Category Archives: Sandown Issues

Timberlane Taxpayers Abused Once Again

Too bad there isn’t a taxpayer protection agency in New Hampshire.  If there were, Sandown, Danville, Plaistow and Atkinson would be under state protection right now. The latest instance of taxpayer abuse by SAU 55, with the willing cooperation of our own elected representatives, is worthy of front page headlines.

In an illegal non-public, the Timberlane School Board voted unanimously (8-0) to use $20,000 of Timberlane’s surplus money to dig SAU 55 out of its accounting hole of shame. A damning audit revealed the need for remedial work in the keeping-track-of-our -money department at SAU 55.  The solution?  Hire a consultant!

Funny how things work in education.  Failing schools get lavished with money.  Failing SAUs like SAU 55 also get lavished with money when what they need is a swift kick in the butt (metaphorically speaking) and major personnel changes (literally). The sad thing is that the elected officials who should be administering the harsh discipline are spineless jellyfish who float on the tide of infinite tax revenue. The jellyfish pulse to the tide of your diminishing income, while SAU employees, who should be unemployed, continue needing a bailout.

How Many Ways is this WRONG?

  1. Timberlane taxpayers should NOT be bailing out the SAU’s incompetence.  The SAU board should be dipping into the SAU’s own  budget to fix what needs fixing.  If they were to do this, the superintendent might not have  $18,000 for conferences in vacation destinations next year.  Oh dear.  The Cop Sync program money, appropriated despite the company being bankrupt and defunct, would have had to be applied to fix this problem, instead of redirected for other purposes unknown to the SAU board.
  2. The Timberlane board should not have gone into nonpublic to discuss audit/accounting/bookkeeping problems.  That is not an allowable exemption from  the open meeting laws of this state.  The “reputation” exception is meant for employee performance/disciplinary matters, not to shield the administration from owning up to management shortcomings and financial problems.
  3. The Timberlane board should not have voted in nonpublic to spend public money. That is always and ever a public concern and should never be hidden behind the cloak of nonpublic meetings – even when deliberations are legitimately non-public. From the draft minutes of TRSB meeting of June 21, 2018:  “Madam Chair Sherman announced that during nonpublic session Mr.  Guide motioned to expend up to $20k from the 2018 budget surplus fund to employ a consultant to assist with Timberlane bookkeeping which was seconded by Mr. Dube.  The motioned passed 8-0-0.”
  4. The Timberlane board should not have been silent about this action until someone made a Right to Know request for the public minutes of the meeting wherein the nonpublic was conducted.

The nonpublic discussion of accounting inadequacies in SAU 55, the decision to spend $20,000 of TIMBERLANE tax dollars to hire a consultant for an SAU issue, and the silence from ALL the board members about this business is outrageous.  Kim Farah from Danville was absent from this meeting. Every other one of your elected officials failed you profoundly, stupendously, and inexcusably.

Timberlane should divorce itself from SAU 55, which has shown itself to be mendacious, secretive, litigious, and now utterly incompetent. You can continue to throw money into thin air like trash from a speeding truck on the way to the dump, or you can sign the petition to withdraw from  SAU 55.  And while you are at it, get yourself some new representatives.  The ones at the table now want to protect a uesless SAU more than they want to protect your tax dollars.  SAU 55 should be made to fix its own problems with its own budget – and make sacrifices to do so. That’s called consequences.

The petition for Timberlane to withdraw from SAU 55 can be found on SpeakoutTimberlane Facebook page. It is being circulated by former Danville school board rep, Stefanie Dube (no relation to Sandown’s Lee Dube who voted in favor of spending your money on an SAU problem).

Note: SAU55 is overseen by a board that  consists of all the members of both the Timberlane Regional School District and the Hampstead School District. Hampstead and Timberlane share the costs of SAU 55.  SAU 55 has its own budget independent of both school districts.

 

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SAU 55 Board Knew of Audit Issues last year

The Timberlane Regional School District has received an audit for 2016-2017 with a material weakness and a significant deficiency. In audit-speak, that’s a big deal.

The material weakness :  “Numerous instances were identified where reconciliations were not being performed in a timely manner, if at all. ”

The significant deficiency:  “During our review of adjusting journal entries, we noted there is no review process for adjusting journal entries once they are posted to the general ledger. ”

This should come as no surprise to anyone.  Both these issues and more were revealed in the SAU’s own audit of 2015-2016 – and I have the video to prove it (below).

