Monthly Archives: August 2014

Censure Letter: My Greatest Hits

The board presented me with a letter of censure tonight.  You might think it would contain things I regret, but in fact it has done wonders for my self-esteem.  All the excerpts they have taken from my blog and my emails to the board indicate a hard-working person with a flair for clear expression.  I stand by every single word attributed to me in that censure letter.  The board simply doesn’t like what I said.  My reply at the meeting to this censure letter will be posted when it is up on Vimeo.

In the meantime, read the letter and figure out, if you can, what they find so heartily objectionable,Letter of Censure Aug 28 or watch the video of the when the censure letter is read, followed by my response.

My prepared reply

You might also notice that the censure letter did not come on official letterhead nor was it signed by the Chairman.  It is nevertheless an official board document and what they handed me at the meeting.  And just exactly when did the rest of the board see this voluminous letter so that they could vote in the affirmative?

The whole meeting is here: 



Filed under My censure, Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior

SB Agenda: Censure Top Billing, Most Substantive Issues Last

A drunken sailor eventually runs out of money and wakes up sober.  In our situation, there is no running out of other people’s money.

In the fiscal year just ended, the district spent $3 million dollars more than in the previous year with  150 fewer students to educate.  Only one time in recent history has our spending increased that much in one year – and that was when we introduced kindergarten.

On July 8, I requested the school board chairman add to the July 16 agenda “discussion and action on a hiring freeze,” but that request  was completely ignored by the chairman. Now we have learned that Dr. Metzler has hired 65 people  – the vast majority of them over the summer while the board was on hiatus.

Well in advance of the August 28th  agenda, I requested discussion of a spending cap, but that item, like every other agenda request that went before it, never made it to the agenda because, as you can see from the agenda below, it is more important for the board to discuss Eagle Scout projects and the PAC event calendar than to take a sideways glance at the financial issues facing the district.

Remember these thwarted agenda items when you open  your tax bill this December and it ruins your Christmas.

Here’s the agenda for next week’s school board meeting:


1. Call to Order – Chair
2. Roll Call – Clerk
3. Pledge of Allegiance
4. Approval of Minutes
a. June 19, 2014 meeting
b. July 16, 2014 meeting
5. Delegations or Individuals
6. Current Business
a. Letter of Censure – ACTION (5 minutes)
b. Eagle Scout Project* – ACTION (10 minutes)
c. Life of an Athlete Donation – ACTION (5 minutes)
d. Unified Basketball – ACTION (5 minutes)
e. Atkinson Academy Police Training Site – ACTION (10 minutes)
f. Summer Projects Update – INFORMATIONAL (10 minutes)
g. Summer Professional Development Update – INFORMATIONAL (10 minutes)
h. PAC Event Calendar – ACTION (5 minutes)
i. School Board Venue – ACTION (5 minutes)
j. Ratify Summer Hiring – ACTION (2 minutes)
k. TSSU Intent to Negotiate – ACTION (5 minutes)
7. Administrator’s Report
a. Update on School Activities – INFORMATIONAL
8. Personnel Report
9. Committee Report/Reports of the School Board
10. Correspondence Folder
11. Vendor and Payroll Registers
12. Other Business
a. Non-public (if needed)


These are other agenda items I’ve requested in the past be added to our regular agendas.  Every single request has been denied, ignored, or voted down by the board.

March 13, 2014:

  • Request for then Chairman, Mr. Collins to put 91-A concerns about emailing a quorum on the agenda.

March 27, 2014 to Mrs. Steenson:

  • Request to discuss board receiving monthly expenditure reports
  • Request to discuss $1.9 million surplus
  • Request to learn status of Spanish program
  • Request to discuss the deliverables of Mrs. Metzler’s consulting contract

April 1, 2014 to Mrs. Steenson:

  • Request the ACLU issue with the School Board Rules be added to the agenda. Instead it was addressed under acceptance of minutes in a highly unorthodox move that kept it off the agenda and therefore much easier to conceal.

