Monthly Archives: May 2015

Questions on Special Education Still Not Answered

UPDATE:  I received answers to these questions on June 2, 1:15 pm.  Stay tuned for a summary of the answers in a few days.

I’m still waiting to receive the answers to these questions. My query was sent April 29th.

1) What are the number of IEPs as reported to the DOE each year starting in 2007 broken out:

  • by ages 3-5, 6-21
  • by grade level of student
  • by town of residence

2) Why has the 5-year graduation rate fallen so significantly over one year?  What is the actual number of students reflected in the percentage of graduates reported to the DOE?

3) Where the DOE reports the percentage of graduates, please provide the actual number. Why is there no 2013 four-year graduation number?

4) Please provide the number of students who have not graduated after 5 years broken out by town.

5)  Please provide the NUMBER of students

  • in each identified area of primary need
  • broken out by town.

6)  Out-of-district programs:

  • please state the names of the programs being used out-of-district,
  • the cost per year,
  • the number of students sent to each program beginning with 2007 broken out by students’ town of residence.

7) With respect to the cost per town of SPED services, please provide the government assistance relating to these services broken out by each type of financial payment for each town beginning with 2007.

8) Why are we significantly lower on Early Childhood programs (re: 6A) ?

9) How is preschool rate of growth assessed?

10) How does the district know the post-graduation employment of SPED students?


At the April 16th school board meeting which I was unable to attend, Special Education Director, Ms. Rincon, went through 14 evaluation measures submitted annually to the Department of Education.  This report is so deeply buried on the DOE site that despite years of familiarity with the site, I was unaware of it and only by learning the actual name of the report was it possible to find it.  In the video, you will hear Ms. Rincon talk about the 14 measures of SPED performance and Timberlane’s strong showing.

That was good to hear but how, Arthur Green wondered, do the comparable districts do on these same 14 measures as reported to the DOE?   Here’s a table that shows just that (please “zoom” on it):

SPP Comparison

This is all information submitted to the Department of Education. Detailed explanations of the measurement criteria are here, and the source profiles are

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Breaking News: Ward out as Chair, Collins in, Steenson Exceeds Her Authority Again

In a new development of the Sandown Withdrawal Feasibility Study Committee established by the district, Co-chairman, Kelly Ward from Sandown, has resigned as co-chair.  (Note:  this is not the Sandown Study established by the Sandown BOS.) The school board chairman, Nancy Steenson, took it upon herself to issue this astonishing statement:

TO: Sandown Withdrawal Feasibility Study Committee

FROM: Nancy Steenson, Chair and Peter Bealo, Vice Chair

DATE: May 29, 2015

REFERENCE: Committee Officers

Due to the demands of serving as co-chair of the Sandown Withdrawal Feasibility Study

Committee and in light of current family and work obligations, Mr. Kelly Ward will no

longer be serving as co-chairman of the committee effective immediately. Mr. Ward will

remain on the committee as school board representative for the town of Sandown and in

doing so will remain committed to providing his very best to the citizens of Sandown and

the school district as a whole. Mr. Ward is highly regarded on the school board and on this

committee and we place high value on his contributions to the district as well as his

willingness to participate in this important study.

As appointing authority for this school board committee per RSA 195:25, and with the full

support of Mr. Bealo, my vice chair, I am appointing Mr. Rob Collins, school board

representative from the town of Danville as the Withdrawal Feasibility Study Committee

chairman. Mr. Collins is more than qualified to lead the committee’s charge as he is an

articulate, focused and organized chairman with a history of running effective and efficient

For clarification purposes, this is not a co-chair appointment, but a chairmanship. The

committee’s next point of order will be to select a new vice chair and secretary.

In closing, both Peter and I wish the committee every success in producing the feasibility

study report and look forward to our continued work as it relates to providing the very

best public education to the students of Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown.

Once again, Mrs. Steenson is exceeding her authority.  A chairman has no authority outside of meetings to take any action whatsoever without the vote of the entire school board. Furthermore, the committee has an existing co-chair:  Cindy Buco from Sandown who by rights should now be the full chairman of the committee.  Mr. Collins is ever-present and is parachuted in to situations when they are not going in the pre-approved direction.  He instigates censures, forces resignations, steers deliberations, and generally fixes “problems.” He is the last person who should be chairing this committee.  The Capital Improvement Plan Committee, which he also chairs, is creaking into oblivion. Perhaps he envisions that same fate for this committee.

This is an affront to Sandown whose own Cindy Buco should be leading this committee so that she can ensure that Sandown’s interests in a full exploration of the options available are respected.  Mrs. Steenson should resign her position for repeatedly not knowing the limits of her authority.