In October of 2016, driven entirely by my questioning of SAU 55’s audit, the SAU board was told that the untimely posting of bank reconciliations for SAU 55 was corrected for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.  Was this true?

Timberlane’s treasurer was also SAU 55’s treasurer.  We have learned today, with the release of Timberlane’s 2016-17 audit, that Timberlane’s treasurer did not reconcile Timberlane’s bank statements for all of 2016-2017:  “We noted that bank statements for the School District’s various accounts were not reconciled to the general ledger by the
School District Treasurer. We are aware the former Treasurer passed away during the fiscal year under audit, however it appears that the lack of bank statement reconciliations to the general ledger was an issue for all twelve months of the fiscal year
audited, and continued to be an issue for the first nine months of the subsequent fiscal year. ”

Timberlane’s auditor also addressed the fact that one person was changing the general ledger.  Listen to what Mr. Stokinger had to say about that to the SAU board way back in October of 2016. He said Mr. Dowd would be signing off on his (SAU) general ledger changes, yet Timberlane’s audit pointed out that there was no second party checking changes with respect to Timberlane’s ledger.

If SAU 55 did correct the issues the auditor addressed in SAU 55’s audit last year, why would Timberlane’s procedures not be similarly changed?

Do you think SAU 55 has different accounting and internal control practices for themselves and much laxer ones for Timberlane? We shall see when SAU 55’s audit comes out.  If the SAU continues to have the same issues, then that tells us something profound. So far, SAU 55’s audit has not been released to the public and most likely won’t be until October.  Surprised?

 

If you watched this short video to the end, you will see discussion about developing a policy on compensatory time. For those curious souls who would like to see the “policy” the SAU board developed, here it is.  To call it a joke would be an insult to comedians. Of course, I argued strenuously and voted against accepting this mind-dead policy.  That’s another video, some other time.

COMPENSATORY TIME
The employees of School Administration Unit No. 55 can earn compensatory time for working weekends and holidays.
The Superintendent or designee will develop and implement a procedure of internal controls for earning, use, and payout of compensatory time.


My advice to Timberlane taxpayers?  Protect yourselves from the zombie apocalypse:  they’ve already taken over the SAU board.

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Runaway Legal Activity at SAU 55

You might think superintendents would be completely absorbed advancing the education and welfare of their charges.  Not our superintendent.  He’s all in spending  money on needless legal action with his bat phone to Drummond Woodsum – with an open charge card called “Timberlane Tax Dollars.”

On February 2, 2018 Metzler authorized Attorney James O’Shughnessy to send a Right to Know letter to the Department of Education asking for communications between various persons at the DOE and the state Board of Education concerning my complaint against SAU 55.  Why on earth would such a thing be of interest to our superintendent? Does it advance the education and welfare of Timberlane students?  No. Yet he spent your money on legal services.

Read Mr. O’Shughnessy’s letter to see if you can fathom why our superintendent would think his time and our tax dollars should be expended so. (I’ll give you a hint at the end.)

From: James A. O’Shaughnessy [mailto:JOShaughnessy@dwmlaw.com]
Sent: Friday, February 2, 2018 2:27 PM
To: Edelblut, Louis (Frank)
Cc: Fenton, Diana; SAU 55
Subject: Green v. SAU 55, Case No. SB-FY-18-10-007

Good afternoon Commissioner Edelblut:

I am writing to request a copy of the minutes of the State Board meeting held on January 11, 2018, whether they are in draft or final/approved form in accordance with RSA 91-A:2, II (requiring all minutes to be promptly recorded and open to inspection within 5 business days after the meeting). Said minutes are not currently posted online. Please include all minutes of non-public meetings, including the minutes of the deliberations in the above-referenced matter. If you cannot provide the minutes requested, please provide an explanation of the reason thereof.

Additionally, please provide copies of an any all communications or documents, in electronic form or otherwise, regarding the above-referenced matter, including but not limited to communications between, to, and/or involving the Commissioner, Frank Edelblut and/or any employee of the Department of Education, the Chair of the State Board of Education, Drew Cline, the Petitioner, Donna Green, and/or any other member of the State Board of Education. This request includes any communications/documents which may reside in personal devices, email accounts, or servers to the extent they are responsive to this request. If the Department believes such documents contain confidential information, please identify the confidential information and provide a redacted copy of such records or documents.

