The school board’s primary function is setting policy. I’m sorry to report that the Timberlane Regional School Board is poised to pass a policy so deeply and profoundly flawed that it betrays every voter and parent in the district. Please don’t think this an exaggeration.
A year after Dr. Metzler came on board, the (then) school board adopted a “governance team” approach to policy development. They changed the name of the school board’s policy standing committee to “Board/Superintendent Leadership Team Policy Standing Committee.” They gave a co-chair position to the superintendent and they gave majority votes on the policy committee to the Superintendent’s Leadership Team (SLT) members.
This has had very, very bad consequences for Timberlane’s policies. Policy changes have since directed authority to the superintendent at the expense of the school board, your elected representatives. This has happened, in my opinion, by the design of some but mostly out of laziness by many.
The superintendent controls the majority votes on the school board’s Policy Committee but he has seldom needed this majority because the school board members on the Policy Committee have been eager to give up their authority for the convenience of having the superintendent do their job so that meetings can be about shaking students’ hands and flattering staff instead of making hard decisions.
Some other school board members are equally happy to let the superintendent do their work. They further advance their own emasculation by not reading the revised policies before meetings. This is, of course, my speculation and I so speculate to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they really knew what the policy committee was recommending, I would like to think they would value their personal appendages a little more.
Let us take a case in point from the Policy Committee meeting of October 5. (I was absent from that meeting as I was celebrating the Nackey Loeb School of Communications First Amendment Award being given to my dear friends at Right to Know NH.)
With Brain Boyle acting in my stead, the committee dealt with what I believe to be the most important policy in our policy manual, Policy BDE, “Board/Superintendent Leadership Team Standing Committees.” Previously, I had submitted draft changes to the policy committee with the goal of removing the voting authority of all non-elected persons on school board standing committees. I had also deleted “Superintendent Leadership Team” from the title and had stripped the superintendent and other SLT members of co-chairmanships. My intention, which I had discussed with Mr. Boyle some months previously, was to reassert the school board’s authority and control over our own committees and their work.
What happened instead on Oct 5th? The Policy Committee made the policy even more egregious while keeping all the other objectionable provisions in place. They removed THREE school board standing committees and required all future recommendations to be vetted with the superintendent’s leadership team BEFORE they are moved to the school board. Not only does the Policy Committee, and all other standing committees, continue to have a majority of votes controlled by the superintendent, but now all the policies and all standing committee recommendations must get the blessing of the superintendent’s leadership team before the school board gets to weigh in on them.
The irresponsibility of this arrangement is honestly breathtaking. What this means to voters and parents is that the board would not have the ability to set policy that you might want but the administration does not.
Because this nightmare only gets worse, the TRSB voted to approve this policy and a whack of others for first read on Oct. 19. Not everyone may have known Policy BDE was among the large group they precipitously pushed forward, but I’m not betting against this policy getting final approval at the next school board meeting. When the choice is between doing our job or selling out our voters, you can always rely on the TRSB.
And almost on cue, as if we needed more evidence, the Department of Revenue has released the cooperative town tax apportionments. Sandown’s school taxes are going up up 9.3%.
Current Proposed Policy: Proposed BDE
Donna Green’s Proposed BDE: DG’s Proposed BDE