Happy Independence Day

Guest Post by Arthur Green

Barbara Frietchie, by John Greenleaf Whittier (excerpt)

On that pleasant morn of early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain wall,

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their crimson bars
Forty flags with their silver stars

Flapped in the morning wind: The sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed by her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat, left and right
He glanced: the old flag met his sight.

“Halt!” – the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
“Fire!” – out blazed the rifle blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life, at that woman’s deed and word;

“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog!  March on!” he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:

All day long that free flag tossed
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good night.

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A Word to the Wise from Nashua

The Nashua School District (or its insurer) has to pay the former chairman of the Nashua Board of Education $60,000 as a result of a civil suit against Superintendent Mosley.  I am proud to say it was Manchester lawyer, Richard Lehmann, who got a favorable outcome on this case.


The next time Timberlane’s superintendent calls police on an elected or former elected official, or issues public prohibitions about visiting schools and/or SAU offices to school district elective candidates, the school board, which has always looked the other way, should think twice about their indifference.

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A Giant Thanks to Jason Cipriano

Seldom does a single individual do something so offensive to the common sense of taxpayers that the whole course of history changes.  Yesterday, Timberlane School District voted resoundingly to support a citizen’s petition warrant article to explore withdrawing from SAU 55.

Under Jason Cipriano’s leadership as chairman of SAU 55’s board, the SAU board sued the Timberlane Regional School District… and won.  That court victory, which required the Timberlane board to deal with SAU 55’s budget, pushed Timberlane taxpayers over the edge.  Yes, we’ve long had an SAU board that refused to keep the superintendent in check, who lavished bonuses and lush raises on someone of little experience and debatable accomplishments, and didn’t even insist on its right and duty to hire and set salaries of SAU staff.  But a wacko board that sued the majority of its members because of a power struggle over the chairmanship of the board?  That was the last straw.

All four towns in the Timberlane district voted overwhelmingly to explore withdrawing from SAU 55 – and its board of Hampstead superintendent acolytes. Thank you, Jason, for making the decision so easy for voters.

Of course the very biggest and sincere thanks go to the lead petitioner, Stefanie Dube of Danville.  It was her stellar effort to inform the district of the behavior of the SAU board, and the options residents had to disassociate themselves from such a board by way of withdrawal, as well as gathering signatures on a petition that few, at first, believed would  succeed. Stefanie and I served on the Timberlane School Board together, and I’m proud to call this singularly determined woman a friend.

Now there will have to be a study conducted to find out the legal and financial ramifications of Timberlane leaving SAU 55 to Hampstead.  I devoutly hope Ms. Dube will be on this study committee. One thing for sure.  SAU 55 should not be hiring a new Assistant Superintendent.  And no SAU contracts should be issued for more than one year at a time.  The SAU board a long time ago lost control over SAU contracts so Timberlane’s majority on the SAU board should immediately pass a motion that no contracts are to be signed without prior board vote.

In what may be a premonition of things to come, both Sandown and Danville defeated the district’s proposed budget and its request for capital fund contributions.  Votes in the larger towns, however, carried the warrants. How much longer can a district so divided within itself continue?

Although this is far from the desire of the petitioner, Ms. Dube, and is by no means a logical consequence, I personally see this victory as the first step in ultimately liberating Sandown from Timberlane.  Readers know I have long argued for the independence of Sandown in its public education. People in Sandown will be blind with fury when they open November’s tax bill.  The inability of Sandown to manage its own tax burden and control the quality of its children’s education within a cooperative school district will become painfully apparent once again.

Regardless of the future of Sandown, dumping SAU 55 can only help Timberlane.  Thank you, Jason, for making it so evident.

(SAU 55’s board is made up of the boards of the Timberlane Regional School District and the Hampstead School District.  The SAU board’s job is to direct and give oversight over the functioning of the SAU 55 services.)

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Ruling on Collins v. Timberlane

This ruling came out on Feb 26, 2019:

Collins v Timberlane order

Although the judge expressed sympathy with the arguments presented by Collins and Bealo concerning the school board’s default budget, the judge refused to issue an order to require the default budget to be changed. The Timberlane School Board prevailed, and so did voters who will now have the opportunity to vote on a default budget that is once again lower than the proposed operating budget.  Time for fiscal discipline, Dr. Metzler!


