Category Archives: Fill-time Kindergarten

My VOTE on the Ballot

Sandown voters, I’d like to thank you in advance for casting a considered vote.

Here is how I am going to vote on the school ballot and why:

  • Article ONE  Election of officers:  Donna Green  (See below)
  • Article TWO:  BUDGET:  ABSTAIN   (Neither budget options are acceptable and a lot of abstentions will send a message.)
  • Article THREE:   Capital Reserve Fund:  NO  (We have enough money in there now and little planning seems to go into capital expenditures)
  • Article FOUR:  Sandown Central School and Kitchen:  NO  (Why put a new kitchen in a school they want to close and at such an exorbitant price?)
  • Article FIVE:  Sandown North Playground:  NO   (The children there need a large field – not a small playground with equipment, which is the plan.)
  • Article SIX: Timberlane Support Staff Collective Bargaining Agreement:  YES  (The increase was reasonable.)
  • Article SEVEN:  Authorize Special Meeting:  YES
  • Article EIGHT:  Acceptance of Reports:  YES
  • Article NINE:  Free Full-day Kindergarten:  NO  (There is no funding attached to this warrant, nor do I think it is educationally necessary.  It should stay tuitioned.)
  • Article TEN: Amend Article of Agreement to change funding formula for the school district:  NO  (Paying by the number of students we send to the district is the fairest way to fund a cooperative school district. Even though this will considerably lower Sandown’s school taxes, it is not a fair solution to the problem.)
  • Article 11:  Continue Operation of Sandown Central:  YES  ( There has been very inadequate information about the consolidation plan and I believe consolidating the schools now will ultimately  lead to building a very expensive addition onto Sandown North so that in the long run this will cost us more money than keeping Sandown Central open for at least one more year in order to do a proper study.)
  • Article 12:  Conduct Impact and Consolidation Plan:  YES  (This shouldn’t need a warrant article but it does because we have not been given enough information to judge the long-term cost of a consolidation and even the classroom accommodations for all the students.)

On the TOWN ballot, I hope voters will support Warrant Article 19 which asks the school district to conduct a study into the feasibility of Sandown withdrawing from the school district. This is just a study, but it is an important one in order to explore if we could get a better education and better value doing it on our own or in partnership with another town more similar to ours in tax base.

If the school warrant passes to change the funding formula for the school district (thereby giving Sandown much lower school taxes but increasing Atkinson’s and Plaistow’s) there is a possibility Atkinson could desire to leave the district. They already have a withdrawal study on their town ballot,  as we do.  Sandown will not  want to be left to absorb  the costs of keeping the lights on in the district if Atkinson leaves, so this study at the very least is necessary for defensive purposes.  In my opinion is it critical to vote to conduct a study.

WHAT I STAND FOR:

  • A steadfast commitment to quality education with more effective use of our tax dollars.
  • Pro-active oversight of the SAU,
  • Financial transparency,
  • Asking the tough questions in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency of our schools,
  • Calling out issues that need public attention,
  • Requesting serious discussion and appropriate supporting documentation prior to taking action on issues that impact Sandown and the entire district,
  • Pressing for SB policies to be followed and changing ones that do not serve the public interest.

All this must be done to provide the quality education we want for our students.
Thank you and I look forward to a new start working with a new board.

As for my lawsuit against the school district and SAU,  I’d like to state that the district did not have to fight the suit nor did they have to do the things they did to bring on the suit itself.  Beyond that, I respect the court and its deliberation and do not want to debate the merits of my case in public at this time.  My pleadings and the district’s pleadings can all be found on this blog.

See you at the polls on Tuesday!

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Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Closing Sandown Central, Fill-time Kindergarten, Sandown Issues, Taxes, Withdrawing from District

Your Board at Work Doing All the Wrong Things

Here are two very telling clips  from the Nov. 6 Timberlane School Board meeting.  Watch it if you want to understand why your School Board is so impotent.

Better to Ask Forgiveness Than Permission

In this first clip you will first see me make a motion to review a publicly announced educational goal of offering online courses for credit. (This was announced during the department heads’ presentations of their budgets at the PAC in October.)  Developing online courses has never been discussed at the board level or anywhere else it seems. When Superintendent Metzler was asked directly if he had instructed a staff member to pursue this goal, he would not give a straightforward answer. See my motion go down in flames.

