Category Archives: Closing Sandown Central

Sandown Central Closure Staff Reduction – Less Than Meets The Eye

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

Despite being sold as a reduction of 9 positions,  the district will actually lose only 7 positions in the closing of Sandown Central.

Here are the announced staffing cuts from Sandown Central closure (all numbers are Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff:

  • 2.4 Teachers
  • 1 Guidance
  • 1 Nurse
  • 1 Principal
  • 1 Secretary
  • 2.4 Custodians

… for a total of 8.8 staff.  The associated salary and benefits reduction is about $700 thousand.

This year’s staffing of Sandown Central is 35.6 staff.  Let’s look at the reductions in context:

2014/15 FTE Staff Reduction Remaining
Regular Education Classroom Teachers 10.4 2.4 8
Special Education Classroom Teachers 3 3
Regular Education Aides 3 3
Special Education Aides 6 6
Principals 1 1 0
Guidance Counselors/Directors 1 1 0
Media Specialists 0.4 0.4
Media Aides 1 1
Non-teaching Professionals not included above 3.9 1 2.9
Clerical support staff 1 1 0
Other support staff 4.9 2.4 2.5
Total 35.6 8.8 26.8


How many of the 26.8 remaining staff are directly needed to service the relocated students?

We know that there will be 6 grade 4/grade 5 classes in the consolidated Sandown North.  That’s 6 classroom teachers.  There are 3 regular ed aides who directly support the existing classes, so they will be equally required in the consolidation. The 9 Special Ed teachers and aides workload is driven by IEPs, and we can assume that will be unchanged by consolidation.

So we can directly associate 18 staff with the transfer of 6 classrooms plus relocating special ed services.  That is half of the original staff.

What are the other nine needed for?  We would like to be told.  This has not been discussed at School Board or Budget Committee, and there is no plan which lays out the rationale for how many positions are deemed necessary.

But wait, the administration proposed, with approval of the budget committee, to add the following positions to the 2015/16 budget:

  • Principal  (with no assignment as yet)
  • Floating Nurse
  • Danville assistant principal change to full time from part time
  • Special ed teacher
  • Technology specialist

… at a total cost of $390 thousand.

Coincidentally, the principal and nurse positions correspond to positions removed from Sandown Central.

So realistically, the closure/consolidation has resulted in only 7 real staff reductions which makes one question the real savings in  the proposed consolidation.  And don’t forget the cost of upgrading Sandown North’s playground and adding a sprinkler system – expenses the superintendent says he would do anyway but were not part of the facilities five year plan.


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Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Expenditures, Sandown Issues, Taxes, The Mushroom Farm

On Closing Sandown Central… the no choice option ahead

Let me present the district’s line of argument about the closing of Sandown Central in a timeline.

2008:  Capital Improvement Plan recommends consolidating the two Sandown Elementary schools with an extensive addition to Sandown North.

March, 2009:  District voters reject a warrant to provide funds to plan and design an addition to Sandown North in order to consolidate it with Sandown Central.

Jan. 2014:  Rob Collins, School board chairman, writes an email saying Sandown Central will have to close if the budget is cut. He also introduces the threat of user fees and program cuts.   Watch this email challenged by Mrs. Copp at a Sandown Board of Selectman meeting with Mr. Collins and Dr. Metzler.

March 2014:  Voters elect default budget which is just $500,000 less than the district’s proposed budget, or 0.75% less.

Dec 4.2014:  At a school board meeting, Dr. Metzler announces that the second draft of the 2015-2016 budget removes the operating expenses of Sandown Central. Financial information presented  shows Sandown Central with the highest per pupil elementary operating costs. School Board votes to support Superintendent’s budget.

Dec. 5, 2014:  Second budget draft published on Budget Committee website (with SC operating expenses removed). First time Sandown Central closure is placed before Budget Committee.

Dec. 11, 2014:  Deliberation on second draft budget by Budget Committee. Mr. Cantone pressed Dr. Metzler for any other costs associated with the closure. Administration said the total picture was a savings of $744,299.

Dec. 12, 2014: SAU publishes draft three of budget that adds $260,000 for a sprinkler system and $90,000 for a playground expansion at Sandown North – never before mentioned at Budget Committee, School Board or Facility Committee meetings – nor were they on the five-year plan for facility enhancements published by the facilities manager.