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Filed under Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, Withdrawal Feasibility Study, Withdrawing from District

When Does Bizarre Turn into Something More?

There has been a bizarre issue going on between the towns and Timberlane in the last few months.

The History

In early March, the Danville Board of Selectmen wrote the SAU asking for the release of student addresses and grade level for Danville students attending Timberlane.  This information is needed by a consultant in order to update the impact fees Danville imposes on developers to offset school capital costs.

The request went to the school board which said “No” to the release of this information.

In 2012 the board revised its student privacy policy (JRA) to prohibit the release of student addressees and the board refused to waive the policy in this case.

Now, if you knew how easily the board ignores its own policies you might find this sudden stand on policy surprising. I mean, Mrs. Steenson signed a contract without the vote of the school board so how much more flagrant a breach of policy can you have yet the only board member making a fuss about that is me.

At this decision, the Danville BOS asked for time on the school board’s agenda to explain their need in greater detail.

Again the board said “No.”  Use the five minutes of public comment time, they were told.

Ignoring the effrontery of that treatment, Danville BOS Chairman, Mr. O’Neil, put together a very thorough presentation packet for the board at a subsequent meeting and did a fine job in the five minutes allotted to him.

On the basis of that material, I requested the issue be put on our agenda and to my astonishment it was. On May 21, Mr. O’Neil and the consultant with whom Danville has contracted to conduct the impact fee recalculation, Mr. Bruce Mayberry, made their case. Elected officials from Sandown and Atkinson also spoke (at public comment) in support of getting this vital information from the district.

The board still said “No.”  We can’t break our policy (even though we normally throw our policies to the floor at the slightest provocation and dance upon them like when the district didn’t do a plan before defunding a school.) Instead, the board voted (6-1-2  Atkinson reps abstained, Green against) to ask Danville parents to agree to release this information, knowing full well that the response will not provide what Danville is looking for:  ALL the addresses of the Danville children attending school in the district.

Mr. Mayberry, who has been doing this for towns in NH for 25 years, says he’s never seen anything like this in any town or school district he has dealt with before.  He has a very exacting method for calculating school district costs based on the type of new residential development.  His methodology, which has been defended in court, requires ALL student addresses, and grade level (not names). Without this information Danville could be forced to stop charging developers impact fees which would result in even higher taxes for Danville residents.

Mr. Bealo, in his zest for policy, went so far as to suggest that Mr. Mayberry be fingerprinted and Cori checked in order to be a recipient of this limited directory information.

New Information

Now, thanks to the work of a singularly perceptive parent, I have learned that all Timberlane parents have already given permission for the district to disclose what is known as “directory information” about their children, specifically addresses and grade level and/or dates of birth.  This permission is given to the district in the Rights and Responsibilities “contract” which parents are required to sign at the beginning of each year. Additionally, each school has a student handbook that notifies parents that directory information including addresses and birth dates, can be released – which is all that is required by the law. (Pollard is the only school that does not explicitly talk about directory information in their handbook.  The Middle School student handbook is not available online and couldn’t be checked.)

What this Means

This means that our policy is out of step with our disclosure to and permission from parents and is unreasonably restrictive. It also means that the board could easily waive the policy because the legally required notification has already been given to parents and agreed to by parents.

So what is really at play here?  A paranoia about student privacy to the detriment of our town taxpayers… or something else?

Allow my imagination to run riot

Each town pays the district based on the number of students (ADM) who attend from each town.  Only the school district itself tells us how many students each town is sending to them.  As it happens, the information Danville is asking for and which Sandown and Atkinson are also interested in, is the ONLY way each town would possibly have of independently verifying the exact number of students being sent to Timberlane.

Oddly, this is exactly the information that the school board decides to die on a hill refusing to provide. A partial response from opt-in forms returned from parents will not suffice for a town curious about its actual enrollment. And that is the option your school board sees fit to impose even though it means a tremendous administrative burden.  It is too much to ask the SAU to put contracts out to bid on a regular basis, but it is perfectly OK to ask the administration keep track of parent responses from every student from Danville, Sandown and Atkinson.

The logical absurdities keep multiplying. Something is not making sense.

I requested this issue once again make its way onto the agenda in light of this new information. My request was ignored. When does bizarre turn into something more?

See my earlier post on this issue:


Filed under Sandown Issues

SB Posts Agenda: “Sandown Consolidation Plan Action”??

School board members are always the last to know what is going to be on their own agenda; nevertheless, I was extremely surprised to see “Sandown Consolidation Plan – Action (45 minutes) on the agenda.

We just dealt with the consolidation at the last meeting.

