Mr. Grosky’s Suspect Judgment

On Sunday night, Dec. 7th, Cathy Gorman sent an email on behalf of herself and Arthur Green to the entire Timberlane Budget Committee as well as the Sandown Selectmen.  In it she argues that Sandown Central School cannot be closed without a firm proposal that would honor the Articles of Agreement  of our cooperative school district, thus the budget proposal that is predicated on such a closing is not one that should be subject to deliberation by the budget committee at this time.

This is a serious matter and one that should be taken seriously by all elected officials in the school district. Mr. Grosky’s response doesn’t rise to the occasion. Any citizen has a right to petition their government for redress of grievances – even an oppressed budget committee member.

Here is Mr. Grosky’sreply to Ms. Gorman’s excellent letter:

———————————————–

sent 2014-12-07 21:42:43 GMT
Subject: Re: TRSD 2015-2016 Budget Draft version 2

Cathy,

Please refrain from conducting our business via email, which this clearly does. We have meetings in public to conduct our business.

Jason

———————————————–

I would think the correct response would be to say, yes, this will be on the agenda for discussion and I will ask the administration to address your argument.  But then, I don’t have a spouse contracted to the school district.  

Below is the reasoned email that elicited Mr. Grosky’s imperious reply. (The original email included the full Article of Agreement which I omitted for brevity but which can be found on Timberlane.net under “Documents.”)

———————————————–
sent Dec. 7, 2014  8:36 p.m.
Dear Budget Committee Members,
On behalf of Arthur Green and myself I am sending the following correspondence. Lynne, please forward to the Sandown BoS :
The draft 2 budget is not a viable option to comply with the Budget Committee direction to propose a flat-line expenditure budget.
A school closure is an action which requires studies, consultation and evaluation of alternative solution approaches, and cannot be responsibly be executed in less than 1-2 years.
There is abundant opportunity for cost reductions without closing a school, even if closure should be agreed to be ultimately necessary.
A serious closure proposal would honor the Articles of Agreement, which require that all students are educated in their home town for grades 1 to 5 (see below for additional information).
The committee should not deliberate or vote on a budget proposal which cannot be responsibly implemented. The administration has an obligation to provide this governing body with a flat-line expenditure budget with reduced expense and staffing practical for implementation in 2015/16; draft version 2 does not meet the BudCom request.
Below is information regarding the Articles of Agreement so the BudCom can better understand why we cannot cut the funding for Sandown Central from the budget for the 2015-2016 school year:
ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT AMONG THE TOWNS OF
ATKINSON, DANVILLE, PLAISTOW AND SANDOWN
PerRSA 195:18 Procedure For Formation Of Cooperative School District:
III. A cooperative school district planning board may recommend that a cooperative school district composed of all the school districts represented by its membership or any specified combination of such school districts be established. The planning board shall prepare proposed articles of agreement for the proposed cooperative school district, which shall be signed by at least a majority of the membership of the planning board, which set forth the following:
  • (a) The school districts which shall be combined to form the proposed cooperative school district and the name of such cooperative school district.
  • (b) The number, composition, method of selection and terms of office of its cooperative school board, all in accordance with the provisions of RSA 195:19through 23 inclusive, provided that the cooperative school board shall consist of an odd number of members not more than 15 for terms not exceeding 3 years.
  • (c) The grades for which the cooperative school district shall be responsible.
Language of section 3 of the Articles of agreement:
3. The Timberlane Regional School District shall be responsible for the public education of grades 1 through 12.
Pupils in the pre-existing districts shall be assigned by the Regional School Board to attend the elementary schools in the pre-existing districts in which they reside for no less than the first five years of formal schooling. Resident parents or guardians may voluntarily request that their grade 4 and/or grade 5 student(s)be assigned to another in-district public elementary school on an annual basis as long as seats are available and that no additional costs (transportation, etc.) be incurred by the School District. The Regional School Board may assign pupils to a school other than one in the pre-existing district in which they reside for the purpose of special education not available in the pre-existing district. Grades 6 through 12 may be maintained in central schools within the Cooperative District.
Our agreement clearly states grades 1-12
A child is required to attend school starting at the age of 6: 1st grade – RSA 193-1
Per the agreement; section 3:
Pupils in the pre-existing districts shall be assigned by the Regional School Board to attend the elementary schools in the pre-existing districts in which they reside for no less than the first five years of formal schooling
The only option a principal may have for a full day public program, according to state law, is if the district offers full day Kindergarten. Then, according to state law, compulsory education full time at age six can be achieved in a full day Kindergarten program.
To amend the agreement without a warrant article and majority vote:
Language of the Articles of Agreement; section 15:
15. These Articles of Agreement may be amended by the Timberlane Regional School District, except that no amendment shall be effective, unless the questions of adopting such amendment is submitted at a cooperative school district meeting to the voters of the district voting by ballot with the use of the checklist after reasonable opportunity for debate in open meeting, and unless two-thirds of the voters of the district who are present and voting shall vote in favor of adopting such amendment. Furthermore, no amendment to these articles shall be considered except at an annual meeting of the cooperative school district and unless the text of such amendment is included in an appropriate article in the warrant for such meeting. It shall be the duty of the cooperative school board to hold a public hearing concerning the adoption of any amendment to these articles of Agreement at least ten days before such annual meeting and to cause notice of such hearing and the text of the proposed amendment to be published in a newspaper having a general circulation in the district at least fourteen days before such hearing. Until the date of operating responsibility is assumed, the Regional School Board is empowered to call a special district meeting under the procedures outlined above for the purpose of amending the Articles of Agreement.
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26 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

