Monthly Archives: September 2015

District’s Withdrawal Study Committee Votes

This is an announcement sent out by the SAU at 5 p.m. today:

The Timberlane Regional School Board

Sandown Withdrawal Feasibility Study Committee

ANNOUNCEMENT

As a result of a March 2015 vote by residents in the Town of Sandown, the Study Committee is

bound by law (RSA 195:25) to conduct a study to determine if it is feasible and suitable for

Sandown to withdraw from the Timberlane Regional School District.

Feasible – possible to do

Suitable – having the qualities that are right, needed, or appropriate for something

On September 29th, the Committee unanimously determined it is NOT feasible and suitable for

Sandown to withdraw from Timberlane. By November 15th, the Committee must file a report

detailing its work and findings with the State Board of Education.

Residents of the Timberlane district are invited to a public hearing to review the rationale

behind the Committee’s decision, comment and ask questions.

Public Hearing

October 13th, 7 pm

Performing Arts Center

For more information, please go to the Committee website:

https://public.timberlane.net/projects/sanwth/default.aspx

(Note: The Committee is comprised of one Selectman and one School Board member from each of Timberlane’s towns)


“Unanimous” in this instance needs further qualification: Cindy Buco and Kim Farar both abstained from the vote.

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Another Issue; Another Advisory Committee!

Let us welcome yet another Advisory Committee to the Timberlane fold….

TIMBERLANE REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

PRESS RELEASE

SUPERINTENDENT’S TRANSPORTATION ADVISORY

Dr. Metzler is pleased to report the establishment of a Superintendent’s

Transportation Advisory Committee which will meet on a quarterly basis to work

on efficiency, recruitment of drivers and overall quality of the transportation

Committee membership will be comprised of District administrators, bus drivers

and representation from First Student and Provider companies.

September 29, 2015


Notice that the dates, time and place of these meetings are not announced. Yet another advisory committee working behind the scenes.

Last week I asked for bus transportation to be added to the agenda as a result of a Sandown’ resident’s experience which I don’t want to portray as serious. (Whenever a change in routes is done, it is normal and expected for there to be occasional glitches.) To my astonishment, transportation was added to the agenda and now a whole advisory committee is established. I’m not surprised because every time an operational issue arises in the district, an advisory committee pops up to take it off the school board’s plate – and out of the public eye. The only thing left for the school board to do is to polish its own plate glass window.

I should hasten to add and clarify that the issue was minor and corrected the next day.  I do not want to imply that there is anything serious going on with our buses.  Not at all. I would simply like the occasional issues talked of frankly and openly at a school board meeting with a full understanding of how they happened and how they were corrected.

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Appeasement Never Ends Well

Citizens for, against, or on the fence concerning withdrawing from the Timberlane Regional School District should watch this public comment by Arthur Green at the most recent Sandown Board of Selectman Meeting ( Sept. 21, 2015).  It details the actions of the district’s withdrawal study committee and school board subsequent to the selectmen’s decision to pull the plug on Sandown’s own withdrawal study committee.

In my own personal experience, when you do something out of fear of what someone else is going to do, you have lost control of your own direction and have laid yourself open to being manipulated. I believe the district allowed a malicious threat to be concocted and broadcast to instill fear into parents in Sandown. Parents rallied in response and petitioned the board of selectmen to do something to put an end to the threat.  The BOS did what they could, and in the end the threat is just as active as before, but now without any defense from Sandown’s Minority Committee.

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District Relents: Spreadsheets Coming!

Seems spreadsheets are coming. This was sent out around noon today:

Hello Board and Budget Committee members,

Dr. Metzler wishes to announce that he will be implementing some changes as it relates to the format of budget information.  In an effort to assist the Budget Committee in their budget preparation work, budget information will be made available in Excel spreadsheet form.  It is important to note that only district generated spreadsheets/reports will be presented as official district documents; individual work product will not be and all such documents will need to clearly indicate they are unofficial. 

Dr. Metzler believes this will help mitigate the reason behind the reluctance to provide the financials in live format in the first place as there has been concern shared by many that individual spreadsheets may be presented as official Timberlane documents in which the information contained within them has not been verified.

He expects the first of such budget information to be posted to both the School Board’s and Budget Committee’s SharePoint sites by end of day today. 

One more item: Nancy Louiselle will no longer be temp-clerking for the Budget Committee; the added duties associated with this task place an additional burden to her already full plate of district responsibilities.   I will be taking her place and look forward to seeing Budget Committee members at future meetings.

