Guest Contribution by Arthur Green
As I reported a few days ago, here, there is a sizable discrepancy between staffing numbers reported to the Department of Education for this current year, and the staffing numbers give to us by the Superintendent in January of 2014.
- 723.5 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff planned for 2014/15, provided via Right to Know response in January 2014
- 688.4 actual FTE staff reported to the NH DOE in October 2014
- 35 fewer actual than planned, with 31 “District” staff shown on the January plan
I asked about this discrepancy in writing in October, 2014 shortly after the NH DOE filing on staffing was submitted. A response was finally provided on January 9 which gave no explanation of the discrepancy. Full details are in the linked post above.
Dr. Metzler explained the matter at the Jan. 22 school board meeting as follows:
She’s comparing projected numbers in a budget that failed with a default budget with 3 different reporting forms which she knows nothing about and so the numbers will never match, they never have matched and they never will match on those three different things.
Leaving aside the gratuitous insult, Dr. Metzler is saying that the plan which budgeted 723.5 staff was rejected by the voters, and that staffing under the default budget would naturally be different (lower).
Let’s examine this. The proposed budget for the current year differed from the default budget by $502,000, and 12.7 staff. Five of these staff were needed to institute the Full-Time Kindergarten program, which was implemented despite rejection of the proposed budget. So the rejection of the proposed budget accounts for only 7.7 out of the 35 FTE positions we are asking about.
Dr. Metzler’s comment does not answer the question, although it reduces the apparent discrepancy from 35 positions to 27 positions – or 22 at best if we assume that the Full-Time Kindergarten was implemented by repurposing existing staff positions.
Most recently, Donna Green requested a full staff list which would include salaries and budgeted hours per position – information which is definitely in the public domain in NH. This listing would definitively substantiate the number of actual staffed FTE positions. The school board chairman refused to provide this. Donna Green then submitted a Right to Know request for the school board chair and Dr. Metzler. We await a reply.
The underlying question is, why is the district so determined to prevent transparent disclosure of staffing plans and staffing levels? Dr. Metzler taunts a School Board member for “knowing nothing”. If “the Greens” know nothing, it is because the administration does everything possible to avoid responding to requests for specific information (as documented in the linked post above).
Let’s look at it another way. The district reported that actual staffing in 2014/15 dropped from 695 to 688 – a drop of 7 positions. At the same time, the Full-Time Kindergarten program was initiated, requiring 5 additional FTE positions from amongst the (lower) 688 staff. That could mean that all other programs had a staff reduction of 12 positions in order to repurpose staff to the Full-Time Kindergarten program at the same time overall staffing dropped.
Keep in mind that we supposedly need to close a school this year to get just 9 staff reductions.
Is it really credible that 12 FTE staff were removed from other programs while existing headcount was repurposed to kick off the Full-Time Kindergarten program with no visibility or discussion at the School Board level?
To be clear, I am skeptical that other programs were reduced, and therefore my level of confidence in the administration staffing numbers is lower than before Dr. Metzler addressed the matter.