Metzler is Subject to the Will of the Timberlane Board, but Neither He nor the Board Knows It.

Recently I was perusing the Education Administrative Rules and discovered a gem. Contrary to Superintendent Metzler’s many declarations to the contrary, he is indeed subject to the will of the Timberlane school board. Education Administrative Rule 302.01 says this:

 (g)  The superintendent shall be directly responsible to the local school district or districts within the school administrative unit board.

Administrative Rules have the force of law. This means that if the Timberlane board should suddenly find its mind and votes to direct Metzler to do something, like, oh,  rescind the letter to school board candidate Maxann Dobson restricting her access to Timberlane schools, then he would have to comply.

Do you hear that Timberlane School Board members?

He would have to comply or be be subject to dismissal for insubordination.  “Insubordination” is a grounds for dismissal in Superintendent Metzler’s contract.  Here are the other grounds:

Termination for Cause. This agreement may be terminated by the SAU at any time for immorality, incompetence, insubordination, failure to follow SAU and/or School District policies or failure on the part of the Superintendent to conform to the laws of the State of New Hampshire, the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, of the School Administrative Unit and of the local school boards within the School Administrative Unit. If a conflict arises, the rules and regulations established by the SAU Board will prevail.

Now the trick to all this is that the SAU board as a whole will never take any action against the superintendent other than throw money at him.  The Hampstead portion of the SAU board will give Superintendent Metzler anything he wants so they can enjoy the services of the Assistant Superintendent. And as loyal readers of this blog well know, the Timberlane board is split along very stark lines– those who wish to delegate all their authority to the superintendent and those who wish to retain a modicum of responsibility.

 

 

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Earthquake Hits Sandown Twice: Once by nature, once by politics

This morning a 2.7 magnitude earthquake hit Sandown.  I ran to my window thinking the oil delivery truck I was expecting had flipped over and exploded near my house. As exciting as that was, it didn’t compare to the explosive revelations at the school board meeting tonight.

Shawn O’Neil of Danville read an email during public comment that he said he had obtained from SAU 55’s printer.  The email was allegedly sent from someone he didn’t identify in the SAU office at around 1:15 pm on Feb. 9, 2018, the afternoon after Timberlane’s Deliberative Session.  The email tells the printer that the default budget was not yet finalized.  The email writer than asks how long they had before having to submit the final ballot for printing.

Why is this a seismic revelation?  Well, for one thing, the school board had finalized the default budget.  Further, upon direct questioning last week, Mrs. Belcher explained that the ballots always go to the printer the day after deliberative session. By law, the default budget can be changed up until the ballots are printed.

It’s no secret that the superintendent and certain elements of the board are unhappy with the fact that our default budget is actually lower than our proposed operating budget this year.

If the email is proven to be genuine, (and there’s no reason to suspect it isn’t), then certain unknown party or parties at our SAU appear to have been delaying printing the ballots in the hope that elements on the school board would succeed in increasing the default budget. My resignation gave them this sliver of a hope.

Without me, the board was split 4-4 on controversial votes.  Motions such as increasing the default budget, for instance, would fail. This is why certain members of the board worked hard to get Lee Dube, my replacement, to vote by phone tonight even though he was not legally qualified to do so because he had not physically signed his oath of office. (Thank you to Dr. Farah for that perceptive catch.) Mr. Dube ended up being unavailable by phone and thus was not compromised by any of these dealings.

Did four people on the board know Mr. Dube would be favorable to increasing the default budget? Or were they just gambling?

Note to Sandown’s newly appointed representative, Mr. Dube:  be careful who your friends are.

A motion to bring this matter to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office failed by a vote of 4-4, with the usual SAU sycophants  voting against  – Sue Sherman, Dan Guide, Kelly Ward and Peter Bealo.  Chairman Boyle said he would pursue the matter privately.

Funny, how even Mr. Boyle is turning into a Donna Green.  What is it about Timberlane and SAU 55 that drives elected officials to seek the assistance of state authorities?

Personally, I see nothing to disturb the Attorney General with.  If the email proves to be genuine and the reason for it merely a hope for a better default budget, then we have a simple case of political interference by the SAU.  Surprise!

Even though we know nothing will improve at SAU 55, there is good reason to now fear that there is no bottom.

 

 

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My Certified Letter to TRSD Auditor

During tonight’s school board meeting, Chairman Boyle pretended he knew nothing of my complaint to the Timberlane auditors. In fact, every board member knew of my letter to the auditor.  They just chose to do nothing about it and shame on them.

Instead of accepting responsibility to look into the issues I question, Mr. Boyle goes on and on about how a single school board member is not authorized to direct an auditor.  Well, guess what?  I’m not directing an auditor.  I’m pointing out issues of interest that a prudent auditor would examine.  Mr. Boyle, as a former auditor himself, would know this very well.  Instead, he chose to throw me under the bus and most disingenuously.

