Monthly Archives: April 2017

On an Unsafe School Bus Stop

Submitted to the TriTown News on April 29, 2017
Dear Editor:

Thank you for reporting on the Lake View bus stop issue in Sandown, “Green and Gordon Discuss Sandown School Bus Issue.” As was reported, Sandown says the bus stop is a school district issue and the school district says the fundamental problem is a town issue.

Police Chief Gordon has noted numerous accidents at the intersection of Main St. and Lake View where the bus stop is located. There is no question legally ​(RSA 189:8) ​or otherwise that the safe​ location​ of bus stops is the responsibility of the school board.

I’d like the public to know that at the very ​moment​ I was pleading with my fellow school board members to put the Lake View bus stop on an upcoming board agenda, Selectman Jon Goldman texted Superintendent Metzler to say as paraphrased by Dr. Metzler, that “The bus stop is safe.  They have no issue with the bus stop.”   (https://vimeo.com/album/255898/video/212301077   at 3:46:00)​

So while the town says it is a school board issue, Jon Goldman is going out of his way to text the superintendent during a school board meeting to undercut my efforts to get the district to address this issue of serious importance to parents in the Lake View area. Mr. Goldman was not authorized to text on behalf of the Sandown Board of Selectman – nor was he authorized by his board to meet privately with Dr. Metzler to discuss the issue.​

Thanks go to Selectmen Tombarello, Treanor and Cleveland who issued a letter to the school district on April 17th asking to work together to find a safe solution. Mr. Goldman’s signature was absent from the letter.
​Five hours after this letter was emailed to the school district, Dr. Metzler ​sent​ me this email​:​
“Please be advised that the Sandown BOS Chair and I met last Friday. It was determined that the bus stop was safe and parents that want to drive have another alternative for parking. We consider this matter closed.”
The matter is far from closed for the parents whose children are still using the Lake View stop.  Yes, the stop has been there for many years but the traffic along Main St. has increased due to Sandown’s growth, which is why the temporary stop on Higgins requiring a left hand turn across traffic is not a permanent solution.
Donna Green
Sandown Representative to the Timberlane Regional School Board
________________________________________
If parents want action on this issue they must voice their concerns at school board meetings so the board understands the seriousness of the issue.
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Spread the Word to Budget Committees!

Announcing an exciting opportunity for new and returning elected officials in New Hampshire school districts:

School Budgets: Getting Ahead of the Curve”

A school budgeting workshop April 22 hosted by the School District Governance Association of New Hampshire

Featured Guest Speaker: Peter Bragdon

Past President of the New Hampshire State Senate, past Executive Director of NH HealthTrust.

Across the state, Budget Committees and School Boards are reorganizing with their newly-elected members to begin work on the next year’s round of school budgets.

This workshop is designed to inform and excite new and returning elected officials who are eager to find information and strategies to enhance the influence of the elected bodies in the budget development process.

Attendees will benefit from the presentation of our featured guest Mr. Peter Bragdon, whose background in state government, in the HealthTrust, and on his local school board span many of the cost, finance and planning issues which all school districts are confronting.

The intense, interactive workshops will uncover information resources which are not routinely provided to elected officials, particularly with regard to staffing, which typically drives over 70% of school district costs. Participants will explore how a structured planning process can move the initiative for budget decisions to the elected bodies where it legally belongs.

This event is designed to benefit elected school district officials, but the public is also welcome by advance registration. A continental breakfast will be provided.

Event Details:

  • Saturday, April 22
  • 8:30AM to 12:30PM
  • Nackey Loeb School of Communications
  • 749 East Industrial Park Dr.
  • Manchester, NH
  • Advance registration is required
  • Registration fee: $10 SDGA members, $15 guests
  • Registration contact: SDGAofNH@gmail.com or 603-513-1647

Program

  • 8:30 AM: Check in and continental breakfast (30 min)
  • 9:00 AM: Introduction
  • 9:15 AM: Peter Bragdon: Featured Presentation “School Budgets: Looking at the Big Picture” followed by Q&A
  • 9:45 AM: Break
  • 10:00 AM: Workshop A: Hard Data – what to demand and when
  • 11:00 AM: Break
  • 11:15 AM: Workshop B: Managing Key Planning Inputs
  • 12:15 PM: Wrap-up and Networking
  • 12:30 PM: Close

The School District Governance Association of New Hampshire (SDGA NH) is an association of current and past school district elected officials dedicated to mutual support and information sharing with the mission of empowering elected school district officials to effectively assert their lawful authority and be responsive to their electorate.

For information or to register, contact: Arthur Green, Event Chair

SDGAofNH@gmail.com or 603-513-1647

To register, please provide email and phone contact information, your town and/or school district, and whether you have served or are serving on school board or budget committee.  Members of the general public are also welcome though seating is limited.

Visit our web site:  SDGANH.org

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Where, Oh Where, are the Budcom Members?*

Where oh where could they be and WHY?

