Proposed Changes to RSA195:25 on Withdrawal

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

 

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19 Comments

Filed under Withdrawing from District

19 responses to “Proposed Changes to RSA195:25 on Withdrawal

  1. Donna, is it “a logical possibility if not an actual one” or an “unrealistic threats about being expelled from the district?”

    Can’t be both or does that depend on the situation…lol.

    Did you and/or Arthur participate in crafting this language change to the RSA?

  2. KSlade

    Anyone can interpret this action according to their own wishes. The fact remains that the RSA is unclear. I think the time to clarify it is while the issues are still fresh. Clarification is good whether it is used in the future for a town considering withdrawal from any cooperative district or for any town considering joining one.

  3. Mark Acciard

    I find it laughable that the FB page commentators fail to realize that you are paying $18,877/student/year for a mediocre education at TRSD. If the students were receiving a stellar education there would be no dissatisfaction.

    • Sarah Machemer

      Mr. Acciard,
      As a parent of 4 children in the district, and an alumni of TRHS I find your declaration of the quality of education our students are receiving as completely inaccurate. My oldest 2 graduated in ’13 and ’15. My oldest daughter is studying as a Government Scholar in Tokyo, Japan this year, having been awarded a full scholarship and stipend by the Japanese Gov’t. She is a top student at Boston University, having received academic awards both her freshman and sophomore year at the university. This is due to the education, encouragement and access to a rigorous course selection at Timberlane. My younger daughter who graduated last spring…oh, she’s a freshman at the BEST technical school in the WORLD — M.I.T. A school that only offers a mediocre education could in no way support the educational goals and drive of student who had the desire to attend a school such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her admission to MIT, and success there, has now opened the door for other students because the admissions office now knows the type of education TRHS offers to their students.
      My sons are both actively involved in the music and arts programs at Timberlane, and both are well on their way to carving their own paths of excellence. They will do this with the help, support and opportunities readily available to them through the educational programs at TRHS.
      And, yes, these are 4 students out of hundreds, but if you spent as much time familiarizing yourself with the variety of success our students and alumni have achieved over the years, as you do tearing down the district and its educators, you may actually realize there is a very real reason so many parents fought this warrant article last year, and will continue to fight it each time it is presented.

      • Putting aside the tone directed at Mr. Acciard, this is a most encouraging note and a most welcomed one. It is always good to hear of the successes of our students. Teachers and administrators can take deserved pride in each of these great successes. I ask this in all sincerity and without trying to be provocative: did your children avail themselves of VLACs, Khan Academy or any other non-Timberlane instruction during their years at our schools and if so, to what extent? I would like to know where ambitious students such as yours feel the need to reach outside our offering.

      • Sarah Machemer

        I appreciate your questions concerning additional non-TRHS opportunities. My daughters used VLACS to clear out state requirements such as computer/tech credits in order to make room in their schedule for the AP classes they wanted to take their junior and senior years. They did not need to take additional core classes online. The one complaint my daughter had was that lack of selection of higher level match classes beyond AP Calc. She took that her junior year, so her only option for a math class as a senior was AP Stats, and it wasn’t a subject matter that interested her. It was a challenge, and will come in handy at MIT, but she wished she had more choices.

        My 9th grader is taking Geometry via VLACS on top of his regular classes this year in order to get where he wants to be within the math/science track. Due to his educational needs at the time, he was not able to qualify for Alg. 1 in 8th grade. This was a difficult decision that we spent a lot of time hashing out with his IEP team at the end of 7th grade. He made the choice this fall to pursue additional work this year. I am not sure where my 7th grader is headed. He may seek out additional computer science classes or engineering classes if needed, but it’s still a little early to tell.

        I apologize if the tone of my comment toward Mr. Acciard seems out of line, but his comment seems to indicate that a) as tax payers we are not aware of how much we are paying per year toward our students education and b) as parents we are unaware of the quality of education our children have access to. Both assertions are insulting and inaccurate. As parents of children in the district we are more prepared to answer and address our concerns than someone who doesn’t even live in the district.

  4. Michelle Lavoie

    I am excited to say that I have made a post on your blog 😄 Seriously, though, I stand by my statement that this was done stealthily and underhandedly. It seems to me that the original WA requested a study- which was completed. I voted for it as I, as both a taxpayer and parent, wanted to look at options to ensure that my two sons had the best education available to them. The options that were proposed by the minority committee are not acceptable. The education and extracurricular activities offered at Timberlane that my boys are currently receiving would not even remotely be matched. I have always applauded your efforts on the school board to push for financial transparency and felt that your intentions were pure- that you were also seeking the best for the children of Sandown. I am now completely discouraged with the way this has turned into a spitting contest. It seems like no one is looking out for the best interest of our kids or our wallets! It’s just a fight of wills at this point- to prove each other wrong, us against them- the only problem is that the ones who are losing is our kids. What are we teaching them with this fight? It’s no longer about democracy- it’s seems to have become a game- a contest of will and about who can yell the loudest- who can “win”. I don’t think that my children’s future is a game and I will continue to believe in the quality of education that they are receiving there