April 18, 2014 to Mrs . Steenson:

  • Discussion of future assessment methods in light of Common Core changes

July 8, 2014 to Mrs. Steenson:

  • Explanation of lateness of Auditor’s Report
  • Update on budgeted line item overruns
  • Discussion and action on a hiring freeze
  • NESDEC enrollment projections for next 9 years (showing a 1000 student decrease)


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Filed under Sandown Issues

My Agenda Requests for August 28, 2014

UPDATE  August 20, 2014:  Mrs. Steenson has once again declined to include any of these items on the agenda and has also declined to invite the auditor for our planned discussion of the auditor’s report.  The agenda has not yet been posted.


This is an email sent on August 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm addressed to the Chairman of the Timberlane School Board.

Dear Mrs. Steenson:

I would like to request the following items be added to the August 28 agenda:
  • Discussion and action on proposed spending cap on TRSD 14/15 budget
  • TRSB email policy and disposition of emails
  • Discussion and action on the No Trespass order issued to Donna Green
  • I would also like to have the auditor present for a the discussion of the auditor’s report as I have a number of questions.
Thank you.
Donna Green

Since being elected in March, not a single one of my agenda requests has been placed on a regular agenda. I will now be posting my agenda requests every month for the benefit of voters.


Donna at SAU

Here I am at the SAU office today examining invoices (August 19, 2014).  My request to Dr. Metzler to enter the building today was made on August 6th.  A morning admission was requested but a 2 pm time was granted .  I was told that my usual desk in the SAU office was not available due to end-of-year paper work. Thank you to Tony Piemonte for accompanying me to the SAU office, helping examine the invoices and for snapping this photo.  It is an interesting experience having to seek permission from an employee (Dr. Metzler) to enter a building I theoretically supervise as a member of the Timberlane and SAU boards, but such is the nature of a no trespass order.


Filed under Budget 2014-2015, Expenditures, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, School Board Functioning

Green Threatened with Criminal Charge – update

UPDATE:  At 5:05 pm,  August 18, Lt. Baldwin left me a voice message inviting me into the police station on August 19 or 20th saying he had a few questions in order to close the file.  When I returned home, I sent him an email saying that I had decided not to meet with him since I have learned of his past service on the Timberlane School Board.

Here is the timeline of the action Dr. Metzler has taken against me which has culminated in police involvement. For background on “the incident” that was used as a pretext for what follows see my blog posting of July 24, “Target Acquired!
July 24, 2014     6:14 pm
Mrs Green – Today it was reported to me that you were both disrespectful and harassing to several employees. Of course I will investigate this report and if validated I will need to limit your access to the SAU. This is both disturbing and unfortunate. I will also be consulting with both the Plaistow Police Department and district council.
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
July 28   4:55 pm

Mrs. Green,

It has been reported to me that an investigation is being conducted by the Superintendent’s office concerning your interactions with an SAU staff member on July 24, 2014.  Until such time as the investigation is complete, you are hereby barred from entering upon the SAU #55 premises without the expressed written permission of the Superintendent of Schools.  Dr. Metzler will make appropriate arrangements for you to conduct your duties as a school board member.


[Nancy Steenson, Chiarman Timberlane REgional School Board]



Dear Mrs. Green,

I have been assign to  investigate an incident that occurred on July 24, 2014 at approximately 11:30am at the SAU 55 Office . This incident took place at the SAU 55 Office which is located at 30 Greenough Road, Plaistow, New Hampshire.

On August 1, 2014 at 8:52am, I received an e-mail from my Communication Center Supervisor stating you had called the Plaistow Police Department and requested a return phone call in reference the incident at SAU on July 24, 2014. The call back number you left was  974-0758. On the same day I returned your call between 3-3:30pmapproximately and was unable to make contact with you. However, I did leave a voicemail. The purpose for me reaching out to you at this time, is to have you come down to the Plaistow Police Department give your side of the incident. I also will need a written statement completed as well. I look forward to your cooperation in this investigation.

Please give me a call today (August 4, 2014) so we can set up the interview.   I  certainly appreciate in advance your time and cooperation in this matter.