Please provide these documents in electronic if available, and make these documents available for inspection as soon as they are available, rather than when they are all complete, and please notify me immediately when they are available in either electronic form or in hard copy for inspection.

Sincerely,
James A. O’Shaughnessy
Attorney
603.716.2895 ext. 223
joshaughnessy@dwmlaw.com
1001 Elm Street, Suite 303, Manchester, NH 03101-1845
800.727.1941 | 603.716.2899 Fax | dwmlaw.com


The motivation for this letter is this: Dr. Metzler, via his lawyer, who you are lavishing with tax dollars, wanted to get info to fight me in court should I prevail against SAU 55 at the state Board of Education. I maintain that SAU 55’s salary setting practices violate state law. (My complaint is currently being investigated by the Department of Education.)

Thank you to Stefanie Dube for obtaining this Right to Know request from the Department of Education. She became aware of it through an email exchange with the superintendent.

Neither SAU 55’s board, nor the Timberlane board, care one iota about this waste of money, my complaint, or much of anything else. They continue to give the superintendent completely unlimited access to legal services.  They continue to allow him to play politics with the reputations of elected officials, or prospective district officials.  SAU 55’s board is as close to comatose as you are likely to see outside the zombie apocalypse.

 

 

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When Superintendents Lie and Hide Information

This is what happens when education officials love their ideology more than their students, and the duty they owe the public, all being made possible by elected officials.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/fl-florida-school-shooting-district-stonewalling-20180510-story.html

More on The Promise Program:   /www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2018/02/28/obama_administration_school_discipline_policy_and_the_parkland_shooting.html

 

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Timberlane Auditors Cook Metzler’s Lobster

Timberlane’s auditors struck out on May 8th to defend themselves. One day before SAU 55’s meeting to award the superintendent his annual raise and bonus, Michael Campo, Director of Plodzik and Sanderson, PA sent a steaming email to the entire Timberlane school board. In this email he called out Superintendent Metzler and Business Administrator Geoffry Dowd for being less than totally forthcoming to the board about the delays in receiving the draft audit.

Campo’s email is a masterful example of a slow boil that completely cooks the lobster. Ah, but so in the tank are the majority of members of Timberlane’s board, their brains starved of oxygen and their backbone lost to evolutionary regression, that together with Hampstead’s school board they awarded the superintendent a 3.25% raise and the maximum bonus (4%) allowable under his contract. And because they are shameless cowards, they sealed the minutes so representatives on the “Yes” side don’t have to wave their tied up claws helplessly in the air as they dance on their weak little legs. (Thank you Shawn O’Neil for a “No” vote. Presumably Kim Farah, Jen Silva and Brian Boyle also voted “No.”)

Never mind. Read Mr. Campo’s email.  Long though it may appear, you will be holding your breath all the way through it. Don’t miss the mention of a recorded cash deficit of $45 million. (Don’t worry, it’s just numbers!)

From: Michael Campo <@plodzik.com>

Date: May 8, 2018 at 3:56:08 PM EDT

Subject: Plodzik & Sanderson, P.A. Responses to Comments related to Annual Audit from Timberlane Regional School Board Meeting dated 5/3/18

Members of the Board and Dr. Metzler,

I am sending this communication directly to the Board to correct misrepresentations made by management at your May 3, 2018 School Board Meeting regarding the status of the June 30, 2017 audit of the financial statements of the Timberlane Regional School District.

The CFO/Business Administrator, Geoff Dowd, indicated that he had not received a complete draft of the financial statements, and that “I have nothing complete from them,” and he later affirmed a board member’s comment that he had just pieces of information from us. A completed draft was sent to Mr. Dowd on April 27, 2018. A copy of this communication and draft will be forwarded separately to all included on this email. As you will see, upon reviewing the draft financial statements, we were still pending several items from management needed in order to complete our audit. Due to missing and insufficient information, and a lack of response to numerous requests for this information, we issued the draft financial statements based upon the information provided by management as of that date. As a result, the District received modified opinions on the general fund and governmental activities opinion units.

The District did not provide adequate supporting documentation for a material intergovernmental receivable balance in the amount of $562,950. We received partial support for this balance on May 3, 2018 at 10:11 pm, see EXHIBIT 1.1. The actuarial valuation for the District’s other postemployment benefits liability has not been received, despite us notifying the District on August 10, 2017 that this information was required. I have had direct communications with the actuary who had sent emails, as late as March 13, 2018, offering the District assistance in gathering the information needed to complete the actuarial valuation. As of today, this information has not been received.