    • Michelle,
      Thank you for that heartfelt comment. I simply want the people of Sandown to have a fair vote on the opportunity to control their own children’s education. Superficially this may seem like a spitting contest. It may also seem about taxes. Fundamentally, though, it is a fight for educational self-determination. I want to see us control the educational standards and make better use of the generous money we are already providing for a mediocre education. The current co-operative structure no longer works educationally or financially for Sandown – and I dare say for Danville, too. We are lavishing resources on a system that can’t even give us state average results in high school. We can do better and this is a chance to build a truly excellent school system for our children and with it to bring up our property values which are in the dumps because of our unreasonably high tax burden compared to neighboring towns and the mediocre middle and high school. What is it about the minority plan didn’t you like? Wouldn’t it be way better to keep our middle school students in Sandown? Do you know that the facilities at Pinkerton exceed those at Timberlane by light years in all areas while the per pupil cost of tuition is lower by $4000 per pupil?
      It is your call to decide your children are better off at Timberlane, but I would like to know what in the minority plan makes it unacceptable to you. Thanks.

      • Have you adjusted your minority plan to account for the 4% increase in tuition Pinkerton just passed along to all member towns?

        I wonder where tuition will be in 2018? It certainly won’t be flat….

      • One thing you can be sure of is that Timberlane will far exceed Pinkerton’s as long as our current SAU is in power.

  5. Impressive list of elected officials!

    Does it matter to you that 4 current School Board members (one a former chair) and 4 current Selectmen came together, studied the scenarios and none of them thought it was suitable and feasible for Sandown to withdraw?

  6. Michelle Lavoie

    My first hesitation is the financial cost of “buying out” of the district. Although I do agree that the RSA is not clear in many aspects, I clearly see where it states that the withdrawing school forfeits any equity in the district schools, so I truly do not believe that there will be a $0 buy out. I believe that the estimation is no where near zero. The are too many unanswered questions to go down that road until we know for sure. Second, the two current “elementary” schools in town are by no means feasible options for “adult sized” middle schoolers. The bathrooms, the gyms, libraries, the cafeterias and even the classrooms are not sized or equipped for this purpose- they were created for 5-10 yr olds. There are no athletic fields, no PAC or auditorium for musical and theatrical events, minimal parking at both places. An education, to me, involves much more than classes and curriculum- it is a culture that needs music and sports. The kitchen at Central, as we already know, requires extensive repairs. Desks, text books, computers, AV equipment, sports equipment, music equipment, buses, everything would need to be purchased anew as well as none of this comes with the acquired schools. None of the above is cheap and would involve thousands- if not millions of dollars to bring to the level of what the kids current receive at TRMS. As many others have pointed out- a “new” district with its inherit “newness” and lack of union would not be a draw to the types of teachers that would be considered “highly qualified”. I think that an unstable educational system is a deterrent to homebuyers. Sandown is still quite a draw for young families but without a strong and proven school system, I think folks would look elsewhere. As for Pinkerton, I am not a fan. The school is much larger than TRHS and I fear that the Sandown kids would be lost- especially when coming into the high school after being in such a small and isolated elementary school. Opportunities would limited by shear student numbers alone. Finally, I don’t agree that TRHS is only providing a mediocre education. I am quite proud of what my boys have accomplished. Any school is only as good as the students themselves. A child will get what they put into it. I, for one, am very aware of what my kids are up to. I don’t accept mediocrity from them- so I don’t get it. I check their grades daily and hold them accountable -i don’t blame the educators when my kid is struggling. It is their (the kids) responsibility to ask for help when they need it. The teachers at Timberlane have all been excellent and more than willing to help when they know it is wanted. Parents also need to be vested in their children and their education. Maybe instead of withdrawing from the school district all together, we work to improve on the one we’ve got. The bones are there already. It shouldn’t be hard. Lastly, I love Timberlane. My boys love Timberlane. We are Timberlane Lets. Not throw the baby out with the bath water. Isn’t it more important to teach our kids that working as a team is much more effective than a tug of war. We all want the same end result- quality education at a reasonable cost.

    • Thanks for that thoughtful contribution to the debate. We don’t have to buy buses as those are contracted services, and the schools should come complete with equipment as we have also paid for that, too, thru the years. Yes, there will be transitional costs, but there will be a cost to staying in Timberlane, too, when new bonds are issued to build new athletic facilities.

      There is a risk in every venture worth doing. The possible benefits to our students and taxpayers seems to me far greater than the possible downside. As for qualified teachers, I see no problem attracting people who are in it for the job and only secondarily for the benefit. Charter schools, as an example, have no problem finding staff and in general they outperform regular public schools even though they pay less.
      The fundamental problem is that the governance culture at Timberlane is diseased and so pervasive it cannot be changed. What people don’t understand is the terrible hidden but very real long-term cost of an SAU operating without any controls whatsoever. The runaway legal suits are just one small example. Only our own school board can bring the SAU in check and make it work for us. This will save money and make administrators accountable for general educational outcomes.

  7. Michelle Lavoie

    I have sent a vey lengthy response to your questions Mrs Green- not sure why it is not showing here.

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