Letters for Withdrawal

Published the week of Feb 1, 2016, entitled, “Now is the Time to Leave Timberlane.”

Dear Editor:
Thanks to a very productive Deliberative Session on Jan. 30, Sandown voters now have a rare opportunity to assert their own authority over the education of their children and their tax bills. A “Yes” vote on Article 13 on Sandown’s ballot will move Sandown closer to establishing our own school district independent of Timberlane.
When Sandown joined the Timberlane District 52 years ago, we had 47 students. Now we have 1000 students, yet we cannot control our children’s education and our school taxes are out of control.
Timberlane’s budget will have gone up 22% in 9 years while the enrollment will have fallen 24% as of the 16/17 year, with a budgeted cost per student of $19,800. It is unreasonable for Sandown to be expected to continue to pay for such poor fiscal management. Timberlane’s Smarter Balanced scores showed only 29% our 11th graders proficient in math and a mere 50% proficient in reading – both well below the state average.
If you want to control the educational quality available to our children, and our taxes, we have to act now. In 2020 Timberlane’s 20-year bond will be paid off. If we leave the district now, we have very little to pay back on the bond. If we delay,new bonding will almost certainly be coming to upgrade the Plaistow campus athletic facilities. Once new bonding is in place, and perhaps even approved without a majority of Sandown voters, we will have to wait another 20 years to be where we find ourselves right now.
How can I be so sure we can we can do it better for less?  Because a Sandown school
district would be generously funded and a Sandown school board would have no where to hide from you. Your annual vote will be able to change the board and effect the changes you want. As things are now, we are powerless at Timberlane, crushed by a runaway bureaucracy and an indifferent school board that we cannot change.
Our grievances with Timberlane’s governance are long but our opportunity to do something about it is short. A “Yes: to Article 13 will not make us a separate district yet.  That will take one more vote, but it will move us closer to controlling our destiny for the benefit of our children and our property values. The critics of our plan do not fairly represent it. Please see the all details on CASE2018.wordpress.com.
Donna Green

Sandown representative to the Timberlane Regional School Board

Published the week of Feb 8, 2016 entitled, “Sandown Can’t Afford to Stay in Timberlane”

Dear Editor:

Sandown’s school taxes are estimated to go up by 11.5% in December, based on information published by the Timberlane School Board. The budgeted cost per student at Timberlane for next year is $19,600.
Those opposed to Sandown withdrawing from the Timberlane District say we can’t afford to leave. I believe we can’t afford to stay. Enrollment has plunged 24% while budgets have increased 22%.
Opponents of withdrawal say it will cost Sandown upwards of $6.4 million in buyout fees.  These people oppose withdrawal on any terms whatever, and have rushed to embrace the buyout fee as a convenient obstacle. Fear of a buyout fee is groundless and should not influence your vote.
The buyout fee is a dispute over a clearly-ambiguous phrase in the NH law governing withdrawal, which cannot be overcome by spending money on lawyers or consultants. By the district’s interpretation, no town could ever have paid its fair share. Supporters of withdrawal think the law supports our claim that Sandown has already paid more than our share of district costs, and would owe no buyout fee.
If supporters turn out to be wrong, there is no risk that voting for withdrawal might unintentionally saddle Sandown with a buyout fee.  The withdrawal plan explicitly states that the plan is invalidated if a zero buyout is ruled to be incorrect by the NH Board of Education.  This would end the withdrawal plan.
The Board of Education will only consider the dispute over the buyout fee if and when the Withdrawal Plan is placed before them for a decision.  Some elected officials have attempted to have taxpayer funds appropriated for legal and consulting investigation of this issue – a pointless waste of taxpayer money.  If Sandown wishes to withdraw, and votes to say so, that will place the question of the buyout fee into the hands of a decision making body.
I have written a bill to clarify the financial obligations of withdrawing towns from cooperative districts such as ours.  It was given a very thoughtful hearing before the House Education Committee on Jan. 28 and I hope that the legislature will address the ambiguities in the current legislation that lead to interpretations that are unjust for any withdrawing town by the time Sandown might need to come to grips with it.
Sandown has an opportunity to have an excellent and very well funded school system while controlling our own taxes.  Many towns our size do it in New Hampshire, and do it well. See CASE2018.wordpress.com for the full Sandown Withdrawal Plan.
Vote “Yes” on Article 13.
Arthur Green

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