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New year means new spaces, new faces

Union Leader Correspondent

September 03. 2013 12:20AM

School bells will be ringing tomorrow as Goffstown, Dunbarton and New Boston students go back to school.

"We're ready to open and excited to have the kids back. Having the building full of kids learning is what we're here for and what we love to do," said Brian Balke, who was recently named interim superintendent of SAU 19, serving Goffstown, Dunbarton and New Boston.

At Mountain View Middle School, students will be greeted by new Principal Wendy Hastings and Dean of Students Joe Lane.

"I am thrilled with our new administrators at Mountain View Middle School. They both bring strong communication and a student-centered approach to MVMS that is refreshing," said Balke.

Hastings, a Goffstown native who attended Maple Avenue Elementary School, began her career teaching physical education to pre-K through eighth-grade students at Villa Augustina School for two years. She then spent 13 years as a teacher and administrator at Londonderry School District, most recently as assistant principal at Londonderry Middle School.Hastings replaces former principal Jim Hunt, who resigned amid allegations that he presided over a hostile and dysfunctional work environment at the middle school.

Lane joins the Mountain View Middle School staff, having served as a special educator for 10 years at Indian River School in the Mascoma Valley Regional School District, where he worked with students with emotional and behavioral needs.

District teachers have taken extensive professional development focusing on math and literacy and other topics, Balke said.

He said the new year will bring "enthusiasm, optimism, hope and energy."

"I can't wait until the kids are back and the classrooms are once again full of learning," he said.

The district has also been busy over the summer making some building improvements, including new security locks and security cameras at Goffstown High School and Maple Avenue Elementary. Balke said the locks are called Columbine locks, which are installed on classrooms doors, allowing the rooms to be locked from the inside.

"Ensuring a safe learning environment for our teachers and pupils is the main priority," Balke said. "Sign-ins are solidly in place, and an emergency plan and procedures are up to date and are being implemented."

The district also has a collaborative relationship with the fire and police departments on safety matters, and safety drills at all schools are also conducted regularly. The district conducts routine fire drills, and shelter in place in the event there is an intruder in the schools.

In addition, lighting and electrical systems were upgraded at all Goffstown schools, except Bartlett Elementary, and a new roof was installed at Mountain View Middle School. A proposed $14.5 million bond for improvements and renovations to Bartlett and Maple Avenue failed to win voter approval at the March election.

The district is also hoping to save money with heating and energy costs this year with upgrades at the high school and Mountain View.

At New Boston Central School, 24 computers plus licenses for Microsoft Office were approved for purchase by the school board for $30,072. New locks were also installed at New Boston Central School.

In Dunbarton, security cameras were installed at the front door at the elementary school, allowing the main office to monitor those entering and exiting, said Rene Ouellet, chairman of the Dunbarton School Board. All other exterior doors will remained locked.

At Dunbarton Elementary School, Owen Harrington took the helm as principal on July 1. Harrington has middle and elementary school administrative and teaching experience. Harrington replaced Principal Carol Thibaudeau, who retired June 30 after serving the kindergarten-grade six school for about five years. Harrington previously served as assistant principal at Hampstead Middle and Central schools, and as a teacher in the Litchfield School District.

Harrington has a certificate of advanced graduate studies in educational leadership from Rivier University.

Dunbarton Goffstown New Boston

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