A Citizen Speaks: Arthur Green’s first address to the school board

Presentation to the Timberlane District School Board

March 20, 2014

My name is Arthur Green, of Sandown.  I am scheduled to be sworn in to the Timberlane Budget Committee in a few days, but I appear today as a private citizen.

This being the first meeting since election day, this is the Board’s first opportunity to deliberate the rejection of the proposed budget, and the resulting changes needed to operate on default budget for 2014/15.

I was surprised and concerned to learn from coverage in the Eagle Tribune March 14 that Dr. Metzler plans to carry on with the Full-Day Kindergarten which was the principal new feature of the proposed budget.

I don’t wish to debate the merits of this program, on which there are differences of opinion.  I wish to focus exclusively on the implications of the default budget.  The default budget does not include the new Full-time Kindergarten positions, benefits and furniture purchases, which means that the program is not funded.

As a voter, my expectation is that Full-time Kindergarten has been eliminated from the budget. I believe that my expectation is widely shared, particularly amongst those who voted against, and defeated, the proposed budget.

I am fully aware that the district operates on a bottom-line budget, and that funding can be redirected from the approved budget lines. However, budget training material published by the LGC in 2012 entitled “The Municipal Budget Process” states that a default budget means a budget freeze, and no new purposes.

No Full-Time Kindergarten.

It may well be that the Timberlane District has legal advice that there is no prohibition to proceeding with the program if the money can be reallocated within the voted default budget. But I do not see how the district can take that course yet still claim to have heard the message sent by the voters.

No Full-Time Kindergarten.

The program is claimed to be funded by fees, so the board may hope that there is no net expenditure. But the voted default budget restricts expenditure regardless of the claimed offsetting revenue.

No Full-Time Kindergarten.

On March 14, Dr. Metzler released a video with the very alarming suggestion that the coming (2014/15) year would not be passing on a “significant” surplus to the 2015/16 year. Every dollar of surplus spent in the coming year is an additional dollar to be raised in taxes the year after.

Timberlane has deliberately carried forward a significant surplus from year to year – for the past five years it has been consistently about $2 million. I have repeatedly heard this surplus defended in budget committee as a prudent buffer against unexpected emergencies, and I agree with the need for a contingency.  The 2015 default budget fully funds all non-discretionary increases from the 2014 baseline, so adhering to the default budget is no justification to draw down the surplus.  If the Full-time Kindergarten program is truly self-funding as claimed, it gives no reason to draw down the surplus.

If the surplus is spent, the consequences for the December 2015 tax bill will be severe. For example, in Sandown the December 2014 school tax bill will go up an average of 7.6% based on the default budget alone. If we did not have the $2 million surplus this year, that increase would double to 15%.  We don’t know yet, of course, what the school tax rate will be for 2016, but without the surplus to offset it, it will be a catastrophe to many taxpayers of this district.

I have two requests to make of the School Board.  I call upon you to vote up or down on the Full-Time Kindergarten program. This program is contrary to the clear intent of the voters in holding the district to a default budget. If it proceeds despite that let it be because this board takes a vote.

Second, I call upon you to give direction to the administration that the surplus must be conserved. If the district proceeds to spend all the funds allocated through the default budget, let it be because this board takes a vote.

I look forward to taking my place next week on the budget committee to help the district deliver an excellent, effective, affordable education program for the students of our towns.

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under Fill-time Kindergarten, School Board Functioning

11 responses to “A Citizen Speaks: Arthur Green’s first address to the school board

  1. @ Lisa, I agree with citizen for making these points. From what I see the Greens are clouding the information to better serve their purposes. I too am trying to read and gain information on all these issues the best I can,yet I work 2 jobs, go to grad school and am raising 3 teenagers alone, so my time is limited but even I can see the huge discrepancies in what is going on. One example is the SAU and School budgets are seperate, but at the deliberative session Mrs. Green added them together to make it seem like the school budget was much higher than what it actually is! That is presenting misleading information and she knew exactly what she was doing.

    My question is why are the Greens so against anything to do with educating our children but not concerned with how their own town governement is running things?

  2. Citizen

    @ Lisa – the Green’s have posted a copy of the consultant contract on the home page of this blog. Thank you Arthur and Donna. I see nothing in the contract that defines a “working day,” only a cap of $50,000 based on $480 per day. The number of hours worked per day is not mentioned. I guess, in that respect, it’s not much different than a salaried position. Given that, I would hope that person in that consultant position would make the ethical decision to make each workday busy and productive.

    I do not see Dr. Metzler signing off on the contract either – this was signed by the Chair of the school board. At face value, one cannot say that the district hired Mrs. Metzler because she was the superintendant’s wife. There is nothing corroborating that. If there was something else going on, you will need to learn, as I will need to learn, by talking with board members, about how the process proceeded.

  3. Citizen

    @ Skeeter – I love the literary references. Please don’t drop toilets on my lawn, though… Skeeter’s character was a whistleblower, of sorts. Go ahead and prove me wrong. All I’ve said is based on what I’ve seen and information from people I’ve sought information from. Hilly was an evil, godless person who was bigoted and spiteful. I am none of those things.

    I do apologize to you personally if I offended with the “sheep” comment, but many DO follow blindly based on the loudest voice. Many just don’t take the time to look at the real facts themselves. We all live in a busy world.

    I continue to say – Don’t trust me, but don’t trust the Green’s either. Educate yourself.

    • Skeeter

      At face value, one cannot say that the district hired Mrs. Metzler because she was the superintendant’s wife. There is nothing corroborating that. If there was something else going on, you will need to learn, as I will need to learn:

      http://www.seresc.net/about-us/board-of-directorsexecutive-board
      Our Leadership
      SERESC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
      Mr. Richard LaSalle – SERESC

      SERESC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
      SAU #55 – Timberlane/Hampstead, 30 Greenough Road, Plaistow, NH 03865
      Dr. Earl Metzler, Superintendent
      SAU #95 – Windham, P.O. Box 510, Windham, NH 03087
      Mr. Winfried Feneberg, Superintendent

  4. Citizen

    Skeeter – I know that the former superintendent went on to SERESC, and Winfried Fenberg was formerly at the SAU. It DOES look fishy and fraught with issues, but its not something that can be proven by simply noting the leadership. It STILL doesn’t prove nepotism. I’d prefer not to jump on this unless I have more facts. Its good to point out that something could be amiss, but there’s nothing solid to complain about… For me, I will listen and learn for now….

    • Skeeter

      Dr. Metzler sits on this organization’s Board and SERESC was the only organization SAU 55 requested a bid from.

      SERESC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
      SAU #55 – Timberlane/Hampstead, 30 Greenough Road, Plaistow, NH 03865
      Dr. Earl Metzler, Superintendent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s