This week it is expected that the New Hampshire state legislature will be introducing House Bill 1303 and referring it to the Education Committee for hearings. House Bill 1303 clarifies some of the ambiguous language in RSA 195:25, 28 and 29 concerning a town withdrawing from a cooperative school district.
The proposed legislation attempts to clarify four points in the current legislation:
- Time of delivery of a minority report. Current legislation says a minority report is to be submitted at the same time as a district report. This left a minority report in limbo if no district report was done, or if it was submitted well before a minority report could be completed, or if a hostile withdrawal plan was submitted by the district. This clarifies that a report from the withdrawing town can always be submitted to the Board of Education.
- Capital Contribution payback. Current legislation is highly ambiguous. The demands of fairness require the withdrawing district to pay back capital contributions by the district to their town – but only in excess of what the town has paid in capital contributions to the other towns in the district.
- Capital forfeiture. The current legislation is ambiguous as to what and when capital forfeiture applies. The proposed change clarifies that the forfeiture begins upon the transfer of title to buildings and land in the withdrawing district.
- Approval of a withdrawal plan. The current legislation leaves towns wishing to withdraw from a cooperative district open to threats, which was in fact used again Sandown in 2015. The current legislation appears to allow a district to expel a town that merely undertook to explore withdrawal. (I don’t believe the Board of Education would permit this, but it is a logical possibility if not an actual one.) The proposed legislative change would require a majority vote by both the town that initiated withdrawal exploration AND the entire school district in order to effectuate a withdrawal. This takes threats off the table and gives the withdrawing town an equal part in the final decision.
Here is a link to the current legislation with the proposed changes. HB1303
Thanks go to Jim Devine, Chris True, Sandown State Reps, and Ken Weyler of Kingston, for sponsoring this bill. To those vocal on Citizens Against Withdrawal from Timberlane Facebook page (which, in an abundance of transparency, has completely blocked my access) please remember we live in a democracy where anyone can petition for changes to laws. This is neither sneaky, dishonest nor unethical and our representatives in the state legislature are doing their job. Yours is not the only opinion on matters and those who disagree with you are not evil. Here are some comments from this Facebook page:
Kelly Ward: “…Very dangerous and reckless way to try and get your way.”
Debra Oxner Rose: What is wrong with them??
Michelle Livingston: They will not stop until they get their way, regardless of what’s right for Sandown and Timberlane.
Michelle Chagnon Lavoie: How did you find out that they were up to this? They are so damn sneaky and underhanded!
Kelly Ward: It was sent to me in an email as an FYI, so I put it up here. I know there’s not a lot we as citizens can do besides vote in REPs that actually represent us and not use the position as a means to forward their own agendas. So that is why we need to expose these REPs and the others for who they truly are. I will [not] go into naming names, but we need to keep a close eye on these people, they are devious.
Mr. Ward and others, what about the democratic process don’t you like? Did we stack the Deliberative session with union members and then plant a shill to limit debate? Did we spread unrealistic threats about being expelled from the district? Do we use students and school facilities to make campaign advertising?