My questions are simple.  Were these overexpenditures approved or weren’t they?  Surely Mr. Dowd has a quick answer to that, so there is no reason at all for the auditing fees to be increased because of my letter.

My letter was sent via email to the entire school board, Timberlane’s auditors, as well as the Commissioner of Education on Jan. 2.  I recently sent it again to the auditor via certified mail since I had not received any acknowledgement of my email.

Donna Green <donnagre@gmail.com>
Tue, Jan 2, 2018 at 1:48 PM
To: plodziksanderson@plodzik.com, “Edelblut, Louis (Frank)” <Frank.Edelblut@doe.nh.gov>, brian boyle <Bjb63052@gmail.com>, TRSD School Board <trsb@timberlane.net>, TRSD Budget Committee <budcom2@timberlane.net>, “Metzler, Earl” <Earl.Metzler@sau55.net>

Dear Auditor:

By RSA 32:10, expenditures which exceed the line item appropriations in the voted
budget must be authorized by the governing body. By Timberlane policy DJB, our
superintendent has discretion on overexpenditures until a line is in excess of $25,000. Prior board approval must be obtained when a line is overexpended beyond $25,000.

In the school year 2016/17 which your firm is currently auditing, there were $710,000 of expenditures in excess of $25,000 over and above the voted budget line item
appropriations. A chart is attached for your reference.

The school board approved a $167,000 unbudgeted expenditure for online reading
program, Achieve 3000. The board voted to purchase this program without knowing
that our superintendent’s wife was associated with Achieve 3000 as a consultant. A
further approximately $30,000 was voted for a contract to construct batting cages which was awarded to a school board member on a no-bid basis. (See RSA 95:1) Other than these, I do not recall the school board authorizing expenditures that would require transfers of appropriations in excess of $25,000.

Were all these $710,000 in expenditures above the policy threshold amount properly
authorized?

Furthermore, six of the overexpended lines have material discrepancies between the
voted budget and budgets reported to elected bodies. There are 60 budget lines in total that show discrepancies. A spreadsheet is attached for your reference. The amounts reported by TRSD as the 2017 budget line amounts (as it appears on monthly financial reports and the Timberlane Budget Committee preparation documents) differ from the final voted budget. If these discrepancies were encumbrances, one would not expect to see so many of these discrepancies nor would one expect to see negative differences from the voted budget.

For your convenience, monthly reports, budgets, and charts are available at:

https://timberlaneandsandown.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/financial-controls-gap-or-
chasm/

I am bringing your attention to basic financial control issues which the administration has declined to explain.

Also please be aware that the procedure of your firm has been to deliver Timberlane’s school district audit to SAU 55 when it should be given directly to the school board via its chairman without delay or intermediary.

Please feel free to call me for further clarification or reference information.

Sincerely,

Donna Green
Sandown representative on the Timberlane Regional School Board

603-974-0758

cc: Frank Edelblut, NH Commissioner of Education
cc: Brian Boyle, Chairman Timberlane Regional School Board
cc: Earl Metzler, Superintendent, SAU 55
cc: Timberlane Regional School Board
cc: Timberlane Regional Budget Committee
2 attachments
Budget reporting deviations (3).xls 54K

Transfer of appropriations 2017 (1).pdf 54K

 

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Arthur Green Explains Sandown Tax Hike

The Sandown Board of Selectman got a tutorial on why Sandown school taxes are skyrocketing while the other towns in our school district catch a break.  What he neglected to say, but should have, is that three years ago we led everyone to the fire escape but the Board of Selectmen barred the door.

Withdrawing from the Timberlane Regional School District is the only way Sandown can grow as a town, welcome young families, and control our educational costs.  Not only that, doing it ourselves gives us a chance at real academic excellence.

Mr Green’s public comment is split into two short segments:

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Timberlane Tax: Sandown +10%; Other Towns Catch a Break

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

Here’s an astonishing political fact.  For three towns in the Timberlane district, the 2018-2019 budget is easily digestible while Sandown is taking an enormous blow.  Whether the towns choose the default budget (near flat-line) or a $1 million higher operating budget, there will be very little impact on Atkinson, Plaistow and Danville.  Only Sandown is left holding the bag with a 10%-12% school tax increase whatever budget passes.

Some quick calculations show the following tax impacts of the original proposed budget (flat line $71.759 million) going into Deliberative last week:

Atkinson -3.9%
Danville -1.8%
Plaistow 1.4%
Sandown 9.6%

Unfortunately, neither of the 2 options on the March 13 ballot will correspond to this table.  The Proposed budget was raised at Deliberative to $72.8 million, and the default budget, $71.870 million, was not accompanied by a tax impact.

I’ve estimated these impacts – emphasis on the word estimate – without having access to all of the information available to the business administrator, but applying similar assumptions to those used for the published estimates above.