Jan. 8, 2015:  At a school board meeting, Peter Bealo motions to move 4th and 5th grades from Sandown Central to Sandown North.  Motion defeated. Donna Green tries to get the operating expenses separated from the kitchen renovation cost by introducing two separate warrant articles.  Motion defeated.  All warrant articles approved for public hearing, including  a warrant for $1,160,544 to keep Sandown Central open and renovate and equip a new kitchen. (Vote of 6-1-1)

Jan. 13, 2015  Two Citizen Petition warrant articles about Sandown Central are submitted for the March ballot. One asks voters to approve $602,528 in operating funds to keep the school open (without a new kitchen).  Another instructs the district to do a study and have voters decide on all school closings. (Advisory only).

Jan.15, 2015 Budget Public Hearing: Dr, Metzler responds to a question by Donna Green  about what would happen if neither warrant article passes to keep the school open and what if one does pass.  The Superintendent replies that if both warrants fail, then by law the district can’t keep the school open; however, if one does pass the school board could vote to close the school in any event.  “‘No’ means ‘No,'” he said, “but ‘Yes’ doesn’t mean ‘Yes.’ ”  Mr. Cantone questions if closing the school is strategically the best thing to do, then why did the school board put forward a warrant article to fund keeping the school open with a new kitchen?  Acting school board chair, Kate Delfino replies that the board wanted to give the voters a choice even though the school is inefficient and could be consolidated.  Dr. Metzler promises that if a new kitchen is put into Sandown Central, he would not recommend the school be closed in the short-term.    

Jan.22, 2015:  Kelly Ward, Sandown school board representative, motions to table any further vote on closing Sandown Central until after the March election.  The Board defeats this vote.  Green decries the irresponsible lack of information or study on the closing. Peter Bealo from Plaistow motions (again) to move 4th and 5th grade from Sandown Central to Sandown North.  That motion is also defeated.  The board is made to understand that a future vote on the closing of the school can be made at any time at future meetings.

So here we have it.  The school board thinks the best use of taxpayer money with the least impact on students is to close a school.

  •  They do not require anything that might be called a study to support their blithe pronouncements that a consolidation will be unproblematic and will not lead to much greater costs in the future.
  • The administration takes two meetings to reveal to the budget committee the full extent of the costs to consolidate the schools which includes a sprinkler system and a new playground — previously unplanned expenses.
  • The school board puts forward a warrant article to fund the school with a new $416,000 kitchen because they say they want to give voters the chance to keep the school open. They reject a motion to split the article into two choices.
  • The school board repeatedly votes to close the school and undertakes to make no promise about when they will finally vote on the issue – possibly before the election.
  • We learn from public hearing that even a yes vote by district voters to keep the school open could result in closing the school.

Here’s what I have concluded from this comedy of errors:  the school will be closed unless district voters agree to invest $416,000 in a new kitchen.   Just how does this reduce the cost of running this school?  It only inflates the capital expense of keeping it open and does nothing at all to reduce the operating per pupil cost.  Evidently the primary issue was not the per pupil operating cost of the school after all.

What was the real purpose of putting the school board’s warrant for operating expenses and a new kitchen on the ballot?

To give the voters a say?    Nope

To take the responsibility off the school board?  Nope…. they are still trying to take votes

Why indeed?  Every which way is illogical. But it does have some happy consequences for the district’s goals.

If both warrant articles concerning SC are defeated:  school closes and the board is forbidden from opening the school – decision made for them.

If the warrant article that includes the kitchen passes:  School stays open for at least the short term and the district  loses the opportunity to gain saving by a consolidation.

If the Citizen’s Warrant Article passes:  the board has the discretion to keep the school open or to close it, BUT it will raise $602,528 either way. The law says money raised by warrant for one purpose cannot be used for any other purpose – but it can be put directly into surplus which will disguise the absence of other money that should have been in surplus but has been spent.

People accuse me of being conspiratorial, but I am merely presenting the logical possibilities.

This uncertainty provokes anxiety in the students, and causes resentment among parents and taxpayers.  Wasn’t there a better way to go about all this?

