Seems we’ve been inadvertently doing something wrong with warrant article recommendations for a long time. It comes with an edge of irony this year.
After the Jan. 15th Public Hearing on the school district budget, the school board met in a music room at the PAC to vote on their recommendations. This was a non-televised meeting so unfortunately the public has no insight into the reasoning of members (namely, me) who voted apart from the majority on the recommendations that are found at the bottom of warrant articles.
Similarly, after the Deliberative Session, the school board met in a room in the high school, untelevised, and voted once again on their recommendations for the warrant articles. This year I did not attend this meeting to re-vote on the recommendations and Mr. Collins made a federal case out of it on Friends of Education at Timberlane Facebook page. Here is what he said:
Just so people understand the type of person Donna Green is I’d like to share what happened this morning. I risk losing some in the detail and the nuances but I think, at this point, it needs to be made clear exactly who she is and what she represents…or in this case misrepresents…as she attacks the credibility of the rest of the Board. To what end? I don’t know…
It came to my attention that she posted some information that was incorrect. This is the relevant portion of her post from February 6th 11:01 am:
Donna Green wrote:
Deliberative Session ended at 12:10 a.m. after which the school board held a meeting. The agenda included a “first reading” of a new math curriculum. The materials for this math curriculum were sent to us at 3 pm, three hours before we were to arrive at the Deliberative. This is how seriously your board takes decisions of this magnitude. A new math program is the most important decision the school board will make – even more important than closing a school – because this will affect our students’ future in the modern world to a person.
I asked the chairman to reschedule that agenda item. She did not respond. I did not attend the meeting as I do not believe any member of the board could possibly have had time to read the voluminous material concerning the curriculum and no intelligent discussion could be expected.
There are several things in this post that are incorrect and/or misleading.
She discusses a “first reading” of a math curriculum that was on the agenda. She is absolutely correct in stating this and I agree with her in her concern regarding the addition of this curriculum to a post-deliberative meeting at the last minute, it was voluminous. Where she goes off the rails is her depiction of this being a “decision” or there being any “discussion.” She knows “first reading” does not include any decision and/or discussion, it is the dissemination of information only.
What we did do at this meeting was take another look at the warrant articles and re-vote on our recommendations. That is all we did.
In response, I posted the following comment which she quickly deleted.
Rob Collins wrote:
The math curriculum was not addressed at the post-deliberative board meeting. Even if it was, no decisions were expected to be made. It was a first reading which simply means the materials are made available.
You know this so I’m not sure why you’d portray it any differently?
Why would you discredit the board inappropriately for doing something you know wasn’t being done?
As a result you walked away from your duty to represent Sandown. If you truly believed we would make a decision on a curriculum we had only just received that day you should have spoken up in the meeting we were trying to do it in! The reality, of course, is that we never planned to do that, as you know.
So, what was the real reason you abdicated your duty as the Sandown rep to the SB and instead sat in your car waiting for Arthur?
As I said before, she quickly deleted my comment.
If she had simply attended the meeting, or asked Nancy Steenson, she would have discovered the curriculum had been removed from the agenda completely.
Instead she sat in her car in the parking lot.
Now here’s the funny thing about this nastygram. It turns out the school board should not have been re-voting the warrants except for the one warrant article that was amended during Deliberative, and this is the budget. I abstained on the budget the first time round and of course I would have done so again. Neither budget option is acceptable to me.
The Eagle Tribune newspaper yesterday (Feb 11, 2015) ran a front page story about Salem’s Budget Committee violating the law by re-voting all the warrant articles after the Deliberative session, instead of just the articles which were amended at the session.
The RSA in question is under the Municipal Budget Law 32:5 V (b) “If the article is amended at the first session of the meeting in an official ballot referendum municipality, the governing body and the budget committee, if one exists, may revise its recommendation on the amended version of the special warrant article and the revised recommendation shall appear on the ballot for the second session of the meeting provided, however, that the 10 percent limitation on expenditures provided for in RSA 32:18 shall be calculated based upon the initial recommendations of the budget committee;”
And lest a school board member come bellowing back, as has happened before, that Municipal Budget laws don’t apply to school districts, let me remind all that the introduction of RSA 32 says this: RSA 32:1-13, shall apply to all towns, school districts, cooperative school districts, village districts, municipal economic development and revitalization districts created under RSA 162-K, and any other municipal entities, including those created pursuant to RSA 53-A or 53-B, which adopt their budgets at an annual meeting of their voters, except …. [not applicable.]
I sincerely hope the school board and the budget committee’s first recommendation votes will be the ones we see on the ballot come March – with the exception of Article Two, the budget.
And by the way, First Readings should be discussion filled and substantive. The First Reading of the Envision math program a few years back lasted more than one hour. The Second Reading, where it was rejected with no reason whatsoever, lasted exactly two minutes.