Danville Threatens to Withhold Money to Timberlane: Questions Legality of Keeping SC Open

This letter was sent to TRSD and all the district Boards of Selectmen.

June 11, 2015
Timberlane Regional School District
Dr. Earl Metzler, Superintendent
36 Greenough Road
Plaistow, NH 03865

Dr. Metzler,

Timberlane Regional School District Warrant Articles 4 and 11 (cited below) failed at the March 2015 voting for the district.  Minutes from the 1/15/15 public hearing on the budget state:  “Dr. Metzler stated he recently found out from the School District Attorney, if both articles regarding the operating cost for Sandown Central fail to pass, then the School Board is not legally allowed to spend any funds to keep Sandown Central open in 2015-2016. He also learned that if either one of those articles passes, the School Board is not required to keep Sandown Central open based on that vote.”

At the February 5 deliberative session, the district’s attorney clearly stated that failure of the two warrants would require closure of the school.  The district plans on keeping the Sandown Central School open for pre-school, kindergarten, and special education. Per RSA 189:25, kindergarten falls under the definition of an elementary school.

Unless the TRSD can provide legal documentation to the contrary, the Town of Danville considers the Sandown Central School to be closed per the failed warrant articles.  Use of funds,  other than for operational maintenance of the building is misappropriation of funds. As such, the Town of Danville will pay only  for the operational upkeep of the Sandown Central  building.

Further,  due to the Sandown Feasibility Withdrawal Study currently underway, the Town of Danville will not pay for any future capital improvements for the Sandown Schools unless an agreement is reached between the TRSD and the Town of Sandown in regards to repayment of capital expenditures should the Town of Sandown leave the TRSD.

A r t i c l e 4 – S a n d o w n C e n t r a l E l e m e n t a r y S c h o o l K i t c h e n R e n o v a t i o n a n d O p e r a t i o n a l C o s t s
Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate up to $1,160,544, with $744,299 to be used for the operational costs of Sandown Central Elementary School and$416,245 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to further authorize the District to withdraw the said $416,245 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital Reserve Fund? (Only $744,299 shall be raised by taxation.)

A r t i c l e    1 1    –    C o n t i n u e    O p e r a t i o n    o f    S a n d o w n    C e n t r a l  on      W a r r a n t P e t i t i o n b y S h a w n F r e l i g h e t a l
Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate up to $602,528 for the continuing operation of Sandown Elementary School as an elementary school? This warrant will be void if warrant article “Sandown Central Elementary School Operational Costs and Kitchen Renovation” passes. (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)

Respectfully,
Shawn O’Neil
Chairman, Danville Board of Selectmen
Cc:  Nancy Steenson, School Board Chair

1/15/15 Public Hearing on Budget Minutes
“Dr. Metzler stated he recently found out from the School District Attorney, if both articles regarding the operating cost for Sandown Central fail to pass, then the School Board is not legally allowed to spend any funds to keep Sandown Central open in 2015-2016. He also learned that if either one of those articles passes, the School Board is not required to keep Sandown Central open based on that vote”.

2/5/15 Transcript from Deliberative Session Vimeo:
Josh TRSD Budget Member 3:00:04 I just want to clarify that if article 11 and article 4 ​are both defeated that we cannot open, remain, that Sandown Central cannot remain open.[*DG: See note below.]

School District Attorney: 3:00:22 I can rephrase it for you. If both article 11 and article 4 defeated can Sandown Central remain open. The answer is NO. There is a law that bars the transfer of appropriations to a purpose that has been defeated by the body. So if a purpose in a separate warrant article was defeated, it is the so called ” No means No” law. And that law indicates that money cannot be transferred to or expended for a purpose that is defeated at the by the voters on a separate warrant article. So if both articles 11 and 4 are defeated the School Board could not keep Sandown Elementary School open.

5/21/15 Timberlane Regional School Board meeting minutes
Motion: Mr. Collins motioned to approve the consolidation of the Sandown Schools and the relocation of the district-wide Timberlane Learning Center Preschool program to Sandown Central School as well as Sandown North Kindergarten classes to Sandown Central School (housing grades 1-5 at Sandown North Elementary School) and to create a transition team to support this consolidation plan. Mrs. Sherman seconded.

Motion to Amend: Mrs. Sherman motioned to amend by including establishing an early learning environment at Pollard School. Mr. Collins seconded. With no further discussion the motion to amend passed by unanimous vote 9-0-0. With no further discussion the motion as amended passed by unanimous vote 9-0-0.


Editor’s note:  Josh Horns, quoted in the Selectman’s letter above, wrote me the following:

Mrs Green,
I wanted to make a minor correction to your latest blog post.  Both of the quotes below are mine.  The district moderator made a comment about not being able to understand what I asked originally, which admittedly was not clear, so I rephrased it.

Josh TRSD Budget Member 3:00:04 I just want to clarify that if article 11 and article 4 ​are both defeated that we cannot open, remain, that Sandown Central cannot remain open.
School District Attorney: 3:00:22 “I can rephrase it for you. If both article 11 and article 4 defeated can Sandown Central remain open?”

Should be:

Me: “I just want to clarify that if article 11 and article 4 ​are both defeated that we cannot open, remain, that Sandown Central cannot remain open.”
<moderator comment>
Me:  “I can rephrase it for you. If both article 11 and article 4 defeated can Sandown Central remain open?”

School District Attorney: 3:00:22 “…”

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3 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

3 responses to “Danville Threatens to Withhold Money to Timberlane: Questions Legality of Keeping SC Open

  1. I would like to see the towns withhold payment for each student that could not be confirmed to be a resident. I think we would be surprised to learn how much of the budget is due to the tuitioned and nonresident students.

    • One of the few things the board is actually told is the number of tuitioned students. It isn’t that many. Now non-residents…. that is interesting….

  2. That should cause a temper tantrum for a few. Good.

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