Staffing Up in New Budget. Sdn Central Out (updated)

Timberlane’s staffing problem just got worse.

For starters, Sandown Central is not in the 2015-2016 budget that was approved by the Timberlane Budget Committee last night. Of the 35 staff in that building, only 9 positions were removed.  Even the principal has retained a job but we don’t know what that job will be.  Dear Mr. Rolph is a principal without a school.

And if that weren’t bad enough, the district has added a technology assistant as well as a fractional Assistant Principal position at Danville Elementary to bring that position up to full time despite continuing enrollment decline. Throw in a floating nurse and an Intervention teacher and you’ve got a $389,298 increase in salaries and benefits — the amount that the budget exceeds a flat line.

Here’s what was cut from the first draft budget:

  • $744,000 Sandown Central operation
  • $500,000 for transformer replacement in the middle school (because this is being done for $290,000 from this current year’s surplus.
  • 12 unfilled staff positions  (not counted in staffing statistics)

Here’s what was introduced and then cut from draft 3

  • $265,ooo sprinkler system for Sandown North
  • $90,000 playground expansion for Sandown North

That is the totality of cuts.  Close a school and look no further for other cuts to your expenditures!  This shows a lack of budgetary discipline and willingness to do serious introspection.

Superintendent Metzler will probably be looking to the school board to spend more surplus money this year for the last two items. This is the consequence of a toxic combination of irresponsibly big structural surpluses, “bottomline” budgeting, and a school board that looks for “emergencies” and “safety issues”  at the end of every fiscal year with a lip smacking surplus glinting in the spring sun.

 UPDATE 12/29/14:  It’s been pointed out that this post needs clarification.  Closing Sandown Central resulted in a cut of only 9 positions. In the third draft of the budget, 4.5 positions were added, so the district-wide effect is a net loss of 4.5 positions.  Is it worth closing a school for 4.5 positions?  This is how Timberlane’s staffing problem just became a lot worse.

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25 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

25 responses to “Staffing Up in New Budget. Sdn Central Out (updated)

  1. This could make things easier for Sandown. 1) Citizen’s petition to fund Sandown Central 100%, and 2) vote to remove the same amount at the deliberative session. My guess is that you could win enough support in Sandown alone to do this.

  2. Cathy

    Because that is how we roll in TimberLANE!!!
    I had high hopes for this year’s BudCom however we appear to have gone the way of the SB … again.
    Never have I encountered a budget committee that believes they are not responsible for “the budget” – not to be confused with “the spending”.
    A “bottom line” is not a “budget”.
    Reality check: the BudCom voted to close/retire a school and the SB did not as the BudCom moved forward with majority “vote”; per RSA, the line item cuts …

    • Mark Acciard

      Cathy, the problem has always been that the BudCom does not PREPARE a budget. They allow Metzler and Stokinger to do it. When i cornered BudCom chair Michelle O”Neill about it at deliberative session a few years ago, she was ignorant about what went into the single largest line in the budget. She told me that they had neither the time nor expertise to know what it took to run a school district.

      Until you have a budget committee invested in doing their job and following State budget law, you will continue to see budgets exploding while enrollment drops.

      They need to run it like we did in Atkinson. 12 meetings every week from Oct.- Jan. Each member is responsible for particular depts. in the budget. Liase with the Dept. heads, find out what they NEED not WANT, and be able to explain it to the rest of the committee. When you have a contract like the Union, the BudCOm needs to review the contract, and numbers. There should be NO BASELINE, Begin at ZERO, and make each dept. head justify their spending.

      • Mark,

        When I proposed that each budget committee member specialize in a department, Superintendent Metzler said he would not allow budget committee members direct access to any staff. There is quite a wall between elected officials and staff. We are not permitted to contact them directly and all our questions must go through the school board chairman who then sends them to the superintendent for approval who then may or may not direct them to staff. Elected officials in Timberlane have allowed unreasonable restrictions on their access to information. I am currently being denied access to the public schools during operational hours in my own town.

      • Rob Collins

        Donna,

        Dr. Metzler said, in the 4/11/2013 budget committee meeting, that he would work with budget committee members and department heads to dig as deep as needed to answer any question. You proposed replacing department head presentations with committee members, who had become more familiar with each department, presenting on each department’s budget.