Have a good afternoon,

Cathy


Watch the budget committee website for further developments.

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To Thwart Financial Oversight, TRSD Wastes Your Money

Kudos to Lee Dube, one of Sandown’s TRSD Budget Committee members.  At tonight’s Budget Committee meeting, he motioned to REQUIRE the TRSD to provide budget information to the committee in Excel format.  If you watched the meeting you would have heard Mr. Stokinger say that it would go to legal.

Legal?

The budcom demands a live spreadsheet to do their work and the district says they are going to run to their lawyer to see if they can prevent this?

In a nail biting vote, the motioned passed by just one vote: 4-3-2.*

The district’s legal line for the year ended in June was a very ample $70,000.  The district actually expended $79,000. Here’s why. They check with lawyers over Right to Know requests.  They threaten to sue elected officials (Josh Horns). They fight court cases all the way to the Supreme Court to prevent an elected  official (me) from receiving salary information in an electronic form. Now they are running to their lawyer to prevent the budget committee from getting the budget information in a useful spreadsheet. This is all your money being burned through like high-test gasoline.

You can be sure the district is going to refuse to provide the budget committee with the useful tools they are demanding to do their job. The paid officials will get their expensive lawyers to issue a carefully worded letter. Wanna bet what it’s going to say? You will be paying every which way – for the lawyers, and for an ineffectual budget committee.

As background, you should know that the budget committee already requested Excel format in a vote on March 26. They were told by paid officials of the district that the elected officials would not be getting a live spreadsheet. The paid officials believe that they need to give your representatives only what New Hampshire’s Right to Know law requires. In tonight’s meeting, Josh Horns correctly and saliently pointed out that the demand of the budget committee is not a Right to Know request and that the legislature requires the SAU to provide information that the budget committee demands. Thank you, Josh Horns.

Something is seriously wrong in Timberlane. This kind of insufferable obstructionism will inevitably go beyond hurting the taxpayer and affect the students.

*Tuck this away come election time. This was the vote:

4: Lee Dube (Sdn); Cathy Gorman (Sdn); Tony Cantone (Plaistow); Josh Horns (Danville)
3: Dennis Heffernan (Plaistow); Kate Delfino (Atkinson); Rick Blair (Plaistow)
2: Michelle O’Neil (Danville); Julie Hammond (Atkinson)

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Sandown’s Legal Opinion on Establishing Minority Committee

The Sandown Board of Selectmen released this legal letter of opinion which discusses the ability of the town’s governing body to form a “minority committee” to explore withdrawal from the Timberlane Regional School District. The letter dates from April and clearly expresses the opinion that the town does have the authority to establish a minority committee.

I believe the Board of Selectmen made a mistake in disbanding the committee.  From my perspective, it looked like the people petitioning for this hoped that by disbanding the minority committee that the district’s committee would immediately find withdrawal not feasible and put an end to the whole enterprise.  Instead, the district’s committee says it is going ahead with a withdrawal plan.

sandown_minority legal opinion (1)

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My RTK Case Advances to the Supreme Court and Other News

Here are the documents filed today at the New Hampshire Supreme Court to appeal Judge David Anderson’s ruling on my Right to Know case against the Timberlane Regional School District.

Donna Green Brief Case 2015-0274

appendix to donna green brief

I will post the district’s response to this brief, as well as the hearing date, when they are available.

In other news, the chairman of the school board appointed Sue Sherman as co-chair of the Capital Improvement Plan Committee, in keeping with the vote of the CIP committee itself asking to replace Rob Collins with Sue Sherman. This is a good thing and shows some public commitment to the goal of planning capital improvements in the district.

[CORRECTION 9/22/15: A previous version of this post said that Mrs. Steenson did not have the authority to assign a co-chair to the CIP without a vote of the school board. Dr. Metzler pointed out that Policy BDE permits the SB chair and the superintendent to appoint standing committee co-chairs without a vote of the board. I heartily regret voting in favor of changing this policy and completely overlooked this unpalatable and misguided aspect of it.]

This just in:

NOTICE OF MEETING

The Sandown Withdrawal and Feasibility Study Committee will meet

on September 22, 2015 at 7:30 PM in the Timberlane Regional High

School library, 36 Greenough Road, Plaistow, NH. The committee is

tasked with conducting a study of the feasibility and suitability of the

Town of Sandown withdrawing from the Timberlane Regional School

District.

This meeting is open to the public.

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Filed under Corrections, Right to Know issues, Sandown Issues, Withdrawal Feasibility Study