What Does the District Have to Hide? UPDATED

UPDATE:  TWO DAYS AFTER THE POST BELOW, THE REQUESTED STAFFING INFORMATION WAS PROVIDED BY DR. METZLER ON JAN. 21, AT  2:13 p.m. 

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As a School Budget Committee member and as a private citizen through the Right to Know law, I have been trying to obtain the number and general classification of staff in the district for the current budget year and the proposed budget year.  The district has refused to give me this information claiming it is not “available.” As a result, I have not been able to determine how much the staffing in the district has grown in the last year.  I know that the proposed budget includes 10 net new positions but I cannot determine how many net new positions have been created since June 30, 2013.  Why is the district refusing to release this information?  At the Hampstead school district’s public hearing for the budget, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Wilson was fully forthcoming about the staffing metrics in Hampstead for their proposed budget. What has Timberlane got to hide?

The staffing matrix that I’m requesting is published in every annual report; however, the most recent information available during budget deliberations was for the 2011-2012 year.  Based on my repeated requests, the administration released the 2012-2013 staffing matirx on the evening of Jan. 15, less than 24 hours before the public hearing.  I am demanding the staffing matrix for the current budget year and the proposed budget year. It’s important to note that the school budget committee approved a budget without this staffing information for three years!

To show you my efforts to obtain this information and the refusal of the district to release it, I offer you this enlightening email exchange between me and the school board chairman, Mr. Rob Collins on January 17th, two days after my first Right to Know request for the staffing information was denied.

Jan. 17, 2014

Mr Collins and Dr. Metzler:
This is an official Right To Know request for information.

Please provide the following for the school district currently:

Number of teachers

Number of assistants

Number of administrators

Number of secretaries

Number of service facilities staff
Number of cafeteria staff
Please provide the following on which the 2014-2015 district budget is based:
Number of teachers
Number of assistants
Number of administrators
Number of secretaries

Number of service facilities staff

Number of cafeteria staff

The intent of this request is to gain information consistent with the staffing matrix as published in each annual report, so I can compile this matrix myself. A breakdown by school is not required. If you decline this request, state specifically the reason(s) for so doing.
Thank you,

Donna Green

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Rob Collins, Jan. 17, 2014
Mrs. Green,

 How is this different from your previous request?
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Donna Green, Jan. 17, 2014
Why are you refusing to provide this information?  Please provide the reason as required by law.

Thank you.

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Rob Collins, Jan. 17, 2014
Mrs. Green,

As I stated in my original response, that information is not available.
—————————————-
Donna Green  Jan. 17, 2014
So I’m to understand that the SAU drafted a budget that includes salaries and benefits for an UNKNOWN number of employees/positions?  And that the current budget is also paying salaries and benefits for an UNKNOWN number of positions?
I will be going to the attorney general next as this is patently incredible.
————————————————————————————————-
Donna Green  Jan. 17, 2014
To: Budget Committee Members
Budcom members,

Hampstead’s public hearing provided the public with a detailed staffing matrix with full transparency.  Their budget is also DOWN this year.  I draw Mr. Collins’ attention to pages 23 and 24 in this document where the staffing matrix was fully provided by Dr. Wilson without a Right to Know request but as a matter of course. So Hampstead has this information and they are asking taxpayers for less this year than last year.  Our district supposedly doesn’t have this info…. no wonder it needs a 2.5 million increase.
https://hsdsp.hampstead.k12.nh.us/SchoolBoard/Board%20Documents/2014%20PUBLIC%20HEARING,%20DELIBERATIVE%20SESSION%20AND%20ELECTION%20RESULTS%20MATERIALS/2014-15%20PH%20on%20Budget%20and%20Bond.pptx

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There has been no reply from any member of the Budget Committee nor the administration.  I have drafted a letter to the Attorney General. My original request for this specific staffing information was on Dec. 9, 2013 as a budget committee member.  My subsequent requests have been as a private citizen under the Right to Know Law. Cathy Gorman, the other Sandown respresentative on the school budget committee, has also had to resort to a Right to Know request.

4 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

4 responses to “What Does the District Have to Hide? UPDATED

  1. Mark Acciard

    HERE is the truly sad fact here, according to STATE BUDGET LAW, RSA 32:17;

    ” 32:17 Duties of Governing Body and Other Officials. – The governing bodies of municipalities adopting this subdivision, or of districts which are wholly within towns adopting this subdivision, shall review the statements submitted to them under RSA 32:4 and shall submit their own recommendations to the budget committee, together with all information necessary for the preparation of the annual budget, including each purpose for which an appropriation is sought and each item of anticipated revenue, at such time as the budget committee shall fix. In the case of a special meeting calling for the appropriation of money, the governing body shall submit such information not later than 5 days prior to the required public hearing. Department heads and other officers shall submit their departmental statements of estimated expenditures and receipts to the budget committee, if requested.”

    In other words they have NO RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PRODUCE ANY DOCUMENTATION REQUESTED BY THE BUDGET COMMITTEE.

    HOWEVER, TRSD BudCom has a long and documented history of failing to follow the law. Just ask the clueless former chair, Michelle O’Neill who could not tell me ANYTHING that might be in the single largest line in the budget.

    UNDER THE LAW, the Budcom is supposed to PREPARE THE BUDGET, not simply sit there and nod when the superintendent presents it.

    The FACT is that TRSD operates at a cost of MORE THAN $17,000 PER CHILD! unfortunately while charging Private school prices their educational product falls woefully short of the mark.

    • Mark,

      Thank you for your comment. Just one small clarification: the gross per pupil cost will be $17,583 IF THE PROPOSED BUDGET PASSES. In the current year, the per pupil gross cost is $16,570. (Gross per pupil cost is the total district budget divided by the number of students.) Yes, the district should be embarrassed that two of its budget committee members have had to resort to Right to Know requests to get information that the district was already legally compelled to provide.

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