Monthly Archives: November 2014

Budget Committee Starts Growing Facial Hair

Last night  the Timberlane Budget Committee  instructed the administration to return to the next meeting with a budget showing zero percent increase.  I wish I could have been in the room to smell the rush of testosterone.

Budcom had previously instructed the administration, by vote on April 10th, to deliver a flatline budget.  As though that had never happened, the administration presented a budget with a 2.75% increase.  And they released this budget 2 weeks later than last year. The administration did do one thing right however; they showed the budget committee the long-lost courtesy of releasing the budget online a week before the meeting. In previous years, they smacked it down on the desk at the start of each meeting without having given anyone the benefit of advance study.

Deliberation of the draft budget was cut short with many questions left unasked by Mr. Green. After the vote to require the submission of a flatline budget, no further deliberation on the budget occurred. Believe me, there were many questions to be asked.  Here are a few of my own:

  • Why have legal fees gone up 72% over what was expended in 2013?  If the district is going to say that is because of Right to Know requests, then you should be asking two questions:  why are you running to lawyer with RTK requests instead of simply answering the information demands?  What are you doing as an administration that is generating so many RTK requests?
  • Why is the budget  reflecting  a $12,000 increase in “Cleaning Services” when Mr. Hughes said two weeks ago at a Budget Committee meeting that the increase in rubbish removal is only $6,000?
  • Why was staffing not adjusted in this draft? (For example:  Driver’s Ed is a cancelled program yet the teacher’s salary of $80k is still in the budget.)
  • Why are 2014 expenditures still showing just $61 million? If that’s all you spent to the end of June 2014, why are you asking for $8 million more with fewer students?

Many Irregularities in Last Night’s Meeting

There were a lot of  machinations taking place behind the scenes of this meeting.

The first involved how this meeting was noticed. By long practice, all meetings are noticed by posting the agenda in two public places as well as by wide email broadcast and online posting.  Last night’s meeting should have had extra vigorous notice because it took place on a Tuesday instead of the normal Thursday night. The opposite occurred. No email broadcast was done and a physical  posting has not been confirmed. The agenda was not even emailed to members of the Budget Committee.

When Mr, Stokinger was asked about this irregularity with the agenda, he said that Budcom’s meeting schedule was publicly posted and that met the legal notice requirements.  He’s correct, (and the law needs to be changed) but you have to wonder why tacking a schedule to a bulletin board some time ago would satisfy the district’s own interest in telling people about important meetings.  I mean, don’t they care about telling people about their meeting agenda?

One of the nice things about having a blog is that I get to answer my own questions.  Here’s my speculation:  the irregularities served to keep others  from knowing the agenda for this meeting.  With luck, maybe one person in particular would have been kept in the dark until it was too late — Arthur Green.

On October 23, Mr. Green gave a devastating presentation to the Budget Committee on comparable school districts and their staffing numbers (How Much Is Enough rev Oct 19).  Compared to comparable districts, most with better academic outcomes, Mr. Green concludes that our district is overstaffed by 76 people without touching our special education program.  Mr. Collins, who is a member of the school board and not the budget committee, somehow managed to push his way onto last night’s agenda, without discussion or vote of the committee.  He was permitted to give a slide show aimed at refuting Arthur Green’s presentation.

Could it be that the unusual treatment of the agenda posting was done to give Mr. Collins the possibility of sideswiping Mr. Green with a surprise presentation?  Collin’s presentation was posted on the Budcom Sharepoint site on Friday, Nov. 21 in the afternoon .  Mr. Green discovered it when he checked the website on Saturday looking for the agenda.

I’m genuinely glad someone took the trouble to respond to Mr. Green’s argument.  I’m merely objecting to every single detail of the way it was done.

Even more concerning than the disturbing irregularities with the agenda  was the presence of  a quorum of the School Board at this meeting: Collins, Blair, Bealo, Sapia and Steenson. Collins spoke at the Budget Committee meeting as a member of the school board.  Blair spoke as liaison to the school board on Budcom. The others just listened. There is no doubt this was school board business being discussed in the presence of a quorum of the school board.  That is a meeting – an unnoticed meeting.  Not only was this school board meeting not noticed, no one told me about Mr. Collin’s presentation or the school board’s intention of being at the Budcom meeting to hear it.

These are the games the people running your school district play.  The Budget Committee seems to be entering adolescence. It is too bad the School Board is stuck in Fifth Grade.