45 minutes too?  Nothing short of declaring nuclear war on Bedford (so we can move up in the rankings) would make the chairman allot 45 minutes to any agenda topic. Last meeting’s agenda allotted just 30 minutes to the momentous decision that was dreaded since November.

I previously emailed a request to the chairman asking to revisit the issue of student information for the purposes of impact fee calculation since new information has come out that parents have (for the most part) given pre-authorization for the release of this information at the beginning of the year.

An agenda item that affects the taxes of every property owner in Danville is ignored but something we already dealt with gets 45 minutes.  Hmm…..

I personally welcome more considered discussion of the consolidation decision taken at the last meeting which was rushed and superficial, but this is a procedurally odd thing to do considering the vote was unanimous.

It would be a courtesy of the chairman to inform the board as to the reason this item has returned to the agenda so we are not sideswiped at the next meeting, but that isn’t the way things are done at the mushroom farm.


Regular Meeting – 7:30 PM   Thursday, June 4,, 2015

Dr. Earl Metzler, II, Superintendent

Dr. Roxanne Wilson, Asst. Superintendent

1. 7:30 PM Call to Order – Chair (15 minutes)

2. Roll Call – Clerk

3. Pledge of Allegiance

4. Approval of Minutes

a. May 21, 2015 public and nonpublic sessions

5. Delegations or Individuals

6. Current Business

a. 7:45PM DI Team Presentation* – INFORMATIONAL (10 minutes)

b. 7:55PM English Language Arts Curriculum – ACTION (15 minutes) – 2nd Read

c. 8:10PM Dual Enrollment* – INFORMATIONAL (15)

d. 8:25PM TTA Update – INFORMATIONAL (10 minutes)

e. 8:35PM Project Lead the Way* – ACTION (10 minutes)

f. 8:45PM Sandown Consolidation Plan – ACTION (45 minutes)

g. 9:30PM Tuition Rates – ACTION (5 minutes)

h. 9:35PM Policies – ACTION (5 minutes) – 2nd Read

i. 9:40PM School Board Goals – INFORMATIONAL/ACTION (5 minutes)

7. 9:45PM Administrator’s Report

a. Update on School Activities – INFORMATIONAL

8. Personnel Report

9. 9:55PM Committee Reports

10.10:00PM Reports of the School Board

11.Correspondence Folder

12.Vendor and Payroll Registers

13.10:10PM Other Business

14.Non-public (if needed)

15.Future Dates


Filed under Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, School Board Functioning, The Mushroom Farm

Tonight’s Withdrawal Study Committee Meeting CANCELLED

On May 26th, Rob Collins announced that the district’s Sandown Withdrawal Feasibility Committee meeting scheduled for tonight was cancelled until further notice. (Please note that this is NOT the Sandown Study which is scheduled for June 2 at 7 pm at the Rec Center.)

From:”Rob Collins” <>

Date:Tue, May 26, 2015 at 1:42 PM
Subject:Sandown Withdrawal Feasibility Committee

Our committee will not be meeting this week.  We will be scheduling another meeting soon.  More details to come.

Rob Collins
SWFC Secretary

Normally chairmen cancel meetings.  Normally a reason for cancellation is provided.

Here’s an interesting development from the May 21st school board meeting.  Seems a district lawyer will now be at Mr. Ward’s disposal.  Will he also be at every meeting?  Could his schedule be why tonight’s meeting was cancelled? I have no insider information so my question is just that – a speculative question.


Filed under Sandown Issues

Mushroom Farm at its Best: Railroaded into Votes

By way of background, let me establish that I have served on the board of a small non-profit, served four years on the Sandown Planning Board and a number of years as an alternate on the Sandown ZBA, two years on the school budget committee along with my 1+ service on the school board. Only at Timberlane have I felt railroaded into a vote and this has happened repeatedly.

The Consolidation

The consolidation vote was a prime example. The study was officially released to the school board 29 hours before we voted on it. During the all too brief discussion of the issue at the May 21 school board meeting, I asked for the vote to be delayed so all the board members could think about the recommendations and discuss it with constituents.  Not one member supported this.  Ms. Steenson said none of her constituents ever contact her. Mrs. Sherman said the teachers needed an end to the uncertainty. From the paucity of questions about the report, it isn’t clear just how many board members had actually had time to read the report in full.

Despite being fundamentally against the consolidation, all my practical objections were addressed at the meeting.  Yes, there are two nagging and outstanding problems with Sandown North  — the sprinklers and the traffic — but these issues would be the same with or without consolidation and as far as I could tell would not be made worse.  The number of students after the consolidation would be almost exactly the same as presently. As for needing a larger playground for the older children, Rob Collins seemed confident the board would approve funding for that out of this year’s budget. (Let’s ignore that disturbing issue of paying for capital improvements with operational funding surplus because this situation hardly seems a precedent — or the fact that the voters rejected funding that in the forthcoming budget year.)

