Monthly Archives: October 2012

Putting a Human Face to Facilties

Here is one of the archived postings, written Sept. 29, 2012.

The last facilities tour gave me a human perspective on building maintenance and improvement. Danville Elementary School’s principal stated repeatedly as she was showing us through her lovely school, how grateful she was to the district for installing new ceilings and lighting in a number of her classrooms. The rain pounding on the sheet metal roof had previously made such a racket that children could not hear teachers’ instruction and autistic children were especially stressed by the sensory overload, she explained.

Once again I was enormously impressed with the cleanliness and good repair of everything I beheld. Even Sandown Central, a school previously targeted for closure, seemed in fine shape except for some windows with condensation between the panes.  Sandown elementary school kitchens could use air conditioning along with Sandown North’s gym.  Danville needs a better ventilation system over its dishwasher.  Sandown Central’s cinder block exterior walls need to be insulated and clad in siding.

To my untrained eyes, every one of these costly items seems due to poor initial design. The ventilation over Danville’s dishwasher is too small. A number of our industrial-sized kitchens have poor ventilation. Uninsulated cinder block construction in our climate defies comprehension. Who was the genius who thought of metal roofs over elementary classrooms?

If you think these problems only relate to the older schools that have been upgraded, you should know that the Performing Arts Center has a problem with its facade because the overflow rain spouts direct water to cascade down the front of the building, getting behind some thin panels that freeze, crack, and break, giving a coat of paint a very short life.  The material at the base of the PAC, which is not wood, now needs to be covered in some way.

This brings to a reasonable person’s mind a few questions:

Did the district hire architects experienced in building schools? With cafeterias?

Did the district change the architectural plans so to bring these problems upon itself in some way?

If not, does the district have someone experienced to review architectural plans so that materials inappropriate to our climate and the purpose of the buildings are not used?

Background notes: The tour took place on September 27.  Sandown Elementary, Sandown North Elementary and Danville Elementary were viewed. Tours were conducted by the respective proud principals with comments by Facilities Director, James Hughes.  One member of the public was present.

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Filed under Sandown Issues, School Board Issues

Blame China

Dear Readers,

Apologies for missing two weeks of postings. You can blame the Communists in China.

Last night I returned from a 17 day trip to China  – just in time to catch Dr. Metzler on cable access TV in front of Sandown’s Board of Selectmen.  But I digress.  In preparation for my trip, I had banked a couple of postings, intending to publish one each Sunday during the trip  in keeping with my promise to update my blog once a week by Sunday night.  Turns out that in addition to Facebook and YouTube, the Chinese government also blocks blogging sites like WordPress.com.  The sting of injustice was sharper than the bite of frustration.

I’m back in the saddle now, thankful for the freedom to blog.  Thanks for staying with me and stay tuned.

Donna

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SAT Scores by School Coming!

Parents looking to see how Timberlane students compare with state and national averages would do well to check SAT scores.  Unfortunately this information hasn’t been available on the DOE site recently.  Speaking to the DOE this morning, I learned that just yesterday, Oct. 4, they received SAT scores by school for last year.  Unfortunately, the data needs some work to tease it into a useful format for publication on the DOE site, but they suggested we keep checking back. It will be found in the school profiles area, somewhere in here, I would think:  http://my.doe.nh.gov/profiles/

Let me know when you see it, please, and let’s hope for the best.

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SAU Size vs. Salaries – more than it appears

Yes, it is true, SAU 55 is the fourth largest SAU and Mr. LaSalle was the fifth highest paid superintendent, but from the information below, you can clearly see salaries are not pegged to enrollment in any fast and steady way.

Let’s compare SAU size with superintendent’s salary.

  Students                                    Superintendent’s salary 2012

Manchester, SAU 37:  15,536                                                     $165,471.50

Nashua, SAU 42:           11,894                                                      $135,810

Exeter, SAU 16:               5,639                                                        $133,131

Timberlane, SAU 55:     5071                                                         $138,679

See anything out of whack here?  Also, keep in mind that our former superintendent had very generous benefits, so much so that his cost to the SAU on retirement was $55,000 for assorted accumulated benefits. The point to that observation is not to pick at an old wound, but to point out that these figures in some cases may not fully reflect the facts. This info shows only the salaries and not the total benefits which in the case of SAU 55 were extensive.

It is important to be aware of this as I worry that current SAU contracts may be similarly out of line, despite arguments from others to the contrary.

See the SAU enrollment rankings here:  http://www.education.nh.gov/data/documents/sau11_12.pdf

Salaries here http://www.education.nh.gov/data/documents/salaries11-12.pd

CORRECTION:  Mr. LaSalle’s salary is showing on the DOE list as 5th highest in the state – not fourth as previously stated.  (Oct. 24, 2012)

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SAU Begins Contract Review for Staff

The SAU board agreed to begin a review of SAU staff contracts at their October 3rd meeting.  This initiative appeared to be at the instigation of the chairman, Mr. Mascola.  Mr. Bealo, who was involved in researching superintendent contracts, stepped forward to take on the project. It will be interesting to see the terms of these contracts and what the board now thinks is reasonable especially in light of the far more responsible contract they established for Dr. Metzler.

The public perception of SAU salaries was addressed by Mr. Stokinger, the SAU’s Business Administrator.  He spoke about the state ranking of Mr. LaSalle’s salary as well as that of the Assistant Superintendent and his own salary – all of which are available on the DOE website, and which I referenced in a recent post.  http://www.education.nh.gov/data/documents/salaries11-12.pdf

According to the DOE’s information for 2011-2012, Mr LaSalle had the fifth highest salary for a superintendent in the state.  Mr. Feneberg had the fourth highest salary for an assistant superintendent in the state, while Mr. Stokinger had the second highest salary for people functioning as business administrators in the public school system. (Mr. Stokinger put himself somewhere “4th, 5th, maybe 6th” by his own calculations which had some refinements to the job classification involved with the DOE’s list.)  Attempting to put these salaries in context, Mr. Stokinger said that at the time SAU 55  was the third largest in New Hampshire based on enrollment. What we don’t know in this salary comparison is the TOTAL compensation of these salaried administrators.  This is where the review of all the SAU staff contracts will get interesting, as it did with Mr. LaSalle’s.

Apart from the factual fogginess about total compensation, the argument that SAU size should determine compensation is something that should not be accepted unexamined. Compensation should always have a large element based on performance.  In this case performance means student excellence. If SAU 55’s enrollment keeps declining due to student migration to better schools – and we know this to be a factor anecdotally – perhaps both compensation methods will arrive at the same conclusion. Except when that happens, the focus will shift from student numbers to the value of assets under administration… Taxpayers will always be chasing their tails unless clear performance goals are established for our highest paid academic administrators.  I look forward to seeing these promised goals soon.

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