No Vote Yet to Close Sandown Central

Someone should produce a TV show about cowardly/indecisive school boards. They could get years of material from Timberlane.

Last night’s school board meeting featured public comment from Sandown residents universally in favor of keeping the school open for at least one more year. (I read one email from two Sandown residents in favor of closing the school immediately.)  Kelly Ward, representative from Sandown, motioned to table the closing vote until after the election to give voters a chance to act on the three warrant articles on the ballot affecting the closure of Sandown Central.  That motioned failed by a tie vote because Mr. Blair abstained.  After that, Plaistow’s Mr. Bealo motioned to move 4th and 5th grades from Sandown Central to Sandown North.

Sandown resident, Mr. Lee Dube, rose from the audience to say that the board had already voted on Mr. Bealo’s motion at a previous meeting and the board could not vote on the same motion twice as per Robert’s Rules of Order.  At this the chairman called a much appreciated recess while someone looked up the rules.  When we reconvened, the chairman allowed the motion and noted that a “No” vote at that time did not mean the same motion could not be voted again later when the board was ready to make a decision. Mr. Bealo’s motioned failed by all but one vote – his own.

During the meeting I spoke against closing the school this year for the following reasons:

  • No exploration of alternate plans at the board level
  • No traffic plan
  • No classroom plan
  • No Special Education reassignment plan
  • The school board has not toured either school and furthermore I have been PROHIBITED from entering the schools during operational hours
  • Zero discussion about the adaptations needed at all the other elementary schools to accommodate the relocated Special Education programs
  • Zero discussion of the future use of Sandown Central as a building
  • No consideration of the cost in building code upgrades with the change in use of the building
  • No consideration of the tax impact to the district of changing the building from a school to another use

I could go on as that was a list made in five minutes.

The irresponsibility of your school board is breathtaking.  They have not given the administration any direction to provide the above information.  They expect to take a vote and have the administration figure everything out afterwards so that your elected officials don’t have to trouble their heads about any of the details that affect every elementary student in the district – not just the 138 students in Sandown Central.

The most outrageous statement of the night, if you can overlook the Atkinson snobbery behind Mr. Sapia saying that he was very proud of all the Sandown residents for speaking so well, has to go to Mrs. Delfino. She said that it pains her very much to close a school but with a cut of three quarters of a million dollars from the budget, something had to go.

A cut from the budget?  The proposed budget is UP over last year by 0.58% (while we anticipate losing 150 students)  and the default budget is even higher.  There is no cutting going on whatsoever.  When the board and administration say the budget was cut, what they mean is that they didn’t get everything they asked for in their first budget draft. And when they didn’t, the administration came back  saying peevishly that if they can’t get the 2.75% increase they want, then they are closing a school.  Like it or lump it. Does that sound like a genuine attempt to grapple with a $67 million budget, or is it budgeting by extortion?  With the sharp decline in district enrollment we are experiencing and will continue to see, budget cuts are the only responsible thing to be doing, actual honest to goodness budget cuts – not rushing to close a school without any board level planning at all and very little evidence of planning at the SAU level.

UPDATE: Jan. 24, 2015 An Atkinson resident justifiably upbraided me for insulting all Atkinson residents in this post. The resident also noted that Mr. Sapia was not elected by their town. The point was well taken and I apologize to the people of Atkinson.



Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, School Board Functioning

12 responses to “No Vote Yet to Close Sandown Central

  1. Cathy

    Didn’t Mr Bealo make a motion to move 4th and 5th grade to SN and the motioned failed (only vote in faver was Mr Bealo’s)? How is that not a vote to keep SC open? The SB voted NOT to move the 4th and 5th grade to SN. You cannot close SC without moving the chidren to SN.

