Monthly Archives: February 2015

Warrant Article Recommendations Done in Error

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.



Filed under 2015 Warrant ARticles, Budget 2015-2016, Budget Committee, School Board Behavior

Words Which Must Be Silenced

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

At Timberlane Deliberative on Thursday night, supporters of the administration insisted that the body invest one hour in order to prevent my ten minute presentation. The moderator had previously agreed to give me 15 minutes to make a  presentation on the budget.  Twenty-six hours before deliberative, I received notification to cut this to 10 minutes.  Due to an orchestrated motion from the floor, I was ultimately allowed 3 minutes, which I had to respond to on the fly.

Here is the 10-minute presentation – my speaking notes interspersed with the slides I had prepared.

Presentation for Timberlane Deliberative Feb 5



Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Budget Committee, Taxes

Parents: Important Info on NH Scholars Program

Parents:  Please forward this to others. Not all this information is on the district website.
Now that high school students are currently selecting classes for 2015-2016 through a new online process, keep in mind the requirements of the NH Scholars program so your child can be eligible for this outstanding  program with little known but important scholarship benefits.
New Hampshire Scholars is a community-based program that encourages students to take a more rigorous Core Course of Study in high school. It is based on a partnership between a community’s local business leaders and its school district. New Hampshire Scholars is federally-funded through the New Hampshire Department of Education.
4 Year High School Planner
NH Scholarship College Fee Waiver and Scholarship Benefits:
includes:  Several colleges and universities are providing merit-based scholarships to students who graduate with the distinction of a New Hampshire Scholar. As of Fall 2014 the following are available:
NH Scholars Day of Student Recognition includes:
Student transportation ( paid by NH Scholars)
Governor Maggie Hassan will congratulate students
Following the ceremony schools, students and their families are invited to stay for a NH Scholars-themed baseball game with the NH Fisher Cats

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

Responses to My Deliberative Speech

Gentle Readers,

Some very interesting comments have been posted to my last posting, “My Deliberative Speech.”  Please scroll down to it and click on the comments.  After the first 6, things get interesting.

For instance, it is news to me that there is a certified Foreign Language in Elementary School instructor already employed at Timberlane High School. We did not need to hire the superintendent’s wife.  I knew that there were other FLES instructors in NH, but right at our own high school, this is rich.  Pinocchio Academy and the Mushroom Farm strike the school board once again and hit you in the pocketbook, too.

And of course, the no big secret, that Mrs. Grosky, the budget committee chairman’s wife, was hired to combat “The Greens.”   Mr. Collins said so at a Danville Board of Selectman meeting.

As I said before, Timberlane does not look for the best people in its own backyard; it climbs up on ladders and peers into bedroom windows. And nepotism is far from the only hiring problem.

Those who care about education are going to wake up one day to realize that all these things that look like minor financial and ethical irregularities have completely corroded our ability to deliver a quality education.




Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Pinocchio Academy, Spanish Consultant Contract, The Mushroom Farm

My Deliberative Speech

For those interested in keeping public education affordable, for those who want to encourage the well-being of young families so they can have children and stay in the state, for those who want to help retired people stay in their homes, last night was a rout. One hundred people showed up out of approximately 800 to support lowering the school district’s budget. The teachers’ union was out in force in a well coordinated campaign.

In a brilliant stroke of pre-reheared gamesmanship, a woman motioned to limit all presentations to three minutes.  This was staggeringly undemocratic and the very opposite of what a “deliberative session” is all about.  I called for a secret ballot on the motion which was met with anger at the inconvenience.  I offered to withdraw my request for a secret ballot if the motion to limit presentations and addresses was withdrawn.  It was not.  Then I tried to get the moderator’s attention to call for a show of cards but my microphone was turned off and the moderator did not recognize me.  Getting the moderator to recognize me, Arthur Green and Tony Cantone continued to be an issue throughout the evening.  The motion passed by a wide margin.  As a result, Arthur commented that he wondered what people were afraid of in hearing his information.  He made the best he could of 3 minutes when he had diligently prepared a 15 minutes presentation then cut to ten minutes with just 24 hours notice by the moderator the day before.  I, too, could not get through my prepared remarks which the moderator improperly interrupted and attempted to stop.  You can read why here:


Timberlane has many fine teachers, students who make us proud and a passionate school community. We’re not here to tell you Timberlane is bad. We’re here to give you an honest assessment so we can improve together. The first step is getting control of the budget.