Refuse to Put Contracts Out to Bid

Then (at 6 minutes, 36 seconds) I make a motion to have the rubbish removal contract go out to bid because at the same public session in the PAC, the Facilities Director said the contract had gone up $12,000.   I asked about the length of the existing contract and when it was last put out to bid.  I could not get an answer out of Mr. Stokinger, who despite being asked, refuses to bring his computer to a meeting. Some districts post this information on their websites.  In our district school board members can’t even get an answer. Watch the school board tie itself into ridiculous knots worming its way out of not putting this contract to bid.

For the record, the Facilities Committee does not deal with contracts. That was a complete canard. It hardly needs to be said that this is your tax money being gobbled up by an inexplicable refusal to put contracts out to bid. (At the beginning of the meeting not captured on these clips, the board voted against getting competitive quotes for our liability insurance.) You should also watch Ms. Steenson make a virtue of ignorance by protesting that contract review is not the job of the board. Subsequent to this board meeting, Mr. Hughes announced to the Budget Committee on Nov. 13 that he had made a mistake and the rubbish removal service is going up only $6,000 and not $12,000.

Have Serious Errors in Financial Projections

Next there is Mr. Stokinger publicly admitting that he was in error when he projected hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra Adequacy Aid for the district with the expansion of full-time Kindergarten. Thank you to Arthur Green for catching an error so material that it changes the whole financial complexion of the program. (One of the sheets Mr. Stokinger “regenerated” and distributed at the subsequent Nov. 20th school board meeting still included the erroneous Adequacy Aid. Sigh…)

Use Illegal Non-public Sessions to Hide Discussion of Issues

And finally, in the second clip,  you will see the board going into yet another illegal non-public session. Why am I claiming it was illegal?  The topic concerned facilities and this is not a permitted exclusion under the Right to Know law.  The board deliberately misstates the Right to Know law provision under which non-public sessions can be called to make it seem this topic is permitted. They call it safety and security, but the RSA is exclusively for terrorism. When Mr. Collins called for a non-public under 91-A, subsection (i), I read the SAU’s version of the so-called RSA out loud.  A day later I  checked the actual RSA and found, as I had thought, that what was purported to be the RSA wasn’t the RSA at all!

This is what the SAU self-servingly misconstrues as the provision in the RSA allowing non-public discussion.  It is this which  I read aloud at the meeting:

i) Consideration of matters relating to preparation for and the carrying out of such emergency preparations to prevent widespread injury or loss of life [security].

Here is the actual RSA:

(i) Consideration of matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of emergency functions, including training to carry out such functions, developed by local or state safety officials that are directly intended to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life. 

Even without the benefit of the actual RSA, the moment I learned what the non-public was about, I motioned to exit non-public because the public, I said,  had a right to know the information we were discussing.  My motion didn’t get a second and the non-public session lasted 20 minutes.

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Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Expenditures, Fill-time Kindergarten, Non-public session abuse, Pinocchio Academy, School Board Behavior, School Board Functioning, The Mushroom Farm

Stern Letter to Superintendent Metzler

The following email was sent to Superintendent Metzler yesterday by Cynthia Buco.  Ms. Buco is a Sandown Selectman who yesterday received yet another in a string of derogatory emails sent to the Sandown BOS by Superintendent Metzler about Sandown’s elected representatives; namely myself and Arthur Green.  Ms. Buco gave me permission to reproduce her letter.  Please note that she is writing as a private citizen.

Subject: Fw: Bud Com
Reply-To: Cindy Buco 
Superintendent Metzler
You ask Lynne to share this email with the BOS from Sandown.  She has so graciously has honored your request as she has in the past.  Can you please explain why you wanted this shared with the Board?  It is not very clear to me.  It seems that you are frustrated in the email but I am not sure if you are expecting the BOS to address this in some manner.
I tried to watch the last Bud Com meeting as you mention to do and the Vimeo is not yet posted. 
I try to attend meetings when possible to keep abreast of the activities of both the School Board and the Budget Committee but when I can’t I do watch the Vimeo recordings.  My observations are not very pleasing however.   I am actually quite offended with the lack of respect that is shown to the Elected Officials and I have to tell you that I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism that you are portraying in this email.  Being a Superintendent of the Timberlane School District I expect much more.
I am now going to ask that you stop addressing the Elected Officials with disrespect and when information is requested that you provide it timely and with the respect an Employee of the District should show to an Elected Official.  There should not be a need for a Right to Know request because you should honor the law and provide information to the Officials as it is required of you and your staff.  It is outright insulting that you charge these individuals who are also Taxpayers for this public information, to do a job they were elected to do.
The information that is required for the Bud Com Member to fulfil their duties should have already provided to them freely and openly and should not even need to be asked for.  The information requested is available as the District has a very robust accounting system and reports should be able to be accessed very quickly and easily.  If this is not the case I would be more than happy to take a trip to the office to review the system with Mr. Stokinger and have him walk me through why these documents are either difficult to access or not available. 
I would like to see you work together with the Elected Officials of Sandown in a more cooperative manner and anything I can do to help facilitate that I am more than happy to assist.  If that is your intention by sending the email than please let’s move forward in a professional manner respecting each other.
Sincerely,
Cindy Buco
Her email was in response to this one from Superintendent Metzler.  It was sent to the Sandown Town Administrator.
From: Metzler, Earl [mailto:Earl.Metzler@timberlane.net]
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2014 8:01 AM
To: Lynne Blaisdell
Subject: Bud Com
Lynne – Same old same old with our friends. Our Budget Committee has committed to a process to review the budget and has stuck to it. The complaining continues because if it does not go my way I will demand documents that either we don’t have or we have not produced yet. Then make it a RTK request and complain that they are not being honored. I even moved Bud Com to let AG make his presentation (which concluded with very offensive remarks). They (Bud Com)  were pushing that presentation out to December because it interfered with the agenda that they ALL agreed to. Please share with your BOS. Please watch the last meeting…it will become even more clear how ill prepared and misinformed a certain member is. Thanks, Earl
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
SAU 55
Superintendent of Schools
Serving Timberlane and Hampstead
__________________________________________________________

For the record, Mr. Green made no offensive remarks during his profound, insightful and devastating presentation (linked below) or at an other time.

Mr. Green is  ill-prepared and misinformed?  That’s a howler.  It was Mr. Stokinger and Superintendent Metzler who misled the entire district by publishing financial analysis claiming the district would be gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars of Adequacy Aid with full-time kindergarten.  Mr. Green is the one who nailed this inexcusable miscalculation in a letter that has still not been acknowledged, though Mr. Stokinger publicly admitted the error. That’s how ill-prepared and misinformed Mr. Green is.

Yesterday Arthur Green drove to the SAU office and paid the district $20 for a Right to Know request for public information about the basis for the tax rates in the four district towns.  This is your open and transparent school government at work for you, exerting themselves to keep your elected representatives uninformed by withholding information.

Thank you to Ms. Buco for watching all the meetings and understanding the mudfest that the Superintendent has started. Tomorrow I will be posting other insulting emails he has sent to the Sandown Board of Selectmen concerning me.

UPDATE 11/20/14:  Rich Girard of Girard at Large radio show reports that there are more than 30 emails of a similar nature sent from Superintendent Metzler to the Town Administrator in Sandown.  He learned this through a Right to Know request yesterday which Ms. Blaisdell responded to immediately. I will be posting tomorrow some of the emails I already knew about from my own avenues.

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Filed under Fill-time Kindergarten, Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, SAU 55 Issues

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

School Budget Committee: Everything but the Budget

Last night’s school budget committee meeting was a disappointing display, but a revealing one.  Like school board meetings, substantive issues are kept off the agenda despite members’ agenda requests.  This may sound radical and insulting, but I believe that agendas are deliberately kept to insubstantial issues so,  with a budget committee in chaos and a school board dwelling on irrelevancies, the administration can run the show.

Last night Mr. Cantone, new Budcom member from Plaistow, expressed frustration that so much of the discussion consisted of arguments that would be settled or moot if there were an established process in place.  Mrs. Rothwell, the chairman, replied that there used to be a process but now members want more information. That was a  most candid statement.  The process has long been a giant rubber stamp.  Now some members from Sandown aren’t happy with that and want more financial information in a form they can actually analyse and study.

For the third time, Ms. Gorman from Sandown spoke about the need to have all budget information delivered in live spreadsheets so it can be parsed at will – and as is the case with all town budget committee practices.  Arthur Green moved to have monthly expenditure reports provided in live spreadsheet format. In a 3 -7 vote, the motion was defeated with some saying that expenditures weren’t the committee’s business and others saying a live spreadsheet is not a good idea.  Either way, the committee as a whole, for whatever reason, voted to keep themselves ignorant and powerless. I excuse the new members because they don’t yet know how little useful information they will ultimately receive, but the members past their first year know better.

Even Michelle O’Neil of Danville expressed frustration with the absence of budget work going on at the meeting. She should be asking the chair why the agenda was as thin as Gulag gruel.  On July 31 Mr. Green requested numerous budget related issues be added to the September 11th agenda:

  • that the committee receive monthly financial reports;
  • discussion of comparative district information gathered by Mr. Green;
  • notice to change the by-laws to allow more meetings throughout the spring and summer;
  • discussion of segregating the budgeting for full-time kindergarten.

Mr. Green also endorsed  Ms. Gorman’s request to examine current email policy and Mr. Grosky’s request to discuss a report on overexpenditures in 2013-2014.

Without explanation, only Mr. Grosky’s agenda request was included on the agenda.  This is the same old game the school board plays with their agendas…..dissident members and their constitutents’ concerns are frozen out of the agenda

67 million dollars are at stake here.  There are just five precious meetings left (with a sixth scheduled for Dec. 23 which will inevitably be cancelled).  A majority last night also defeated a motion to add another meeting to the schedule. There is no way possible the committee will be able to interview the necessary department heads as they discussed doing in the spring meeting .  Schedules for interviews haven’t even been made or circulated.  Surprised?  I predict the next meeting will be taken up with arguing about whether or not to have department heads in and if so, who.

A Budget Committee floundering without direction – unwilling to add meetings, unwilling to demand the very basic spreadsheet tools that are required to do any serious budget analysis, unwilling to stick to decisions made in previous meetings and accepting of vacuous agendas that shut out the requests of some hard-working committee members,  this is what you have and it does not work to the taxpayer’s advantage. The Sandown reps, Gorman and Green, are doing their best and a few others can be excused for being new –my first year was a total loss — but the majority should be keenly aware that they are not doing what the taxpayers of this district expect.

In the good news department, Arthur Green will be presenting a Town Hall on the forthcoming school budget on Dec. 7, 2014 at Sandown Town Hall. There you will be able to see the presentation on comparable school districts, their budgets and academic results – all with less money than we extract from our district taxpayers every year.  It will be even more explosive than what we revealed at last year’s Deliberative Session.

Also last night,Chairman  Diane Rothwell announced her resignation from the budget committee effective September 29th.  She is a kind-hearted person with a long association with the district and I wish her well in her move.  Now it is time for some new, independent-minded leadership to take command of this perennially ineffectual committee that has collectively sunk into irrelevancy.

In case I haven’t yet proven my point, here is the next School Board agenda – an agenda so light and superfluous it could waft away in a cold draft.  There should be, but isn’t, an item about the unanticipated extra return of surplus from HealthTrust that we’ve learned will be coming this month on top of the $400,000 we’ve already received. The only issue of substance will be the policy discussion where the Policy Committee will drive through objectionable changes to two policies – one to the now famous policy DBJ about transfers of appropriations changing from $5,000 to a whopping $25,000, and a vendor relations policy aimed squarely at me for calling the auditor to find out why our annual report was 7 months late.

Regular Meeting – 7:30 PM

**The Board will meet from 7-7:30 pm for an appreciation reception for Michael

Mascola who recently tendered his resignation from the School Board effective

September 30th.**

AGENDA

1. Call to Order – Chair

2. Roll Call – Clerk

3. Pledge of Allegiance

4. Approval of Minutes

a. August 28, 2014

b. September 4, 2014

5. Delegations or Individuals

6. Current Business

a. Germany Trip Presentation* – INFORMATIONAL (15 minutes)

b. Donation/ExxonMobil – ACTION (5 minutes)

c. Policies – ACTION (10 minutes)

d. Summer Programs* – INFORMATIONAL (15 minutes)

e. NHSBA Resolutions – INFORMATIONAL/ACTION (10 minutes)

7. Administrator’s Report

a. Update on School Activities – INFORMATIONAL

8. Personnel Report

9. Committee Report/Reports of the School Board

10.Correspondence Folder

11.Vendor and Payroll Registers

12.Other Business

a. Non-public (if needed)

13.Future Dates

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, Budget Committee, Expenditures, Fill-time Kindergarten, School Board Functioning, The Mushroom Farm

Dr. Metzler’s Visit to the Sandown BOS

On April 14th, Dr. Metzler met with the Sandown Board of Selectmen to answer questions from them and the public. Cathy Gorman preceeded him with comments about her difficulty getting detailed financial information on the full-time kindergarten program to be implemented in September and her Right to Know requests.

Unfortunately, I had a family obligation that night and could not attend; otherwise, I would have challenged a number of Dr. Metzler’s statements. The Vimeo recording is not yet out of the meeting, so what follows is my reconstruction of Dr. Metzler’s statements from one viewing of the meeting on Channel 17.

M: The School Board is discussing the budget now and moving numbers around.
DG: I have not missed a meeting of School Board since the default budget was voted and there has not been one single breath about the budget. If budget numbers are being moved, this is without any deliberation of the board.

M: The School Board has a plan to drive Spanish into elementary grades one advancing year at a time.
DG: This has not been discussed at the school board level. Dr. Metzler has said he intends in future to introduce Spanish to other elementary grades, but this particular strategy has not been discussed.

M: Timberlane cost per student is under the state average.
DG: The state published cost per pupil figure has a significant lag. The per pupil cost Dr. Metzler is citing is actually the cost under Mr. LaSalle’s final (2012/13) budget. Our per pupil cost has risen significantly in the past two budgets, and the comparable DOE average for 2013/14 will not be available until later this year.

M: The revenue from full-time kindergarten will fund the cost of the other elementary Spanish teacher required for the higher grades as Spanish instruction advances grade by grade.
DG: Show me the money. Cathy Gorman, Sandown rep on the school budget committee is highly skeptical that full-time kindergarten will even pay for itself let alone fund another staff person in the elementary grades to teach Spanish. Furthermore, how are parents going to feel to know their tuition for FT kindergarten is funding public education?

M: The textbook Mrs. Green requested was removed from the high school and moved to the SAU so she would not disrupt classrooms.
DG: The history text I requested to see was left for me at the high school front office. I would not have even been in a hallway let alone a classroom. Although flattering, in reality it’s been at least 40 years since my presence in a high school was disruptive. The text was made available to me at the SAU office a day and a half after it was removed from the high school.

M: Mr. Green’s information requests would take thousands of pages. I invited him in to meet with me on Sunday but I was alone all day.
DG: Mr. Green was never invited to meet with Dr. Metzler on Sunday. (He would be happy to post the entire email exchange with Dr. Metzler concerning his information request.) Further, Arthur’s requests are what anyone would expect a budget committee to receive – with perhaps the exception of balance sheet information. My husband is not insisting on balance sheet information and would just like to get what our financial reporting system produces. There is no need for Dr. Metzler to be in his office on weekends cobbling numbers together. His staff has simply to hand over standard financial reports. Mr. Green, a member of the school budget committee, continues to wait.

Here is what Arthur Green requested in order to be prepared for a knowledgeable understanding of the proposed budget when it is presented on November 13:
Proposed Information Baseline for 2015/16 Budget Preparation
Background materials to be provided by September 30 (earlier if practical):
• 2013/14 Budget Year
• 2014/15 Budget Year
• final expenditures and revenues by function and object code
• format as live spreadsheet .xls format (Microsoft Excel XP)
• list of carryover expenditures into 2014/15
• final approved (default) budget, updated with impact of Warrant Articles,
including revenue
• format as live spreadsheet .xls format (Microsoft Excel XP)
• full 2014 tax impact form including ADM and assessment – in draft if final
version is not available
• Staffing reports as prepared for NH DOE showing FTE details for calculation of
student/teacher ratios
• Complete organization chart
• for each position, indicate
• Position Title
• Employee/Contract
• Reporting relationships
• Full time or % time
• Classification per the Annual Report staffing matrix
• Classification per the NHDOE FTE staffing returns
• Bargaining unit or equivalent
• Professional Certification
• Position vacant
• Annual salary

• Format to be discussed, preferably live spreadsheet
• Balance sheet including
• Depreciating assets – vehicles, computers etc
• Real Estate, including breakout of land and building values, book value,
• Short term and long term debt
• List of upcoming special items impacting 2014/15 but not included in budget –
NH pension, health, NHDOR etc.
current value
Supporting materials to be provided together with the 2015/16 first draft budget:
• Headcount projection per annual report
• FTE projection per NHDOE format

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Filed under Budget Committee, Fill-time Kindergarten, Sandown Issues

A Citizen Speaks: Arthur Green’s first address to the school board

Presentation to the Timberlane District School Board

March 20, 2014

My name is Arthur Green, of Sandown.  I am scheduled to be sworn in to the Timberlane Budget Committee in a few days, but I appear today as a private citizen.

This being the first meeting since election day, this is the Board’s first opportunity to deliberate the rejection of the proposed budget, and the resulting changes needed to operate on default budget for 2014/15.

I was surprised and concerned to learn from coverage in the Eagle Tribune March 14 that Dr. Metzler plans to carry on with the Full-Day Kindergarten which was the principal new feature of the proposed budget.

I don’t wish to debate the merits of this program, on which there are differences of opinion.  I wish to focus exclusively on the implications of the default budget.  The default budget does not include the new Full-time Kindergarten positions, benefits and furniture purchases, which means that the program is not funded.

As a voter, my expectation is that Full-time Kindergarten has been eliminated from the budget. I believe that my expectation is widely shared, particularly amongst those who voted against, and defeated, the proposed budget.

I am fully aware that the district operates on a bottom-line budget, and that funding can be redirected from the approved budget lines. However, budget training material published by the LGC in 2012 entitled “The Municipal Budget Process” states that a default budget means a budget freeze, and no new purposes.

No Full-Time Kindergarten.

It may well be that the Timberlane District has legal advice that there is no prohibition to proceeding with the program if the money can be reallocated within the voted default budget. But I do not see how the district can take that course yet still claim to have heard the message sent by the voters.

No Full-Time Kindergarten.

The program is claimed to be funded by fees, so the board may hope that there is no net expenditure. But the voted default budget restricts expenditure regardless of the claimed offsetting revenue.

No Full-Time Kindergarten.

On March 14, Dr. Metzler released a video with the very alarming suggestion that the coming (2014/15) year would not be passing on a “significant” surplus to the 2015/16 year. Every dollar of surplus spent in the coming year is an additional dollar to be raised in taxes the year after.

Timberlane has deliberately carried forward a significant surplus from year to year – for the past five years it has been consistently about $2 million. I have repeatedly heard this surplus defended in budget committee as a prudent buffer against unexpected emergencies, and I agree with the need for a contingency.  The 2015 default budget fully funds all non-discretionary increases from the 2014 baseline, so adhering to the default budget is no justification to draw down the surplus.  If the Full-time Kindergarten program is truly self-funding as claimed, it gives no reason to draw down the surplus.

If the surplus is spent, the consequences for the December 2015 tax bill will be severe. For example, in Sandown the December 2014 school tax bill will go up an average of 7.6% based on the default budget alone. If we did not have the $2 million surplus this year, that increase would double to 15%.  We don’t know yet, of course, what the school tax rate will be for 2016, but without the surplus to offset it, it will be a catastrophe to many taxpayers of this district.

I have two requests to make of the School Board.  I call upon you to vote up or down on the Full-Time Kindergarten program. This program is contrary to the clear intent of the voters in holding the district to a default budget. If it proceeds despite that let it be because this board takes a vote.

Second, I call upon you to give direction to the administration that the surplus must be conserved. If the district proceeds to spend all the funds allocated through the default budget, let it be because this board takes a vote.

I look forward to taking my place next week on the budget committee to help the district deliver an excellent, effective, affordable education program for the students of our towns.

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Filed under Fill-time Kindergarten, School Board Functioning