26 responses to “Mr. Grosky’s Suspect Judgment

  1. Cathy

    I would like to make note of a comment by Mr Collins to my email: He stated the BudCom is not the governing body. He is correct; the School Board is the districts giverning body.
    The language he is refering to:
    The committee should not deliberate or vote on a budget proposal which cannot be responsibly implemented. The administration has an obligation to provide **this governing body** with a flat-line expenditure budget with reduced expense and staffing practical for implementation in 2015/16; draft version 2 does not meet the BudCom request.
    The language should have stated for clarity “this self-governing body, with its own statutory authority on budget matters,”

    In addition my email response to Mr Grosky respectfully:

    Please note my expectation; and now to make that more official I request, this be addressed at the next meeting (therefore not in violation of the RTK law); it was never an intent to conduct business via email. With rational for doing so, I am providing the documentation for review since it would be needed prior to the meeting if our goal as BudCom is to have an inelegant/”educated” and efficient discussion regarding the budget given the little time we have left to do so.

    As Mr Collins pointed out we are not “the” governing body that of course is the SB. We are a self-governing body responsible with our own statutory authority to put forth the school budget. Apologies if that caused anyone to think I was saying or implying anything different.

    Cathy Gorman
    Sandown

  2. “Please refrain from conducting our business via email, which this clearly does. We have meetings in public to conduct our business.”

    A true winner, whose self-importance rises to the non-occasion. What an arse. Perhaps in this.. gentleman.. you have your next school superintendent, once the corrupt fraud you’re currently saddled with is run out of town.

    Simply send more letters and ignore his.

    • Rob Collins

      Mark (aka K1MGY),

      Maybe in Littleton they allow elected bodies to hold meetings over email but in NH it’s against the law. RSA 91-A specifies that communication and deliberation between a quorum about the business of that body constitutes a “meeting” and is prohibited.

      You’re sounding foolish again….

      Rob

      • 91-A does not prohibit communication. That is your perverse interpretation. It only prohibits deliberation over email.
        Section 91-A:2-a

        91-A:2-a Communications Outside Meetings. –
        I. Unless exempted from the definition of “meeting” under RSA 91-A:2, I, public bodies shall deliberate on matters over which they have supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power only in meetings held pursuant to and in compliance with the provisions of RSA 91-A:2, II or III.
        II. Communications outside a meeting, including, but not limited to, sequential communications among members of a public body, shall not be used to circumvent the spirit and purpose of this chapter as expressed in RSA 91-A:1.
        Source. 2008, 303:4, eff. July 1, 2008.

      • Cathy

        Rob,

        The intent of the email was to provide rational and information to the BudCom for Thursday’s meeting AND to discuss this in PUBLIC. At no point in time was the purpose of the email for discussing or acting upon a matter or matters over which the BudCom has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. Therefore there has been no violation of RSA 91-a.
        Any BudCom member has the authority to disseminate information to be used during public meetings in order to make [public] decisions on the budget presented to the committee.
        This will be discussed in public as it has been already and I have requsted my email be included in correspondence for public access.

