Confirmed: School Tax Bad News

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

On September 12th I appeared at the Sandown Board of Selectmen during public comment, to alert the town to an impending 9% jump in the school portion of our property taxes.

Today, we received the Cooperative Apportionment worksheet from the state, which gives the final calculation of the amount which the towns must gather in property tax to pay for the Timberlane School District.  Here are the final numbers:


Note that this is the school portion of property tax only, and does not include the town and county.  The town will also likely need a tax increase, which will be discussed tonight by the Board of Selectmen.

The district as a whole is demanding 5.8% more from the property tax payers districtwide, despite a further drop in enrollment from 3,673 last year to 3,581 this year.  This continues the uninterrupted 9-year decline in enrollment since 2007/08, when enrollment was 4,653 the year that the Kindergarten program was instituted.  For Sandown, Average Daily Membership (the metric used for calculation of State Aid) last year was down by 17.

Sandown stands out with an increase of 9.1%.

For our own property, which is typical of the town, the school portion of the property tax will go up by $514, from $5,651 to $6,165.  And that does not count the town and county portions.

As I said when I spoke to the BOS, the seeds of this bitter fruit were planted by Selectmen Tombarello, Goldman and Trainor last fall, when they thwarted proper consideration of Sandown’s option to operate its own school district, an option which had the potential to deliver superior education for a permanent taxpayer saving of $1 million per year.

Taxes are going up because Timberlane School District spends too much.

The school district spends too much because it is grossly overstaffed, and is protecting its level of staffing at all costs to the taxpayer, despite steeply declining enrollment.

Other similar school districts are producing better results with far fewer staff.

Mr. Tombarello, Mr. Goldman, Mr. Treanor and others like them are fighting tooth and nail to protect the district from having to respect the taxpayers of the town and the school district.

Now, let the excuses begin.  I know all of them.


Filed under Sandown Issues

8 responses to “Confirmed: School Tax Bad News

  1. Mark Richards

    Your estimate was spot on.

    Now we can see who the real fools are.

    • You can be sure that taxes would not be out of control in the school district like they are if the withdrawal process were still in play.

      • Cathy G

        The people were [easily] mislead by the district withdrawal committee.
        What was more disappointing than watching people, yet again, not doing their homework or wanting to hear all possibilities, was watching 3 BOS place the district before the town they are supposed to represent.

  2. Dan Beaule

    The most frustrating part for me is that it doesn’t matter if Sandown overwhelmingly votes to decline the budget increase because the overall vote is bigger than Sandown. The majority population of the district is in Plaistow and as you pointed out, their portion of the increase is a measly 3%. And with so many people and industry, I’m sure it averages out to very little per household, as in under $100 per year. If I lived there, it would go unnoticed and I would probably say yes to the increase.

    I think it’s a losing battle Donna. The only way our property taxes will ever go down is to get out of the district altogether. And with so much brainwashing going on by the school board, there’s not enough votes in town to do that.

    • I agree. The only solution to both improve education and lower our taxes is to get out of the district, but that task is going to have to fall to someone else.

      I just read a novella called Coloring Our Way to Calamity by New Hampshire’s own Richard Evans. One of his many terrific insights is that so long as parents are told their students are doing great, parents do not examine what their children are actually learning. This is how we get just 33% of our state’s high school graduates proficient in math. And this is also how we get people who confuse objective criticism with school bashing. Plus, there is the outright lying about what withdrawal would involve that is a big part of stoking fear.

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