In Other News

Late Friday, Nov. 21, I emailed the School Board Chair, Nancy Steenson to request an appointment at the SAU to review contracts and invoices. So far I have not received the courtesy of a reply, let alone an appointment.  All the information I am asking for is public and readily available at the SAU in physical files.  I ask for an appointment to give advance notice to the staff to collect the documentation.  If they need more advance notice than a full working day and a half, as they had in this request, then I would be happy to adjust my request and schedule to accommodate.

Request for contracts and invoice examination 

Donna Green <>

Nov 21 (5 days ago)

to nancypetunia, Arthur, Cathleen
I would like to review the following contracts at the SAU office:
Rubbish removal
Office supplies through WB Mason
All special education service providers
All contracts with SERESC
All contracts with NESDEC
Contract with the outside school nurse employment firm
At the same time I would like to review the invoices for the last two cycles. Monday or Tuesday before 2 pm would be fine.
Thank you,
UPDATE  Dec. 2, 2014:  Received at 6:08 pm 12/1/14
Hello Donna,

This office is in receipt of your request dated November 26th (received today) to view numerous contracts.  You provided a timeframe of before 2pm on Tuesday, December 2nd(tomorrow) in which to make them available for your review.

Unfortunately, many of the contracts you are requesting are maintained within other departments (special education, student services and facilities).  I am happy to request copies of these contracts on your behalf; however, it is not possible to collect them all before 2pm tomorrow.

I will check with those departments tomorrow for an estimated timeframe as to when these documents can be made available.  As far as NESDEC is concerned, I will need to research when Timberlane became an affiliate/member as this occurred many years ago and my first glance into the general file did not see any such contract.   The district pays annual dues; but does not sign an annual contract.

Regarding your request to view the invoices, the November 20th run is available immediately.  The previous run has already been filed.  Mr. Stokinger is happy to provide you with the same checklist information he provided to you in the past regarding runs that have already been filed with the option to pull invoices as needed.

Have a good evening,



Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Budget Committee

Arthur Green Calls Out Budget Gamesmanship

Listen to School Budget Committee member, Arthur Green, talk about the issues and challenges facing him and the budget committee on Girard at Large.  Another outstanding interview to bring you up-to-date on a dysfunctional budget process.

Arcane Info or basic budget requirements? Girard Nov. 24

 CORRECTION Nov. 26, 3014:  I impetuously called into Mr. Girard’s radio show early in the morning of Nov. 24 to respond to the discussion of the SAU’s Right to Know policy.  During that conversation I mistakenly confused an SAU meeting with a Timberlane School Board meeting.  I felt incredibly stupid because I simply misremembered what happened at which meeting when the issue was discussed.  The SAU meeting in question was not captured on Vimeo.  (This was the meeting in which the SAU chairman was pushed into resigning.) This is the second time I’ve confused an SAU meeting with a Timberlane meeting.  When you’re arguing with the same people over the same issue, it is easy to lose track of what meeting is what.  Apologies to listeners.



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Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Budget Committee, Expenditures, Right to Know issues, SAU 55 Issues, Taxes, The Mushroom Farm

Complaint to the Office of Public Integrity

Nov.24, 2014

Dear Attorney General:

We submit the attached letter of complaint for your attention with the faith that you will forward it to the appropriate investigative team under your supervision.
The first attachment in this email is our letter of complaint concerning the Timberlane Regional School District and SAU #55 for a repeated pattern of withholding public information for political purposes and charging people in elective office for that information. The second attachment is a very detailed history of municipal budget law violations at Timberlane supported by extensive documentation we have uploaded to Google drive. The budget infractions are just a part of our larger complaint.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and we hope to hear from you soon to learn who will be investigating our complaint.
Donna Green
Arthur Green


Filed under Budget Committee, Expenditures, Non-public session abuse, PR hire, Right to Know issues, Sandown Issues, SAU 55 Issues, School Board Behavior, Spanish Consultant Contract

The Monthly Video Address

Superintendent Metzler publishes a monthly Superintendent’s message on video.  Here is my feedback on some of his statements in his latest release of Nov. 21.

Tax Rates:  Who Takes Credit?

The school tax rates are lower primarily because of a windfall of returned money from the Local Government Center’s HealthTrust plan, and the fact that voters gave the district a default budget. The voters are primarily responsible for the lower tax rates.

