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January 22, 2020 top stories
Board OKs sub pay hike

BRADFORD—Substitute teachers and some staff in Bradford and Newbury will be getting paid more after the school board authorized a pay increase at its meeting last week.
On Jan. 15, Oxbow Unified Union School Board members approved increasing its hourly wage for substitute teachers and paraprofessionals from $10.78 per hour to $12 per hour. The increase is retroactive to Jan. 1 and will take effect at Bradford Elementary School, Newbury Elementary School, Oxbow High School, and River Bend Career and Technical Center.
According to handouts, substitute pay at the schools in Bradford and Newbury were below other districts, including other Orange East Supervisory Union districts. The move is part of an effort throughout OESU, which also includes Blue Mountain Union, Thetford Elementary School, and Waits River Valley School, to align substitute pay rates to ensure that its schools aren’t competing with one other for substitutes while remaining competitive with other area districts such as SAU-23 and Rivendell.
It’s not just substitute teachers and paras who will be getting an immediate boost. Substitute kitchen assistants and substitute nurses will also see a slight increase in pay for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
The WRVS Board could authorize a similar increase as the Oxbow district made at its next meeting on Feb. 10.
The move comes as part of a broader discussion about substitute pay in the area’s schools. Substitutes in Bradford, Newbury and other Orange East districts could see an even bigger increase in the future under a proposal prepared by the supervisory office. OESU has recommended that rates for substitute teachers, paras, kitchen, and custodial staff be set at $13.50 per hour beginning July 1.

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Feeding students even
when not at school

WOODSVILLE—Every Friday, students at Woodsville High School stuff backpacks for classmates to take home over the weekend. These bags don’t have books, however. They are filled with food intended to get students through the weekend.
The initiative, the Pantry Pack Program, is undertaken by the WHS Jobs for America’s Graduates, or JAG, chapter. The students are doing their part to help classmates who suffer from food insecurity.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Food insecurity means that households were, at times, unable to acquire adequate food for one or more household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food.” As of 2017, 12.1 percent of adults and 4.9 percent of children were living below the poverty level in Woodsville.
JAG Youth Specialist Jill Nichols said the idea was brought up by WHS Finance Secretary Jaime Vance who brainstormed with Dean of Students Mike Strauch on details such as where to get backpacks and how to obtain donations to fund the program.
From there, Vance and Nichols got the program going. It officially started on Oct. 21.
“We put a call out to the teachers about students who might suffer from food insecurity,” Nichols said. Teachers provided a list of students who might benefit from the program. It is strictly confidential, and the JAG program students and Nichols do not know the identities of the students they help.
ds so students could have a normal Thanksgiving.

This week's featured photo
Child care set for expansion

BRADFORD—Valley Cooperative Preschool is set to expand its child care offerings.
In late January or early February, VCP will add Children’s Center to its name by extending its program to include quality care for infants as young as 6 weeks and toddlers until they reach 5 years old, at which time the young ones can be a part of the preschool program.
The Children’s Center will move from its present location, where it has been for the past eight years, to more spacious quarters just south in the former Connecticut River Academy building at 515 Lower Plain. The preschool, which has been in existence since 1987, was once located under Upper Valley Pediatrics for many years.
“At the preschool, we often got calls asking us if we offered infant care,” said director Lisa Pike. “Reluctantly, the answer was always, ‘No.’”
“In our area there is very little in the way of care for infants and those that do offer that care, have a one- to two-year waiting list. There are several quality homes and centers which offer care for 18 months and up but there is not much available. That was the driving force for us.”
At present, the preschool serves 15 children. The additional space will be able to accommodate 20 preschoolers, eight infants and eight toddlers.

Burt and Boomer lead a sleigh driven by Travis Streeter of Orford over the weekend at a party in Newbury.
Sidewalks to make
town meeting return

BRADFORD—Bradford voters will get a chance to put their money where their mouths are at this year’s town meeting.
At a special meeting last week, the selectboard signed off on the 2020 town meeting warning, which includes an article asking voters whether they want to purchase a $175,000 tractor designed to remove snow from municipal sidewalks.
Last March, as a long winter drew to a close, town officials came under withering criticism about the condition of the village’s sidewalks. Voters even went so far as to take the rather unusal measure of increasing municipal spending when they voted to add $25,000 into the budget for sidewalk repairs and maintenance.
“We’ve definitely heard [your] concern,” selectboard chair Ted Unkles told the audience last year. “We’ll certainly see what we can do.”
And so the 2020 town meeting warning will feature an article asking voters whether they want to buy a $175,000 tractor. The purchase would be financed over five years with annual payments of $35,000. .

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