Superintendent Slaps Sandown over Withdrawal Study

In a staggering affront to the rights and sensibilities of Sandown residents, Superintendent Metzler released this statement a few minutes ago:


In speaking with district counsel, Dr. Metzler wanted to clarify a few items as it relates to the town of Sandown’s vote to conduct a withdrawal study under the provisions of RSA 195:25.
First, the study itself and all of its responsibilities belong to the town of Sandown. It will be up to the town to establish a committee and conduct the actual study. The composition of the committee is outlined in the statute.
Second, any costs associated with the study shall be borne by the town of Sandown as this is a town endeavor and no funds were appropriated in the article.
Third, although the town cannot compel board members from the other towns to serve on the committee, it is in the best interest of the district for them to do so as it allows the other towns to have input in the study.
The statute in its entirety is available by clicking on the link below.


The RSA in question says:   “…a pre-existing district shall, by a majority vote on a warrant article at a regular or special town meeting, direct the school board to conduct such a study. The study shall be conducted by a committee composed of at least one member of the school board from each of the pre-existing districts, one member of the board of selectmen from each town, and such other members as may be appointed by the committee.”

Although the RSA is silent about costs, all the costs I know are necessary involve accounting and actuarial costs that the district should have been paying all along in order to comply with standard governmental accounting practices, which it has not been doing. If this went to court, there is no doubt in my mind a judge would order the district to comply with governmental accounting standards and give us the financial information we need – at the district’s cost.

To be clear, the school board did not weigh in on this nor has the board seen a written legal opinion. This is the respect the administration has for the school board as well.

Instead of trying to be conciliatory to Sandown residents who are clearly unhappy with the school district and its administration, this bomb is lobbed at us 16 hours after election results.  The fight has just begun on this, gentle readers.  The fight has just begun.  Do not think for a moment that the district’s lawyers are the last word.



Filed under Withdrawing from District

32 responses to “Superintendent Slaps Sandown over Withdrawal Study

  1. Phil McCracken

    Sounds like you got us into a mess, looks like you never checked into the legal part.

    • I supported this citizen’s petition and I heartily appreciate the citizen who promulgated it. The lawyer’s opinion is completely off base just from a plain reading of the RSA and also by the practices of other districts that have gone through this in the past. The district pays the costs.

      • Phil McCracken

        “I did not promulgate it”

        With all due respect that is simply not true and i feel like we are made to look foolish here.

      • I heartily appreciate the citizen who brought forward this petition and I supported it right from the start and continue to do so and intend to fight for our rights according to RSA. Looking foolish has nothing to do with anything at the moment. Getting the study done is what is at issue.

  2. Cathy

    This isn’t within the superintendents scope. He works for the district and answers to the SB.
    The RSA is “clear” :
    Sandown (a pre-existing district), by majority vote, will **direct** the **school board** to conduct such a study. The study **shall** be conducted by a committee **composed of at least one member of the school board** from **each** of the pre-existing districts, one member of the board of selectmen from each town, and such other members as may be appointed by the committee.
    Perhaps the lawyer should take a second look at the RSA. And perhaps the next communication should come from the SB, that is responsible to conduct the study (per the RSA), after a SB meeting regarding the “withdrawal plan”.

  3. A lot of ambiguity in this situation. The district did not vote to study a break up. Only one town did so. Another town explicitly turned down requesting a study. So I could see lawyers arguing all sorts of ways on it especially since both “town” and “district” are used in the same sentence. If the district put together a committee (which it is not clear they have to) and if they recommend keeping the district together (which is very likely) the town of Sandown would have the right to submit a minority report on their own which would have to be based on a committee they put together and fund. Again the wording on this last part (specifically ” the town which voted to undertake the study “) could be interpreted to read that one town can require the district to take on the study. Not being a lawyer I have no idea how a judge would rule on that. I suspect that finding out (ie. having a trial) would be expensive for someone (ie taxpayers of both the district and Sandown).

  4. Peter Bealo

    In reviewing other similar petitions from other towns, I noticed that some included a money allocation to pay for their studies. I’m surprised the Sandown petitioners didn’t even do a Google search to look for such things as I did. This is just me speaking for myself, not representing any board or committee. The fact that the Sandown petitioners and their supporters, like Mrs. Green, didn’t perform due diligence is on them, its not a slap in the face by the Superintendent. But it is understandably difficult to look in the mirror and admit personal missteps.

    • Phil McCracken

      Thank you Mr. Bealo, i think district wide Sandown is looking foolish more and more this is a huge gaffe, i agree with you and that’s what it looks like to me.

  5. Kat

    So, I see it as two studies:
    1 The cost of Sandown being included in the district.
    2 The cost of Sandown planning and funding their own way.

    It’s the difference between the two that shows Sandown the cost of making a change. TRS could help with the first. The second is by far the greater task and I don’t see how or why TRS could, would, or should pay the cost that. Sandown would need to figure out their own exit strategy. Sandown would need to either join another district or build schools, establish contracts, hire staff, secure benefits, etc. None one bit of that should be borne by TRS. IMHO, Dr Metzler was referring to the second. I could be wrong, but that is my impression.

    • There is no reason that some volunteers/ elected officials with good financial information from the district can’t figure out a plan that would be acceptable to the NH Board of Education. And then be subject to the acceptance of the voters again.