See the school warrant articles here:School Deliberative information


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Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, School Board Functioning

No Vote Yet to Close Sandown Central

Someone should produce a TV show about cowardly/indecisive school boards. They could get years of material from Timberlane.

Last night’s school board meeting featured public comment from Sandown residents universally in favor of keeping the school open for at least one more year. (I read one email from two Sandown residents in favor of closing the school immediately.)  Kelly Ward, representative from Sandown, motioned to table the closing vote until after the election to give voters a chance to act on the three warrant articles on the ballot affecting the closure of Sandown Central.  That motioned failed by a tie vote because Mr. Blair abstained.  After that, Plaistow’s Mr. Bealo motioned to move 4th and 5th grades from Sandown Central to Sandown North.

Sandown resident, Mr. Lee Dube, rose from the audience to say that the board had already voted on Mr. Bealo’s motion at a previous meeting and the board could not vote on the same motion twice as per Robert’s Rules of Order.  At this the chairman called a much appreciated recess while someone looked up the rules.  When we reconvened, the chairman allowed the motion and noted that a “No” vote at that time did not mean the same motion could not be voted again later when the board was ready to make a decision. Mr. Bealo’s motioned failed by all but one vote – his own.

During the meeting I spoke against closing the school this year for the following reasons:

  • No exploration of alternate plans at the board level
  • No traffic plan
  • No classroom plan
  • No Special Education reassignment plan
  • The school board has not toured either school and furthermore I have been PROHIBITED from entering the schools during operational hours
  • Zero discussion about the adaptations needed at all the other elementary schools to accommodate the relocated Special Education programs
  • Zero discussion of the future use of Sandown Central as a building
  • No consideration of the cost in building code upgrades with the change in use of the building
  • No consideration of the tax impact to the district of changing the building from a school to another use

I could go on as that was a list made in five minutes.

The irresponsibility of your school board is breathtaking.  They have not given the administration any direction to provide the above information.  They expect to take a vote and have the administration figure everything out afterwards so that your elected officials don’t have to trouble their heads about any of the details that affect every elementary student in the district – not just the 138 students in Sandown Central.

The most outrageous statement of the night, if you can overlook the Atkinson snobbery behind Mr. Sapia saying that he was very proud of all the Sandown residents for speaking so well, has to go to Mrs. Delfino. She said that it pains her very much to close a school but with a cut of three quarters of a million dollars from the budget, something had to go.

A cut from the budget?  The proposed budget is UP over last year by 0.58% (while we anticipate losing 150 students)  and the default budget is even higher.  There is no cutting going on whatsoever.  When the board and administration say the budget was cut, what they mean is that they didn’t get everything they asked for in their first budget draft. And when they didn’t, the administration came back  saying peevishly that if they can’t get the 2.75% increase they want, then they are closing a school.  Like it or lump it. Does that sound like a genuine attempt to grapple with a $67 million budget, or is it budgeting by extortion?  With the sharp decline in district enrollment we are experiencing and will continue to see, budget cuts are the only responsible thing to be doing, actual honest to goodness budget cuts – not rushing to close a school without any board level planning at all and very little evidence of planning at the SAU level.

UPDATE: Jan. 24, 2015 An Atkinson resident justifiably upbraided me for insulting all Atkinson residents in this post. The resident also noted that Mr. Sapia was not elected by their town. The point was well taken and I apologize to the people of Atkinson.


Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, School Board Functioning

Here is Sandown Central’s “Closing Plan”

Judge for yourself as to how thorough a plan has been presented to the school board.  SC Closing Plan

The NESDEC enrollment projections  in this study vary from those in the actual NESDEC report without explanation. NESDEC 2014 is showing 416 students in Sandown elementary in 2024, which is more than we have today.  The “plan” is showing just 312 students while citing the same document!  The report is stuffed with unnecessary and irrelevant demographic information. Even the district enrollment number is way off. The district’s own enrollment information posted on the school board site shows our district enrollment at 3773 – not 3992.

Please see my posting, “Closing Sandown Central Isn’t a ‘No-Brainer” where I feature Sandown Budget Committee member, Cathy Gorman’s brilliant analysis and suggested alternative to closing the school this year.  You will note that nothing to this effect is mentioned in this “study.”

My previous description of this study as “slap dash” was too kind.  I give this study a D- and that’s just for participation.