My husband and I have been made out to be dangerous enemies to public education. That is patently ridiculous, but we ARE enemies of something else –waste and indefensible practices.

In the past 14 months the school board has

  • hired the superintendent’s wife as a consultant to introduce Spanish in Kindergarten at $50,000 a year. The board will almost certainly be renewing her contract for four subsequent years.

  • Hired the wife of an SAU board member as a teacher

  • Hired the wife of the chairman of the budget committee as a PR consultant –an unbudgeted position, and entirely needless.

I honestly cannot say I believe this is the extent of crony hiring.

  • In 2014 the school board dropped the requirement for competitive bids if the “existing services continue to meet the needs of the district.” This couldn’t be more wasteful and irresponsible. Our Athletic Trainer contract, for instance, did not go out to bid for 28 years until we were hounded by a parent to do so. The result was an excellent new company that provides more services – such as doctors at football games – for significantly less money.

I don’t know how many other contracts we have like this. I tried to amend this new policy to say that all contracts had to go out to bid at a minimum of every three years. This was defeated 1 to 8 by the board sitting in front of you.

The district also has a practice of withholding financial and staffing information and making elected officials pay for it. In the past 14 months, Arthur and I had to resort to 13 Right to Know requests– all for public information mostly at fifty cents a page.

These included:

  • monthly revenue and expenditure reports

  • a year end financial report

  • enrollment projections

  • basic staffing numbers

  • Mrs. Metzler’s contract

Last year, the district’s financial audit was issued 9 months late with an adverse opinion. Nothing has been done to address those issues. Now the audit is once again no where in sight… 2 months late to no one’s concern.

I could go on but I’m allowed only 3 minutes. The current practices are self-serving and profoundly disrespectful of the sacrifice your family makes to pay taxes.

How can it be responsible to cut millions from the budget?

It is positively irresponsible not to.

The Responsible Budget gives more per student than currently. The proposed budget adds a staggering $900 more per student.

Taxpayers can no longer prop up a system that will not control itself.

We must demand excellence in both education and management and stand up to the politics of fear.

In a surprising turn of events, Mr. Bealo, member from Plaistow,  motioned to add $250,000 to the budget to put in a sprinkler system in Danville Elementary. The amended and increased budget passed by large majority.  Arthur Green’s subsequent motion to lower the budget by what was then $3 million lost dramatically:  100 for, 517 against.

It’s been a great year for the facilities manager.  Lots of major projects are getting funded that weren’t even on the facilities 5-yr plan.  One wonders what role budgeting and planning have in our district.  Next May, when the school board is staring at an irresistible surplus, you can look forward to learning about and paying for other emergency projects not even a twinkle in the facilites’ plan.

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.





Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Sandown Issues, Taxes, Withdrawing from District

Today is Timberlane’s Deliberative: A vote for choice

The battle over the budget reaches its climax tonight at school Deliberative Session.

We are fighting to give the voters a reasonable choice on the March ballot.  If nothing changes tonight, voters in March will have a choice between a tax increase and a bigger tax increase.  If we succeed, then voters will have a real choice between a modest tax cut in all four towns or a $68 million default budget that also includes funding for Sandown Central.

Plan to arrive early as parking will be an issue, as will the time it takes to get registered to vote.  Car pool if you can.

Emotions will be high because no matter how large a budget a school district is given and no matter how many students it has lost, any proposed cut  is met with outraged cries from the administration who fans fear of harm to students.  Those who support budget cuts are not enemies of children or education — they are simply wise to the power struggle. The well-being of children and education are not at stake here.  Returning power to the voters is what is.

Timberlane Deliberative Session

Doors open in the Timberlane High School Cafeteria at 6 pm for voter registration

Session begins at 7 pm.  Budget vote will be first.

36 Greenough Rd., Plaistow, NH



Filed under Budget 2015-2016

District Moderator Cuts 5 Minutes from Green’s Presentation

Tomorrow night’s Deliberative Session is poised to make history.  Today, adults were holding signs in front of the high school urging parents and students to “Support Timberlane.”  A vast social media campaign has been in the works featuring students holding up signs declaring that they are not a number. At least one newspaper ad has been taken out by the teachers’ union, and the opposing side has sent post cards have to every household in the district.