Putting Kids First and Listening to Qualified Individuals

Superintendent Metzler praises our district for putting kids first.  I guess that is unlike other school districts. From my observation about bloated staffing levels, it seems to me our district puts employment first and the interests of families second.  Families have to be able to afford to live in our communities and we are squeezing them out with tax rates nearing $30 a thousand in Danville and Sandown. Public education has to be saved from its own tendency to self destruct by runaway costs unrelated to quality educational outcomes. I’m glad our superintendent promises to put kids first so long as that isn’t code for “Cutting the budget hurts kids,” because that is absolutely false in a district with almost as many staff now as it had seven years ago even though enrollment is down by almost nine hundred students.

As for listening only to “qualified individuals,” that is eduspeak for not listening to elected officials like the school board or the budget committee – your representatives in local government.  If Superintendent Metzler wants to listen only to “qualified individuals,” I would suggest he reach out to other superintendents who deliver stronger academic results with far fewer resources.  We’ve given him the list. He should check it.




Filed under Sandown Issues

Your Board at Work Doing All the Wrong Things

Here are two very telling clips  from the Nov. 6 Timberlane School Board meeting.  Watch it if you want to understand why your School Board is so impotent.

Better to Ask Forgiveness Than Permission

In this first clip you will first see me make a motion to review a publicly announced educational goal of offering online courses for credit. (This was announced during the department heads’ presentations of their budgets at the PAC in October.)  Developing online courses has never been discussed at the board level or anywhere else it seems. When Superintendent Metzler was asked directly if he had instructed a staff member to pursue this goal, he would not give a straightforward answer. See my motion go down in flames.

Refuse to Put Contracts Out to Bid

Then (at 6 minutes, 36 seconds) I make a motion to have the rubbish removal contract go out to bid because at the same public session in the PAC, the Facilities Director said the contract had gone up $12,000.   I asked about the length of the existing contract and when it was last put out to bid.  I could not get an answer out of Mr. Stokinger, who despite being asked, refuses to bring his computer to a meeting. Some districts post this information on their websites.  In our district school board members can’t even get an answer. Watch the school board tie itself into ridiculous knots worming its way out of not putting this contract to bid.

For the record, the Facilities Committee does not deal with contracts. That was a complete canard. It hardly needs to be said that this is your tax money being gobbled up by an inexplicable refusal to put contracts out to bid. (At the beginning of the meeting not captured on these clips, the board voted against getting competitive quotes for our liability insurance.) You should also watch Ms. Steenson make a virtue of ignorance by protesting that contract review is not the job of the board. Subsequent to this board meeting, Mr. Hughes announced to the Budget Committee on Nov. 13 that he had made a mistake and the rubbish removal service is going up only $6,000 and not $12,000.

Have Serious Errors in Financial Projections

Next there is Mr. Stokinger publicly admitting that he was in error when he projected hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra Adequacy Aid for the district with the expansion of full-time Kindergarten. Thank you to Arthur Green for catching an error so material that it changes the whole financial complexion of the program. (One of the sheets Mr. Stokinger “regenerated” and distributed at the subsequent Nov. 20th school board meeting still included the erroneous Adequacy Aid. Sigh…)

Use Illegal Non-public Sessions to Hide Discussion of Issues

And finally, in the second clip,  you will see the board going into yet another illegal non-public session. Why am I claiming it was illegal?  The topic concerned facilities and this is not a permitted exclusion under the Right to Know law.  The board deliberately misstates the Right to Know law provision under which non-public sessions can be called to make it seem this topic is permitted. They call it safety and security, but the RSA is exclusively for terrorism. When Mr. Collins called for a non-public under 91-A, subsection (i), I read the SAU’s version of the so-called RSA out loud.  A day later I  checked the actual RSA and found, as I had thought, that what was purported to be the RSA wasn’t the RSA at all!

This is what the SAU self-servingly misconstrues as the provision in the RSA allowing non-public discussion.  It is this which  I read aloud at the meeting:

i) Consideration of matters relating to preparation for and the carrying out of such emergency preparations to prevent widespread injury or loss of life [security].

Here is the actual RSA:

(i) Consideration of matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of emergency functions, including training to carry out such functions, developed by local or state safety officials that are directly intended to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life. 

Even without the benefit of the actual RSA, the moment I learned what the non-public was about, I motioned to exit non-public because the public, I said,  had a right to know the information we were discussing.  My motion didn’t get a second and the non-public session lasted 20 minutes.


Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Expenditures, Fill-time Kindergarten, Non-public session abuse, Pinocchio Academy, School Board Behavior, School Board Functioning, The Mushroom Farm

Superintendent Metzler’s emails to Sandown BOS

The SAU board added a new full-time staff person to the SAU budget for a cost of $80,000.  Perhaps the new staff person will be able to take over the burdensome responsibility of smearing my reputation to the Sandown Board of Selectman.  Below are some select emails concerning me from Superintendent Metzler to Sandown’s Town Administrator over a period of some months.  Each email chain is in reverse chronological order.

Email ONE: 

From: Metzler, Earl []

Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 10:57 PM
To: Lynne Blaisdell
Subject: Fwd: agenda item requests for August 28,2014
So…if each member submitted 4 items…we would have an agenda with 36 items…not to mention the real work…..if each item took 15 minutes…I think you get my point.
Dr. Earl F. Metzler
Sent from my iPad
Begin forwarded message:
From: Donna Green <>
Date: August 19, 2014 at 8:31:47 PM EDT
To: nancypetunia <>, TRSD School Board <>, Rob Collins <>, Peter Bealo <>, sue sherman <>, Rick Blair <>, Kate Delfino <>, “Kelly Ward” <>, michael mascola <>
Cc: <>
Subject: agenda item requests for August 28,2014
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
Email TWO:
—–Original Message—–
From: Metzler, Earl []
Sent: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 12:23 PM
To: Lynne Blaisdell
Subject: Follow up to my email
Lynn – Please note the correction….this is an example of what the Board has been trying to communicate. Earl


Email THREE: 

From: “Belcher, Catherine” <>
Date: October 10, 2014 at 12:18:02 PM EDT
To: Donna Green <>
Cc: “Metzler, Earl” <>, Nancy Steenson <>, “Nancy Steenson (2)” <>
Subject: FW: Audio problem on TRSB Vimeo
 Good afternoon Donna,
Dr. Metzler has been informed that you are communicating with district staff members
to obtain free professional services for personal reasons.  It is his understanding
this is not the first time you have done so.
He directs that any further requests to use district resources in either your
capacity as a school board member or taxpayer, needs to be submitted to
through the proper channels (School Board chair or the Superintendent).
Kindly refer to attached school board policy BHC.
In closing, Dr. Metzler indicates he would be more than happy to help you with
any requests that assist you in performing your duties as a school board member.
Have a good afternoon,
 Cathy Belcher
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
and Assistant Superintendent of Schools
Serving the Hampstead and
Timberlane Regional School Districts
Begin forwarded message:
From: Donna Green <>
Date: October 10, 2014 at 9:31:46 AM EDT
To: Dean Zanello <>
Subject: Audio problem on TRSB Vimeo
I can’t get the audio to play on the TRSB Vimeos.  Audio plays on all other files on the Vimeo site.
Could you help me figure out what my problem is please?
Many thanks,
From: “Metzler, Earl” <>
Date: October 10, 2014 at 12:33:51 PM EDT” <>
Subject: Fwd: Vimeo Audio?
Dr. Earl F. Metzler
Sent from my iPad
Begin forwarded message:
From: <>
Date: October 10, 2014 at 12:33:34 PM EDT
To: Donna Green <>
Subject: Vimeo Audio?
Donna – I have checked the audio from several computers and it appears to be working just fine. I am not sure what the issue with your equipment is.
Respectfully, Earl Dr. Earl F. Metzler
Sent from my iPad


AttachmentsOct 10
Donna Green <>
to Richard, Catherine, Earl Donna Green <>
Dear Ms. Belcher:
Could you please be more specific in your accusations?  When exactly did I communicate “with district staff members to obtain free professional services for personal reasons”? Please specify all instances in which you believe this to be true.  What were the services requested and what were the personal reasons?
I await your response.
Thank you,
Donna Green
Email FOUR:
From: “Metzler, Earl” <>
Date: July 24, 2014 at 6:16:18 PM EDT” <>
Subject: Fwd: Report
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
Begin forwarded message:
From: “Metzler, Earl” <>
Date: July 24, 2014 at 6:14:47 PM EDT
To: Donna Green <>
Cc: Nancy Steenson <>, “Belcher, Catherine” <>
Subject: Report