Lt. William M. Baldwin

Operations Lieutenant/Emergency Management Director

Plaistow Police Department

27 Elm Street

Plaistow, New Hampshire 03865

Dispatch:    (603) 382-1200

Office:          (603) 382-1200 ext. 326

Fax:              (603) 382-4172

Cell:              [redacted]



August 5, 2014   10 pm

Dear Lt. Baldwin:

Please forgive my delay in responding.  Here is a signed written statement concerning July 24.  If you have any further questions, please call me before Friday, August 8th as I will be in Canada for a week without easy phone or computer access, returning on August 15, 2014.
Thank you,
Donna Green
[The statement says the same thing as my blog entry but with names.]
August 5, 2014  10:05 pm
Lt. Baldwin,
I would like to see and copy the security recording at the reception desk for the time period I was in the building.  Did you in fact order the SAU not to release this recording for viewing?
If so, could you give me an indication as to when this recording will be available to me?  It should be completely exculpatory and I do hope you have viewed it.
Thank you and best regards,
Donna Green
August 6, 2014 9:03 am
Dear Mrs. Green,

I appreciate the email you sent yesterday and the written statement.  However, I need to speak with you in person because I do have questions related to the July 24, 2014 incident. Please let me know when you can come to the Plaistow  Police Department either this afternoon or tomorrow. Thank you very much .


August 6, 2014   11:50 am
Dear Lt. Baldwin,

I am available this afternoon at your convenience.  Please name the time and I’ll be there.  Could you tell me how long this might take as I have some other errands to run in Plaistow.
Thank you,
Donna Green
August 7, 2014 1:06 pm
Dear Lt. Baldwin:

As we weren’t able to connect yesterday, could you please tell me the status of the investigation?
Do you know yet if you are gong to be laying charges?
I wanted access to the building today to review invoices but permission was not forthcoming.  Could you tell me my status with respect to my access to the SAU building if you don’t lay charges?
This is a very odd situation with respect to an elected official (who did absolutely nothing wrong) so I do hope we can resolve this matter soon.
Thank you,
Donna Green
August 7, 2014 1:19 pm

Dear Mrs. Green,

I appreciate your email.

In respect to yesterday, I was in a meeting all day( August 6, 2014).

I need to sit and talk with you in reference the incident on July 24, 2014. I have a some questions that I need clarified by you. I cannot be rushed or be on place a time crunch while I am interviewing you. So your cooperation is need and I need you to call and make appointment as soon as it is convenient for you. I realize you are going away, however I did reach out to you twice prior to your first email to me so I could speak with you.

Again, this is an ongoing investigation. You stated this is an odd situation with respect to an elected official. In actuality it is not odd situation. Harassment depending on the circumstances can be a very serious situation.

As far as your access to the SAU building, I do not control that nor do I have any say whether you can go in there or not. That issue is between you and the District/Dr. Metzler.

Please let me know when you can sit down and speak with me at the Plaistow Police Department.



August 7, 2014  2:27 pm

Dear Lt. Baldwin:

My lawyer is not available today.  As it happens, he and I are going on vacation at the same time.  He will be back in the office on August 18th at which time I will get back to you.

Thank you for your patience.


August 7, 2014 2:55 pm

Dear Mrs. Green,

I appreciate the email.  Certainly it is your option to bring a lawyer, but not necessary at this time. My purpose of that statement is  to get your side of the incident.  Please call when you can to set up an appointment as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time.


Shortly after this exchange I left a voicemail message with Lt. Baldwin telling him of my (generous) availability upon my return from vacation and asking him to call and leave a message as to when he would like to see me.  So far, he has not emailed or called.

Lt. William Bladwin was formerly the chairman of the Timberlane Regional School Board.  He served on the school board with many of the same people who censured me: Mr. Mascola, Mr. Collins, Mrs. Steenson and Mr. Bealo.  Mr. Baldwin is currently the chairman of the Atkinson Board of Selectmen.

Readers should know that no one from  the school board has contacted me about my censure which occurred in my (deliberate) absence from a meeting; neither has anyone from the school board or the SAU board contacted me about the no trespass order issued by Dr. Metzler which restricts my access to the SAU building – except to announce it to me; nor has anyone from the school board or the SAU contacted me about the cause for the initial argument with the SAU employee.  The reason for this is clear.  It is not the issues which are important here, it is only the attempt to discredit me that matters.




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Filed under My censure, Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior

Thank You Sandown! Green Citizen of the Year!

