Petitions Circulating to Change Funding Formula and Withdraw from District

It’s to be expected. Citizen’s unreasonably taxed will strike out for relief. Citizen’s who fear being unreasonably taxed will do the same.

Danville Wants to Spread the Burden

Danville’s Board of Selectmen is in unanimous agreement that the school district’s funding formula must change.  They have spearheaded a petition for the Timberlane School District ballot to ask voters to approve a change to the district’s Articles of Agreement that would determine the way each town in the district contributes to the operational expenses of the schools. Right now each town pays on the basis of their student enrollment (Average Daily Membership). If Danville’s petition passes, each town would pay exactly the same school tax rate which means that towns with higher valued properties pay more in total than towns with lower valued properties.  Under this arrangement, Danville and Sandown would benefit at the expense of Atkinson and Plaistow.

Is this fair?  That all depends on your political philosophy.  Should each town pay for their own children’s education, or should wealthier towns subsidize poorer towns?  The warrant article draft is at the end of this posting.  Their tax rate proposal can be found here.   FY15 School Calculation – V04   (Danville’s school taxes would go down $6 per thousand while Sandown’s would go down $3 per thousand.  Atkinson’s school tax rate would go up $3.50 per thousand.)

As a representative of Sandown, you might think I would be in favor of helping our overtaxed town get out from under its burden. I wish I could embrace Danville’s initiative but I can’t because I think it is short-sighted and does not address the fundamental issue which is that the cost per student is way too high. (See forthcoming post, “The Truth about Cost Per Pupil.”)

Petitions to Study Withdrawing from the School District

Sandown and Atkinson have citizens circulating a Citizen’s Petition for inclusion on their respective town ballots to begin a study into the feasibility of withdrawing  from the school district.  If the voters of these towns pass this warrant article, then the school board must convene a committee to explore the feasibility of letting the petitioning towns out of the district (and presumably the SAU as well).  Since it is unlikely the school board would ever see any feasibility in such a possibility, the individual towns can and certainly would simultaneously prepare a minority report for the State Board of Education, advancing their arguments for separation.

If we cannot get the bottom line of the budget lowered at Deliberative this year, I would support these petitions because I would like to see a study into what would be involved in allowing Sandown to manage the education of their own children.  The possibilities are numerous.  We could possibly send our high school students to Pinkerton at a much reduced cost from what we are paying to send them to Timberlane now.  ($10,700 vs. approx. $15,200).  We could also open a charter middle school in Sandown Central with emphasis on math and science  while keeping Sandown North for elementary.  Sandown would have control over its own educational costs and have a chance to establish a quality educational system that reflects its values. At the very least a study into these possibilities is a study whose time has come, most certainly if we can’t get control of the budget.  Sandown currently provides $15,507,268 in taxes and education grants to Timberlane to educate our 986 students.  That is $15,727. per child from kindergarten through to high school. Can you imagine a private kindergarten or elementary school charging that much money?   Tuition for Central Catholic High School In Haverhill is just $12,260 this year including athletic fees.  Suffice it to say, there is a  case to be made that Sandown can do better on its own

Danville’s Draft Warrant Article

The signatories below request the following Warrant Article to be placed on the Official ballot for Town Meeting 2015.

Article 2015-X Timberlane Regional School District Article of Agreement

To see if the Timberlane Regional School District shall replace Article #5 and Article #6 from the April 30, 1964

agreement to read as follows:

5. The operating and capital expenses of the Timberlane Regional School District payable in each fiscal year shall be

apportioned at a rate so each pre-existing district pays the same local school rate of taxation based upon the equalized

valuation as most currently available as determine by the State Tax Commission. All forms of aid and local school impact

fees from each pre-existing district will be applied to reduce the operating and capital expense before apportionment.

6. Repealed

Sandown’s Citizen’s Petition

Shall the Town of Sandown, New Hampshire direct the Timberlane Regional School Board to conduct a study

of the feasibility and suitability of the withdrawal of Sandown from the Timberlane Regional School District

and to be completed before October 1, 2015 as per the provisions of RSA 195:25? (Majority vote required.)

________________________________________________

Teachers and students are not simply numbers, as Support Timberlane says, but but numbers have the power to hurt families when those numbers arrive in the form of an unaffordable  tax bill.  What is happening before our eyes is the destruction of a school district because its elected officials have allowed the budget to grow wildly undisciplined.  Some may characterize this as a fight between quality education and stingy taxpayers, but if you are of that persuasion, ask yourself at what cost per student is it reasonable to expect a school system to run?  The majority of the other comparable high performing districts of the same size are doing the job for a lot less than Timberlane, and they all have to meet the same special education mandates as we do.

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10 Comments

Filed under 2015 Warrant ARticles, Budget 2015-2016, Changing Funding Formula, Sandown Issues, Taxes, Withdrawing from District

10 responses to “Petitions Circulating to Change Funding Formula and Withdraw from District

  1. Sick and Tired of TRSD

    If more signatures are needed on the Citizens petition to begin a study into the feasibility of withdrawing from the school district, please let me and everyone know how and where we can sign. We can do better for less cost.

  2. questions...

    How can a town vote tell the school board what to do? Doesn’t every town have to vote? Also Sandown North and Central belong to the school district..not Sandown…you would need to either buy the properties or lease them from the district…another cost to think about

    • That is a good question and the answer resides in the Statue itself which directs the school board to form a committee if a town votes to instruct it to do so.
      Yes, there would be costs but there would also be offsetting assets that the town owns in other towns. That is why there needs to be a study.

  3. Concerned Parent

    I believe that being part of TRSD gives our children the best educational opportunities in the area. We have the most amazing performing arts, we have great athletic fields, a top-notch special education program. Technology is coming along as well, which makes me happy. As a parent of two elementary school children in Sandown, I am satisfied with the quality of education they are receiving. Honestly, I couldn’t afford to send them to Hampstead Academy, which is $15k per year per child.

    Do I wish taxes were lower? Yes. Are there other ways to lower taxes than stripping our children of the resources of TRSD? Absolutely.

    If I’m honest, if this were to come to fruition, I’d rather send our high school kids to Sanbornton than Pinkerton, which is too large and too far away for a daily bus ride.

  4. Atkinson Parent

    I am curious, who is circulating the petition for Atkinson? I have not heard anything about it.

  5. JulieA

    I’m a Danville resident and at the point where I can no longer afford my tax bill. My tax bill seems to go up by $700.00 to $800.00 a year . If I can shave $2000.00 of my yearly tax bill by sending my kids to Sanborn High School ,where do I sign up ?

    • Please attend the school deliberative session on Thursday, Feb 5 at 7 pm and vote to lower the budget.
      To my knowledge, no one is circulating a petition in Danville to withdraw from the district.

  6. mark acciard

    I find it interesting that the Danville petition omits the FACT that the district ALREADY USES th town valuation as one part of its funding formula. But to be equitable it ALSO uses average daily enrollment from each town. So EACH TOWN pays BOTH according to its aggregate value, AND the number of kids it sends to the district.

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