        You wanted to move away from department heads presenting. No one on the committee was in favor of your proposal, including Cathy Gorman.

        Dr. Metzler said he was more than willing to sit with anyone outside of regular meetings of the budget committee to dig deep into the budget and, where appropriate, bring in department heads. Within meetings he has offered and does bring in department heads to present and answer any and all questions.

        Those are the facts. Its all on vimeo , about 1:00:00 in at the link below.

  3. Rob Collins

    Donna, this is all spelled out in our School Board policy (BHC) and has been in place in its current form since at least 2011.

    From policy BHC:

    Visits to School
    Individual Board members interested in visiting schools or classrooms will inform the Superintendent of such visits and make arrangements for visitations through the principals of the various schools. Such visits shall be regarded as informal expressions of interest in school affairs and not as “inspections” or visits for supervisory or administrative purposes. Official visits by Board members will be carried on only under Board authorization and with the full knowledge of the Superintendent and principals.

    • And where does it say that permission will be unreasonably withheld?

    • Mark Acciard

      FYI for Mr. Collins, Mrs. Green is correct. Your policy aside you have no authority to refuse to provide the BudCom ANY info IT DETERMINES IT REQUIRES. RSA 32:5. Basically if a budget committee member asks for a piece of info it is your LEGAL REQUIREMENT TO PROVIDE IT. You do not get to decide what you feel they need, and neither does Mr. Metzler.

      The BudCom gets to decide HOW they will prepare the budget Neither YOU, the SB, nor Mr. Metzler have ANy say in their decision.

      For YEARS the SB has prepared the budget through Metzler(and LaSalle and McDonald before him) and Stokinger. You have gotten away with this SOLELY because ill informed BudCom members ALLOWED you to.

      And Lastly, The NORMAL protocol would be for dept. heads to come into budget meetings with their budget requests and be prepared to discuss them in depth.

      • Rob Collins

        Mark,

        I can’t find anywhere in RSA 32:5 where it speaks to the power and/or authority of individual Budget Committee members. Can you site with more specificity?

        The Budget Committee has not been denied anything they have requested.

        This year, and in many previous years since I’ve been on the Board, department heads did come before the committee to discuss, in detail, their requested budgets. It’s all on Vimeo. You can watch every detail here:

        https://vimeo.com/album/255893

        Maybe you’re thinking of another school district? Don’t you live in another school district now? When did you move out of Atkinson?

      • I suspect Mr. Acciard would not consider the department head budget discussion this year detailed enough. It was a good start, but not detailed enough as the time given for each department was not enough to really drill down as could be done if a budget committee member really understood each department.

      • Rob Collins

        Why suspect when Mark can answer himself?

        The dept heads were there for questioning. Many questions were asked and answered. Maybe the detail wasn’t to your liking but the Budget Committee seemed satisfied.

  4. Rob Collins

    Once again, you’re wrong.

    Sandown Central is a total loss of 8.8. 4.4 were put back in by the budget committee.

    When you add the remaining 4.4 to the 12.4 that were vacant at the end of last year, you get 16.8 (I missed the addition of the Danville .4 AP, the intervention teacher and the Tech Specialist).

    The actual net is 16.8 FTE removed not 4.5 as you state incorrectly.

    You are also misrepresenting the closing of SC as if ONLY 4.5 FTE are what’s being saved. Another lie.

    You’re really unbelievable….

    • This response posted by Arthur Green under Donna’s ID:

      Vacant positions are specifically excluded by NH DOE from the staffing reports submitted by the districts in mid-October.

      Mr. Collins wishes to take credit for phantom staff reductions. The actual net reduction per Mr. Collins’a arithmetic is 4.4.

    • Positions were added to the third draft of the budget. Not a lie. A fact.

    • Mark Acciard

      I am sorry, Mr. Collins, I mis quoted the RSA Let me walk you through this to avoid confusion;

      RSA 31:1: states;

      “The budget committee, in those municipalities which establish one, is intended to have budgetary authority analogous to that of a legislative appropriations committee.”

