HINSDALE, N.H. -- When Hinsdale High School underclassmen finish their final day in June, it will mark the end of the first year the town's educational institutions have spent as their own school administrative unit.
Hinsdale elementary, middle and high schools had been a part of SAU 38 -- which encompasses Monadnock Regional and Winchester -- until residents voted to disband and formed SAU 92. The schools are now their own Local Educational Authority, or LEA.
Hinsdale Middle/High School Principal John Sullivan said voters decided in March 2011 to leave SAU 38 and that the quality of services has since improved tremendously because the schools in Hinsdale no longer have to share service providers.
He said Hinsdale now has an exclusive psychologist instead of having one for a certain percentage of the time. Sullivan said this is also true for the special education director, who can work more closely with students.
Sullivan, finishing his sixth year as principal, stressed that while SAU 38 did not do a poor job of fulfilling Hinsdale's needs, services seem to run more efficiently in its own SAU.
"Nothing was better then than it is now. ... It's been a great experience for us," he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "I think there are certainly a lot of benefits to (forming a separate SAU)."
Sullivan said there is now much more local control. Ann Freitag, principal of Hinsdale Elementary School, said the town no
Hinsdale, she said, now pays its bills directly.
Freitag is concluding her first year as principal, though she has been involved in Hinsdale's education system since 1985. She used to teach high school sciences and worked part-time as a curriculum coordinator. She said forming a separate SAU was the natural thing to do.
"I think it went very well," she said, adding that it does have its drawback. She now lacks collegial support from the district, she said.
Freitag said, however, that the pros outweigh the cons. For instance, residents now have much more access to the Hinsdale School Board.
"I like to brag about the technology we have now," she said. "Teachers will come and we'll tell them we have a SMART Board in every classroom and they say, ‘No way.'"
Freitag said the technology has been made possible due to the independence.
Though he admits there have been some bumps in the road, Sullivan also said he is glad -- both personally and professionally -- that the town made the switch.
He said the decision was made following an extensive process that involved a townwide committee for about a year and a half.
Holly Kennedy, chairwoman of the Hinsdale School Board, said in a telephone message that all board members are very pleased with how the first year went, adding that there was a lot of pressure to make the transition in a fiscally-responsible manner.
She said most of the credit should go to the SAU 92 Central Office staff.
"It's one of the best things we could have done for the school system," she said.
Graduation for Hinsdale High School students is slated to start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 16. All underclassmen and middle school students will start their summer vacation after the school day ends the following Tuesday.
Freitag said elementary school "recognition" -- or graduation -- is scheduled for Monday, June 18.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.