Here’s how your child can attend New Castle NH Small Elementary School

NEW CASTLE — At New Castle’s junior kindergarten through fifth grade class, students learn to knit, track tornadoes, study robotics and cook Italian food over the course of an average week, all while maintaining their daily general education studies.

The Maude H. Trefethen School, named after the island city schoolteacher who taught students from 1895 to 1946, according to Seacoast historian J. Dennis Robinson, is the only school in the city. Since 1952, the city’s only school building, where Duncan Robinson, the Miami Heat’s sharpshooter, studied as a youngster and began his basketball journey, has been located on Cranfield Street.

Handwritten city records dating back to the early to mid-1900s show New Castle’s elementary school enrollment levels ranged from about 20 to 60 students over the years, according to School Superintendent David Latshaw.

“That’s because there was no longer buildable land on the island in the 1950s. So when a group of families moves in, it’s a flip of a coin if a family comes in with elementary school-age children,” Latshaw said. If we receive three or four families, the population will increase. If we have more families living at a US Coast Guard station with children, our population will increase. The population has always been creeping. “It’s always been that way and that’s never changed.”

This year, the school has a total enrollment of 26 students, a number far behind other schools in the district. Newington Public School has about 50 students, while Rye Elementary and Middle Schools have about 200 students each, and Greenland Central School has approximately 400 students.

As summer break came to a close, Maude H. Trefethen students returned to their assembled classrooms last week inside the one-story building, where Latshaw and a few of the school’s full-time teachers met with them. The rest of the school’s staff, including physical and extracurricular education teachers, a nurse and a secretary, are part-time employees.

Some of the Maude H. Trefethen School students are not from New Castle. Here’s how they can attend.

For nearly a decade, the school has welcomed students from the greater Seacoast community to add more small class sizes on a rolling basis. The New Hampshire Department of Education reports that the state allows each public school district to set its own open enrollment policies, with no law or mandate in place requiring them to charge tuition to out-of-town residents.

The school is part of SAU 50, which consists of several elementary and middle schools in Greenland, New Castle, Newington, RI. After graduating from the eighth grade, students in all four municipalities attend Portsmouth High School.

This academic year, for the first time, the school is announcing its online nonresident program, a program seeking applications from families in the Seacoast, southern Maine and northeastern Massachusetts for an annual tuition fee of $7,900. An approximate 80% discount on tuition is available to out-of-town students who have a grandparent, aunt or uncle who resides in New Castle, Latshaw said.

“About 10 years ago, the New Castle School Board decided to open our public school to nonresident students as long as distancing allowed and the full, required application process was in place,” he explained. “Then, as now, we thought this could be a really unique opportunity for other students to take advantage of our amazing learning environment while at the same time giving resident students the opportunity to learn with new faces, something that can be difficult to come by at the same time. Times on a small island in New Hampshire.”

The school’s current out-of-district student population includes students from the Exeter and Elliott, Maine, area.

Although student enrollment has historically been small at New Castle Elementary, Latshaw, now in his eighth year at the helm, indicated the school is not in danger of closing. The school’s class size ranges from 13 to 15 students at most, and about six non-resident students attend the school each year.

The tuition program for out-of-district students is also used in Newington, according to Lachao.

“Regardless of whether we bring in nonresident students or not, we will still be a public school,” he said.

Is it allowed to fund the Education Freedom Account? Yes. Does anyone use the grants in SAU 50? no.

The New Hampshire Department of Education has indicated that state students can use an Education Freedom Account voucher to pay to attend a school in a municipal district other than the one in which they live. If the cost of attending school exceeds the Education Freedom Account grant, families will need to pay the difference so their children can attend an out-of-district school.

The state grants are administered by the Children’s Scholarship Fund, with families at or below 300% of the poverty level eligible to use the funding for their children’s education.

“Education Freedom Accounts allow eligible New Hampshire students to direct state-funded education adequacy grants for each pupil toward selected educational programs of their choice for a variety of learning experiences,” according to the state Department of Education.

Neither a Maude H. Trefethen student nor any SAU 50 student who attends any school in Greenland, New Castle, Newington or Rye uses Education Freedom Account funding, district Superintendent Steve Zadravec shared.

What is the school atmosphere like?

Despite declining enrollment, volunteers have been a fixture at the school for years, from current and former parents to city retirees who visit classrooms to talk and work with students.

Occasionally, older residents of the city come to share their skills in drawing, knitting, writing and language, including an Italian woman who taught the children how to cook some dishes. An islander named Mike Genolis came to the school to read a poem he had written himself and share his research on New Castle’s ties to the American Revolution. The poem is hung on the school wall

“There’s a lot of really great community support,” said Zadravec, SAU 50’s superintendent of schools who previously served in the same role within the Portsmouth School District.

According to Latchaw and Zadravec, the school has built good relationships with area agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, which built a new theater for students to use after a previous theater began to fall down. This year, the school also partnered with Durham-based One World Language School to hire a part-time Spanish teacher living in Colombia, as well as with the University of New Hampshire to hire Melissa Ryan, assistant professor of music, to teach music on a part-time basis in New Castle.

“The community is amazing”

Near the school’s multipurpose room, where students study robotics and use 3D printers, fourth- and fifth-grade teacher William Purcell set up a green screen for his students to use to give a newscast-style presentation about Hurricane Idalia’s path toward Florida.

A Maude H. Trefethen teacher since 2009, Purcell sent his children to school using the non-resident tuition program and praised the school’s network of volunteers and part-time staff.

“These are very smart people who are helping us,” he said. “We take that help when we can, and we’re blessed with a lot of help.”

One is state-certified physical education and health teacher in Portsmouth, Melody Gray, a part-time teacher who leads Maude H. Trefethen students in outdoor fitness on the basketball court and park.

With no on-site gym, Gray takes her students outside almost year-round. In the winter, students build snow forts, snowshoe, ski down the school’s small hills, and use the ice rink installed every year at the school.

“The community is amazing. The support of the staff and the principal is amazing. Whatever I want to do or bring to the table or add to the program, he’s usually on board,” she said of Lachao. “We all get along really well, which I really like.” ”

The principal added that in a given week, 10 to 20 adults who are not fully employed or work at the school part-time will come to the school to teach or help with lessons.

“The excitement and joy is palpable here,” Latshaw said.

School staff and volunteers are friends who help each other with tasks, said custodian Paul Mondo, who works in another school district in addition to the Maude H. Trefethen School. Students at the school, which has a student-teacher ratio of five to one, regularly approach him to greet him and talk.

“This is more of a family atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a good teacher-student ratio, I think.”

Parent Dena Parker, the mother of Maude H. Trefethen first-grader, began volunteering at the school last year, helping organize folders and other items in the few classrooms on the public school campus.

Parker’s ability to be present and see the school environment her daughter entered and be able to help without disrupting her child’s school day was a plus for her and her family.

“It’s really magical to have the opportunity to be in this world,” she said. “This is the greatest school ever. I wish I could go back in time and teach kindergarten and now teach first grade at MHT. There’s nothing like it anywhere, so we’re really lucky.”

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