Gordon Champion, long-time resident, lawyer, and town moderator, was the lead petitioner of Warrant Article 13. Here is a letter he wrote, read during Town Deliberative Session, in support of Article 13.
To all the citizens of Sandown,
As the past Town Moderator I felt compelled to assist in presenting a citizen petition warrant article regarding the Timberlane School District. Last year the citizens of Sandown voted to conduct a feasibility study for a possible withdrawal from the Timberlane School District. Last year’s vote during Town Elections made it clear, that at that time, the majority of the voters in Sandown were upset with the current school administration and their questionable activities. At last year’s SAU Deliberative Session I watched the attendees hijack the democratic process by limiting Sandown’s opportunity to present its case for fiscal austerity following an unlimited discussion period for those advocating an increased budget. This shameful demonstration followed actions such as hiring the superintendent’s wife, charging the Town of Sandown for Right to Know requests, continuing to operate Sandown Central despite the vote to close the facility and showing unnecessary disrespect to our elected representatives.
As in every issue regarding schools, and how they are to be administered, there will always be disagreements. The intent of this warrant article is to let all of the taxpayers determine the future of our Town not just a few dissidents whose unwarranted and unsubstantiated opposition range from their child attending an unfamiliar school to Timberlane potentially becoming a “D2” school, a well publicized fear by one of the opponents to this warrant article.
This warrant article has been written to give the voters of Sandown an opportunity to once again let the BOS know how the majority feels. If this initiative is rejected then those of us who have sought fiscal accountability and austerity will continue to audit the activities of SAU55. As the Town Moderator I was consistently discouraged by the attempts of small groups of citizens to nullify citizen petitioned warrant articles before reaching the voters. Why this reluctance to allow all of our fellow citizens to have an opportunity through the ballot box to show just how the majority feels is incomprehensible. Debate the Article at Deliberative Session and when all sides have been given an equal opportunity to be heard let the voters decide whether or not to pursue a course of action that will benefit both taxpayers and our children.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Gordon Champion, JD
Mr. Champion refers to SAU55 charging Sandown for Right to Know requests. SAU55 has charged three of Sandown’s representatives for public information multiple times: Donna Green, Arthur, Green, and Cathleen Gorman. Those who think the withdrawal movement is a “personality conflict” between Sandown’s elected officials and the superintendent should think hard about the possible motives by SAU55 in keeping public information from elected officials and making it as difficult as possible for them to do their job. The district is using your money to fight all the way up to the NH Supreme Court to keep your elected representative from getting salary information in a usable (electronic) form.
Why do so many of your elected representatives past and present to the school district think withdrawal is the only answer?* Just because of the difficulty in obtaining public information? Just because our taxes are high and only going higher while enrollment plummets? Just because our older students are consistently below state average in standardized tests while we will be paying at least $19,600 to educate each and every child in the district? Just because we have no influence on a regional school board of 9 members?
None of these reasons alone justifies withdrawal, but add them together with nepotism in hiring, a flurry of lawsuits, and an inability of citizens to control the district’s budget and you get a perfect storm of reasons to become our own district. We can do it better for less.
This is not about personalities. It is all about demanding better for our children and our taxpayers. Let those who are opposed to withdrawing from Timberlane make one actionable suggestion to change any of the drivers listed above. They can’t, and that is exactly why you need to support Warrant Article 13.
*Signing the withdrawal Citizen’s Petition with Gordon Champion were 11 individuals who collectively have held the following positions:
- 2 current selectmen
- 3 current Sandown Budget Committee members
- 2 current state representatives
- 1 current school board member
- 3 former school board members
- 1 former chief of police
- 2 former Sandown Board of Selectmen chairmen
- 1 former Timberlane School Board Chairman
- 1 former chairman of the planning board
A third state rep signed but we were not able to include his sheet in the final submission due to technical difficulties. (This list includes only the offices I know of and apologies if I missed the accomplishments of some of our petitioners.)
Why would so many people with direct experience of the governance of the Timberlane School District and the town feel that we, the people of Sandown, can do a better job educating our children and for less money? Could they know something about waste and the lack of educational accountability?
[This is a re-blog from March 6, 2016.]