To my surprise and profound honor, I was chosen to be this year’s Citizen of the Year.  Being away at a wedding in Canada instead of selling hot dogs at the LIONS tent as normal on the first weekend in August, my husband agreed to accept the award and read a prepared (and sealed)  speech. Though he is half of all I do, it was fun to put words in his mouth.  Here is what he read:

Old Home Day Committee members, Citizen of the Year jury, the two kind souls who nominated me and the many kindred spirits who signed the nomination petition, thank you, thank you, thank you! This honor moves me deeply especially because of the extraordinary citizens who have been honored in years past. I cannot compare to those whose dedicated service to Sandown is measured in decades if not entire lifetimes.

Not only is my length of service to Sandown modest by comparison, but I am sure none of the good people who have come before have experienced as I now do, a special tingle knowing this award will spite their enemies. In truth, this most appreciated recognition comes at a particularly difficult time. I am in the fight of my life on the school board.

Little did we know when this good-looking guy and I moved into town seven years ago that Sandown has a long history of political activism. We forgot to have that checked with our well water. We also didn’t expect the warmth, the strong sense of community and the support of so many people who understand the fight and are grateful for the service.

And at the risk of embarrassing my mouthpiece, I have to thank Arthur for his unfailing support through my civic participation, and especially all his work teasing out information about the school budget and now, his own political activism at the school budget committee.

Thank you Sandown for this recognition. I hope one day to be worthy of it. Thank you Sandown, for being our home.


Filed under Sandown Issues

Free SportsPhysical Clinic for Students on Thursday

This just in from Access Sports Medicine, the Athletic Trainers for Timberlane…

Good Morning,

I am writing to let you know that we are hosting a FREE Sports Physical Clinic tomorrow (8/7) from 5-7pm at our office at 13 Plaistow Rd in Plaistow.  No appointments are necessary and students will be seen on a walk-in basis.  All area students are welcome to attend and receive a sports physical.  We do request a $5 donation for each physical and all proceeds will be returned to that student’s school athletic program.

If you cannot make it tomorrow, we are hosting two additional clinics, Monday, 8/11 in Rochester (323 Gonic Rd) and Tuesday, 8/12 in Exeter (1 Hampton Rd).  All clinics are held from 5-7pm and no appointments are necessary.

Thank you for your help in spreading the word and please let me know if you have any questions!  More information can be found at

Eric Cimon

Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics

Exeter – Portsmouth – Plaistow – Raymond – Rochester


c: (603)370-7037


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Timberlane Voters: Act now to prevent tax increase

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

Arthur Green and Cathleen Gorman sent the following to the local papers:

Dr. Metzler, Superintendent of the Timberlane Regional School District, told the Plaistow Selectmen on Jan. 27 2014 (quoting minutes on the meeting):

“ .. the district is accustomed to an approximately $2 million surplus consistently every year. If we were to come here without the surplus the tax rate would be hit hard the following year.”

But on March 14 this year, days after the voters imposed a default budget, Dr. Metzler released a video on the Timberlane web site with the very alarming suggestion that the coming (2014/15 year) would not be passing on a “significant” surplus to the 2015/16 year. This message was reiterated during the July 16 School Board meeting.

If our accustomed $2 million surplus is spent, in Dr. Metzler’s own words the tax rate will be hit hard… and this for the third consecutive year.

The impact would be equivalent to a $2 million tax increase next year, simply as a result of the district spending its full voted budget.

Here’s a snapshot of what we are proposing:

$67,336,000 : current voted budget for 2014/15

$65,336,000: spending cap with set-aside of $2 million for surplus

this is $1 million more than was spent in 2013/14

to educate 160 fewer students (4%) than 2013/14

enrollment has decreased by 300 students since the 2012/13 school year

In the 2013/14 year the just ended:

spending was up $3 million over previous year

enrollment was down 3.6% over previous year

The taxpayers need the district to limit its spending to preserve our accustomed $2 million surplus and prevent a third year of big tax increases in Sandown and Danville. Such a spending cap would be in keeping with voter expectations when the budget was deliberated last winter and approved in March.

When Timberlane School Board next meets on August 28, there will be a move to direct our administration to cap spending at $65,336,000 unless in case of unforeseen, non-discretionary emergency needs.