        Could you tell me though, Rob, when the SB voted officially to close Sandown Central as that is only within the SB power to do so and when the public discussion occurred regarding the TRSD Articles of Agreement?

        Kind Regards,

        Cathy

      • Whenever anything important happens at the school board, you can be sure it will not be mentioned on the agenda. The discussion occurred during presentation of the budget information. The information about the closure of Sandown Central was withheld from our agenda packages online and was not presented until the meeting. This is the respect that is shown to us when we are asked to make monumental decisions. No one else objects so I can only assume they knew about it beforehand. Furthermore, it looks like once again, the SAU will not be providing me with the legal letter of opinion they must have obtained in order to be so confident the decision was not a violation of our Articles of Agreement. You can bet all the other members of the school board will see or have already seen this letter.

        And by the way, the board voted to support the budget. They did not explicitly vote to close the school. For Collins to construe that as a vote to close the school is quite a stretch – equivalent to his perverse interpretation of 91-A.

  3. Rob Collins

    Here’s the relevant portion of the RSA that was omitted above.

    91-A:2 Meetings Open to Public. –
    I. For the purpose of this chapter, a “meeting” means the convening of a quorum of the membership of a public body, as defined in RSA 91-A:1-a, VI, or the majority of the members of such public body if the rules of that body define “quorum” as more than a majority of its members, whether in person, by means of telephone or electronic communication, or in any other manner such that all participating members are able to communicate with each other contemporaneously, subject to the provisions set forth in RSA 91-A:2, III, for the purpose of discussing or acting upon a matter or matters over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.

    The key word is “convening.” If anyone on a public body sends an email to a quorum of that body that expresses opinion about business of that body then it is a violation of the law.

    Cathy, how about I send to the entire Board my opinion regarding full day K and that I think we should fund it entirely through the budget? I could detail an argument that I will be also talking about in open meeting. Would that be OK? Based on your interpretation no one else would be able to respond with their rationale pro or con as it would then become deliberation. By sending the initial email you may not be “deliberating” but expressing your opinion in an email to a quorum “convenes” a meeting “discussing…a matter…over which the public body has supervision.”

    Perverse? Seems pretty clear to me.

    • The operative word is “contemporaneously.” Email may be in rare cases but is in normal course not contemporaneous. Instant messenger is.

    • Cathy

      My email is in references RSAs and a contract as they relate to the most recent budget presented to the BudCom; information the BudCom needs in order to discuss the budget **in public** IMO. My email referenced how “realistic” the budget would be to implement according to the current RSAs and contracts and not specifically what should or should not be funded. I have my list regarding line item reductions which I have not discussed with the BudCom.
      Nor was I asking anyone to agree or disagree with me as that would be a violation of the RSA. I was only providing information, which I see as vital, for Thursday’s meeting/discussion.
      Spin it how you would like – I was not attempting to hold a meeting out of public purview; nothing nefarious going on here. However I am sure you will make it an issue for discussion beyond what you have done already.

      I discussed the option of closing Sandown Central in detail at the Sandown Town Hall yesterday [public and televised] and posted the information on the TRSD FB page: strictly citing the RSA and the Articles of Agreement as they pertain to the “concept” of closing Sandown Central.
      I wanted to provide the same information directly to the BudCom to review prior to our meeting on Thursday (if they so choose) to allow for a more efficient meeting and my rational for sending it. End of story.

      I am on record as of yesterday with the following position: I am not against the district having the conversation regarding closing Sandown Central. However, there are public meetings to be had; warrant articles needed to amend the Articles of Agreement and a logistics plan, including additional costs associated with the “concept”, to be presented an approved by the residents of the district.
      I will state my position again at the BudCom meeting.

  4. Cathy

    The public has a right to this legal opinion if it exists. The Articles of Agreement (a contract with the district) is clear – Kindergarten is NOT included in the agreement nor is Kindergarten attendance required by law. The Article of Agreement is required by law to state the grades it will be providing to the district and it does: 1-12. The district can certainly offer Kindergarten as an option and part time offering is required by law.
    Note the residents of the district can vote to eliminate full time kindergarten during deliberation or via warrant article any and every March. To twist the interpretation of the Articles of Agreement to include schooling that is not require by NH state law nor included in the Article of Agreement is egregious.
    Cathy

    • Rob Collins

      Cathy,

      I’m confused. Do you believe Kindergarten is required by law or not?