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
Subject:  Factual Errors….
From:  “Metzler, Earl” <>
Date:  Wed, Aug 20, 2014 7:23 am
To:  Nancy Steenson <>, Lynne Blaisdell <>
Attach:  image001.jpg
Nancy – Good morning! Many factual errors continue to be publicized and
politicalized by DG.
1 – There was never a “no trespass” notice issued. We are trying to protect both
a Board member and the employees from what occurred earlier this summer.
Scheduling visits and having her review documents in a public videotaped setting
protects everybody, including her.
2- We never charged or brought charges against DG. I simply turned the
investigation over to the PPD once I read the report and watched the video.
I have not taken any action and await the police report. Whatever they decide
is fine by me.
3- She has not cooperated with the PPD, hence this is being dragged out.
4 – The employee apologized for raising her voice. Although this is true she
should not have apologized for telling DG that what she was saying, the tone in
which it was being delivered was accusatory, disrespectful and harassing. All
victims should confront their aggressor to let them know it is not okay and that
they are offended by this type of interaction.
This is one event…and I could go on. She continues to disrupt and misrepresent
the Timberlane District.
Respectfully, Earl
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
SAU 55
Superintendent of Schools
Serving Timberlane and Hampstead
Phone: (603)-382-6119 Ext. 2217
Fax: (603)-382-3334
Email SIX:
From: Metzler, Earl []
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 3:19 PM
To: Lynne Blaisdell
Cc: Belcher, Catherine
Subject: Fwd: SN Incident
No question about the student’s well being….pretty clear what she is concerned with. Very sad!Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
Begin forwarded message:
From: “Belcher, Catherine” <>
Date: October 28, 2014 at 12:59:45 PM CDT
To: “Metzler, Earl” <>
Cc: “Stokinger, George” <>
Subject: FW: SN Incident
See Donna’s question below.  Not sure if she intends to ask this at a meeting or if you wish anyone to respond.
Cathy Belcher
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Schools
(603) 382-6119(603) 382-6119 ext. 2217
Serving the Hampstead and Timberlane Regional School Districts
 CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:  This e-mail message and any attachment to it is intended only for the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged materials.  Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited.  If you are not the intended recipient, or the employee or agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail, delete this message and destroy all copies and backups of the original message. 
 From: Donna Green []
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 12:52 PM
To: Belcher, Catherine; Nancy Steenson
Subject: Re: SN Incident
Who pays for the ambulance in this situation?
A private email to Arthur Green:

From: Metzler, Earl []
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 4:20 PM
To: Green, Arthur Z
Cc: Belcher, Catherine
Subject: RE: Request for information

Mr. Green – Is it okay to communicate with you on your company email during company time? I was not sure if this violated your company policy on the use of social media and online activity 3.5.1. Please let me know and I’ll be sure to pass it along.

Respectfully, Dr. Metzler

3.5.1 Use of Social Media and Other Online Activity

Use good judgment in your use of social media and other online

activity. Your postings on Internet sites may include the fact that you

work for xxxxxxxxx, your job title, a general job description

and your office location, but you should not include any information

related to the Company’s business including references to — or

information about — specific clients, suppliers, employees, projects,

transactions, applications or technologies you may be involved with

or knowledge/expertise you may have by virtue of your job duties

with our Company. Don’t post, seek or provide recommendations,

endorsements or referrals by or of other employees, customers or

suppliers (current or former) unless you are authorized to do so. For

more information see our Social Media Policy.

Dr. Earl F. Metzler II

SAU 55

Superintendent of Schools

Serving Timberlane and Hampstead

Phone: (603)-382-6119 Ext. 2217

Fax: (603)-382-3334


Gentle readers and taxpayers:  You are not paying for my emails.

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Filed under Expenditures, Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, Taxes

Stern Letter to Superintendent Metzler

The following email was sent to Superintendent Metzler yesterday by Cynthia Buco.  Ms. Buco is a Sandown Selectman who yesterday received yet another in a string of derogatory emails sent to the Sandown BOS by Superintendent Metzler about Sandown’s elected representatives; namely myself and Arthur Green.  Ms. Buco gave me permission to reproduce her letter.  Please note that she is writing as a private citizen.

