Monthly Archives: February 2015

Urgent Appeal for Reflective Tape

Like something out of One Hundred Years of Solitude, a plague of invisibility struck the SAU today.  Every single invoice in the establishment disappeared.  The filing cabinets in which they are housed became unlocatable.  Poof!

This, I was told,  happened because George Stokinger, the Business Administrator, was on vacation.  In his absence, the invoices suffered an existential crisis.  No one could see them, touch them, read them, copy them, examine them, or even in keeping with the law, inspect them on request.

The location of the filing cabinets and the identity of the filing personnel were all unknown.  It gives one pause for philosophical reflection:  could invoices exist only in the mind of an administrator?

But no, a similar calamity befell the phone and email systems.  Despite being given  28 hours notice of my visit, no one at the SAU called or emailed me to tell me of the ontological irregularity with the paperwork.  I and two of my companions arrived there at 2:50 pm today with a scanner in hand to copy invoices for legal services and others, only to discover that all the invoices in the building were lost to human sensory perception.

In an effort to assert Materialism over Solipsism,  I am appealing to the public to donate  reflective tape so that the next time a plague of invisibility strikes,  the filing cabinets will be well marked even if the invoices within them may be temporarily struggling with their epistemological orientation – knowable only to those who post  information critical of me on Facebook.




Filed under Sandown Issues

Green v. SAU 55

On February 3, 2015 I filed a petition with Rockingham Superior Court. On February 20, I received certification of service to the four parties named. This petition, which is a public document, is linked here for the sole purpose of informing the public and forestalling rumors. Please note that I will not be speaking or writing about my case while it is before the court, nor will I post any comments made by others concerning my case on this blog until the judge has rendered a decision.

Donna M. Green v School Administrative Unit #55, et al
Case Number: 218-2015-CV-00090
Docket Number: 15-CV-90

This link includes the brief but not the exhibits:91-A petition to Superior Court Jan. 30, 2015

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

Public Hearing TONIGHT, SC Closing Vote, March 5th

Tonight at the PAC, there will be a public hearing about the citizen’s petition to change the funding formula for the school district.  7 pm

Let us hope that those who would like to inform the public about this very important warrant article will be given as much time to speak as they need.  Public comment is invited during all Public Hearings.

Next Thursday, March 5th, the school board’s agenda will include a vote on closing Sandown Central.

If you wish to make a comment about the school closing during this meeting, you must fill out a card and submit it to the recording secretary at the meeting.  You may speak during the public comment section at the very beginning of the meeting, listed as “Delegations and Individuals” on the agenda, or immediately before the board begins its discussion of the school closing. The board does not permit public comment once the board has begun their own discussion of the agenda item.  (Don’t ask me to defend these rules.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Service Announcement

Administration Asking for Input

“Timberlane Regional High School Statement of Core Values, Beliefs, and 21st Century Learning Expectations Timberlane Regional High School is in the process of writing a statement of Core Values, Beliefs, and 21st Century Expectations in conjunction with the accreditation process through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Over the past two months, the NEASC Steering Committee has worked to compile and analyze the data from the survey on our Mission Statement that our staff, students, and parents were invited to take in September. The committee used this information to craft our Statement of Core Values, Beliefs, and 21st Century Expectations. We need your input! We invite you to visit our high school website to review this document and to then take a brief survey in order to provide us with feedback.”  [ Preamble to the Draft Statement of Core Values]

The instructions say to read the draft first, then complete the survey.

Here is the survey:  SURVEY
Here is information about the accreditation:  NEASC ACCREDITATION

1 Comment

Filed under Public Service Announcement

Things to Know Before You Vote to Change District Funding Formula

This Thursday, FEBRUARY 26th, the Timberlane School District is holding a public hearing on a citizen’s petition to change the district’s funding formula. The public hearing is to encourage discussion and to answer questions.

There are a few critical things to know about this proposal.


In order to change the funding formula, the Articles of Agreement that the towns all signed when the district was created back in the 60s must be amended. The Articles of Agreement set out the funding formula among the towns along with other stipulations such as requiring the first five years of education to be done in each town. The Articles are short and clear and definitely worth a quick read:

Click to access Articles-of-Agreement.pdf


According to projections done by the petition’s progenitor, Shawn O’Neil of Danville, the tax impact among the four towns will be dramatic should this proposed change obtain the necessary two-thirds majority approval by voters. Atkinson’s school taxes will go up double digits. Plaistow’s will go up in the high single digits. Correspondingly, Danville’s school taxes will go down in the low double digits, while Sandown’s will go down in the high single digits.

More on tax fairness among the towns and the role of state aid coming soon.

The Public Hearing will be held in the Performing Arts Center at Timberlane High School

7 pm,  Thursday night, Feb 26, 2015.