Ignored completely was the cost of running the independent pre-k’s in each school.  We were in such a rush to make a decision – any decision at all – that niggling things like money just never entered the picture. It was a precipitous vote and I regret not insisting that we needed more time instead of being railroaded into that vote by a sense of urgency that was deliberately orchestrated.

New Hiring

I was slightly more successful in resisting the railroaded votes of approval for the two new hires, only because I have a firm policy of not approving any hires because we are simply not given enough information to make an informed decision. (I abstain.)

In a room packed with administrators and spectators, including the press, Dr. Metzler introduced without warning or in agenda order, two prospective new hires – a new assistant principal and a new Director of Data and Accountability, both of whom were present in the room.  Dr. Metzler reads one resume.  He asks for a vote of the board.  Up go the hands.  Done. Candidate shakes hands with all board members.  Repeat.  Done.   Candidate shakes hands with all board members.

Naturally, only Mrs. Green asks any questions.  In the mad rush; however, I missed the fact, disclosed only on paper not given to the board before that meeting, that the Data Accountability position is $100,000. This was a position that we were previously told required strong math skills and would be difficult to fill. I’m sure Ms. Michaud is a lovely and competent person, but the resume the board was given does not indicate any strength or training in mathematics. Also not disclosed either in writing or in Dr. Metzler’s introduction, was the fact that Ms. Michaud is currently the principal of Manchester’s Hallsville Elementary School. This is the school that hosted an extremely controversial “lesson” on bullying which created such an uproar that parents started a petition in April to have Ms. Michaud reprimanded.  See the story here: Hallsville Bullying Lesson

There are always two sides to a story and Ms. Michaud’s position at Timberlane is very different from her position at Hallsville. It is a regrettable beginning for Ms. Michaud to find herself the subject of a blog, but that is the fault of the administration. Whether or not this controversy in Manchester has any bearing on her position at Timberlane, it should certainly have been disclosed to the board. I bring it up to illustrate how the school board is herded into votes by selective disclosure of information and deliberately rushed situations.

An Undertaking Learned the Hard Way

Whenever I feel forced into a vote, I will vote no.

New hires presented in front of an audience of their peers looking to get approved?  No.

New hires with a skeleton resume given to us and no knowledge of other candidates?  No.

Artificially or deliberately orchestrated urgent situations?  No.

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Filed under Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, SAU 55 Issues

Consolidation Report

Sandown Elementary Schools Consolidation Report and Recommendations-final (1)

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Unanimous Vote to Consolidate Sandown Schools

The Timberlane School Board voted unanimously to consolidate Sandown’s elementary schools last night after making a substantive change to the consolidation plan presented by the consolidation committee. The 2015-2016 academic year will see the TLC program currently housed at Pollard School moved to Sandown Central.  Contrary to the consolidation plan’s recommendation, all the other pre-school programs will remain at their current schools.  Pollard will be offering pre-school at their location as well.

Sandown Central will house the district’s TLC program along with all of Sandown’s kindergarten students and its pre-school.

More later.

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Bait and Switch at Sandown Central: Consolidation Report Recommendations

Sandown has been in turmoil since December 4, 2014 when the school board voted to support Dr. Metzler’s removal of operational funding for Sandown Central in the 2015-2016 budget.

First:  The Bait

We were given the following arguments for closing Sandown Central:

1) the building had the highest cost per pupil of the entire district

2) all Sandown students could be accommodated in Sandown North

3) closing SC would save $744,000 every year to infinity after consolidation costs.

Now:  The Switch

This morning, the Sandown Schools Consolidation report was leaked to me. It is due to be presented to the school board tomorrow night.  If what I’ve been given is genuine, and I have reason to believe it is, the study recommends:

1) District-wide consolidation of pre-school programs at Sandown Central

2) all Sandown kindergarten programs at Sandown Central

In order to accomplish this the report says Sandown North should have:

  •  a bus-only additional access road to relieve traffic issues
  • A new one acre fenced off playground
  • building-wide sprinklers

If ever a project was sold under false pretenses, this is it.

There was never an educational argument in this consolidation. There is no educational advantage to Sandown students or any others who will have to spend more time on buses to get to programs. The argument was always a financial one and that turned out to be a promise more false than the hope of spring in March. There will be no money whatsoever saved in this re-organization, and certainly nothing saved that couldn’t have been done without the consolidation. Furthermore, this has the potential to be a big waste of money. How can the district be proposing a major program reorganization to a Sandown location when Sandown is exploring leaving the district potentially as early as July 2017?

