Steenson Pranked

Guest contribution by Arthur Green

We need to make Nancy Steenson aware that someone has mailed out a satirical election postcard purporting to be from her State Senate campaign.

Ms. Steenson  and I have had our differences, but I am glad to join hands with her to help her repudiate the scurrilous smears that have been put out in her name.

The unknown satirist pretends Ms. Steenson embraces “both the Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Tax Reform no new taxes pledges.”  This is a stark repudiation of her accomplishment in raising Timberlanes’s per-pupil budget by 35% in the 6 years she was on the school board.  The cleverness of the satire is that she did so, not by raising “new” taxes, but only by raising “existing” property taxes.

The mailer is clearly a hoax because it is absolutely silent on her only public office – 6 years as Timberlane School Board member, the last 2 as Chair.  It is inconceivable that a person seeking higher office would not highlight their accomplishments in their previous office.  Now it must be admitted that the Danville voters fired her from that job in favor of a political novice, but I am sure that Ms. Steenson has a perfectly reasonable explanation, aside from her record.

The satirist says Ms. Steenson is a Second Amendment supporter.  This is a nasty dig because it naturally implies Ms. Steenson also supports other constitutional rights- like the First Amendment. But we know Ms. Steenson was instrumental in trying to impose the unconstitutional “School Board Rules” on the Timberlane School Board.  The rules forbade individual board members from speaking to the press or publicly criticizing a board decision.  The New Hampshire ACLU stepped in, threatening to sue the district if these rules were not withdrawn.  Ms Steenson had to back down.   We know we can count on her to defend our Second Amendment rights with precisely the same commitment and energy that she devoted to the First Amendment.

The hoaxer then slanders Ms. Steenson as an “outsider”.  This is a particularly galling insult, considering how hard she worked over 6 years, ingratiating herself with the school district administration as well as seven out of eight members of the Timberlane School Board.  I can endorse her exemplary teamwork – in the 3 years I have been closely attending to school district matters, I don’t know that she has even once voted in a minority.  She has disagreed with other members of the board, and rightfully so, only when she was certain that she was part of a comfortable majority.

The hoaxer continues, saying that she will “fight for smaller, more responsive government.”  This may be a typo.  As school board Chair, she denied any requests for agenda items not favored by the Superintendent, including the Board of Selectmen of her own town asking to discuss technical issues with the school-related impact fees.  The Danville BOS Chair was consigned to the 3-minute “public comment” period.  Perhaps what was intended was  “Ms. Steenson will fight smaller, more responsive government”. That is her proud record on the school board.

We can only join her in lamenting the paperwork mix-up which resulted in her accidental registration for the Republican primary, and the terrible public embarrassment of this hoax mailer.

Steenson Mailer

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SB Chair Replies: NO…

Danville’s Rob Collins claims he gets answers to questions outside of meetings.  Interesting.  Here is the school board chairman’s response to my request for information, received by email today at 6:35 pm today.

Donna,
Please consider this a response to both your request for info concerning the Black Board App and School Messenger App.
As a School Board member you have no power to investigate. Only the School Bard as an entity has this power. So my recommendation, as you know well by now, is at an upcoming School Board meeting make a motion for the School Board to request this information. If the School Board votes in the affirmative, it will be requested and then provided to all members.
In the future should you have similar requests, please consider this not my response to them. I shan’t repeat myself again.
Best Regards,
Peter Bealo

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Why do we fund an SAU?

Rob Collins likes to repeat on social media that he asks questions outside of meetings so he doesn’t have to “waste time” in meetings. Below you will find just today’s example of me asking questions outside of meetings. See the response Dr. Metzler sees fit to give me. Perhaps the chairman will be more responsive.

Here is mail exchange from today starting at 1:07 pm.  It wasn’t addressed to Dr. Metzler but he kindly responded anyway.

Peter,

Was an RFP issued for the TRSD APP developed by Black Board?
If so, please provide this to me.
Please also provide the contract as well as all invoices and purchase orders for this APP.
I’d also like to know from what line in the budget this was or will be paid.
Thank you.

I’m sure you would like to minimize the number of Right to Know requests the district receives and your assistance would be most appreciated.


2:01 from Dr. Metzler:     See DBJ and DJE


2:31 from D. Green:

Ditto for SchoolMessenger.

Thank you.


2:32 from DR. Metzler:

See DBJ and DJE


2:44 from D. Green

The policy is irrelevant.  I want to see the financials and the discipline used to make purchase decisions. Thank you.


3:28 from DR. Metzler

Wrong again…


So, either Mr. Collins is lying about getting information outside of meetings, or the administration sees no need to answer my particular questions.  And then they complain about how many Right to Know requests they get.
Sandown, Danville, Atkinson and Plaistow: is this what you are paying a million dollars plus a year for? (That is Timberlane’s cost for running the SAU.)
Yes, communication apps are a good thing. How they interface with our current systems should be a topic for discussion with the school board because we have invested a great deal in implementation fees and annual fees in communications software already. The school board was neither notified nor consulted about these purchases.  Once again the school board is marginalized in a headlong rush to be seen to be responsive to an advisory group rather than the school board.

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TRSD has Mobile APP. Suggestion.