Subject: Fw: Bud Com
Reply-To: Cindy Buco 
Superintendent Metzler
You ask Lynne to share this email with the BOS from Sandown.  She has so graciously has honored your request as she has in the past.  Can you please explain why you wanted this shared with the Board?  It is not very clear to me.  It seems that you are frustrated in the email but I am not sure if you are expecting the BOS to address this in some manner.
I tried to watch the last Bud Com meeting as you mention to do and the Vimeo is not yet posted. 
I try to attend meetings when possible to keep abreast of the activities of both the School Board and the Budget Committee but when I can’t I do watch the Vimeo recordings.  My observations are not very pleasing however.   I am actually quite offended with the lack of respect that is shown to the Elected Officials and I have to tell you that I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism that you are portraying in this email.  Being a Superintendent of the Timberlane School District I expect much more.
I am now going to ask that you stop addressing the Elected Officials with disrespect and when information is requested that you provide it timely and with the respect an Employee of the District should show to an Elected Official.  There should not be a need for a Right to Know request because you should honor the law and provide information to the Officials as it is required of you and your staff.  It is outright insulting that you charge these individuals who are also Taxpayers for this public information, to do a job they were elected to do.
The information that is required for the Bud Com Member to fulfil their duties should have already provided to them freely and openly and should not even need to be asked for.  The information requested is available as the District has a very robust accounting system and reports should be able to be accessed very quickly and easily.  If this is not the case I would be more than happy to take a trip to the office to review the system with Mr. Stokinger and have him walk me through why these documents are either difficult to access or not available. 
I would like to see you work together with the Elected Officials of Sandown in a more cooperative manner and anything I can do to help facilitate that I am more than happy to assist.  If that is your intention by sending the email than please let’s move forward in a professional manner respecting each other.
Cindy Buco
Her email was in response to this one from Superintendent Metzler.  It was sent to the Sandown Town Administrator.
From: Metzler, Earl []
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2014 8:01 AM
To: Lynne Blaisdell
Subject: Bud Com
Lynne – Same old same old with our friends. Our Budget Committee has committed to a process to review the budget and has stuck to it. The complaining continues because if it does not go my way I will demand documents that either we don’t have or we have not produced yet. Then make it a RTK request and complain that they are not being honored. I even moved Bud Com to let AG make his presentation (which concluded with very offensive remarks). They (Bud Com)  were pushing that presentation out to December because it interfered with the agenda that they ALL agreed to. Please share with your BOS. Please watch the last meeting…it will become even more clear how ill prepared and misinformed a certain member is. Thanks, Earl
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
SAU 55
Superintendent of Schools
Serving Timberlane and Hampstead

For the record, Mr. Green made no offensive remarks during his profound, insightful and devastating presentation (linked below) or at an other time.

Mr. Green is  ill-prepared and misinformed?  That’s a howler.  It was Mr. Stokinger and Superintendent Metzler who misled the entire district by publishing financial analysis claiming the district would be gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars of Adequacy Aid with full-time kindergarten.  Mr. Green is the one who nailed this inexcusable miscalculation in a letter that has still not been acknowledged, though Mr. Stokinger publicly admitted the error. That’s how ill-prepared and misinformed Mr. Green is.

Yesterday Arthur Green drove to the SAU office and paid the district $20 for a Right to Know request for public information about the basis for the tax rates in the four district towns.  This is your open and transparent school government at work for you, exerting themselves to keep your elected representatives uninformed by withholding information.

Thank you to Ms. Buco for watching all the meetings and understanding the mudfest that the Superintendent has started. Tomorrow I will be posting other insulting emails he has sent to the Sandown Board of Selectmen concerning me.

UPDATE 11/20/14:  Rich Girard of Girard at Large radio show reports that there are more than 30 emails of a similar nature sent from Superintendent Metzler to the Town Administrator in Sandown.  He learned this through a Right to Know request yesterday which Ms. Blaisdell responded to immediately. I will be posting tomorrow some of the emails I already knew about from my own avenues.


Filed under Fill-time Kindergarten, Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, SAU 55 Issues

How Things Work: PR continued

Here are two meeting clips, four months apart, that show a contradiction about the intention of the Community Advisory Committee in recommending (or not) a professional PR person for the district.   Given that the September minutes of the CAC are not yet released, there is no way to know whether what we see here is an evolution of position or a less kind interpretation.  Perhaps someone from the CAC will step forward and set the record straight.

In the first clip, from May 29, the school board liaison for the Community Advisory Committee (CAC), Kate Delfino, speaks of the CAC’s recommendation which  she said did not necessarily envision hiring a professional PR person. In fact, Ms. Delfino firmly denies that a professional hire is required by the CAC.

Now here is a clip from the school board October 2 meeting.  While the board was discussing a Request for Proposal for professional PR services, Ms. Delfino says that hiring a PR professional came out of the CAC recommendations where they felt strongly a professional PR person was needed:

This matter of fact is important because the CAC is going to be taking the public blame for recommending the expenditure of taxpayer money for a spin doctor which the school board is about to hire. Will the real decision maker please step forward.

You can view the entirety of any meeting at where at the bottom of the page you will see “School Board Vimeos.”