  6. Kat

    And legal advice, which would again be the responsibility of Sandown.

    • I would think legal advice would come after the Board of Ed acceptance of the proposal and after it gets voted on by Sandown voters who would then authorize some legal fees before it goes to the entire school district.

      • Kat

        I think you will find it is far more complicated than that. But, have at it.

      • Phil McCracken

        In Dr. Metzler’s letter he is telling Sandown they have to pay for this , and if the town disagrees with it then you will need legal advice on how to handle this problem, which will cost the taxpayers.

      • No… I actually have a different idea that I’m not sharing at the moment.

    • Phil McCracken

      “any costs associated with the study shall be borne by the town of Sandown as this is a town endeavor and no funds were appropriated in the article”

  7. Cathy

    There should no confusion between a “pre-existing district” and “town”.

    A “school district” is within a town or towns. To help clarify – Per the AoA:
    “The **School Districts** of Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown shall be combined to form a cooperative school district which shall be named Timberlane Regional School District.”The **pre-existing districts** of Atkinson, Danville, and Sandown shall be entitled to two members and the pre-existing district of Plaistow, three members”.

    The RSA refers to the “pre-existing district” (of Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown) prior to forming a cooperative school district. The SB is the governing body made up of members from the “pre-existing districts” of Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown.

    “Town” in the RSA 195 is reference to the BOS ONLY because they are the governing body of the TOWN of Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown.

    • Jim

      Many of you seem to miss the point that many residents in Sandown no longer want to belong to Timberlane. The Administration has zero concern for the taxpayer. This Administration will continue to ask for more money to educate less students. There is no “gaffe’ here and I certainly do not feel that myself or the other 69.8% of the residents that voted for the study look foolish. This Administration and School Board does not have a bit of empathy for our position and we know it.
      The Administration turned the Deliberative Session into a Pep Rally. I’d like to cheer along with them but my tax bill won’t let me.

      • I have to say I agree with you completely and it is hugely disappointing.

      • Len Mullen

        Many residents of all the towns do not want to belong to the SAU. For some people, it’s about money. For others, it’s academics. For many, it’s about the safety of the children. There is very little value that comes from scale in education. For every increase in performance, there is a two fold increase in bureaucracy. SAU 55 with its administrators hid crime, alcohol, and child abuse problems from the community. Brown Bags have replaced school days. They have played games with hiring and budgeting. Unions, nepotism, and cronyism have top priority at Timberlane, Inc.

        I would forego all state and federal subsidies to have my children attend a nonunion school without lawyers, administrators, or consultants where academics was the only priority.

  8. Hannah Anderson

    Sandown wants to explore leaving the district. Sandown votes to explore that option. Sandown needs to absorb that cost. This is a town issue. I hope Sandown leaves. I am so sick of the drama and negativity. Good luck and good riddance.

    • There is something known as laws in this state which regulate these issues and the law states that the school board must do a study once a town has so voted. Given the information required, it does not need to cost money. Only those who run to lawyers like a baby with a scraped knee need to spend money on this study.

  9. Kat

    Well, how does that square with the other document you linked to that clearly states “NHSBA urges the Cooperative School Board or any of the towns within the Cooperative District to consult with its own attorney before proceeding.”

  10. tiredofyournegativecomments

    Rather than trying to break up the District MS GREEN Why don’t you try and work as a school board and work for the taxpayers and children in the School District. You think your taxes are high now. Try building a new school and supplying them with their own Superintendent and SAU building and teachers and Special ed and books and sports (Oh that’s right your husband doesn’t think sports are necessary as part of education) and You think your taxes will go down you have another thing coming to you. If you ever had children that went through this school district you might act a little more human than you are now. You move from another country and jump right into saying everything that is wrong with Sandown rather than seeing the good . You think that the voters voted for you a second term because they like what you are doing………. well you didn’t win by a landslide. Try getting all of your facts and really look into everything that is good with the district rather than what YOU think should be done. You are making Sandown and the district look like fools. You don’t like what you see MOVE OUT OF TOWN go back to Canada and try screwing up their school districts. You never even had a child in the district how could you possibly know what good this district has done to our past students as well as our current ones. So better yet why don’t you just step down and stop making an ASS of yourself.

    • The law is the law. Plain and simple. It has nothing to do with negativity or anything else.

    • Anonymous comments are what is ruining the Internet. Why did you not sign your name?

      • I think I will start a new policy of not accepting anonymous comments because you are absolutely correct Alfred Thompson who I hope to meet one day.

    • Phil McCracken

      One thing people forget about is the fact that if Sandown left the district we would also have to pay back all outstanding monies (our portion) owed on any outstanding debt created when inside the district including the cost to actually leave which we then would have to make a payment arrangement with the TRSD and that would take years to pay off, so add this to your new tax bill after leaving and I hardly think we would be any better off, a perfect example is one can only imagine what this years Attorneys fees will be and the burden on the taxpayers of TRSD so far, I would like to know the average over the last 3 years of those bills and then look at this years bill from legal counsel, can you even begin to think what just that cost would be on the district when/if Sandown leaves.

      Also if Sandown did leave the TRSD ,the impact on the remaining towns tax should not really change as you are removing all the cost of those Sandown students i.e. the burden of Per Pupil cost, busing, teachers maintenece sports programs, heat electric ..etc..etc.

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