If you find this report both an embarrassment and an insult, as I do, you may be interested in joining up with this citizen who made this appeal through my blog.  I do not know him nor do I know or necessarily endorse his views, but feel he should have a hearing.

Fellow residents – As a concerned voter in Sandown, I have strong reservations about the way Sandown Central School is being considered for closure without any real plan. It may be a good idea in the long run, but a true plan and thoughtful deliberation needs to happen before taking such action towards a consolidation.

I would like to figure out how to have a local forum this weekend to discuss. I am not sure where to do this, but maybe it is meeting at a common location on Sunday, conference call or scheduled chat. However, given the short notice while that gets figured out I would like to see how many would be interested in discussing what options are available to those of us who do have concerns about the way this is being handled. If you would like to have a discussion would you please email me Likewise, if anyone has any ideas on where such a meeting could take place with such short notice please let me know, I am very new in this community organization process.

Thank you for your consideration.

HERE’S AN ADDITIONAL IDEA:  Concerned people in Sandown might like to attend the Board of Selectman meeting on Monday night.  Public comment is at 7 pm.



Filed under Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, The Mushroom Farm

School Board Delays Closing Vote

Sandown Central’s fate has still not been made official.  The vote has been put off to the next school board meeting, Jan. 22.  Tonight’s meeting approved school ballot warrant articles.

Sorry, Sandown.  You will not be given the choice of voting for the school to stay open unless you also approve putting in a new kitchen to the tune of $416,245.

Citizen’s petition anyone?  (You’ve got to Jan. 13 at 5 pm )

The district’s slap dash  “closing plan”  was given to the board at the meeting tonight.  It will be posted here tomorrow for your own critique and disappointment.  They had to throw something together so as not to be in blatant violation of their own policies, but really, would you give it a passing grade?  Stay tuned.


Filed under 2015 Warrant ARticles, Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central

Closing Sandown Central Isn’t a “No-brainer”

School Board member Peter Bealo was quoted in today’s Eagle Tribune as saying that closing Sandown Central was a “no-brainer,” because the “economics are unassailable.”  Well, hold on to your seats because Cathy Gorman, Timberlane Budget Committee member from Sandown, has just assailed them and good.

Ms. Gorman has examined the administration’s recently discovered fact that the building cost per pupil of running Sandown Central far outstrips the costs of running other elementary schools in the district by $1,400 from the next most expensive school.  In order to close Sandown Central and squeeze its students into Sandown North, the four current Fourth Grade classes and the four Fifth Grade classes would be consolidated into three classes for each grade at Sandown North.

With that piece of information, Ms. Gorman decided to see what the building cost per pupil would be at Sandown Central if it were to stay open with two fewer teachers (because the classes had been consolidated).  What do you think she discovered?

With two fewer teachers at Sandown Central, the building cost per pupil comes down $1100 and becomes just $286 more than the next most costly school.  (See Table 2)  Is this the sort of savings that is worth closing a school for and displacing so many special education students? The administration says this closure will affect only those students in Sandown Central but, in fact, the closure will effect every elementary school in the district with the reassignment of special education services.

The analysis isn’t over yet. Our intrepid Ms. Gorman didn’t stop there.  The consolidation plan also calls for another class consolidation of Grade 2 at Sandown North with the resulting loss of a teacher. Ms. Gorman figured that if three teachers were cut from both schools and the cost of running both schools was combined and divided by the total number of students, then the combined cost of running both schools turns out to be less than the cost of running Danville!  (See Table 3a)

Ms. Gorman’s tables and arguments are here: SC CPP analysis V4  (This is corrected version from what was posted on 1/6/15)

Ms. Gorman intends to present this revealing information at the next Sandown Board of Selectmen meeting as well as at the budget public hearing (Jan. 15th) and the school deliberative meeting.

What she has exposed is that the closing of Sandown Central is far from a no-brainer based on unassailable numbers. By the school board’s own policies, no school should be closed until a formal study has been conducted and presented to the school board.  So far all we’ve gotten are assurances and nothing on paper let alone something amounting to a plan. The superintendent says the school board has to vote to close the school, then we’ll get the plan.  According to the Eagle Tribune, a vote is expected to close the school at this Thursday’s school board meeting. You will note that no mention of a vote to close the school is on the published agenda.  And I have been denied access to the Sandown schools during operational hours so I cannot see them with children to judge for myself how crowded Sandown North is currently. This is the respect shown for the importance of this decision to our community.


Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, Taxes, The Mushroom Farm

Hiding Behind Facebook

Will the real author of the Facebook page, Support Timberlane, please stand up?

I believe it is Gretchen  Grosky, the hired PR specialist for Timberlane.  If so it would put the district on the slippery edge of electioneering.

The cover page says “Join us in telling the GREENS that our kids, our teachers and our school district are not simply numbers!  Deliberative Session, Feb 5th. 7 pm”

It also features a clip of me and Arthur Green suggesting a much lower operating budget for Timberlane.  The clip of me was taken out of a very interesting school board discussion from Dec. 18 and I would heartily recommend you watch the dialogue from which the clip was drawn. This link will take you to the relevant point in the recording which also includes Ms. Armfield explaining the consolidation plan:

Most people who rail against the suggestion to lower the operating budget to something affordable for local families have not themselves challenged Arthur Green’s numbers or delved into the expenditures yet they insist cuts would harm the children.  Before Dr. Metzler’s budgets, our district ran on $61 million  for three years in a row. Now, with fewer students, we need almost $68 million and we have to close a school. Does this sound reasonable?  If management implemented cuts with earnestness, education would not be affected but the number of staff certainly would be. So what is this really about?  Education or jobs at Timberlane?

The plan to consolidate Sandown Central at Sandown North involves the consolidations of one second, third, fourth and fifth grade class.  That eliminates four classes and we will still not exceed the recommended maximum number of students per class as per Timberlane policy.  This should tell you that when there is a will there is a way to run on less without educational impact.  Atkinson Academy has the largest classes in our district’s elementary system yet they and Sandown Central are the highest rated elementary schools in our system according to, which Mr. Bealo cites on Facebook.  Empirical evidence and academic study have exploded the notion that class size affects educational outcome.  Think back into your own education and you will know that classes of 30 plus were the norm in the 60s yet few of us felt short changed by our elementary education.  In any event, we are not advocating changing class size limits as set by Timberlane policy and we have shown that even with the staff reductions we recommend, Timberlane will have abundant resources to maintain the existing class size limits.

And Mr. Bealo, stop posting comments on Facebook about my personal history.  You have no knowledge of me, Arthur Green or our background and please don’t pretend you do.  Your facts are wrong and often deprecating. You and I have have one thing in common:  we were both censured by the Timberlane school board.  Mine was quite public and intended to discredit a dissident voice.  Yours was hushed up.  Would you like to tell us and your Facebook audience what your censure was about?

Support Timberlane, you are right.  Our school district is not simply about numbers.  It is about giving children the finest education while allowing families to afford their homes.  We are at the point where towns want to leave the district because they think they can do it better for less. What has gotten us into this mess is not Arthur and Donna Green, rather it is relentless school  budgets that are outstripping our ability to pay.



Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Expenditures, My censure, Sandown Issues, Taxes

Staffing Info Denied: Sandown Representation Ignored

This is an email Arthur Green sent to the entire Budget Committee this morning:


Mr. Grosky,

At the Dec. 11 Budget Committee meeting, members were invited to submit questions for response in time for the Dec. 23 committee deliberation, with a deadline for submission of Dec. 14 at 7 pm.

Please explain in writing why none of the questions I submitted (attached) were answered.  Specifically:

  • Were my questions forwarded to the administration?
  • Did the administration acknowledge the questions and provide a reason for declining to answer?
  • Since we agreed as a committee that you would be the point of contact for these questions, did you take any steps to protect my rights as a member to get a response to these questions?
  • If there was no intention to answer my questions, why was I not informed of this in advance so that I could offer reasons for needing the information in before the final committee meeting?

This matter concerns not only my individual role as a committee member, but also the Sandown residents whose representation on the committee is being thwarted by denial of information.

I am prepared to accept that question 5 (attached) was substantially dealt with at the Dec. 18 School Board meeting, although it would have been appropriate to acknowledge the question and refer to that SB discussion.

I await your response.