A crowd of 1000 people is expected.

Why?  Because Arthur Green is going to make a motion to lower the budget by $2.8 million. In prior discussion with the moderator, Steven Ranlett,  Arthur was to be given 15 minutes for a slide presentation on the underpinnings of his well researched argument that Timberlane staffing is bloated. Without Arthur, Deliberative would be the usual sleepy rubber stamp it has been well into the past.

Mr. Ranlett allowed me only 3 minutes.

At 3:45 pm today, 27 hours before the event, the SAU’s Ms. Belcher, has announced that due to the volume of requested presentations that the moderator will limit each presenter to 10 minutes. Cutting material from a presentation is far more difficult than adding material and this last minute change of plan is unfair and outrageous.

Bobble Head Boards

Everyone attending Deliberative should know that the school board as a whole is not shown the Deliberative presentation in advance nor is the budget committee.  We all sit up there like we know what is being said, but lots of it will be as new to us as it will be to you. At the last school board meeting, I asked to see the presentation which will be made on our behalf tomorrow. Of course I was refused. It is never vetted with the board, apparently.

Who writes it?  I have no idea!  All I know is that I’m supposed to sit on the stage like a good school board member and pretend I agree with everything being said even though the facts and arguments will likely be new to me. Same is true with the Budget Committee.  We are all to be happy bobble heads on stage.

A district interested in a fair exchange of ideas would not keep their presentation hidden from its own elected officials.  It would not unfairly and at the last moment limit a critical presentation by an opponent.  In fact, it would do everything possible to facilitate open information and debate.

You will be able to see those values on display tomorrow night.


Filed under Sandown Issues

Why Thursday is So Important: $73M Ahead

At the Public Hearing for the school budget on Jan. 15, Superintendent Metzler said that the proposed budget for next year “could have been $73 million.”  “That’s the facts,” he said.

Let that be a warning to all voters.  Dr. Metzler has big plans for your wallet.

Just so you know, the 2015-2016 default budget is higher than our current default budget by a whopping   $824,934.

This is why you must attend Deliberative Session on Thursday night.  Doors open at 6 pm.  Voter registration is in the high school cafeteria.  The meeting is in the high school gym.  Be there or be prepared for $73 Million in the future.







Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Sandown Issues, Taxes

Sandown Deliberative: Separation Study Goes Ahead. Make Plans for Feb 5th UPDATED

At Sandown’s annual Town Deliberative yesterday, Tony Piemonte’s Citizen’s Petition went to the ballot unchallenged by amendments.  The petition asks the school board to form a committee to conduct a study to gather the facts and costs of what would be involved in  separating from the Timberlane Regional School District.

The same smooth sailing did not occur at Atkinson’s Deliberative session where an identical petition warrant article was before voters.   The Moderator made clear in the public discussion that he thought the language of the article was so closely in line with the wording of its associated RSA that it could not be changed. Mr. Grosky and Mr. Sapia spoke against the article which went to ballot as written.

UPDATE 2/2/15: 

A previous version of this posting said: “My source tells me that Jason Grosky made strenuous efforts to propose an amendment but was unsuccessful.  Mr. Grosky denies this version of events. (See comments section.)”  After reviewing the Vimeo recording of the Atkinson Deliberative, I owe an apology to Mr. Grosky.  He spoke against the separation study warrant article but he did not attempt to amend it.


Timberlane’s school Deliberative session is going to be a rollicking one this year with more than 1000 people expected.  Arthur Green will be proposing a cut to the bottom line of the budget and forces pro and con are rallying their troops for a showdown that will be won by sheer numbers.

The issue is more pressing for those in favor of cutting the budget because if they don’t prevail at Deliberative, they will have no choice at the ballot in March because the default budget is higher than the proposed budget offered by the district.  Those who want to protect the district’s budget have a choice of giving them what they want or even more, which hardly seems a fair choice for voters.

This is a contest of numbers. It is also a test of democracy. Plan to arrive well ahead of time to register to vote before the session starts at 7 pm .  Try to car pool if you can.  Doors to the high school gym open at 6 pm.

If you stay home, your school taxes are almost certain to go up.  If you attend, you have a good chance of getting a lower budget on the ballot in March.


Filed under Sandown Issues