Timberlane’s annual Deliberative Session was held in the gym last night. The empty seats far outnumbered the occupied seats and once again it was a sea of blue t-shirts. And once again a motion to lower the budget failed.
Dr. Kim Farar, selectman from Danville, offered a very modest cut of just $333,958 to round the budget to $69 million. Asked what a cut to the budget would mean, Superintendent Metzler instantly responded that it would mean cutting 6 teachers. No doubt if anyone would have ventured a deeper cut, the children would be bringing their own toilet paper to school and using outhouses.
A very perceptive Carsten Springer* from Danville questioned why Dr. Metzler would immediately go for the teaching staff when the administration is so top heavy in our district. There was no answer because of course there is no answer except, “What, you don’t like threats?”
Dr. Farar’s motion failed resoundingly. So here are the SAU’s predicted increases to the school tax rate (combined local and state) for the proposed budget alone without the incremental increases of the additional warrant articles. Remember that town and county taxes must be added to this to give you your total tax rate come December.
Sandown: $21.14 $23.62 (11.7% increase)
Danville $23.58 $25.15 (6.6% increase)
Atkinson $14.93 $16.08 (7.7% increase)
Plaistow $17.11 $18.00 (5.2% increase)
Budgeted cost per student in 16/17 will be $19,600 – for every single student from Pre-K to 12th grade.
Not only do you have an SAU that answers genuine questions with reflexive threats, you have an ever increasing tax burden for no substantive increase in value anywhere. This is going to continue until the entire public school system collapses under its own greed and mismanagement because parents are cowed by threats, voters stay home through indifference or hopelessness, and employees control the administration and the votes at Deliberative.
$50,000 War Chest
Kelly Ward motioned to add $50,000 to the budget, nominally for the cost of accounting research for a final buyout number for Sandown’s withdrawal. This was seconded by Sandown’s Lee Dube and ultimately fell to defeat by the body. I’m ashamed of my fellow townsmen for playing along with the district on this point. There is no circumstance in which Sandown would agree to a substantive buyout fee, so spending money to calculate it is absolutely, unequivocally unnecessary and everyone knows it.
But let’s look at what they are pretending to say. A few months ago the school board approved $30,000 (no bid, of course)to hire an accounting consultant. Now it is $50,000 at $100 an hour (also no bid, of course). This represents 500 hours of work. That is 14 weeks! Are the files in dry storage somewhere in Alaska reachable only by snow shoe? We could have the whole district audited three times over for this amount of money and that would be a far better investment. What were your Sandown representatives thinking in putting this forward last night? It is one thing to be against withdrawal. It is a much different matter to try to punish taxpayers in order to make a statement.
But that isn’t what they were really doing. They were really trying to get $50,000 for the district to use as a war chest to fight Sandown in court over withdrawal. You heard it here first, folks. That is exactly what is going on and when I tried to point this out at Deliberative the moderator cut me off. Using your money against you is a fine art honed at SAU55. It started with phony criminal complaints and no trespass orders and it quickly morphs into court battles. “This district has proved it cannot be trusted with a legal line,” said Arthur Green last night. It couldn’t be truer.
The Moderator Who Doesn’t Know His Job
Then there’s the issue with the moderator who won re-election by acclamation last year. Here is a man who does not understand that Deliberative Session is a meeting of the people – not the administration. He takes pride in recognizing me last he when I have my hand up first, or not recognizing me at all. He cuts me off with relish and turns the mic off on Arthur Green. He limits discussion on items controversial to the administration so strictly that it becomes comical to see people trying to make their points over his overbearing tactics. He allows clapping and cheering as though at a pep rally. Last year he had a police officer stand by my side should I attempt to speak over my 3 minutes. He is everything a moderator should not be because he wears his biases on his sleeve and imposes it on the body.
Voters and taxpayers of Timberane: you have now gotten the government you deserve. The symptom is taxes. The disease is much more profound. Sandown at least has an option. The rest are absolutely trapped.
P.S. The default budget is higher than the proposed budget so don’t think there is relief in voting down the budget. Suck it up, shell it out and be sure to stay positive because critical voices are destructive to the district.
*CORRECTION. The original post named Curt Springer as the speaker. It was, in fact, Carsten Springer. Apologies to both gentlemen.