The District did not provide us with any information related to their capital assets for June 30, 2017, which compose the largest assets on the District’s Governmental Activities Statement of Net Position. We received the capital asset information for audit from Mr. Dowd on May 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm, see EXHIBIT 1.2.

Mr. Dowd stated that the staffing capabilities of my office was a contributing factor in the delay of the audit. We scheduled the original fieldwork to begin on August 17, 2017. We arrived for fieldwork on August 17, 2017 and pulled our staff out at the end of the day, because the District was not adequately prepared for the audit. On October 10, 2017, and October 16, 2017, I proposed returning to complete the audit during the weeks of October 23, 2017 and October 30, 2017, see EXHIBIT 1.3. The District was not able to accommodate the audit on either these weeks. On November 6, November 7, November 17, and November 20, 2017 I contacted Mr. Dowd, via email to attempt to schedule our return for November 27, 2017, the Monday after Thanksgiving, see EXHIBIT 1.4. We returned on November 27, 2017 and November 28, 2017 to attempt to complete the audit fieldwork. The District was again not prepared and I withdrew my staff.

We scheduled Tuesday December 19, 2017 as another return date to complete the audit. In an email communication between Mr. Dowd and myself on December 18, 2017, Mr. Dowd indicated that he was “Definitely not 100% for tomorrow. Need to get this done of course. Will be posting to Dropbox as it comes available this afternoon into tonight. Might not be a full staff situation.”, see EXHIBIT 1.5. As a result of this communication, and a continued lack of preparedness on the part of management, I did not return with my staff on December 19, 2017.

Starting January 2018, several more attempt to complete the audit were made, as described below:

January 2, 2018 – I emailed Mr. Dowd again on indicating my desire to return in order to complete the audit by the end of January 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.6.
On January 12, 2018 and January 19, 2018 – I sent over limited staff to make progress on outstanding items, based upon communications with Mr. Dowd, as to what information he had completed for audit.
February 5, 2018 – I sent an email to Mr. Dowd, Superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler, and the Chairman of the Board, Brian Boyle, introducing myself to the chairman, and informing them of communications received from a citizen regarding the audit, see EXHIBIT 1.7. In this email I discussed scheduling another date with Mr. Dowd to return to complete the June 30, 2017 audit.
February 28, 2018 – I emailed Mr. Dowd to schedule another return date for my team to complete the audits, see EXHIBIT 1.8. I informed Dr. Metzler of our return via email on March 7, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.9.
March 16, 2018 – I followed up with Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler to remind them of our return on Monday March 19, 2018, and of my desire to have the audits completed by Friday March 23, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.10.
On March 19, 2018 we arrived for fieldwork with a full team in order to complete the audit. Much of the information we needed was provided by Mr. Dowd on a piecemeal basis. We continued with fieldwork through Friday, March 23, 2018. On Monday, March 26, 2018, I sent Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler detailed updates of the outstanding items for the Timberlane Regional School District, Hampstead School District, and School Administrative Unit No. 55 audits, see EXHIBIT 1.11. I indicated that I was available to assist with any questions regarding the pending items, and that I would wait to receive these materials in order to complete the audits. Having not received a response from the District, I again emailed another summary of the outstanding items to Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler, on Friday March 30, 2018, and requested completion of all items no later than the start of business on Friday, April 6, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.12. We received no communication from the District from this point on. I instructed my staff to complete the audit report based upon the available information, and the audit draft was sent to Mr. Dowd on April 27, 2018, as noted above.

I refer you to certain comments made by Dr. Metzler during the May 3, 2018 school board meeting, beginning at approximately marker 1:32:26. Dr. Metzler stated, “I just found, at least with the auditing firm, not to blame anybody, I don’t feel that they are all that prepared or in a schedule either. I think it’s kind of hit or miss with them in some of these things, you know what I mean. So if they were on us for particular things at certain times, and I need this by…”, Dr. Metzler further states that “I didn’t hear from Mr. Campo, he basically alluded that he is all set”. Please note that I emailed Dr. Metzler on January 2, 2018, to set up a phone conversation on January 3, 2018, in order to give him a status update on the audits, see EXHIBIT 1.13. Dr. Metzler was also included on email communications on February 5, 2018, March 7, 2018, March 16, 2018, March 20, 2018, March 26 2018, and March 30, 2018. I also had a face-to-face conversation with Dr. Metzler and Mr. Dowd on Friday March 23, 2018, in which I relayed the status of pending items for the 2017 audit, and some serious concerns that came to my attention the prior day about current year (fiscal year 2018) financial activity. I do not construe my written or oral communications with Dr. Metzler as conveying the message that I was all set.