Timberlane taxpayers, call your school board representatives to make sure they understand how important you think this is to preserve affordable education in our district.

More details on this issue are available at

The undersigned are not writing on behalf of the Timberlane Budget Committee.

Arthur Green and Cathleen Gorman

Sandown Representatives on the Timberlane Budget Committee

For the last six consecutive years, Timberlane has run on average a budget surplus of approximately $2 million dollars, mostly by underspending the approved budget.

At the end of each year, the unspent balance is passed forward to the next year as revenue, and offsets an equal amount of taxes in that year.

If the $2 million surplus is consumed in 2014/15, then the budget for 2015/16 will lack that $2 million offset.  This money will need to be raised by an increase in property taxes.  For context, $2 million was added to the tax bill in the current 2014/15 year  and school taxes are estimated to go up about 8.2% in Sandown, and 9.1% in Danville.  We’ll know for sure when the tax bills come out in late November. Spending the surplus built into this year’s budget would result in 3 consecutive years of large tax increases for Sandown and Danville.

A spending cap would still provide ample resources for the district to provide a quality education, keeping in mind the ongoing rapid drop in enrollment.  Since 2008, enrollment is down 19%, and the budget is up 17%.

The Budget Committee  has been repeatedly reminded  when scrutinizing underspent lines that preserving the surplus is a necessary buffer against unexpected contingencies.  The budget committee has respected that and recommended budgets with margin for the unexpected.  It now turns out that the unexpected contingency is an administration prepared to fully expend the voted budget.

Taxpayers voted a default budget.  They expect it to be respected, and not turned into a punishment.

Timberlane School Board meets Aug. 28.  Call or email your School Board representative to urge them to support a spending cap.  Once spending plans are committed, the impact on next year’s tax bills will also be committed.

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, Budget Committee, Expenditures, School Board Issues, Taxes

Overexpenditures DO REQUIRE SB VOTE

Last week on this blog we proved that the receipt of more than $1 million from the LGC HealthTrust did, in fact, require a public hearing despite the School Board’s claims to the contrary at the special July 16th meeting.  (See July 26th post )  Now let’s destroy the other claim made by the School Board at this meeting; namely, that the School Board doesn’t need to vote on overexpenditures.

Here are the School Board Chairman’s  exact words from the July 16th meeting,  (Time: 2:40:00  – 5:45:00)  If you become befuddled, it is because Mrs. Steenson is talking utter nonsense, but please continue reading.  Your taxes depend on all of us understanding the sophistry at play here.

Mrs. Steenson:

The first item I’d like to address is policy DBJ – Transfer of appropriations. I’d like to begin with some prepared words and then open it up to the board.

I’d like to address the issue of variances in the 2013/2014 budget.

First of all I’d like to remind the board and the public that we operate on a bottom line budget. We are given $65 million, give or take, by the taxpayers of our four towns, to run our school district. Some line items are over budget, and some are under budget. It is all legal and ethical.

Policy DBJ, which has come into question by some, requires approval of the school board to transfer funds over $5,000 between object codes.

Policy DBJ does not require school board approval to appropriate or spend more than $5,000 on any one item.

To illustrate this, because I’m not a budget person and I’m gonna assume some of you aren’t either, imagine a ledger sheet with two columns. The left side of the page is the planned budget for every line item and the right side of the sheet is the actual appropriation or money spent for every line item.

A transfer of funds results in a change on the left side of the ledger sheet, the planned expense. A transfer of funds has nothing to do with the right side of the ledger, or what is actually spent.

At the end of our fiscal year it is common to show variances. Some line items are over budget, and some are under budget, as I said before.

If we were to transfer funds as needed for expected expenditures, then we would not show any variances at all at the end of the school year. It is the practice of this district not to transfer funds as needed. The variance that results transparently shows the board and our taxpayers where we overspent and where we underspent. A transfer of funds would have negated that.

We exceed our budget on line items that we’re well aware of, such as the high school modulars the board approved last spring, or line items over which we have limited control, such as utilities,  due to the increasing cost of heating oil.

It makes no sense at all to keep moving or transferring funds from code to code to cover such variances.