Is This Even Legal?

Now let’s look at the legality of all of this.  The voters denied operational funding of Sandown Central when they defeated two warrant articles to keep the school open with funding. The district is keeping the school open anyway. “No” means “No” except in the Timberlane School District where the school board chair signed a five-year contract without school board vote and budget laws are mere leaves of paper in a dusty book. The district also voted against a new playground at Sandown North but, with the large influx of older students, Sandown North very much needs a new playground.  Let’s watch the magical logic and twisted legal opinions coming soon that rationalize a new playing field despite a failed warrant article.

For the record, I am relieved Sandown Central is staying open as a school because I believe this consolidation was precipitous, and we clearly still need two facilities. In my opinion, the Sandown schools should stay as they currently are configured for at least one more year until the voters approve necessary changes to Sandown North and permit whatever reasonable operational and capital improvement funding is needed for both schools’ new use – and we see the results of the withdrawal feasibility studies.

If the district is going to break the law by violating the will of the voters in keeping Sandown Central open without district approved operational funding, why not leave things as they are for another year and finally do it right?

Transition to Public/Private Model without School Board Approval?

The idea of a dedicated special education facility for pre-school is an interesting one that could have benefits to the district if it does indeed make space for more tuitioned pre-K and full-time K students. But this should be a deliberate decision and not one forced on us by “closing” a school.  We now have tuitioned full-time kindergarten.  We may now be encouraging an expanded tuitioned pre-school program. Are we turning into a public/private model something akin to Pinkerton without an explicit plan by the school board?

It Was Never Truthfully About Money

Interestingly, the consolidation committee was instructed not to concern themselves with the financial consequences of their recommendations. This tells me right from the start that the Superintendent never had any intention of making good on the statement that “closing” Sandown Central would save the district money.  It was never truthfully about saving money.  It was never about education.  So what was it about except retribution to Sandown?

The school board meets tomorrow at 7:30 pm.  The report is to be presented to the school board at that time. I will post the report to this blog on Friday.  Thank you to the Sandown patriot who leaked it to me. Thank you, also, to the dedicated Sandown residents who volunteered their effort to the study. The study gives no indication as to how many members of the committee endorsed the recommendations.


Filed under 2015 Warrant ARticles, Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues

Sandown Minority Report Committee Meeting: May 20, 7 pm

The first meeting of Sandown’s own study for the feasibility of withdrawing from the Timberlane Regional School District will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20th at 7 pm in the Town Hall. The agenda is reproduced below. The public is welcome.

Plans are being made to capture the meeting for cable channel broadcast and Vimeo archiving. Minutes, documents and future announcements will be posted on a dedicated page on the town’s website,

Some adjustment to the membership will be made at the meeting:  Mr. Bruce Cleveland will be volunteering to assist the committee but cannot commit to full membership at this time; Ms. Sue Reynolds may not be able to be the recording secretary.

Sandown Feasibility of Withdrawal from TRSD Minority Committee

Date: Wednesday May 20, 2015


Cindy Buco (Board of Selectmen)

Tony Piemonte (Sandown Budget Committee)

Donna Green (Timberlane Regional School Board)

Cathy Gorman (Timberlane Budget Committee)

Bruce Cleveland (Sandown Moderator)

Lisa Tapley (Sandown)

Paula Martin (Sandown)

Michael Costanzo (Sandown)

Sue Reynolds (Recording Secretary)

Meeting Call to Order: 7:00 PM

Pledge of Allegiance


Selection of Officers

  • Chair
  • Vice-Chair

Establish committees and designate committee chairs

  • Educational Plan
  • Financial Plans
  • Governance and Administration
  • Public Communication and Consultation
  • Others?

Invitation of additional members

Plan for public posting of committee materials

Public Comment: 5 minute comments

Timeline and plan:

  • Overview of RSAs
  • Feasibility Study
  • Plan for withdrawal
  • Schedule of committee meetings

Draft Outline of the Study Report

Information Requirements to be communicated to TRSD

  • Financials
  • Special Education Program Details
  • Grants
  • Transportation

Other business


Here is the agenda for the district’s Withdrawal Feasibility Study Committee that met on May 14, 2015:

1. Call to Order – 7:00 PM
2. Current Business
a. Committee Membership
b. RSA 195: Withdrawal From Cooperative School District – Overview
c. RSA 195:28 Disposition of property
3. Other business
4. Adjournment


Filed under Withdrawal Feasibility Study