Superintendent Questioned on Mosquito Policy at Sandown North

SANDOWN – Earl Metzler, superintendent for the Timberlane and Hampstead school districts, met with the board of selectmen to give a general update on the district and to answer their questions.
Metzler emphasized at the Monday night meeting that he was working toward more transparency within the school district and the budget process, an issue that was briefly discussed.

“Ask me real questions and I’ll give you real answers,” Metzler said a couple times during the meeting.
To a question from chair Tom Tombarello as to when students at North School would again be able to go outdoors for recess, Metzler had no definite answer. Instead he conceded it was a tough issue and he knew some parents were upset, but he chose to take the safe route.
In response to a batch of mosquitoes testing positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Sandown, School Administrative Unit 55 decided to impose restrictions on outdoor activities. SAU 55 includes both Timberlane schools (in Sandown, Danville, Atkinson and Plaistow) as well as Hampstead schools.
For a time the district cut off recess at both Sandown North and Central schools as well as Hampstead’s Central and Middle schools. Since then the restrictions have been lifted in part at Sandown Central and the Hampstead schools, but the SAU has continued to restrict North’s kindergarten through third grades from heading out of doors.
In response to Tombarello’s question, Metzler said he was terrified that sick mosquitoes were found on North School grounds and that he decided restricting outdoor activities was the safe route. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, he said.
“We don’t wonder that they’re (EEE carrying mosquitoes) there. We know they’re there,” said the superintendent.
Metzler said a killing frost would likely come soon.
Metzler also touched on the budgeting process and his desire to bring a respectful budget to the town in the coming year. To a question from selectman Brenda Copp about whether there were any major building projects coming this year, Metzler said he did not know, but that the issue was being reviewed. He said he is working with the district to make sure everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have.
Metzler said the district is doing good work with what it has, but the reality also included the fact that new course offerings and new ways of educating sometimes require new spaces, in addition to deteriorating or outdated spaces already present.
In other business:
• Emergency management director Brian Chevalier and town administrator Lynne Blaisdell are looking at the potential to serve the town hall and fire/police station with a single generator. While nothing is certain, the two speculate that with a larger unit at the fire station, they could serve both buildings.
The two are working on an Emergency Management Performance Grant through the Department of Homeland Security.
Blaisdell received the selectmen’s approval for the work at their Sept. 30 meeting. She explained that she and Chevalier were already looking into a grant for a generator for town hall, but it made sense to see if they could upgrade an existing unit at the fire station to also power the town hall in an emergency.
Blaisdell suggested the generator currently in use by the fire station could be moved to the highway garage, which is also in need of reliable backup power.

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