for future implementation. In addition to bringing diverse viewpoints to the process, the public participation component is designed to increase trust, improve communications and strengthen relationships needed to implement those recommendations.

As a prelude to the study, the city of Berlin has hired Municipal Resources Inc., to look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Berlin school district or SAU 3 becoming an independent administrative unit. Presently SAU 3 is a dependent SAU with its budget set by the mayor and city council, a fact that has been considered a barrier to regionalization efforts. That study is funded by a $35,000 Neil and Louise Tillotson grant and will be completed by March 1.

Driving the effort to look at regionalization of education are some hard economic facts. Student enrollment is decreasing. The Berlin school district has seen a steady decline in enrollment, from 1,666 students in 2001 to the 1,154 today. At the same time, state funding for education is decreasing as the state phases out educational stabilization funding. For Berlin, the impact is $219,824 annually over a 20-year period.

 

Overdue 85-year old hunter found cold but safe

PITTSBURG — An 85-year old hunter was found cold but unharmed after he became lost while hunting in the Big Brook Bog area on Saturday.

At 6:29 p.m. on Saturday, N.H. Fish and Game responded to a report of an overdue hunter. His hunting partner reported Carleton Piper, 85, of Morrisville, Vt., had been last seen at about 2:30 p.m. and was scheduled to return to their truck by 4:30 p.m.

A separate group of hunters, assisting in the search, had been able to follow Piper’s boot tracks in the snow for approximately a mile before losing radio contact with the staging area. The hunters marked the location by GPS and communicated the coordinates to Fish and Game officers when they got back into radio contact.

The missing hunter arrived by vehicle at the staging area at about 8:40 p.m. Another hunter had found Piper walking along the Day Road in the area of Perry Stream and given him a ride. Piper was found several miles from where he entered the woods.

The temperature was around 5 degrees during the search but Fish and Game said Piper was well prepared for the conditions, wearing appropriate footwear, layered clothing, and carrying essentials.

A release by Fish and Game said the agency appreciated the assistance of U.S. Border Patrol agents as well as other deer hunters.

Injured Hiker Rescued from Peabody Brook Trail

 

SHELBURNE — A Massachusetts woman suffered a leg injury on Sunday just as she was completing a hike on the Peabody Brook trail.

Barbara Audin, 60, of Sudbury, Mass., was within a half mile of the trailhead when she slipped on a patch of ice, injuring her lower leg. Unable to put any weight on the leg, she call 911 for assistance.

While two Fish and Game conservation officers responded, a retired state police trooper camp upon Audin and provided assistance. One of the Fish and Game officers was able to drive his ATV to Audin and the injured hiker was able to get on the back of the vehicle, eliminating the need for a carry-out. She was driven to a waiting Gorham Ambulance and transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin for treatment of her injury.

 

Injured Hiker Rescued from Peabody Brook Trail

 

Shelburne – A Massachusetts woman suffered a leg injury on Sunday just as she was completing a hike on the Peabody Brook trail.

Barbara Audin, 60, of Sudbury, Mass., was within a half mile of the trailhead when she slipped on a patch of ice, injuring her lower leg. Unable to put any weight on the leg, she call 911 for assistance.

While two Fish and Game conservation officers responded, a retired state police trooper camp upon Audin and provided assistance. One of the Fish and Game officers was able to drive his ATV to Audin and the injured hiker was able to get on the back of the vehicle, eliminating the need for a carry-out.

Audin was driven to a waiting Gorham Ambulance and transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin for treatment of her injury.