      RSA 32: states;

      All municipal officers, administrative officials and department heads, including officers of such self-sustaining departments as water, sewer, and electric departments, shall prepare statements of estimated expenditures and revenues for the ensuing fiscal year,”

      RSA 32:16; states

      “I. To prepare the budget as provided in RSA 32:5, and if authorized under RSA 40:14-b, a default budget under RSA 40:13, IX(b) for submission to each annual or special meeting of the voters of the municipality, and, if the municipality is a town, the budgets of any school district or village district wholly within the town, unless the warrant for such meeting does not propose any appropriation.
      II. To confer with the governing body or bodies and with other officers, department heads and other officials, relative to estimated costs, revenues anticipated, and services performed to the extent deemed necessary by the budget committee. It shall be the duty of all such officers and other persons to furnish such pertinent information to the budget committee. ”

      RSA 32:17 states:

      “The governing bodies of municipalities adopting this subdivision, or of districts which are wholly within towns adopting this subdivision, shall review the statements submitted to them under RSA 32:4 and shall submit their own recommendations to the budget committee, together with all information necessary for the preparation of the annual budget, including each purpose for which an appropriation is sought and each item of anticipated revenue, at such time as the budget committee shall fix….Department heads and other officers shall submit their departmental statements of estimated expenditures and receipts to the budget committee, if requested.”

      Now, in addition to the statutes there is ample case law and administative rulings that further details how this all works, but let me summarize it for you.

      1.) the BC determines the schedule of its meetings, and the dept. heads it needs to see, and the info it requires of them.

      2.) The BC PREPARES the budget, not the SB, Superintendent, nor Bus. mgr.

      3.) The BC can ask for ANY info IT DEEMS IT REQUIRES, and it is the DUTY of the SB, and their agents to provide it.

      As I understand it BudCom members had to submit a RTK request to get info from your board. THIS is despicable.

      BTW, Mr. Collins, your usual deflection of attmepting to shoot the messenger by pointing out that I moved to Derry, after successfully bringing up the now disgraced former police chief in Atkinson on ethic charges and winning, is apropos of nothing. it has no relevance to this conversation. ANYONE can ask questions of the SB you are a public body. It is far more inappropriate for an SB member, who gets to spend the budget crated by the budget committee to be inserting themselves into the budget development process. Your body HAS NO AUTHORITY over the preparation of the budget. NOR is the BudCom obligated to follow your recommmendations.

      • Rob Collins

        Mark,

        First of all, there is a School Board member on the Budget Committee, as required by RSA.

        You have not pointed to any RSA or case law that specifies any authority to individual committee members. RTK requests were made by individual members who failed to get the approval of that information through the committee. All information requested by the committee was delivered.

        All RSA has been followed appropriately to my knowledge. Can you point to anything specific where it hasn’t?

      • The budget committee agreed as a whole that ALL questions submitted by deadline would be answered by the administration. Arthur Green’s questions were NOT answered and were in fact ignored. Arthur’s RTK request for complete financials for 2014 was also not satisfactorily fulfilled. Furthermore, it is only in Timberlane’s twisted interpretation of the RSA does a committee require a vote to give individual committee members information they request. This is not commonly done elsewhere. There is a concerted effort by the district to control information to elected officials. Me being denied entry into schools in Sandown during working hours is a prime example of this.

      • Rob Collins

        Donna,

        91-A doesn’t say anything about RTK requests being “satisfactorily fulfilled.”. What’s available has to be turned over. If its not available the SAU is not required to create what is requested.

        With that said the SAU, specifically Dr. Metzler, has gone way too far out of their way to fulfill your, Ms. Gorman’s and your husband’s requests over the last three years. Much too far in my estimation. They have created documents to your specifications when they didn’t have to. In return they’ve gotten nothing but grief from you and yours.

        If the committee votes against the creation and/or collection of specific data and reports then they are not bound to create and/or collect that same data for individual members.

      • Mr. Collins:

        Kindly specify documents exactly had to be “created” to satisfy any RTK request from me, Mr. Green or Ms. Gorman. Let’s deal in specifics. My first RTK request was made in Dec. 2013. No one else “of mine” filed any requests prior to this. That makes exactly ONE year.

        By “satisfactorily fulfilled,” I can say specifically that Mr. Green did not receive the financial information he requested on Nov 15 for the year ended June 30, 2014 – something that is a direct output of the SAU’s financial software. Are you saying this information doesn’t exist or that the district doesn’t print this report? That would be a most interesting claim as it would reflect on the financial management of the people running our district. So what exactly are you saying? Either the request wasn’t completely fulfilled or the information isn’t available.