Filed under Expenditures, PR hire, School Board Issues

Urgent Right to Know Requests Made – UPDATED

The Timberlane Budget Committee has two meetings left before they are expected to approve the budget – three if you count Dec. 23, which is invariably cancelled – yet THEY HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN THE FULL BUDGET.  There is somewhere in excess of $67 million dollars on the line.  This is an insult to conscientious members of the budget committee and an outrageous disservice to taxpayers. Very simply, your elected officials do not have enough time to fully digest and understand a budget of this scope.  Last year the full budget was presented to the budget committee on Nov. 4 and even that was too late given the small number of meetings the budget committee schedules.

I believe these delays are ploys to hobble the budget committee whose ineffectiveness is guaranteed by late information.  This year, late information serves the administration’s purposes even more than usual.  Arthur Green, Cathy Gorman and I will be hosting a Town Hall meeting on Dec. 7 about the proposed budget.  The less information we have about the budget, the less we can share with taxpayers and families. What is needed and should have been provided long before now are the full expenditures and the full revenues for the proposed budget. The revenues are important in order to understand the future tax impact which is never a subject of budget committee deliberations.

If you happen to watch the budget committee meetings on TV, you might think the committee is working, but what they have discussed to date is extremely fragmentary and decontextualized departmental budgets without salary information. This is a good start but it is only a start. Departmental budgets are a small fraction of the overall budget.

Especially disturbing is the administration’s failure to provide full financials for the 2013-2014 year that ended June 30, 2014 – more than FOUR months ago!  Information about the last completed fiscal year is needed to analyze the proposed budget in light of previous history. Without this information, the last year we have is 2012/2013 which is three full years from the budget being worked on now.

As a result, Arthur Green, Budget Committee member from Sandown, has been forced to make repeated Right to Know demands of the district concerning budgetary information,  Once this information is provided, we will have to pay for it at 50 cents a page out of our own pocket.  Unfortunately, we are getting used to paying for public information we need to do our job. Below are Mr. Green’s time sensitive emails asking for information.  Not one of these emails has been answered or even acknowledged to date.

NOVEMBER 2, 2014

Dr. Metzler,
This query is intended for Mr. Stokinger, and I have .cc’d him for everyone’s convenience.
At the last budget committee meeting, we briefly discussed the posting of financials.  I see that the September report has been posted, and thanks for that.
We also discussed the final report for the 2013/14 year end, with complete revenues and accurate encumberances.  I do not see that report posted, my apologies if I have not found the correct folder.
Not mentioned at the meeting, I would also like to request the comparable August and September monthly reports for 2013… so far only July is posted.
Finally, since the towns are now reviewing the tax figures for the November tax bills, I would like to request the tax allocation calculation (3 pages) as would appear in the 2014 annual report, similar to what was shared with Budcom last fall.
Thanks very much for your attention to this request.
Arthur Green
NOVEMBER 9, 2014
Dr. Metzler
Please consider this a formal Right to Know request under NH law for the following documents:
Tax allocation details for 2014/15, covering the details typically provided in the Tax Assessment section (3 pages) of the district’s annual report:
  • Proration factors based upon equalized valuation
  • Proration factors based upon ADM
  • Apportionment of appropriations
  • Summary of town-by town Operating Assessment, Capital Assessment, Education Grant, Impact Fees, and Total Assessment Required from tax sources
I am extremely disappointed that I am obliged to resume Right to Know requests for information that I need to execute my duties on Budget Committee.
My attached request, as well as several other information requests over the past few weeks, have not even been acknowledged, although in some cases they have been actioned:
  • The monthly and year-end financials requested in the attached note were posted to the district web site on Nov. 6.
  • Mr. Stokinger responded to a question by Mrs. Green at the Nov 6 School Board meeting, acknowledging that the district’s budget analysis of free full-time Kindergarten should not have included additional adequacy aid of $234,000.  The administration did not acknowledge (or reply to) my note of Nov 2 pointing out that the adequacy aid formula for Kindergarten is capped at half day participation.  This materially changes the budgetary impact of offering free full-time kindergarten.
  • On October 26 I asked for clarification on whether the A12 staffing filings do or do not include vacant positions.  I also asked for information on district-aligned positions which are not included on the school-by-school staffing reports.  No response, no acknowledgement.
  • On October 26 I responded to a note from Mr. Stokinger, in which he provided some public web links about some of the special ed providers used for out-of-district placements.  Mr. Stokinger indicated in this note that he believed it responded to my request at budget committee for itemized information about those placements.  No response, no acknowledgement.
  • On October 22, I asked about the source and methodology of the enrollment forecast for 2015/16, since the district is forecasting enrollment substantially higher than the NESDEC forecast.  No response, no acknowledgement.
Some of these latter items may not be subject to Right to Know, as I am not in a position to demand an existing public document.  However, all are material to our current activity in defining a fiscally responsible budget to support a quality education.
Please comment on how I can expect these and similar requests to be dealt with.
Arthur Green                                        
NOVEMBER 15, 2014
Dr. Metzler,
Please consider this a formal Right to Know request under NH law for the following documents:
  1. Year-end expenditures and revenues for the 2013/14 year, documenting the budgeted and actual expenditures for all items which are covered on the 2014 Annual Report, including (but not limited to) the following items not included on previously-provided financial reports:
    • Transfer from unassigned fund balance
    • Fund transfers: Food Service Fund – 5221
    • Fund transfers: Federal Projects – 5222
    • Fund transfers: Performing Arts Ctr Programs – 5223
    • Grand total Expenditures
    • Grand total Revenues
  2. A complete list of encumbrances as of June 30, itemized by Function code/object code
I would note that this information had been promised during the Oct. 23 budget committee meeting, and had ostensibly been fulfilled with files posted by the district on the budget committee sharepoint on Nov. 6.  I noticed that the posted file showed incomplete expenditures, and brought it to Mr. Stokinger’s attention at the Nov. 13 budget committee meeting, at which Mr. Stokinger exhibited surprise that I would have expected the financial reports to show the complete year-end revenue and expenditure position.
As a budget committee member, I consider it outrageous that we are expected to deliberate the 2015/16 budget without having complete facts of the 2013/14 year which ended over four months ago.  I also consider it an affront to the taxpayers who expect this work to be dealt with seriously.
Arthur Green
UPDATE 11/22/14:  Arthur picked up the first Right to Know demand (RTK) on Oct. 19th and paid $20 for 40 pages only one of which was needed to fulfill the demand. He picked up the other RTK demand on Oct 21, paid $7 and found it non-compliant in that it did not include full expenditures and full revenue as requested. The full draft budget for 2015-2016 has been released.