Filed under Sandown Issues, Taxes, Withdrawing from District

Letter to the Tri-Town Times

Green for School Board

Dear Editor:

My first year on the Timberlane School Board has been tumultuous, but not without its accomplishments. Here, for the consideration of voters, are things I was instrumental in helping to achieve:

1) Raising the visibility of school board issues by monthly meetings with the Sandown Selectmen, and stimulated extensive newspaper coverage of issues.
2) Bringing scrutiny of district budgets and their tax consequences which was critical in moderating taxes in Dec. 2014 as the school board made two major changes to its finances to mitigate tax impact.
3) Getting the district to revoke school board rules that were unconstitutional limitations on free speech.
4) Demanding greater financial transparency. Monthly revenue and expenditure reports are now publicly posted when previously had to be obtained through Right to Know.
5) Getting the district to publicly post respected and vital third party 10-year enrollment projections when previously the budget committee didn’t know they existed.
6) As a budget committee member in 2012, I requested and obtained the elimination of a private Budcom webpage so all information is now public.
7) Bringing the district’s receipt of millions of dollars of insurance refund of surplus to public and district elected official awareness.
8) Getting corrected a major financial error in calculating the cost of full-time kindergarten that probably prevented the program from being pushed forward as a free program next year.
9) Surfacing issue of crony hiring and late audits
10) Stalling, by protests on my blog, the Policy Committee’s plan to restrict public comment at meetings to items on the agenda only.
11) Hosting a Town Hall forum on the school budget in Dec. 2014 along with other Sandown Timberlane representatives.

Those who think a concern over district finances does not show a concern for education should understand that what seem like minor financial and ethical issues can ultimately corrode our ability to deliver a quality education.

Timberlane needs a watchdog and if you agree, I ask for your vote.

Donna Green
Sandown incumbent on the Timberlane Regional School Board

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

School Board to Limit Your Voice

Timberlane’s School Board was justly smacked around in the press for disregarding First Amendment rights when it tried to impose unconstitutional restrictions on free speech with its School Board Rules in March 2014.  Sadly, the board is once again exhibiting its intolerance for other’s unscripted opinions — this time, yours.

On March 5th at 5:30 pm in the SAU building, Timberlane’s Policy Committee will consider a policy change that will make it impossible for parents to publicly raise an issue to the board unless it is on the agenda. This is a giant swipe at your right to responsive government.

Here is the objectionable part of the proposed Policy BEDH, Public Participation at School Board Meetings:

In order to assure that persons who wish to appear before the Board may be heard and, at the same time, it may conduct its meetings properly and efficiently, the Board adopts as policy the following procedures and rules pertaining to public participation at Board meetings:

1. During the “Delegations and Individuals” section of each Board meeting residents may comment for up to three minutes (unless waived by the Board) by completing a comment card and submitting it to the recording secretary at the beginning of the meeting.

2. Members of the public may offer comments on agenda items only. The Board will not entertain comments on items that do not appear on the agenda.

Requests to address the Board on matters not on the agenda must be presented to the Superintendent and must set forth the specifics of the subject to be addressed. When appropriate, the Board may place such requests on the agenda.

Members of the public will have exactly three minutes (formerly five) to address the board concerning any topic which is  ON THE AGENDA.  You might think this a reasonable policy until you realize that the board consistently refuses to add things to the agenda which do not serve their purpose.  I have never been successful in getting any of my issues placed on a regular agenda.  Recently Mr. Artus from Atkinson asked for an issue to be placed on the agenda.  It was denied.  And please don’t think that school board meetings are delayed by multitudes clamoring to address the board.  No, not at all.  Most people would feel more comfortable facing the Grand Inquisitor where they’d certainly be given more than three minutes.

I suspect this proposed policy change was prompted by rogue budget committee members making comments before the school board that it would rather not hear, as occurred with Mr. Green and Ms. Gorman, school budget committee representatives from Sandown.  But what hurts them, hurts parents just as much.

The school board likes to say, “School Board meetings are meetings held in public; not meetings held for the public.”  The policy further goes on to say:

Persons appearing before the Board are reminded that members of the Board are without authority to act independently as individuals in official matters. Thus, questions may be directed to individual Board members, but answers must be deferred pending consideration by the full Board. Therefore, Board members will take comments and presentations from the public under advisement only.

In other words,  since we can’t control what another board member might say in response to a question from the public, we make a policy to keep members gagged and you, dear peon, can go home proud that you have had your three minutes to attend us.

Will writing a letter be the better way to communicate with the board?  Sorry Hans…. wrong guess.  In my nearly one year on the board, the only time a letter was discussed was when I brought it up.  Letters are placed in a correspondence folder that is NOT available before meetings (by conscious decision). The only chance a school board member has to see these letters is DURING a meeting when other business is being discussed or after a meeting when it can’t be discussed at all.

Please don’t think this appalling arrogance and lack of respect for the concerns of parents, fellow elected officials,  and community members is an issue with Timberlane alone. It infects school boards across the state, but I would be proud if it stopped at Timberlane.

Regretfully, it isn’t likely to stop at Timberlane and the Policy Committee will probably approve these proposed changes as will the school board – because it serves their interest to do so.  If you don’t protest in the next few meetings before the policy goes to the laughable conceit of “Second Reading,” you won’t have the opportunity to do so again.

