Arthur Green to Propose $65 Million Bottom Line

Timberlane’s Budget Committee will be meeting to finalize the budget on the evening of Dec. 23rd.  Arthur Green is going to propose a bottom line figure of

$64,940,900.

Mr. Green’s starting point was the budget committee’s own cuts voted on Dec. 11th:  removing all the unfilled positions (12) and the half million dollars for the transformer replacement which is being done in this current year from surplus funds.

Then Mr. Green removed $18,000 for the Public Relations Consultant and 39 staff positions (general staff, not exclusively teachers) at an average cost of $80,000 for salary and benefits.

If you think this is too radical, here’s what you should know about how academically stronger schools with virtually the same number of students  compare with Timberlane schools.

  • Memorial Middle School in Hudson District:  total staff:  110
  • Timberlane Middle School total staff:  158    (44% more)
  • Woodbury Elementary School in Bedford total staff:  66
  • Pollard School in Plaistow total staff:  105   (60% more)
  • Hudson School District as a whole total staff:  494
  • Timberlane School District total staff:  nearly 700  (42% more)

These excessive staffing numbers have nothing to do with being a cooperative school district and if they did then it would be a good argument for dissolving the district for wild inefficiency. What these numbers show is a long practice of not adjusting staffing to declining enrollment.  If you don’t think this is an issue with the culture at SAU#55, then tell me why even with the proposed closure of Sandown Central, the school’s principal, Mr. Rolf, is still included in the proposed third draft of the budget? It turns out closing Sandown Central ends up cutting just 4.5  positions out of 35 staff!

We have heard over and over that closing a school will have the least impact on services, yet we have not heard one specific service that would have to be cut should the school stay open with a zero percent increase in budgeted expenditures.

We’ve also heard over and over, “What staff would you cut?”  Well, that is not our job.  That is the job of management.  Superintendent Metzler is being paid to manage a district and it is his job to manage it as efficiently as other districts that we would emulate in outcomes.  Nothing proposed in the $65 million dollar budget reduces special education. What it does do, however, is give each town in the district a modest tax cut.

When our children were in school in Ontario in the late 1990s, we saw some very bad behavior from school administrators who refused to manage with the resources they were given.  According to Brendan Sweeney, a Post-doc fellow at Queen’s University, “the provincial Ministry of Education assumed control of funding for schools. Prior to this, individual boards could increase funding through a local property tax levy. This taxation was done to ensure equality in the funding of schools across the province and to increase government control over education sector budgets.” In retaliatory action, school principals said they didn’t have the money to supply toilet paper, tissues, pencil and papers.  My children were asked to bring rolls of toilet paper and boxes of Kleenex to school.

When the federal government shut down recently, National Parks were closed. We all know these are political moves to inflict pain in order to shift public opinion.

Superintendent Metzler has lavish resources to run an excellent school district. Other nearby districts of similar size get better academic outcomes with far fewer staff and financial resources. This proposal is simply requiring the district to manage itself better because we have hit the bottom of the seemingly bottomless well of taxpayer generosity.

Stay tuned for the meeting on Tuesday night.

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4 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

4 responses to “Arthur Green to Propose $65 Million Bottom Line

  1. Concerned Taxpayer

    I noticed two things from seeing the last School Board meeting. Mr. Stokinger Held up a newspaper article showing that electricity prices have gone up over 25%. This is true and there needs to be money in the budget to pay the electric bill. No mention was made of oil prices being down almost 40%. How much less will it be this coming year to heat the school buildings? How many of the buildings are heated with oil? Shouldn’t this anticipated savings be reflected in the default budget too?

    No matter what happens with Sandown Central, Dr. Metzler has miraculously discovered that three grades can be consolidated in Sandown next year. I strongly suspect they could have been consolidated this year and saved the taxpayers the cost of three staff members. What other consolidations can be found in the other schools? Could it be possible that only Sandown schools have been overstaffed? Not likely.

    I am sure that the Timberlane will find a way to provide quality education with lots of money to spare with Arthur Green’s proposed budget.

  2. AAT

    Do I understand things correctly?
    1) The Administration has repeatedly stated that Bud Com provides the number and School Board determines how it is spent. So you could give them $100 million and it could still be decided to close Sandown Central? As you note, more money will not be the answer.

    2) It seems the administration is substantiating the contention that the district is overstaffed. To close Sandown Central it was “discovered” there were extra classes for 2nd, 4th and 5th that could be consolidated. To get to $750,000 in savings is approximately 12 positions? There are 3 and I would guess there are similar overstaffings at other schools. Looking at the school directories, one sees AA, DS and PS have a principal and assistant principal; guidance counselor and school psychologist; 2 secretaries. PS has a separate preschool director and secretary as well as 2 nurses and 2 psychologists. SN and SC have overlapping staff. TRMS has 6 admins plus a receptionist including 2 for guidance; there are 3 guidance counselors and 3 psychologists as well as 2 student adjustment counselors. TRHS has similar staffing as admins and guidance as well as a Dean of Attendance and secretary of attendance. Like you, I will not propose specific cuts but it would seem at least 9 positions could be cut there and that would not even affect a classroom.

  3. Mark Acciard

    Yes those reduced costs SHOULD be reflected in the defualt budget, HOWEVER if you read the actual state budget law, you will find there are lots of things in the default budget that are not supposed to be there. This budget is not reviewed by anyone, therefore it can be prepared by the district in violation of budget law, without oversight.

    And you can add to your list of comparative staffing that Pinkerton Academy in Derry operates with 7 direct administrators, for 3,300 students(circa 2010, last time i looked at it, although I can not imagine much has changed) versus 12 for TRHS, roughly 1,380 students.

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