For the Default Budget of $71,870,607, my estimated tax impacts are:

Atkinson -3.7%
Danville -1.6%
Plaistow 1.6%
Sandown 9.8%

As one would expect, this reflects the fact that the default budget is slightly ($100K) higher than the originally proposed budget.

For the new Proposed Budget as placed on the ballot at Deliberative, $72,800,000, my estimated tax impacts are:

Atkinson -2.2%
Danville 0.3%
Plaistow 3.3%
Sandown 11.9%

The remarkable difference in the impact on Sandown in all scenarios demands explanation..  coming up below.

Why the big hit on Sandown?

The dominant factor is the enrollment balance among the towns.

Apportionment of costs is primarily based on enrollment – using the Department of Education metric “Average Daily Membership in Residence” (ADM-R).  By Timberlane’s Articles of Agreement, the ADM figure used to apportion the 2019 costs is the ADM from 2017 – which sounds absurd but it is the most recently reported final number.  The 2018 ADM will not be available until months after the 2019 apportionment needs to be calculated for the tax bills to be issued.

So, what was the change in ADM from School Year 2016 to School Year 2017?

Atkinson -65.0
Danville -43.4
Plaistow -44.8
Sandown 3.5

Sandown up slightly, the other 3 towns down significantly.

If we take the 2017/18 (current year) budget, and imagine that the only change is this shift in enrollment, here’s the impact on the tax apportionment to the towns:

Atkinson -$525,504
Danville -$271,724
Plaistow $10,663
Sandown $786,565

Breaking a 2-year old tradition, Timberlane has posted online the document package from Feb 8 Deliberative which includes the forecast tax impact of the proposed budget (final 2 pages).

 

 

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News That Didn’t Make the Cut

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

The Eagle Tribune today covered Donna Green’s resignation from the Timberlane Regional School Board, in protest of the board’s failure to act on the outrageous intrusion into the election process by the TRSD Superintendent when he slapped a no trespass order on a school board candidate.

The eventful School Board meeting which followed Deliberative on Thursday night was mentioned in a few brief sentences, which focused on the dispute about going into non-public.

More important (but not reported) was

  • Donna Green’s motion in public session to direct the Superintendent to rescind the no trespass letter and terminate the so-called investigation – defeated by the school board by a vote of 7 opposed versus 2 in favor (Stefanie Dube and Donna Green).
  • The Superintendent’s spectacular statement during the brief discussion of this motion that the Timberlane board has no authority to direct him to rescind the no trespass letter.
  • Attorney O’Shaughnessy’s risible statement that Superintendent Metzler is not a public figure.

All this is available in public – my video of the meeting was published on the blog at 9:05 AM Friday morning, about 12 hours after the meeting.

The core action of the meeting – defeat of the motion to rescind – was not mentioned in the ET coverage.

The shills who support unlimited power for the Superintendent over the School District and for the School District over the taxpayers have a favorite debating tactic:  divert debate from substantive issues and instead portray a personality conflict between Green and Metzler.

The Superintendent is quoted by the ET delivering a stream of personal abuse against Donna Green, avoiding and distracting from the substantive issue.

Change the subject, personalize the dispute, and presto, we’re no longer discussing the body blow against a campaign for office by a person who is not a reliable rubber stamp for the Superintendent.  This is an intentional tactic.

PS: The ET quotes the Superintendent saying that

” .. this is just another example of Donna Green’s anti-intellectual agenda..”. 

Really?  Objecting to a public body’s interference in the election process is “anti-intellectual”?

Back in December 2013, Donna Green (at that time a member of TRSD Budget Committee) and I appeared before the Sandown Board of Selectmen to discuss the TRSD budget process and the causes of the 10% increase in Sandown’s taxes that year.  Superintendent Metzler was in the ET a few days later, calling Donna’s action in speaking to the Sandown Board of Selectmen “inappropriate, innaccurate and irresponsible.”  Donna subsequently dubbed that the three “I’s”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Video of 2/8 TRSB Meeting

Funny how a short meeting can do irreparable harm. Watch your gutless elected representatives in action last night in this 24 minute recording

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LM3QmIvUwjAMkNva4_L2FNvwd7Q1vA3L/view?usp=sharing

Of particular interest are Jason Grosky’s comments on Mr. Boyle’s desire to hide behind non-public discussion.  A non-public session would have benefited only Dr. Metzler whose actions and reactions would have been subject to my intense criticism.

Thank you to Stefanie Dube for being the only other vote on the board to do the right thing; namely, instruct the superintendent to rescind the no trespass order and stop the “investigation”  concerning Mrs. Dobson.

Thank you, too, to Arthur Green for recording this highly revealing meeting on his cellphone.

The vote to go into non-public failed so the board, true to its cowardly nature, declined to discuss further Mrs. Dobson’s no trespass or take any action on it whatsoever.  When you fail to stand up to a bully you grow to fear a dictator, and that is the situation with the Timberlane school board.

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