As a member of both the Timberlane School Board and the board of SAU 55, I have asked to have numerous items placed on the agenda for public discussion. So far, every single one of my requests has been denied. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this means that issues of concern to Sandown residents are deliberately not being discussed at school board and SAU meetings. This is not an issue of personalities; this is an issue of the majority oppressing the minority. As your elected representative, I am being prevented from doing my job which is asking questions and getting to the truth of matters.
Here is my first agenda request made to the chair of the school board on March 27, 2014:
These are items I would like added to the agenda so we can address them specifically at our forthcoming meeting on April 3.
1) Decision and action on SB being given monthly line item report of expenditures;
2) Discussion and action re: expenditure of formerly projected $1.9 million surplus
3) Status of Spanish program in kindergarten and in elementary schools
4) Understanding the deliverables in the Spanish consultant’s contract
Here is my second request in reply to a board email from the SB Chair:
April 1, 2014
This issue should be an item on our agenda.
On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM, Nancy Steenson wrote:
This has been a very difficult week with the press and people on Facebook misrepresenting facts, which has caused a PR nightmare for me personally, for the Board, and for Timberlane. If you are contacted by people who are angry with you, the Board or Timberlane in general, I would like to suggest the following:
- If they are asking questions about Sweeney Todd, the Board was not part of that decision. It was never discussed by the Board, as is it not within our purview. There will be a forum to discuss the issue in the high school library Wednesday night, April 2 at 5:30 pm, and it will be open to the public. This would be a good opportunity to hear from high school administration directly, as well as a chance to ask any questions.
- The School Board rules have been taken out of context and misrepresented. They are not my rules as newly elected Chair; they were voted on by a majority of the Board because we have been doing business that way for years. There has been tremendous backlash to this, and we will revisit this topic on Thursday when we reconvene. We will not revisit it before Thursday night, because we will not have an opportunity to meet before then. I will not, as Chair, comment before then, because we need to come to a consensus on this together.
As always, you are very capable of speaking with your own constituents, so please do as you see fit.
Thanks to all of you for your support during this difficult time!
On April 1, Nancy Steenson replied to me that the School Board Rules issue was still before the district’s attorney and would be addressed during “the adoption of the minutes.” (Dealing with an extremely substantive issue during adoption of the minutes? Highly irregular, but I let it pass.) As for my other agenda items and the issue of correspondence, she said “our agenda is too full” and invited me to make a motion under “Other Business” to have them added to our next meeting. Of course I did subsequently make four motions at the meeting under “Other Business” and all four motions failed, mostly for lack of a second. These are uncomfortable topics. Why discuss them in public when you can just shut down a dissenting member and be done with it?
Now the SAU board chair is also thwarting my agenda requests.
Here is my first request to the SAU Chair:
May 16, 2014
On May 19th the SAU Chair replied that the Right to Know issue is a district issue and not an SAU issue, and that Dr. Metzler’s raise would be discussed in non-public session at the forthcoming meeting. (I would reproduce his entire email but unless I warn my correspondents ahead that I may publish their private emails to me, I publish only those emails sent to a quorum.) I replied as follows: