Category Archives: DELIBERATIVE 2014

Your Sandown Representatives – Getting Results

                                            Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

Timberlane’s administration and school board are taking some mitigating action against rising taxes and taking some steps to improve financial transparency. We think that our efforts, together with our colleague Cathy Gorman, have been key to these results.  This is what we’ve helped to accomplish so far:

  • Reduction of planned 2014 tax increase
  • Restraint of spending to build a 2014/15 surplus

  • School Board acknowledgement of taxpayer impacts and concerns

  • Improved transparency – staffing reports, enrollment forecasts, monthly financial statements are now being made available to the public on the District web site, after months of persistent Right to Know requests

  • Elimination of intrusive student surveys

Several important pieces of financial information emerged from the Sept. 18 School Board meeting that will lower the formerly anticipated tax increases.

  • Upon closing the books on the year which ended June 30, the administration has found an additional $350,000 to add to the surplus from that year.
  • This extra money is available either to be deposited in the Contingency Fund (“Fund Balance Retention”), as voted by the Board in June before the entire amount of surplus was known, or applied as revenue to the 2014/15 year to reduce taxes.  The Board plans to discuss the options at the Oct. 2 meeting.
  • The LGC HealthTrust refund of surplus issue is producing a further $387,000 to Timberlane coffers over and above the amount previously anticipated and included  in the 2014/15 revenue budget. About 20% of this money will be returned to employees and retirees, but the remainder, about $320,000, will be unexpected revenue to the district.
  • The administration stated that the LGC HealthTrust funds will be reported to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration as part of current year revenue, and consequently will reduce the amount of taxes required from taxpayers in this current academic year (2014/15).
  • The financial summary presented by the administration showed revenue from Medicaid and Catastrophic Aid higher than the budget presented at deliberative, by $275,000
  • The administration reported that there are 12 unfilled staff positions.

The good news from these announcements is that up to $950,000 (round numbers) has become available  to reduce the planned tax increase for the current year. The March vote which resulted in a default school board budget, a default SAU budget and approval of the support workers contract, resulted in an increased assessment to the district taxpayers of $2,100,000, or 4.6%. If the full $950,000 is applied to offset taxes, the anticipated increase of 4.6% would be reduced almost half, to $1,113,000, or about 2.4%. Town-by-town impacts vary significantly, but this would be welcome relief to all taxpayers.

The unfilled staff positions indicate that the district is moving in the direction of preserving a surplus in the 2014/15 year. Unfilled positions result in underexpenditure on salary and benefits line items, which is how the surplus is usually produced. We have called for a cap on expenditure at $2 million below the approved budget. These unfilled positions are not enough to produce a $2 million surplus, but the movement is in the right direction.

Superintendent Metzler went out of his way to emphasize that the announced mitigation of this year’s tax increase discredits our tax increase forecast. On the contrary, it shows that we were right and they decided to do something about it.  We did, after all, base our forecast on the administration’s own tax impact disclosure at Deliberative in February, adjusted for the March vote results.

The administration is responding to taxpayer concerns by using discretionary means to mitigate this year’s taxpayer impact. We will certainly not criticize the administration for doing this, and will continue to encourage more movement in this direction.

A few observations on how the LGC HealthTrust revenue is being handled:

We have learned from the administration’s action this year – declaring the unanticipated revenue as current revenue – that the same course of action was available last year, when LGC HealthTrust returned $1,054,000 to the district in August. Setting aside about $200,000 owing to employees and retirees, the administration could have applied $855,000 against the very heavy tax increase last year. The existence of this alternative was never publicly discussed. – which is why a public hearing is so important and mandated by law.

If the district had used the LGC money to partially offset the tax increase last year, then the only way to produce last year’s $1.9 million surplus would have been through spending discipline.

The LGC Return of Surplus has several pieces (round numbers quoted):

$1,054,000 received as unanticipated revenue last year, of which $855,000 placed in surplus and transferred as revenue to the 2014/15 year

$320,000 budgeted as anticipated revenue in 2014/15

$320,000 received as unanticipated revenue in 2014/15, and notified to DRA for inclusion in the 2014/15 tax calculation

In total, the district is benefiting in the 2014/15 year from almost $1.5 million in one-time windfall revenue. And taxes are still going up by 2.4% (best case) average across the district.

Next budget year, even if there is no spending increase, we will need a district-wide tax increase of $1.5 million just to replace the one-time LGC windfall we had this year. This means if the budget committee passes a flat budget for 2015-2016, taxes will still go up considerably. The district has to cut spending by $1.5 just to keep your taxes at the same level as they will be when you get your next tax bill in November.

There was a heated dispute over the need for a public hearing to accept the LGC revenue in 2013/14. The School Board position on the issue, backed by a questionable legal opinion, was that no public hearing was needed if all the funds were to be applied to surplus, but that a hearing would have been needed if the funds were to be spent. Even on this basis, there is absolutely a legal requirement for a public hearing on the unanticipated portion of the LGC revenue, because those funds are being applied to the current appropriated expenditure budget. We know this because they are reducing the amount to be raised from the taxpayers.

At the Sept 18 meeting the board voted down Mrs. Green’s motion to hold a public hearing on acceptance of unanticipated revenue.

The $275,000 increase in Medicaid and Catastrophic Aid is also interesting. No details were provided on the reasons for this increase, but both line items represent payment for services rendered by the district. The expenditure appropriation is not going up, so these increases imply that the district is obliged to provide related services from the existing approved appropriation. The fact that the district is operating this year on a default budget implies that such services (to the value of $275,000) were not included in the expenditure plans. Conclusion: the financial help is good for the taxpayers, but the related expenditures will have to be covered from the existing spending plan, and therefore will tend to reduce the surplus for the next budget year.

The $350,000 increase in the year-end surplus from 2013/14 raises many questions. At the July 16 School Board meeting, the administration distributed a variance analysis showing underspending of $680,000, and extra revenue of $1,176,000 (of which $855,000 was last year’s LGC money), for an estimated surplus of $1,856,000. At that time the year-end numbers were preliminary; nevertheless, it is surprising that the surplus for the past year can change by as much as $350,000 between mid-July and mid-September, when the fiscal year had ended on June 30. We will analyse this change further when we have full and final account-level details.

Good news for the taxpayer – the district’s new-found urgency of using any possible discretion around timing and reporting of revenue in favour of mitigating taxpayer impact.

Bad news for the taxpayer – most of this movement is designed to protect a high and growing level of spending. We can’t count on getting an LGC windfall every year.

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, DELIBERATIVE 2014, Expenditures, School Board Behavior, Taxes

Press Weighs in on Lawyer’s Letters

Attorney Richard Lehmann’s letters have made quite a stir in the press.

Rich Girard, radio commentator, was first off the mark devoting an hour to the controversy at Timberlane.  You can listen to his September 19th segment here:

Girard on Timberlane Sept. 19, 2014

Rich’s outrage is absolutely well founded.  I’ll be going on Rich’s show on Monday morning, Sept. 22, 2014 starting around 6 am.

The Union Leader’s story said: “She [Green] was issued a formal censure for violating open meeting laws and posting ‘disrespectful, inappropriate’ messages on a personal blog.” This sentence gives the reader the impression that the accusations in the censure letter were proven fact.  They are not and I dispute them.

Union Leader article Sept. 19, 2014

I do not believe I have violated any Open Meeting laws.  Writing to a quorum of a board is not a crime in New Hampshire. Furthermore, my blog is about Timberlane school district issues and is both accurate and professional.  Before moving to New Hampshire, I was previously a freelance writer with a number of respected publications.  (I was, for instance, the Canadian stringer for the Economist‘s Finance and Economics section for two years.)  The superintendent and my school board peers simply don’t like what I say so they discredit it as inaccurate and disrespectful when it is simply truthful or a fair expression of opinion.

The press has also reported that the letter of censure detailed 60 examples of inaccuracies in my blog.  The letter in fact pointed out 16 quotes and did not state what was inaccurate or otherwise objectionable about them.  I stand by every single word I have written. See these quotes for yourself.

Here is the letter of censure in its entirety: Letter of Censure Aug 28

The Eagle Tribune did a much better job of reporting the story, though it, too, reported inaccurately about the censure letter when the reporter wrote: “Last month School Board Chairman Nancy Steenson wrote Green a letter, outlining about 60 specific blog entries she said were inaccurate.”  The Eagle Trib’s James Niedzinski  did an otherwise outstanding job on a complicated subject with a long history and he has my thanks.

Here is the Eagle Tribune story:  Board Member Stirs the Pot

UPDATE:  Sept. 22, 2014:  Listen to Rich Girard interview me at the crack of dawn:  Girard interviews Green     Thank you, Rich!

 

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, DELIBERATIVE 2014, Expenditures, Fill-time Kindergarten, My censure, Non-public session abuse, Right to Know issues, School Board Behavior, Spanish Consultant Contract, Taxes

Violation of RSA 32:5 Pinocchio Academy Continued

This is a continuation of the post of March 13, 2014 entitled, Pinocchio Academy and the Mushroom Farm.
Here is an email exchange between me and the school board chairman, Rob Collins, after I discovered a significant change in the Sandown kitchen renovation warrant article as presented at Public Hearing in January, and then as presented at  Deliberative in February.  RSA 32:5 prohibits warrant article changes between Public Hearing and Deliberative, especially those concerning costs.
Feb 7, 2014
Mr. Collins:
I noted that the warrant for the Sandown kitchen was changed from public hearing to Deliberative.
Why was the cost increased?

As these changes were not discussed at the public hearing and did not arise out of the hearing, could someone kindly help me understand the RSAs that allow this change?

I’ve not before encountered a warrant article change between public hearing and deliberative that did not arise from public hearing. How does that work?

Thanks for helping me understand the process.
Mrs. Green
————————————————————————-
Mr. Collins replied on Feb. 8, (PH being Public Hearing and DS being Deliberative Session):
Typo on the slide at the PH.

What was presented at the DS was consistent with everything else (what we approved in a Board meeting, handouts at the PH and everything at the DS, not to mention the handouts at various BOS meetings).
———————————————————————————–
I replied on Feb. 8:
Mr. Collins:
THESE ARE SERIOUSLY DIFFERENT VERSIONS.  PLEASE EXPLAIN THE LEGALITY IN THIS SUBSTITUTION OF ONE ARTICLE FOR ANOTHER. I consider this a very serious matter and I expect a serious and studied answer.

At the Jan 14 public hearing on the budget, Warrant Article 5 read as follows:

  • Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $335,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $335,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital Reserve Fund?  (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)(The funds for this article come from existing money in the District’s Capital Reserve Fund, not from additional taxes.  This article, therefore, will not increase the 2014 tax rate.) 
At the Deliberative this is the version presented:
  • Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $385,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $335,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital Reserve Fund with remaining funds ($50,000) to come from the 2014-2015 operating budget?   (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)
Thank you,
Donna Green
————————————————————————————————
Reply from Mr. Collins, Feb. 8, 2014

Mrs Green,

The warrant as written at the DS is correct and was what was approved by the Board in December.  I assume the slide at the PH was an honest mistake.  There was no “substitution.”

—————————————————————————–

My reply to Mr. Collins, Feb 8, 2014

Mr. Collins,

This is an extremely serious matter and I advise you not to lie to me.

In the tax impact handout Mr. Stokinger presented to the Sandown Board of Selectmen, it showed no tax impact concerning the kitchen.  In the substituted version presented at deliberative, there is obviously a tax impact.

The whole article changed as did its tax impact.  The article presented at deliberative was never discussed by the budget committee and was never seen by the budget committee until deliberative session. Furthermore, I have the handout from the public hearing and the budget committee voted on this version and YOU read the warrant at public hearing.

This was a clear and flagrant substitution and it was absolutely illegal.

Donna Green
—————————————————-
Mr. Collins replies   Feb, 9, 2014 (WA means Warrant Article):
The meeting where the WAs were approved was 1/9.

You can view it here: https://vimeo.com/84140196
The discussion around the SC kitchen WA begins at 1:01:16.
————————————————————————————–
The Vimeo shows the board approving the version that was read at Public Hearing. Because of this, I made an official Right to Know Request on Feb. 8 to get at the bottom of the issue.  (My third in total.  I am now onto my fourth.) The email was address to the entire Budcom and School Board.
Mr. Collins and Dr. Metzler:

This is an official Right to Know request for the following information:

1) Provide the name(s) and title(s) of the individual or individuals who authorized the change of Warrant Article 5, “Sandown Central Kitchen Renovation” from the Jan. 16, 2014 version presented at Public Hearing to the version presented at Deliberative Session on February 6th, 2014.

2) Provide all documents and emails relating to the Deliberative version of Warrant Article 5 to include minutes, memos, emails and any other captured communications such as visual and/or audio recordings. Demonstrate when this version was presented to the Budget Committee and the school board.

The public hearing version of Warrant Article 5 read as follows:

  • Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $335,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $335,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital Reserve Fund?  (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED) (The funds for this article come from existing money in the District’s Capital Reserve Fund, not from additional taxes.  This article, therefore, will not increase the 2014 tax rate.)
The Deliberative version read as follows:
  • Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $385,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $335,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital Reserve Fund with remaining funds ($50,000) to come from the 2014-2015 operating budget?   (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)

Donna Green

Member of the Timberlane Budget Committee

__________________________________________________________________________
On Feb 12, Mr. Collins finally gave a full accounting of the history of the changes:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Following is the sequence of events surrounding warrant article 5 (WA 5).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12/12/2013 Budget Committee meeting.  The Budget Committee approved the 2014-2015 operating budget including the equipment line containing the $50,000 that will be used to purchase equipment for the Sandown Central kitchen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12/19/2013 SB meeting.  A draft of WA 5 was presented, the wording was as is below.

Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $385,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $385,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital reserve Fund? (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)(The funds for this article come from existing money in the District’s Capital Reserve Fund, not from additional taxes.  This article, therefore, will not increase the 2014 tax rate.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1/9/2014 SB meeting.  A draft of WA 5 was presented, the wording was as is below.

Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $385,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $385,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital reserve Fund? (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)(The funds for this article come from existing money in the District’s Capital Reserve Fund, not from additional taxes.  This article, therefore, will not increase the 2014 tax rate.)

After some discussion that is detailed on Vimeo (starting about 1:01:15 https://vimeo.com/84140196) the Board decided to decrease the total in WA 5 from $385.412 to $335,412 fully understanding the remaining $50,000 would be taken from the 2014-2015 operating budget.  We also decreased the amount in WA 4 from $400,000 to $350,000 to be in line with WA 5.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1/16/2014 Public Hearing.  WA 5 was presented, the wording was as is below.

Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $335,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize tha District to withdraw up to the sum of $335,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital reserve Fund? (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)(The funds for this article come from existing money in the District’s Capital Reserve Fund, not from additional taxes.  This article, therefore, will not increase the 2014 tax rate.)

After the Public Hearing the SAU contacted district legal counsel on the Board’s behalf.  It came back from them that the best way to present WA 5, given the intent of the School Board, was as was presented at the Deliberative Session.  Please see attached letter.

The School Board must post the final warrant articles “on or before the last Monday in January” (as described in RSA 40:13).  Cathy Belcher sent an email out for the purposes of posting the warrant on 1/27 (the last Monday of January) fulfilling the legal obligation of posting on or before the last Monday in January.

The wording in the posting of the warrant articles on 1/27 for WA 5 was as is below and is identical to the wording presented at the Deliberative Session.

Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $385,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $335,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital Reserve Fund with remaining funds ($50,000) to come from the 2014-15 operating budget? (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)

Recommended by the School Board 8-0

Recommended by the Budget Committee 8-1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2/6/2014 Deliberative Session.  WA 5 was presented, the wording was as is below.

Shall the voters of the Timberlane Regional School District raise and appropriate the sum of $385,412 to renovate the kitchen at Sandown Central Elementary School and to authorize the District to withdraw up to the sum of $335,412 from the existing School Building Construction, Reconstruction, Capital Improvements and Land Purchase Capital reserve Fund with remaining funds ($50,000) to come form the 2014-2015 operating budget? (MAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED)

Recommended by the School Board 8-0

Recommended by the Budget Committee 8-1

This is the wording that was approved and recommended by our legal counsel.  This is the wording that was approved by the legislative body at the Deliberative Session and this is the wording that will go on the ballot.

As you can see there is no real substantive difference between the version from the Public Hearing and the version posted on January 27th.  Both versions remove $335,412 from the Capital Reserve Fund and $50,000 is used from the 2014-2015 operating budget reflecting what was decided by the School Board in the 1/9 meeting. Our legal counsel support and recommend this change.

Let me be very clear, the $50,000 from the operating budget is already budgeted for as equipment, went before the budget committee as such and was approved by the budget committee on 12/12/2013.  The Board will use those budgeted funds like we will use any other budgeted funds in the approved operating budget.  The version presented at the Deliberative Session is the same version that was posted 1/27 and is the same version approved by district legal counsel.  This version is a more accurate and transparent description of what we will actually do.

Please do NOT “reply all” if you feel the need to comment or ask additional questions.  Please move through your Chair and do NOT reply to your entire committee.  We have procedures we need to adhere to regarding 91-A, please follow them.

Mr. Spero, if members of your committee have questions that need answering please let me know and I will attempt to address them at your next meeting.  I would also like to add a word of caution in that the purview of the Budget Committee does not include warrant articles and therefore the Budget Committee holds no authority regarding them, in any way.  Please remember that if we do discuss in a meeting.

Mrs. Green, if you still feel the need for us to consider your RTK request please email Dr. Metzler and myself directly.  Otherwise, I will consider this issue closed.

Rob Collins

TRSB Chair

_______________________________________

On Feb 13 I sent this email to the entire budget committee.  It is addressed to the Budcom chairman and reads in part:
Greg,
I would like procedural issues and the WA #5 with  Mr. Collins’ response put on our agenda as an agenda item at our next meeting.  ( “New” or “other” business will not be sufficient.)
Thank you for your kind attention to this,

Donna

____________________________________________________________
Of course this will never be discussed at a Budcom meeting.  Elections have come between and I am no longer on Budcom to pursue violations of the law.  Why does any of this  matter?  Well, apart from the attempt to pass off a violation of the law as a typo, the Budget Committee voted on the  article after Public Hearing.  Those recorded votes were then slapped on a materially different article at Deliberative and represented as our vote! Even apart from misrepresenting the Budget Committee’s vote to the  public, I have learned that it is imperative to jump on seemingly small infractions because they invariably become larger ones.  Here we have a clear violation of state statute.  This was shortly followed by a violation of policy against conflict of interest and nepotism. The School Board will ignore all criticism and the Budget Committee, planted in cool, moist, growing medium, will let them.

RSA 32:5 in part:  II. All purposes and amounts of appropriations to be included in the budget or special warrant articles shall be disclosed or discussed at the final hearing. The governing body or budget committee shall not thereafter insert, in any budget column or special warrant article, an additional amount or purpose of appropriation which was not disclosed or discussed at that hearing, without first holding one or more public hearings on supplemental budget requests for town or district expenditures.

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Filed under Budget Committee, DELIBERATIVE 2014, School Board Behavior

SCHOOL BOARD OFFICIALS ADVANCE DECEPTION

The absolute, unmitigated truth is that the amount taxpayers will be asked to pay to support the school district ( including the SAU) is a 4% increase over this current year.  The school board is claiming it is business as usual and the historical annual 2% increases of the past continues unchanged.  This is about as deceptive as it can be.

Here is an excerpt from a letter penned by  school board officials published in the Eagle Tribune on Jan. 30, 2014:  “While striving for excellence, the school district has continued to be respectful of taxpayers. Since 2008, the average annual budget increase has been just over 2 percent. That trend continues with the proposed 2014-15 district budget which is 2.2 percent higher than the 2013-14 budget. It is noteworthy that there are no large renovation or building projects envisioned. We are not building schools! Our focus is on improving instruction.”

Here is my scathing reply, published in the Eagle Tribune today, Feb. 3, 2014:

Many statements in Timberlane School Board member Peter Bealo’s letter last week (”Timberlane advances while keeping budget modest,” Jan. 30) cannot stand unchallenged.

1) Mr. Bealo claims the school district budget went up only 2.2 percent this year. It is actually up 4 percent because the SAU budget has been removed from the school budget this year. In previous years we paid for the school and the SAU in one bill, so to speak. This year, it is in two bills figuratively speaking. Only by ignoring one bill can the district say its budget went up just 2 percent. If you ran your household by this way of calculating, you’d always be going to relatives for a loan, which may explain why Timberlane cannot come to grips with its budget growth.

2) Mr. Bealo further claims the budget went through an “extensive and very thorough process with the District Budget Committee.” I am a member of that Budget Committee and I can tell you it did not go through any such thing. As just one example: More than 70 percent of the budget is for salaries and benefits yet the committee gets no information whatsoever about current or future staffing metrics. I requested this as a committee member and did not get it. I then made a Right to Know request and was refused. I made another Right to Know request and was again refused. The information is “not available” I was told by Mr. Collins, the School Board chairman. This was my reply: “So I’m to understand that the SAU drafted a budget that includes salaries and benefits for an UNKNOWN number of employees/positions? And that the current budget is also paying salaries and benefits for an UNKNOWN number of positions? I will be going to the attorney general next as this is patently incredible.” After I blogged about this situation on TimberlaneandSandown.wordpress.com, I received the information – in mid-January, more than a month after the budget had been approved by the Budget Committee.

Just so taxpayers know, the proposed budget was approved by the Budget Committee without staffing matrices for three years: 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. Does that sound thorough to you?

As for full-time kindergarten paying for itself, that remains to be seen. Ultimately I believe it will replace part-time kindergarten and become free. Neither the School Board nor the budget committee respected voters enough to recommend this program “extension” to warrant, and the School Board’s deliberation on the matter was so cursory that the topic never even made it into their minutes.

As for Sandown residents’ “shortsighted efforts to decrease taxes,” the district should remember that institutions collapse when their inability to restrain themselves exceeds the ability of people to pay. We have gotten to that point in Sandown. If this current budget passes unchanged, the district’s budget will have gone up 20 percent in just seven years while having lost 17 percent of our students – more than 800! Who is shortsighted here? Those who recognize budgets cannot go up indefinitely when the population they serve is shrinking, or those who reflexively stick their hand out for more rather than managing staff numbers and benefits?

It is true that Dr. Metzler has made some laudable changes at the district, and I believe he will continue to do so. The list Mr. Bealo provides is leadership accomplishments, none of which required much money. Management has been the problem at Timberlane, not a lack of financial resources.

At the school Deliberative Session on Feb. 6 in the Timberlane Performing Arts Center, taxpayers have a very real chance to vote to change this out-of-control budget. This is not an attack on education, it is an attempt to save public education from itself. Years from now, people will look back on this opportunity and either be inspired that people finally took control or be confirmed in their cynicism that nothing can ever change. Be in the PAC and vote to save our district from itself.

Donna Green

Sandown

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, DELIBERATIVE 2014, Sandown Issues, SAU 55 Issues, SAU petition, School Board Behavior

The Battle at School Deliberative: Feb 6

Gentle Readers:

Taxpayers, parents and school administrators are going head to head in a pitched battle at school deliberative session on Feb. 6th.  In the words of Shakespeare’s good King Henry V rousing his soldiers against seemingly hopeless odds:

And gentlemen in Timberlane now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Deliberative day.
 
 But guess what?  Our odds are not hopeless.  We can get this budget cut with a compelling argument and some favorable numbers.  I will deliver the argument which I am working hard to make short and hard hitting.  [The Moderator has now given me permission to use the projector.]  You must deliver the numbers. Please!

Tell all you see that this is not an attack on education.  This is saving the school district from itself.  When institutions grow beyond the ability of people to pay for them, one of two things happen: the institution collapses or the people are impoverished.  Families must be able to afford homes in our towns. They must have enough private resources to offer their own children advantages that can’t be replaced by school – travel, private lessons, cultivation of hobbies, etc.

When it comes down to the most selfish motivations, we all have a personal stake in education for our own personal safety.  Young people with bright futures do not become thugs.  Our property values also increase with a desirable school district.  Right now we have taxes so high we fear our houses will not be marketable, and a school district that continues to underperform despite significantly more money than a respected neighboring school (Pinkerton). Higher budgets hurt families and all property owners without helping the school district come to grips with its fundamental problem:  a long history of poor management.  There is new management now, and new promise, but  ever increasing budgets in the face of plummeting enrollment does nothing but enable the old practices.

Tell your friends to visit Timberlane2015.wordpress.com for more facts about the 2014-2015 Timberlane budget and why it is imperative to cut it this year at this meeting.  See you in battle.

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, DELIBERATIVE 2014, Sandown Issues