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Timberlane School Board Should Require Exam Results of Prospective Teachers

From National Connection Daily NationalConnectionDaily@nsba.bulletinmedia.com

Report Finds More Than Half Of Elementary Teacher Candidates Fail Licensing Exam.

Education Week (2/26, Will) reports that “more than half of aspiring elementary teachers fail the most common licensing exam the first time,” according to a new analysis by the National Council on Teacher Quality, “a Washington-based think tank that advocates for more rigorous teacher preparation.” The analysis also found that “only 38 percent of black candidates and 57 percent of Hispanic candidates ever pass the most common teacher licensing test, compared to 75 percent of white candidates.” The report “pointed to research that suggests that teachers who have a higher passing score on licensing exams tend to see more student achievement gains in the classroom, especially for mathematics.” It also “recommends that state policymakers publish first-time and overall licensing test pass rates for all teacher candidates who are enrolled in a teacher-prep program.”

DG:  If this is the case for elementary teachers, one can only fear the grimmer results for high school teachers.

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FBI v KGB: Can you tell the difference?

President Trump’s longtime political ally, Roger Stone, was arrested at his home by a dozen heavily armed FBI agents in a pre-dawn raid captured on CNN.

If you did not know that this was a politically motivated arrest, you would think Mr. Stone was a dangerous drug lord from the show of force, the pre-dawn swarming of his home and the complete disregard for his dignity or presumption of innocence.

President Trump has been accused of many things, but militarizing the FBI and turning them into thugs is not among them.  Mr. Stone did not resist arrest.  Mr. Stone did nothing to warrant this insulting show of force and pre-dawn intimidation that is characteristic of Communist states. Mr. Stone’s offense, until he is proven guilty, is primarily his closeness to a president despised by Washington insiders.

That government forces can be co-opted to emulate KGB tactics in our country is a state of affairs we should all fear.  It is also something to which we should demand an end.



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Edelblut to Speak about Future of Schooling: public invited

Preparing for the Future of Schooling

In this seminar, we will discuss the future of schools – what school board members need to know about the changes (technological, demographic, economic, and political) that they will be facing, and ways to view potential problems as opportunities.

Join us to hear the visions of our two speakers, to think about the future, and to ask questions and share your visions.

This event is designed to benefit elected school district officials, but the public is also welcome, subject to space availability.

Register here via email.
Frank Edelblut

NH Department of Education
Ian Underwood

Former Director
Ask Dr. Math

Flyer attached – please share with your friends!

Saturday, January 19, 2018
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Nackey Loeb School of Communications
749 East Industrial Park Drive, Manchester, NH

Continental Breakfast will be available.
Open to the public.
Pre-registration requested at SDGAofNH@gmail.com
Cash and credit card payment at the door: Members $10, Non-members $15
Space is limited.

SDGA Upcoming Events

  • February 16 – Achieving Transparency: How the Best Districts do it. Panel includes: Bill Foote (Bedford SB), Tom Murray (former Windham SB), and Rich Girard (Manchester SB)
  • March 16 – Relationship between Money and Results
  • April 20 – Nuts and Bolts of Budgets. Speaker: Jorge Mesa-Tejada
  • May 18 – Annual General Meeting
Save the dates!

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Timberlane: doing less with more

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green*

The Cost Per Pupil (CPP) report for the 2017/18 school year has been posted by the NH Department of Education.

Timberlane’s cost per pupil is up a very substantial $500 from the prior year at a flubbery $17,280 for every student from kindergarten to 12th grade. You might not think this so bad until you know better districts do more with much less.

Let’s see how Timberlane compares to the other 9 NH districts with a similar student population, program structure, and number of schools.

CPP Comparable Districts 2018

Timberlane is highest, 8.9% above the state average.  The comparable districts are 7.4% below state average.  Timberlane’s CPP is more than $2,500 higher than the average of comparable school districts.

A few weeks ago, I commented on the spring 2018 SAT results here.  Three of Timberlane’s peer districts achieved higher SATs than Timberlane in both Math and ELA (English Language Arts), those being Bedford, Londonderry and Salem.  If we look at the next-highest CPP amongst those 3, we see that Londonderry spent $16,177 per pupil to achieve better academic results than Timberlane – $1,100 less.  Apply that to a student population of 3,500, and it shows an opportunity to save over $3.5 million, with no sacrifice to educational outcomes.