Timberlane’s eagerly awaited budget committee meeting tonight was cancelled after the fact due to a lack of quorum.  Superintendent Metzler was not there either.

It was the organizational meeting to select a chairman, among other things.  Kate Delfino just happened to be sitting in the chair’s seat.

This is the second district meeting this week to fail for lack or quorum.  The school board’s emergency meeting on Monday did not have a quorum.  Now the budget committee’s meeting did not have a quorum.

* It has been brought to my attention that some may infer from my reporting that Kate Delfino placed herself in the chairman’s seat.  I’ve been told the administration put out the name plates and budcom members simply placed themselves behind their names.[DG: Friday, April 14, 2017.]

 

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“Default judgment: Opening school district books”

Today’s Union Leader editorial concerns my case.

http://www.unionleader.com/editorial/Default-judgment-Opening-school-district-books-04112017

The paper’s editorial board correctly concludes that default budgets should be much more transparent.

By way of a small correction, my case was not a Right to Know suit. Timberlane claims they do not have a line item default budget.  The Right to Know law applies only to documents that exist, not documents that should exist. I was asking the court to compel the district to produce a line item default budget.  My contention is that this is required by law.

My thanks to the Union Leader for their coverage of my case and their abiding advocacy for government transparency.

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GREEN EATS CROW

IN A PREVIOUS VERSION OF THIS BLOG, I INCORRECTLY ATTRIBUTED AN EMAIL TO DR. METZLER DURING LAST NIGHT’S SCHOOL BOARD MEETING TO TOM TOMBARELLO.  I APOLOGIZE TO MR. TOMBARELLO AND AM HEARTILY EMBARRASSED. The blog will be republished when I determine who actually sent the email and exactly what it said.

 

 

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Green Loses Court Case about Default Budget

Judge Andrew Schulman released his decision in Green v. Metzler, et al.  The SAU’s motion to dismiss the case was granted and Green lost on both issues at stake- requiring TRSD to produce a line item default budget, and having the court affirm that individual school board members have rights to information beyond the reach of the Right to Know law.

Interestingly, the judge concluded: “The plaintiff engaged in a good faith effort to clarify New Hampshire law.  Although she did not prevail in this court, her argument was certainly not frivolous.  Indeed, it is possible that plaintiff will prevail on appeal if she chooses to press the issue.”

The decision is here:  SKMBT_60017040513210

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RTK law violated by NH law makers

This is reproduced from Right to Know NH’s blog.
APRIL 5, 2017

RTK law violated by NH law makers

As the country was celebrating sunshine week, one NH legislative committee was banning the recording of their public meeting – a clear violation of the Right-to-Know law.

On March 13th, the Finance Committee Division I was conducting a public meeting. While called a work session, it was a public meeting nonetheless.

This violation was recorded on video by David Ridley.

Here is a summary of the events which took place.

David Ridley attends a legislative committee work session and starts to video record.

The Chair says “There’s no photography in the committee room”.

Ridley asks “Under what law would I be prohibited from filming?”

The Chair says: “We have house rules; please direct that question to the Speaker’s office”

Security is summoned and tells Ridley he can’t record “By request of the chair”

Security is not willing to state the law or rule which forbids cameras during the work session.

Ridley continues to film the work session.

While he is recording, Someone says “Sir, you are being very disruptive to our meeting”

When he asks how is he being disruptive, a committee member replies ““You are using a camera and we have house rules that you’re not supposed to be using a camera”.

Security later says  “No recording because it’s not a public hearing”  “It’s a house rule, its disruptive to the hearing”.

The chairperson stated that recording the work session was against house rules.   However, according to House Rule #110:

  1. Open Meetings. All meetings of any committee of the House and Senate shall be open to the public subject to the provisions of N.H. RSA 91-A.

And RSA 91-A:2 II says ” …all meetings…shall be open to the public… Any person shall be permitted to use recording devices, including, but not limited to, tape recorders, cameras, and videotape equipment, at such meetings.”

Another committee member also stated recording was against house rules.  A total of 9 committee members were in attendance and not one of them knew house rule #110 or was willing to speak up and correct the violation.  That’s unfortunate, because had another member spoke up they could have invoked House Rule #100 (f) which requires the Chairperson “To explain or clarify any rule of procedure upon request”.

Security apparently did not know house rule #110 but they were certainly willing to enforce a house rule that no one was willing to reference and that, in fact, did not exist.

What transpired here is typical of what happens all too often in public meetings around the state. Officials tell the public you can’t do something that the Right-to-Know law says you can do.  But the officials don’t back up their position when asked.   Then, the simple request of asking for the law or rule to support their position is used to claim that the person is being ‘disruptive’.

This incident is just one more example which vividly demonstrates that New Hampshire public officials, at all levels of government, need more training in the Right-to-Know law.

For additional press coverage of this violation:

NH1

NH Political Buzz

Girard at Large

Photography is not a crime

http://www.righttoknowNH.wordpress.com

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