October 27, 2023
Dear Newfound Schools Community,
We hope this finds you well as we move from October to November! As you know, one of the challenges we are working through is the potential withdrawal of the towns of Bridgewater, Hebron, and Groton from Newfound Area School District. Below is a bit of information that we hope you will find helpful:
HB349 is a bill passed by the Legislature last spring and signed into law by the Governor in August which would allow the towns of Bridgewater, Hebron, and Groton to establish their own PK-8 school if each of the three towns votes to withdraw during the annual meeting of each of these towns this coming spring.
As called for in the bill, a Steering Committee has been established representing the towns of Bridgewater, Hebron, and Groton to begin planning the possible creation of a new school district.
The Board appointed two members Joe Maloney and Kim Bliss to attend Steering Committee Meetings and to report back to the board.
This Steering Committee requested the Newfound Area School District Board engage in discussions around a variety of issues including possible tuition agreements, Superintendent and Central Office Services and other items that the potential new district would need.
The Board formed a HB349 Committee to meet and discuss issues and to bring recommendations to the Board. Joe Maloey and Kim Bliss along with Robin Reinhold and Steve Nilhas are serving on this committee.
The Newfound Area School Board held a Board Work Session on September 18 to engage the community and to listen to their questions and concerns. Approximately 75 citizens were in attendance, including many Newfound Area School District staff.
The Board received a request from the Steering Committee to consider three items:
Is the Board interested in having students whose residence is Bridgewater, Hebron, or Groton and are currently attending middle school or high school be able to finish their education by attending Newfound Area School District Schools?
Will the students who would be at Bridgewater Hebron Village School in school year 2025-26, but are residents of Alexandria or Bristol be allowed to finish their education up to grade 5 at Bridgewater Hebron Village School?
Is the Board interested in entering into negotiations to provide Superintendent Services (these include all of the Central Office functions in addition to the Superintendent) to the potential new district?
The Board discussed each of these at the recent Board meeting held on October 23rd and took the following action:
On points one and two, if this moves forward, then the Board is committed to supporting students and families above all else to make this transition as smooth as possible.
On point three regarding Superintendent Services, the board respectfully declined the request to provide these.
The Board also realizes this process is causing some stress to our staff. We want all of the Newfound Area School District staff to know the Board supports you and is mindful of the need to keep you informed of this process.
Next Steps: we plan to provide information regarding prospective financial or budgetary impacts for the towns of both districts, so everyone will understand how it would look if this moves forward.
In closing, thank you for taking the time to look this over, and please reach out to Superintendent Nilhas if you have any questions.
Newfound Area School District Board of Education
Interim Superintendent of Schools Steve Nilhas