    To the SB and super’s point the BudCom caused this issue: I do believe the BudCom did fail the residents. Draft 3 of the budget – “the BudCom budget” INCLUDED SC. We voted to remove the 9 vacant positions and the $500K for the transformers. The BudCom allowed the Super to walk away thinking he had an additonal $700 (+)K to spend which is why SC is out and the following “wish list” is in draft 3:
    – the SC principal
    – the floating nurse
    – the sprinkler system for SN
    – the playground for SN
    – Assist. Prin to FT at Danville
    – Intervention teacher
    – Technology specialist
    The above list is what the SAU and the SB thought more important the children in Sandown. I motioned the BudCom work from the budget “we” generated and vote on each “wish-list” item AND address SC. That motioned failed and the BudCom with no authority to do so, IMO, accepted a budget that was stated to defund a school without a vote to do so by the SB.
    It pains me to say, I see the BudCom no different from the SB regarding the avoidance of making tough decisions.
    If the SAU wanted to fund SC they could have not brought forth their “wish-list” OR brought it forth a a “list” they would like added to the BudCom’s budget that included SC funding.

    The residents should be disappointed in the fiasco the elected officials has allowed this to become.

  2. Kat

    Do you see no irony in your statement:

    “They expect to take a vote and have the administration figure everything out afterwards so that your elected officials don’t have to trouble their heads about any of the details that affect every elementary student in the district…”

  3. Lou F

    Perhaps this is the irony Kat is referring to?

    “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.” – Posted December 22, 2014

      • In case there is some suspicion that I am involved in civic affairs as source material for writing, let me assure you that I have never published any creative material. My entire professional output has been non-fiction. My commitment to civic issues springs from a desire to put things right – not to put things in writing.

  4. jd62500

    Mrs. Green- if you want to call Jack Sapia or anyone else a snob I guess it is your right to name call. However, as an Atkinson resident I take great offense to your generalized reference of “Atkinson snobbery”. Believe it or not there are people in Atkinson (and other towns) who at one time had great respect for your willingness to ask tough questions and challenge issues you believed needed to be addressed. This overall mutual loss of respect from all sides is disgusting to watch. Now these kinds of comments have spilled over to the point where you’ve made a blanket assumption of all the residents in a town based on your feelings of a school board member who need I remind you…the residents of Atkinson did not elect.

    • Your point is well taken. You rightly remind me that Mr. Sapia was not elected. I apologize to the people of Atkinson.
      Mr. Sapia should likewise apologize to the people of Sandown for his condescension- as should Mr. Grosky for calling Sandown Central “a luxury.”

      • jen

        just wanted to be clear that the comment below and the one above are both from me although there are two different user names. Not sure why it reverted back to my old one. sorry if there was any confusion.

  5. jen

    I cannot apologize for Mr. Sapia, but I do hope that if he watches that meeting back he will realize how condescending he sounded and that he seemed to take the tone one would with a child. As for Mr. Grosky calling Central a “luxury” I’m not sure I would have used that word. However, I watched that meeting hoping to hear something to sway me one way or the other about how I wanted to vote on this issue. Instead I heard resident after resident speak to their concerns over increased class sizes, and how bad it would be to have classes with over 20 kids, and how would the teachers manage, etc. And I hear about the need to spend $60K to expand a playground so kids can have grass to run on. Then there’s the issue of car pick up, which to be honest I don’t really understand…put your kids on the bus if you can. As a resident of Atkinson, my children have never had a class with less than 19 students in it. In fact, by grades 3-5 we have seen 22-26 students. The playground my kids go on is small, there is no grass, they run on hot top and playground chips. If I need to pick up my kids for an appt I know I need to get in the pick up line at 2:40 or just dismiss them at 3pm. I guess my point is this – if Atkinson was the town with 2 elementary schools, and class sizes consistently under 20 student (and WELL under in some cases), and the superintendent and school board were supporting a $60K playground expansion- I have a hunch there would be an outcry from other towns wondering why Atkinson is afforded these luxuries that they are not. So perhaps “benefits” would have been a better choice of words, but I think you can see my point and understand why some may look at it as a “luxury”.

  6. Jason B. Grosky

    Mrs. Green,
    If you are going to attribute comments to me, please do so accurately. It should not be difficult to accurately repeat one’s recorded words, even if the truth does not fit into the fairy tale.
    I won’t hold my breath waiting for an apology from you.

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