While attempting to review subsequent accounts receivable activity on March 21, 2018, a member of my audit team discovered that no cash receipts, other than minimal refunds associated with accounts payable transactions (less than $3,000), were recorded in fiscal year 2018. We obtained a detailed posting report of all revenue accounts for the fiscal year 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.14, which shows the lack of posting of receipts. Next, we obtained an account level balance sheet as of June 30, 2018, which showed a recorded cash deficit of -$45,213,020.40, see EXHIBIT 1.15. We consider this a serious matter, and strongly urged Mr. Dowd to remedy this situation.

We have mutually agreed upon a report release date of Friday, May 18, 2018, with management. We have been informed by Mr. Dowd that he will provide us with the completed actuarial valuation by Friday May 11, 2018. We will provide you with a final draft of the financial statements and management’s representation letter for your review and approval by the close of business on Tuesday May 15, 2018. We will issue the final report and governance letter based upon the information received from the District by close of business on Friday, May 18, 2018. We request that the written draft approval, and signed management’s representation letter be provided to us by 10:00 am on Friday, May 18, 2018, in order to issue the financial report.

We have gone above and beyond the normal course of business in order to complete this audit on behalf of the Timberlane Regional School District, the board that has engaged us, and members of the public that rely on an independent audit. In this process, the integrity of my firm, and my personal integrity has been brought into question. I will vigorously defend any misleading or false statements made against me or my firm. We hope this communication clears up any confusion and misleading statements regarding the status of the audit, and clearly outlines what is needed to complete the audit.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Campo, CPA

Director/Shareholder

Plodzik and Sanderson, P.A.

193 North Main Street

Concord, NH 03301

 

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Metzler Gets Maximum Bonus and Healthy Raise

SAU55 Board Conducts Evaluation of the Superintendent, Awards Bonus and Sets Salary for 2018-19 School Year

The SAU55 Board conducted their annual evaluation of the Superintendent of Schools at their May 9th board meeting.  The evaluation resulted in the Board’s vote to increase Dr. Metzler’s salary by 3.25% ($5,190.47) for the 2018-19 school year, and award a 4% percent performance bonus in the amount of $6,388.28.

The Board commends Dr. Metzler’s hard work and commitment to educational excellence and is appreciative of the tremendous amount of work undertaken to achieve his ambitious goals for the 2017-18 school year as reflected in the Board awarding the maximum performance bonus.   Overall, the Board was very pleased with the performance of the Superintendent over the past year and it looks forward to working with him in the upcoming year.  This salary increase and performance bonus shall be effective July 1, 2018.

Jason Cipriano, Chair
School Administrative Unit No. 55

May 10, 2018


Now here is the inescapable question in everyone’s mind:  “What would the superintendent have to do to not get a maximum bonus, and tremendous raise and drooling praise from SAU 55’s board chairman? I put the question that way because clearly there is nothing he did do to justify any of it.

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Anonymous Comments and Retaliation SAU 55 Style

At last week’s school board meeting, the Timberlane Board foolishly opened itself up to nasty comments from anonymous administrator(s). The board did this by voting to participate in a “360 review.”  That’s the sort of review in which administrators comment and rate the functioning of the board.  The questions are numerous and even a fast reader would need an hour to get through it – without expanding ratings to include written comments.

I know.  Been there. Done that.  Only last week I threw out years of these less than productive “reviews.”  How I wish I had left my office loaded with paper for one more week so I could share with you the nature of these sometimes cutting and less than mature comments about unpopular board members. Yes, the superintendent himself participates in reviewing the board – anonymously.

This might surprise you, but the superintendent himself is also given a 360 review by his reports.  You can well imagine that these comments are far more professional,  and you would be correct. That doesn’t mean the superintendent enjoys his comments any more than I did.

At the May 3 meeting, he openly admitted that he tries to figure out who said what and retaliation could happen against the wrong person. Hear this with your own ears:

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