Information Control Alive and Well at Timberlane

At the June 4th school board meeting, the board informally agreed that information requests coming from Sandown’s own Withdrawal Feasibility Study Committee (Minority) would have to go through Rob Collins and the committee he has usurped authority over.

The Town of Sandown has officially established a committee to explore separating from the Timberlane school district. This committee is in addition to the committee established by the school district to similarly explore the feasibility of Sandown separating from Timberlane.  As a shorthand, the school district’s committee could be called the “majority” committee, and Sandown’s committee, the “minority” committee.

Sandown’s minority committee is chaired by Sandown Selectman, Cindy Buco.  Last week the minority committee made detailed information requests to the school district so that all of us can understand the costs of withdrawal. Dr. Metzler wanted direction from the school board as to how to respond to Sandown’s information requests.  Just answering the questions doesn’t seem to be an option at the SAU.

Mr. Bealo suggested telling the minority committee to go through the Right to Know process. Mr. Collins suggested the requests be sent to the majority committee which will then decide if the information is genuinely needed to determine the feasibility and suitability of Sandown withdrawing from the district. If not (in their opinion), the requests will be denied by both the majority committee and the SAU which will be free to ignore them or await a Right to Know request the results of which will be provided to Sandown at the cost of 50 cents a page.

Isn’t that a grand suggestion by Mr. Collins?

This is information control of the most pernicious kind intended to thwart the honest desire of Sandown to fully explore the issue the voters asked them to investigate.

The SAU, aided and abetted by Mr. Collins and an easily-led school board, control every drop of public information dispensed about the district that is not mandated by the government. That is why the school board discourages public comment and refuses to read letters written to them in public, because this is a source of information that can’t be controlled. That is why the annual audit is treated with complete disregard and is allowed to be 7 months late and counting; an audit is an uncontrolled source of information. Find a source of uncontrolled information about this district and you will see giant barriers to accessing it.

The SAU is a service organization for the four towns, but treats the towns as though they are beggars without rights and their requests for accountability are too burdensome to bear. How did we ever get to the point where we are fighting about information? Freely shared information should be a given and the discussion should be about the substance of that information. The SAU doesn’t put substantial contracts and purchases out to bid – the least we should be expecting of those charged with executing our business – nor will they willingly provide information about the financial affairs of the district. Just what justifies our payments to this self-serving, self-protecting organization?

Part One of the School Board discussion from June 4, 2015:

P.S. Contrary to Mr. Collins’ statement, the majority committee did not make any decision that the information Mr. Green requested was unnecessary. What they did was postpone further discussion pending legal guidance, but you can see where Mr. Collins wants the discussion to go.  Furthermore, Mr. Collins deliberately misrepresents the information requested by Arthur Green at the Majority committee meeting on May 14, and subsequently by the Minority Committee. That official information request will be posted on this blog soon.

Part Two: 


1 Comment

Filed under Right to Know issues, Sandown Issues

One response to “Information Control Alive and Well at Timberlane

  1. Cathy

    So Earl is now looking for direction from the Board? Did the Boatd know how to respond?? Did they realize they should always be directing the SAU? B/c that is certainly not the take away message following any SB meeting.
    There is a “real” committee? I thought Nancy said this is not a SB responsibility. As did Earl’s legal opinion HD posted the day following the election.
    Speaking of that: I keep hearing about this “legal opinion” yet nothing has been presented in writing.
    REGARDLESS there is something called RSA 91-A that does not require ANYONE to go through a temporary committee for public information, never mind a random SB member.
    All request should go through the superintendent, the business admin and the SB chair (still Nancy Steenson or did she accidentally unseat herself as chair while attempting to unseat Cindy Buco as co-chair on the “alphabet soup” committee).
    Run it through any avenue you want, you still have to comply with the law. (I realize that has become a foreign concept in TimberLand)
    Oh … I am writing this as a citizen and resident of Sandown since “some” seem like to think that by saying that it precludes them of their elected responsibilities. I wanted to give it a try.

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