This just out from the superintendent’s office:

TIMBERLANE REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
PRESS RELEASE
TIMBERLANE LAUNCHES CUSTOM MOBILE APP
The Timberlane Regional School District is proud to announce the launch of its custom mobile app, an all-in-one information source for parents, students, staff and the community, developed to provide direct access to many district resources.
This free mobile app, available on Apple and Android devices, gives the TRSD community the ability to access information throughout the district in a faster, easier, more up-to-date, and more personal way. Users can follow schools of their choosing and receive only the news, events, notifications, and social media updates that are important to them.
Currently a basic version is available providing news, events and other school information. In the coming weeks PowerSchool access will be provided through the App as well providing secure access for students and parents to see grade and attendance information, allowing them to view academic standings at any time, from anywhere.
The TRSD App was developed by Black Board. Black Board creates mobile apps for K-12 school districts and has partnered with innovative school districts, over the last 20 years, to solve the most difficult communication challenges, with the goal of supporting student success.
Technology Director Ken Henderson states, “The Timberlane Regional School District is committed to increasing communication with our stakeholders. The Timberlane Mobile Application will deliver relevant and timely information to people securely at their fingertips.”
Dr. Metzler commends the work of the Timberlane Parent Advisory Forum (TPAF) for its bringing to light the need for greater district communications and to Technology Director Henderson for his immediate action in working with TPAF members in developing strategies to address this issue.
He further notes this initiative to improve district communications is just another component to his commitment to improve the rigor, accountability, evaluation and support necessary to increase student achievement and enhance district systems and programming.
August 19, 2016


The school board was not given a hint this was coming – nor did they vote to appropriate the money to fund this initiative. (If the cost was under $25,000 no SB vote is necessary.)

I wonder if the superintendent will next surprise us with a financial accountability APP for the district to enhance the available information for school board and budget committee members.  Why am I not holding my breath?

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Sandown Candidates Forum

This will be a top-notch day with four Republican Gubernatorial candidates and two congressional hopefuls.  Mark your calendars and put Sandown on the map for these dedicated and accomplished people who want to represent you.

Saturday, August 27   11:30 am to 3 pm  Sandown Town Hall

2016-candidate-forum

 

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Smarter Balanced Results … a bit

Today’s press release on the standardized Smarter Balanced testing results:

TIMBERLANE REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
PRESS RELEASE
TIMBERLANE SENDS HOME SMARTER BALANCED STUDENT REPORTS
Timberlane’s Director of Data, Assessment, and Accountability, Mrs. Christi Michaud, is pleased to announce the release of the (SBAC) Smarter Balanced statewide assessment student score reports. Preparations are underway to mail student reports home to parents by August 29, 2016. The Timberlane Regional School District is committed to preparing all students for success in college and career. The New Hampshire educational accountability systems and the new Smarter Balanced assessment help parents and teachers understand where students’ strengths lie and where they need additional support. Individual student reports show how a student is progressing in relation to the rigorous academic curriculum standards and how well a student is mastering the necessary skills to be successful in the next grade level. “In our effort to increase the rigor, accountability, evaluation and support to improve student achievement, educators in the TRSD have already begun using student results to inform instructional decisions for students this fall and to evaluate their own teaching practices,” says Mrs. Michaud. At this time, the Smarter Balanced data is preliminary and valid at the individual student level only. This data should not yet be used for district or school comparisons. The public release of aggregated results is anticipated this fall, 2016. Individual student results are NOT subject to change.


So here’s my question which you must be thinking yourself:  if the individual results are available and are not subject to change, why have the results not been aggregated for district comparison?

Look what I found on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Portal on the NH Department of Education’s website under “Smarter Balanced Assessment Results and Parent Reports;”

Media Requests for Preliminary Data
The NH DOE understands that you may receive requests from the media regarding the preliminary results that you have received. It is important that we all help media partners understand the messaging around the results and the difference between preliminary and final results. The results for schools, districts and the state that can be accessed by school and district personnel only preliminary because the NH DOE cannot complete the business rules to finalize the data until we have received the End-of-Year enrollment data from the field (Oct 1). In addition, we are currently going through the verification process regarding approved exemptions, out of school placements with sending schools and providing each district and school team the ability to verify their students in the preliminary information. As with every other year, this process does take some time and it is critically important to accurate.
The NH Right to Know law requires the sharing of data shared with the media or members of the public unless exempted in NH RSA 91-A:5. The following governmental records are exempted from the provisions of this chapter: … IX. Preliminary drafts, notes, and memoranda and other documents not in their final form and not disclosed, circulated, or available to a quorum or a majority of the members of a public body. In accordance with NH RSA 91-A:5 the NH DOE would not expect any district to share the preliminary data.


 

By this the NH DOE means the SAUs are instructed not to share preliminary district-wide data with their school boards in order to prevent this information from being subject to the Right to Know law and thereby open to the media.

We’ll all just have to wait until year-end enrollment data is submitted on Oct. 1.  This is odd because October 1 is when current year enrollment data is submitted to the state – not last year’s.  Whenever the media and the school board must be denied information, even preliminary information, it rankles me.

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David Taylor v. SAU 55 Court Petition

Here is the suit filed with the Rockingham Superior Court by David Taylor.  This link was posted on Right to Know NH’s blog.

218-2016-CV-800-2016-08-01

RightToKnowNH.wordpress.com   (Under “Case Law.”)

The suit was filed by Mr. Taylor alone and does not involve RTK NH.  He is challenging the sealed minutes of the SAU meeting in which the superintendent was voted a raise and a bonus.  He is also challenging SAU55’s policy of charging 50 cents a page, requiring the purchase of an individually wrapped thumb drive, and their policy of not emailing Right to Know request responses.

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