It is through a thousand cuts like this that parents lose control of education.

P.S. For the curious, our Policy Committee is co-chaired by the superintendent. It is the administration that brings policies before the Policy Committee with all their desired changes outlined and ready for approval. Your elected officials, as usual, are going along with the administration’s agenda instead of the other way around.



Filed under School Board Behavior

Tax Outlook for the 2015/16 Budget

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

We’ve noted before that a small increase in the expenditure budget leads to a disproportionate tax impact.

Going into Deliberative, we had a proposed budget increase of 0.5% – yes, one half of one percent.  But the documents published by the administration at deliberative show an overall school tax increase of 2.3%, with some significant differences by town:

  • Atkinson – 2%
  • Danville – 3.9%
  • Plaistow – 2.6%
  • Sandown – 1.3%

These were “optimistic” numbers, which depend on the district delivering on the $1.9 million surplus stated in the revenue budget.

But we know that the district is planning to spend at least part of that surplus:

  • Transformer replacement at the middle school – $300,000 to $500,000
  • Sandown North sprinkler system – $260,000
  • Warrant Article 3 – capital reserve contribution if passed will be funded out of the surplus – $250,000

Lower surplus means more must be collected from taxes.

At deliberative, the budget was increased by $250,000.  At the election in March, the voters will likely approve Warrant Article 6 for the Timberlane Support Staff collective agreement – $97,783.

With these changes, the budget will be $68,071,710, up 1.1% from this year.  The amount to be gathered in taxes will be up 3.1%.

This is almost the same as the default budget of $68,160,616, which is still higher than the likely budget but by only $90,000.

Here’s my forecast from December of the tax impacts of the (then) proposed budget.  The range of impacts for the default budget is a good forecast of what we will likely face in December.

Tax Impact Summary Table


Leave a comment

Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Expenditures, Taxes

Trumpeting Dropout Rates

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

One of the things we learned from Dr. Metzler at Deliberative is that dropout rates are one of the Timberlane district’s most important measures of success.  The Timberlane dropout rate of 0.85% was compared favorably against at least one of the “Leading Comparable” districts, and was used to vindicate the budgetary and academic policies of  the administration.

As usual, let’s get some context.  First as a table – here are the dropout rates from the NH DOE web site covering the period 2007/08 up to 2012/13 (which is the most recent year available on this metric):

Dropout Rate Comparison Table

Now let’s see that in a chart.  I’ve eliminated the individual schools in the “Leading Comparable” cohort, and just kept the average of that group, plus the NH state average and Timberlane:

Dropout Rate Comparison Chart


  • We are looking backward at 2 year old results.  Since then, we have had rapid cost increases over the last 2 years – cost per pupil is up from $13,329 to (estimated) $15,498 in the current year.  This reported dropout rate does nothing to vindicate spending levels over the past 2 years
  • The trumpeted Timberlane dropout rate of 0.85% is actual up 2 years in a row, from the low of 0.28% in 2010/11.  Are we supposed to celebrate a worsening dropout rate?
  • Timberlane’s dropout rate has been consistently below the state average.  This is a good thing.  But we also know that the state average is not a meaningful comparison.  Looking at comparable districts with stronger academic results, Timberlane has been above that average, dipped below, and in the final year has crept back above.  Not bad results, but not outstanding.
  • What about the relationship to spending?
    • Bedford cost per pupil: $11,540, $1,800 less than Timberlane. Dropout rate 0.08%, far better than Timberlane
    • Salem cost per pupil: $12,383, $1,000 less than Timberlane.  Dropout rate 0.42%, half Timberlane’s number.
    • Keene cost per pupil $14,975, $1,500 more than Timberlane.  Dropout rate 0.86%, a fraction worse than Timberlane
    • Merrimack cost per pupil $13,440, about $100 more than Timberlane.  Dropout rate 1.01%, significantly worse than Timberlane
    • Conclusion:  A district can spend much less, and achieve a far better result.  A district can spend far more, and achieve a worse result.  A low dropout rate does not vindicate high spending.  We should be able to achieve a low dropout rate as other districts have done with lower spending.


Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Expenditures, School Board Issues, Taxes

District Corrects Warrant Recommendation Tally

This just now from the chairman of the school board.

Hi everyone,
As you’re aware, all of us on the School Board and Budget Committee took a vote on all the warrant articles immediately after both the Public Hearing and the Deliberative Session, even though the only article that changed since the Public Hearing was Article 2, the operating budget. We have been advised by district counsel to move forward the initial votes, taken after the Public Hearing, on all warrant articles except the vote on Article 2. For that article, our recommendations (for or against) that go on the ballot will be the ones we decided after the Deliberative Session. District counsel has advised us that unless an article was amended on the deliberative session floor, original recommendation tallies shall stand. We have been advised to not change a recommendation unless the article itself was amended.
Please note, however, that although we intend to follow our attorney’s advice, defects in the recommended tallies DO NOT invalidate a warrant article.

Nancy and Jason


Filed under Sandown Issues