At Thursday night’s public hearing on Timberlane’s bloated proposed operating budget, Mr. Leon Artus from Atkinson and Arthur Green from Sandown asked some perceptive questions. Not a single member of the budget committee could answer them. They were as basic as you can get, too.
Among the things asked after were:
- the number of staff budgeted for in the 17-18 budget, as well as whether the budget included vacant positions*
- what enrollment projections for 2017/18 were considered in preparing the budget.
- the number of children in full-time kindergarten paying tuition
School board member, Stefanie Dube (Danville) happened to have a sheet with full-time kindergarten details. I knew, and said at the hearing, that this sheet did not report the number of children who pay tuition. This salient detail has not been disclosed by the SAU, despite many requests by elected officials for this information.
The chairman of the Timberlane Budget Committee, Mr. Lee Dube (no relation to Stefanie) couldn’t answer the questions either, but assured Mr. Artus and Mr. Green that the budget committee did review what was asked after and that he, Mr. Dube, would send them the responsive information the next day.
The next day Mr. Dube did send Artus and Green links to the information on the budcom site. The only problem is that there is no information on the budcom site that responds to the questions. For example, here’s the link which Mr. Dube provided for staffing information. This folder contains no files more recent than January 2016 – a whole year ago. There is zero information about staffing plans for the proposed budget year.
Similarly, the link responding to the question about enrollment projections contained only the annual reports of actual enrollment, with no projections for the budget year.
The budcom has no idea the number of full-time equivalent staff in the 17-18 budget. Neither does the budcom have any idea of the projected enrollment for next year. This is, of course, why not a single member of the budget committee could answer those very simple questions.
Mr. Dube’s response in public view seemed like a forthright willingness to share information. The implication was that the information was readily available to the public on the website – though strangely absent from the heads of individual budget committee members. In fact, Mr. Dube was giving the questioners the run around and misleading the public as to the true nature of the budget committee’s (pitiful) deliberations.
*Mr. Cantone did speak to the vacant positions and said that Dr. Metzler had ASSURED the budget committee that there were no vacant positions in the budget. It was clear that the budget committee had no evidence to corroborate this assurance, however.