      First you wrote, “Kindergarten is NOT included in the agreement nor is Kindergarten attendance required by law.”

      Then, “The Article of Agreement is required by law to state the grades it will be providing to the district and it does: 1-12.”

      Then, “The district can certainly offer Kindergarten as an option and part time offering is required by law.”

      Then “To twist the interpretation of the Articles of Agreement to include schooling that is not require by NH state law nor included in the Article of Agreement is egregious.”

      So, it is required by state law but it’s not? If it is required by state law doesn’t that supercede the Articles of Agreement?

      • Mary J

        Kindergarten as a State Law in New Hampshire – required offering; optional
        attendance
        Compulsory Attendance in New Hampshire Age 6 – full time program RSA 193:1

      • Mary J

        Articles of Agreement speak only to Grades 1-12
        Section 3. The Timberlane Regional School District shall be responsible for the public education of grades 1 through 12.

        Pupils in the pre-existing districts shall be assigned by the Regional School Board to attend the elementary schools in the preexisting
        districts in which they reside for no less than the first five years of formal schooling.

        The “first five years formal schooling” is in reference to outline of Section 3
        Grades 1-12. Because the Article of Agreement excludes Kindergarten, the
        first five years formal schooling” references grades 1-5
        A 2/3 majority vote is needed to change the Articles of Agreement.

        NH requires school district to offer K but attendance for student is not required only optional.
        Student School Attendance is mandatory for Grade 1, but not for Kindergarten

      • Cathy

        Rob,

        I doubt you’re confused. “Offering” part time K within a school district is required by law; you know this. Pupil attendance in part time kindergarten is not required (mandatory); you know this also. I made it clear in my comment: “offering” PT K is required by law; pupil attendance is not required by law. Formal (compulsory) schooling is required and attendance is mandatory per RSA 193:1 starting at age 6 and shall attend full time (1st grade).

        FT K is not required to be offered by NH state law.
        Therefore the People of this district cannot vote to defund or eliminate PT kindergarten or grades 1-12; they can vote to defund/eliminate FT kindergarten. Is that clear or would you like to continue to play “I’m confused”?

      • Rob Collins

        Cathy, I think you’re understanding of “formal” is the issue here.

      • Cathy

        I am sure the district lawyer will make one word (formal) the issue. Let’s disregard the agreement states grade 5 is provided in elementary school.
        Let’s disregard kindergarten was never offered when the last amended was passed therefore the agreement was clearly referencing grades 1-5 to be provided in each town.
        I look forward to the “opinion”.

      • Rob Collins

        Where exactly do the Articles of Agreement state “grade 5 is provided in elementary school” ??

  5. Rob Collins

    So, you think it’s OK to risk the chance that it might not be contemporaneous? Is that in the spirit of the law or does it circumvent it?

  6. Rob Collins

    Um, OK.

    I’m just asking you to obey the law…

    You’re the one who brought this from an email between Board members to this blog.

    Are you saying I’m threatening you because I think it is justified to report illegal behavior?

    • Chris True

      Dear Mt. Collins,

      Please advise if the the SAU, or the School board, or the TRSD, or Dr Metzler…(or anyone else if you are getting my drift that I do not wish you to parse or wiggle in any way) has asked for, and or received any legal opinion concerning the Articles of Agreement.

      thank you.

      • Dear Representative True,
        I’ve taken the liberty of sending your request directly to Mr. Collins. I, too, would like to know the answer to this question. Thank you for asking.

      • ancysteenson
        4:43 PM (43 minutes ago)

        to me 4:43 pm
        Mrs. Green,
        The legal opinion that you request does not exist at this time. We do not spend money on legal opinions that are not necessary. No decisions have yet been made about whether or not a school will be closed, and if so, where those students will be educated.
        Nancy
        —————–
        I hope my logic professor is not still alive.

  7. Bustergas

    CLOSE IT DOWN! I want to save money at Donna greens expense!

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