Arthur Green

Email sent Dec. 14, 2014

From: Arthur Green
Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2014 5:45 PM
To: Jason B. Grosky
Cc: Dennis Heffernan ; Cathleen Gorman ; ; Tony Cantone ; Gregory Spero ; Michelle O’Neil ; Richard Blair ; Josh Horns

Subject: Information requests in support of budget deliberations

  1. The 2014/15 A12B staffing report shows 688.4 Full-Time Equivalent employees.  Can you confirm that these positions are all staffed, or does this report include vacant positions?
  2. The 2013/14 A12B report shows 694.9 Full-Time Equivalent employees.  Can you confirm that these positions were all staffed, or did this report include vacant positions?
  3. As part of the district response to Right To Know requests in January, you provided an FTE breakdown which included staffing at the District lever (not associated with a specific school) of 30.1 FTEs in 2013/14 and 31.1 in 2014/15.
    • Are these positions part of Timberlane (as opposed to SAU) staffing/payroll?
    • Are these positions covered by a separate filing to the NH DOE?  If so, can you please provide those filings covering the years from 2007/08 to 2014/15?
    • If not covered by DOE filings, can you confirm the 2013/14 number?
  4. As part of the district response to Right To Know requests in January you provided a Staff Count breakdown which laid out the budgeted staff plan for 2014/15 as it would eventually be presented in the Annual Report – forecasting 740 staff.  Is this still valid as the staff headcount plan for 2014/15?  If not, can you provide your current staff headcount plan for 2014/15.
  5. The 2015/16 Grade 4 and Grade 5 enrollment for Sandown has been variously forecast:
    • 145 (NESDEC 2014 report)
    • 148 (Sandown North budget presentation)
    • 135 (oral discussion at Dec. 11 Budcom meeting)
    • The lower figure would be consistent with a need for 6 additional classes in Sandown North, while the larger forecasts might require 8 additional classes.  What is the district’s planning assumption for this?  Is the difference related to relocation of the district-wide special-ed program?
  6. At the Timberlane School Board meeting on Oct. 16, you stated that forecast enrollment for next year is down by 40 from the current year.  Given this year’s enrollment of 3,773, that would lead to a 2015/16 enrollment of 3,733.As we are all aware, the NESDEC forecast for 2015/16 is 3,613, a decrease of 160 from this year.The NESDEC forecast is generally considered to be highly accurate.  For example, this year’s enrollment of 3,773 is just 9 students different from the NESDEC forecast in their previous year report.If the district is using a forecast other than the NESDEC number, can you provide the source of this alternative, the rationale for using this alternative rather than the NESDEC number, and the methodology by which the number of 3,733 was obtained?

UPDATE (Dec 29, 12:30PM):   Mr. Grosky replied to the email that he did forward Mr. Green’s questions to the administration, and was under the impression that the questions had been answered.  He promised to look into the matter.



Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Budget Committee, Closing Sandown Central, Expenditures, Right to Know issues, Sandown Issues, The Mushroom Farm

Funding Formula Unchanged, Default Budget No Relief

The school board listened to Rob Collin’s presentation last night on changing the district’s funding formula.  Yes, it was his idea, Mrs. Steenson told us.  The administration took no credit for the suggestion. Atkinson and Plaistow members were strongly opposed and the issue was dropped without a vote. I was roundly chastised for releasing the information before the meeting which apparently resulted in a flurry of calls to school board members.

A default budget was also approved last night with about as much reflection as a frog has on a cloudy day.  The default budget is higher than the currently proposed “third draft” budget by $81,688.  Included in the default is an extra $200,000 for anticipated higher energy costs – something not allowed by law concerning default budgets– a fact I pointed out and  ignored by the board.

Interestingly, Sue Sherman said that the school board did not vote to close Sandown Central at the board’s previous meeting. Not sure Superintendent Metzler read the same memo.  I urged the board to take a vote on the closure and not leave it to the budget committee as that was not the way something so important should be done.  Had it come to vote, I would have again pointed out how they are violating their own policy about the procedure to close a school which I did anyway for good measure.