Finally, let’s have a quick look at rising spending per pupil over the past 5 years:

Chart CPP Growth

Spending per pupil increased across the state by 13% over the past 5 years, which seems to me quite substantial during non-inflationary times, and quite at variance with the perennial complaints from some quarters that education is systematically underfunded.

The spending in the comparable districts has increased by a similar 13%.

Timberlane stands out with an increase of 19% over the period.  If Timberlane’s spending had increased by only the same percentage as its 9 peer districts, the total budget would be lower by $2.7 million. Time to do some fat shaming at Timberlane.  Management needs to be put on a diet by elected officials.

Note: CPP as defined by the state excludes certain items, such as transportation and tuition to outside institutions, in order to arrive at a number which is meant to be comparable across districts.  Timberlane’s budget per pupil in 2018 was $20,000, which is a clearer measure of the overall taxpayer burden.  But the state CPP is a convenient figure for comparison across different districts.

*All fat references added by Donna Green.




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Yossarian! ! ! (?) !

I’ve been told that Superintendent Metzler brought up my name repeatedly during the SAU meeting last night. Enjoy this brief extract from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:

Colonel Cathcart … was tangled up in a brand-new, menacing problem of his own:  Yossarian!

Yossarian!  The mere sound of that execrable, ugly name made his blood run cold and his breath come in labored gasps. …. The name of the man who had stood naked in ranks that day to receive his Distinguished Flying Cross from General Dreedle had also been … Yossarian!  And now it was a man named Yossarian who was threatening to make trouble over the sixty missions he had just ordered the men in his group to fly.  Colonel Cathcart wondered gloomily if it was the same Yossarian.

…  A moment ago there had been no Yossarians in his life; now they were multiplying like hobgoblins.

…  he sat right back down behind his desk and made a cryptic notation on his memorandum pad to look into the whole suspicious business of the Yossarians right away.  He wrote his reminder to himself in a heavy and decisive hand …  so that it read:

Yossarian! ! ! (?) !


He … resolved to embark upon a mature and systematic evaluation of the entire military situation.  With the businesslike air of a man who knows how to get thinks done, he found a large white pad, drew a straight line down the middle and crossed it near the top…  at the head of the left column … he wrote “Black Eyes!!!”.  At the top of the right column he wrote “Feathers in my Cap!!! !!”.  He leaned back once  more to inspect his chart admiringly from an objective perspective.


Alongside “Ferrara” and “Naked man in formation (After Avignon)” he then wrote:


Alongside “Bologna (Bomb line moved on map during)” “Food poisoning (during Bolgna)” and “Moaning (epidemic of during Avignon briefing)” he wrote in a bold, decisive hand:


Those entries labeled “?” were the ones he wanted to investigate immediately to determine if Yossarian had played any part in them.

Simon and Schuster, New York: 1955, pp. 206-210.

Thanks to Arthur Green for the literary reference.


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Hampstead SD Prevails against Timberlane Today in Court

Today Justice N. William Delker of Rockingham Superior Court ruled that the Timberlane School Board must attend the next SAU 55 Board meeting and must deliberate in good faith over SAU 55’s 2019/20  budget.  If the Timberlane board fails to attend or to provide a quorum, the judge also ordered that the SAU 55 Board could deliberate and vote on the budget without a quorum present.  The order further said that “[A]ny Timberlane School Board Member who is present for a meeting of less than a quorum shall be entitled to vote all of the Timberlane School District votes (or a proportionate share thereof) as authorized by RSA 194-C:7 (2008).”

The Hampstead School District won all of its requests.

Just recently hired, Timberlane’s counsel was not present in court as he had previously committed to being out of the country.  He did, of course, submit a written objection to Hampstead’s demand for a Writ of Mandamus, as well as a subsequent request for clarification by the court. Here are all the filings as well as today’s decision:

Emergency Petition (1)  This is Hampstead School District’s petition to the court.

Objection to Hampstead Petition  This is Timberlane’s response.

Motion for Clarification JK

Hampstead School Dist v SAU No 55  

For those who understand the history of this dispute, this is a disappointing day for Timberlane and its taxpayers.

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