In summary, the superintendent and business director cannot and do not overspend our bottom line budget, nor do they require board approval to overspend or underspend on any individual line item.

Do any members of the board have any questions or comments?

SEE  segments 2:57:00  TO  5: 44:00  AND ESPECIALLY   6:45:00 – 7:00:00

First, some vocabulary.  A budget line approved by voters is the APPROPRIATION.  “Appropriation” means simply setting aside for a purpose.  In order to pay a positive variance in a budget line, a transfer of appropriation must take place (per NH budget law RSA 32:10). Policy DBJ says that when the variance is $5,000 or larger and the money is being moved between object codes, the School Board must approve the transfer. (An object code is a broad budget line identifier as presented to voters at Deliberative.)

Way back in October 2013 when I was on the school budget committee, I asked Mr. Stokinger about transfers of funds.  Here is Mr. Stokinger’s response to my question about transfers of money between line items in the budget.  Here he states that, by policy, overexpenditures of $5,000 or more must be approved by the school board.   It makes perfect sense:

So, Mrs. Steenson, I don’t know “whether you don’t understand or you don’t like it” (as you said to me in the July meeting), but you are wrong and you promulgated your misinformation at a public meeting called to specifically set the record straight. Furthermore, you should have known you were incorrect.  Only 5 months before, in February, you voted for a fund transfer from the High School to move funds from a math book account to a  math online access fee account.

Here is  an excerpt from the school board minutes of February 22, 2014:

A fund transfer was requested from the High School to move funds from a math book account to a math online access fee account to purchase a 6 year license and books for an online program for two different math programs.  Motion: Mr. Blair motioned to approve the transfer request of $6,271.04 for the High School online math program. Mr. Bealo seconded. With no further discussion the motion passed by unanimous vote.

Mascola: You don’t normally need our permission to do this.
Collins: Over $5,000… and if it changing object codes, I believe… so that’s why.

Furthermore, on May 22, 2014,  SAU employee, Cathy Belcher, circulated to all school board members the following email from Dr. Metzler [emphasis mine]:

May 22, 2014 at 12:56 PM, Belcher, Catherine <> wrote:
Due to the late cancellation of tonight’s school board meeting I want to inform you that under policy DBJ I will be spending approximately $120k on Guided Reading Libraries curriculum with funds originally budgeted for math curriculum. The math curriculum program change was not adopted by the board in June 2013. Although not adopted in June 2013, these monies were actually budgeted for and approved for spending during the 2013-14 school year. Some of the original funds were expended for math curriculum to support our current program. This literacy need has been identified as this is a top priority by our elementary principals. Again, per policy DBJ, the object code for these two curriculum items are the same, thus it is within my authority to authorize this purchase. Additionally, the deadline for this order is this Friday, May 23rd. Savings to the district for meeting this deadline is $26,221.50. Scholastic Classroom and Community Group indicated the order must be placed no later than May 23rdin order for us to receive this discount. It was my intention to bring this up at our board meeting tonight; however, due to the cancellation this email will now serve as my notice to you. Dr. Earl Metzler

It should be clear by now that Policy DBJ absolutely applies to overexpenditures on budget lines and that the TRSB has abdicated all fiscal oversight over the budget by twisting the interpretation of Policy DBJ at the July 16th meeting so that it is not only meaningless but absurd.

It is the intent of the School Board to limit its spending to the amount specified for each line item. However, the Superintendent is authorized to transfer funds between line items when necessary to achieve school Board policy goals, except that excess funds may not be transferred from the Unemployment Compensation line item. Any transfer of non-grant funds between object codes (expense code) that is $5,000 or more requires School Board approval in advance.
Statutory Reference: RSA 32:10;  RSA 282-A:71, III;   Per RSA 32:10

For a very detailed refutation of Mrs. Steenson’s “interpretation” of Policy DBJ, see the fabulous work of Cathy Gorman, Timberlane school budget committee member on this issue.  She kindly permitted me to reproduce her handout here.  It was originally given to the Sandown Board of Selectmen on July 28, 2014.

Ms. Gorman Proves Policy DBJ Applies to All Variences

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Filed under Budget Committee, Expenditures, My censure, Pinocchio Academy, School Board Behavior