From the discussion around the table last night, it is clear the board is set on closing Sandown Central though they lack the political courage to put it on the agenda and take a public vote. Members argued last night that it is simply a matter of fiscal responsibility. If that were the case, I said, the numbers have not been forthcoming. We have been given a rough list of cost savings and an even rougher list of consolidation costs.  These have not been scrutinized or even discussed by the board and I’m far from convinced that what we have been given is thorough. What we have been given in great abundance, however, is general reassurances that the consolidation could be done with precious few specifics.  Ms. Armfield explained how 6 extra classroom could be squeezed out from the current configuration of Sandown North, but Ms. Rincon, the Special Education Director, could not give any specifics whatsoever about how the special education programs would be moved and otherwise accommodated because she did not want to upset student and parents about something that is still in the planning stage and could change.  This, of course, means that the board is set to do something based on nothing but assurances by the administration with no plan on paper subject to study and public examination.

The board also waived some policies to allow employees and board members to gain discounts at some commercial enterprises.  I voted against this as it didn’t seem urgent. I would always rather revise policy if it is necessary than waive it when it is convenient. Policies exist for a reason,.

There were many other issues addressed at last night’s meeting which stretched to nearly 12:30 am.  I made a motion to end the police detail saying it made the board look afraid of its constituents and/or wanting to intimidate them. (Did I happen to mention that Lt. Baldwin is the detail officer?  Readers might recognize this officer as the one who  “investigated” me for harassment.)

I also vociferously objected to being refused access to Sandown’s elementary schools during the day so I could see how practical a consolidation is given the current school population and use of facilities.  Jack Sapia, the recent appointee from Atkinson, had a tour of Sandown North with the principal on Friday during the school day.  Mr. Sapia apologized for not observing protocol.  Ms. Steenson did not apologize for lying to me in her email of Dec. 16:

Mrs. Green,

I have indeed responded to your request. Building tours are given by Mr. Hughes, they are arranged by the superintendent, and these tours only happen after hours on days that school is in session so as not to disrupt the students or staff. The principals neither schedule nor lead tours of their buildings, except during the annual facilities tours in September. Perhaps you’re not aware of how full their days are already. I have copied Dr. Metzler on this response; I, personally, am not aware of how a request by you to the Sandown Board of Selectmen would change the availability of tours.


Of course school principals give school board members tours during the day- especially under circumstances such as the closure of a school.  Why only a few meetings ago, two school board members raved about their tour of the full-time kindergarten program in their towns’ elementary schools. It is only your Sandown representative who cannot obtain a tour because of the personal intervention of the school board chair, the same person who has steadfastly refused to include my agenda items requests.  This is your school board at work.  There are many who think a less confrontational approach would garner different results. In fact, whenever there is an imbalance of power, it will be abused no matter how sweetly sings the weaker party.



Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, Taxes

Stonewalling Continues

Dec. 16, 2014   3:07 pm

Mrs. Green,

I have indeed responded to your request. Building tours are given by Mr. Hughes, they are arranged by the superintendent, and these tours only happen after hours on days that school is in session so as not to disrupt the students or staff. The principals neither schedule nor lead tours of their buildings, except during the annual facilities tours in September. Perhaps you’re not aware of how full their days are already. I have copied Dr. Metzler on this response; I, personally, am not aware of how a request by you to the Sandown Board of Selectmen would change the availability of tours.

If you’d still like a tour during one of these times, please let me know.



Dec. 16, 2014  10:17 pm

Ms. Steenson:
I would imagine the BOS, in representing the town and the residents affected by this proposal, want to know what’s going on.  In the spirit of fostering a good working relationship we all should want  to ensure that, if not the general public, ALL of the elected officials who represent them are directly made aware of the facts and opportunities so as to have informed observance as a basis for their questions and input to any plan affecting the schools.
Given the unusual situation we find ourselves in, it is unreasonable to deny a tour of facilities of both schools during the operational day to observe how the classrooms and other spaces are used. Full knowledge and understanding of any consolidation plan can only be achieved by a tour of both facilities as they are operating with students in them.
Worrisome progression of events:
  • Donna Green banned from the SAU building without superintendent’s written permission:  July 25, 2014.  Revoked only after a letter from my lawyer more than 7 weeks later.
  • Plaistow Police detail now on duty during all school board and budget committee meetings as of Dec. 11. 2014
  • Sandown representatives denied access to Sandown elementary schools during school hours   Dec. 16, 2014

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Filed under Closing Sandown Central, Sandown Issues, The Mushroom Farm