Filed under Sandown Issues

More on Bloated Staffing

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

I have demonstrated that Timberlane school district is grossly overstaffed , due to a persistent failure to manage staff levels in line with declining enrollment (presentation to Timberlane Budget Committee, Oct. 23).

I have shown that the district could reduce 76 full-time positions and still

  • have more staff resources than comparable districts with stronger academic results
  • maintain the current level of special ed teachers and aides
  • maintain the current level of kindergarten staff

None of my factual material has been disputed, and there have been no arguments rebutting my conclusions.

One objection has been raised in the blog discussion thread which I would like to deal with in detail – that the staffing level I am recommending would result in increased class sizes, particularly in the context of elementary school, where Timberlane applies maximum class sizes as a matter of policy.  (Note:  My recommended staffing level is based on comparing districts using standard NH DOE metrics.  I’ve previously illustrated the relationship between Class Size and Student/Teacher Ratio using Danville Elementary School as an example.)

Let’s look at the class sizes in the five comparable districts which have stronger academic results (2013/14 stats from the NH DOE web site – School and district profiles):

First, let’s note a few observations, remembering that all these districts have a lower staffing level (higher student/teacher ratio) than Timberlane:

  • Keene has lower average class sizes than Timberlane (despite having elementary students distributed across 5 schools instead of our 4.
  • Salem has about the same average class sizes as Timberlane
  • Keene, Merrimack and Salem all have average class sizes within Timberlane’s policy maximum. Hudson’s average exceeds Timberlane’s maximum only in 1 grade.

Of course, average and maximum are possibly very different. Looking at the school-by-school breakdowns one can learn that Hudson, the district with the highest student/teacher ratio, would need to add only 3 teachers to comply with Timberlane’s maximum class size policy. Bedford would need to add only 4.

Based on my proposed staffing model, Timberlane would have 16 more regular ed teachers than Bedford, and 21 more than Hudson.

Conclusion: Under my plan, Timberlane would have ample teachers to maintain the current maximum class size policy if that is how the district prefers to prioritize its use of resources.

Keep in mind that the five comparison districts all have stronger academic results, so it is definitely worth questioning whether strict maximum class sizes are the right priority to deliver a quality education.

Update:  Thanks to a friendly reader for the offline suggestion that I add some discussion of the distinctions and relationships between class size and student/teacher ratios.  I added a link to my previous case study of Danville Elementary.

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Filed under Sandown Issues