        Here is what he asked for via RTK request on Nov 15th.
        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

        He received partial information in response to his RTK request, not including the itemized fund transfers, the transfer from unassigned fund balance, and the grand total expenditures and revenues. Since then, some, but not all of this information was provided in piecemeal fashion in other documents. All of this is information is readily available from the financial systems, and the fact that it needs to be demanded through RTK is an outrage.

        The people of Sandown should not be tied to the information requests of officials from other towns and the general practice of other budget committee across the state does not support your interpretation of the RSA.

  5. Rob Collins

    I we close Sandwon Central we save the district $744,000.

    The budget committee chose to put into the budget requests of the administration for an additional administrator, a floating nurse, a technology specialist and an intervetion teacher.

    These additions were not linked directly to the proposed closing of Sandown Central. To state otherwise is wrong.

    To make an analogy. Let’s say you pay $500 monthly for a car loan. One day you decide to sell the car and use the money to pay down the loan. Because of this you can say you’ve saved yourself $500 a month. Now you utilize those $s in different ways, maybe you buy a new TV. Does that mean you aren’t saving $500 a month from selling the car any more? Of course it doesn’t. You chose to spend in a different manner and still have saved yourself the $500 you used to use on the loan.

  6. Atkinson

    Really, your analogy is very revealing. It sounds more like the excuses of teenager trying to pull something over on their parents. At the end of the day if you cut in one area and spend more in another, you don’t end up with the entire amount cut as savings.

    • Rob Collins

      Atkinson, you’re taking my comments out of context.

      Donna wrote “Is it worth closing a school for 4.5 positions?”. That’s the comment I was responding to.

      Closing the school will cut 8.8 positions from the budget along with other savings to total $744K. That is fact. To say the closing only results in 4.5 positions is incorrect, hence my analogy.

      We don’t have to add other positions throughout the district because we are closing SC. Donna’s comment makes it appear as if we do. The Budget Committee decided to add other positions that were not in place this current year.

      • CC

        So TRSD is closing Sandown Central so it can add 4.5 positions when it had 12 vacant positions last year.

        I feel so much better about this. It really is as brilliant as selling a car you’re going to need in the future so you can buy a TV.

        How much is the addition to Sandown North going to cost us in a couple years or will we just go back to an overcrowded school with portable classrooms like we had in the 90’s?

  7. Rob Collins

    CC,

    I thought I posted this but it seems to have been ..”lost.”

    According to the Greens “gold standard” of enrollment projections, the enrollment at TRSD is going to continue to decline until 2020. At that time it will plateau for a number of years and then begin to increase.

    Moving the 4th and 5th grade into Sandown North next year still leaves room for about 50 more students. We most likely won’t be back at today’s enrollment until the year 2025 or maybe 2030, depending on how long the plateau is. At that time we will likely have more room available for growth, as we do today.

    If we keep Sandown Central open unnecessarily for the next 10-15 years that would total into the tens of millions of dollars spent…unnecessarily (given that closing the school next year results in savings of $744,000 in today’s dollars). How does it make any fiscal sense to keep Sandown Central open under the rationale that in 15 year we might need more space at Sandwon North???

    • No one is demanding Sandown Central stay open indefinitely. We are only asking for a PLAN with facts and figures – not blithe reassurances which is all we have been given to date.

      You say: We most likely won’t be back at today’s enrollment until the year 2025 or maybe 2030, depending on how long the plateau is. At that time we will likely have more room available for growth, as we do today.

      The NESDEC projection is for the Sandown elementary school population to be higher than it is now in 9 years. Where is this “more room” going to come from? Even though projections are less certain this far out and on a town by town basis, the best information we have to date is that Sandown’s K-5 student population will be higher than it is now in 2023 and considerably higher in 2024. NESDEC says we have 391 K-5 students in Sandown this year and will have 416 in 2024. And how much will it cost to open a mouthballed school? No one has told us this… or what other possible use the building could be put to and the costs associated with that.

      If you are arguing from numbers, give us some numbers – not just two numbers which is all that has been given us to date – estimated cost saving and cost per pupil of running the building. Not nearly enough information for a decision that will impact every elementary school in our district not just a few classrooms of Sandown students.

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