Category Archives: Sandown Issues

Timberlane: doing less with more

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green*

The Cost Per Pupil (CPP) report for the 2017/18 school year has been posted by the NH Department of Education.

Timberlane’s cost per pupil is up a very substantial $500 from the prior year at a flubbery $17,280 for every student from kindergarten to 12th grade. You might not think this so bad until you know better districts do more with much less.

Let’s see how Timberlane compares to the other 9 NH districts with a similar student population, program structure, and number of schools.

CPP Comparable Districts 2018

Timberlane is highest, 8.9% above the state average.  The comparable districts are 7.4% below state average.  Timberlane’s CPP is more than $2,500 higher than the average of comparable school districts.

A few weeks ago, I commented on the spring 2018 SAT results here.  Three of Timberlane’s peer districts achieved higher SATs than Timberlane in both Math and ELA (English Language Arts), those being Bedford, Londonderry and Salem.  If we look at the next-highest CPP amongst those 3, we see that Londonderry spent $16,177 per pupil to achieve better academic results than Timberlane – $1,100 less.  Apply that to a student population of 3,500, and it shows an opportunity to save over $3.5 million, with no sacrifice to educational outcomes.

Finally, let’s have a quick look at rising spending per pupil over the past 5 years:

Chart CPP Growth

Spending per pupil increased across the state by 13% over the past 5 years, which seems to me quite substantial during non-inflationary times, and quite at variance with the perennial complaints from some quarters that education is systematically underfunded.

The spending in the comparable districts has increased by a similar 13%.

Timberlane stands out with an increase of 19% over the period.  If Timberlane’s spending had increased by only the same percentage as its 9 peer districts, the total budget would be lower by $2.7 million. Time to do some fat shaming at Timberlane.  Management needs to be put on a diet by elected officials.

Note: CPP as defined by the state excludes certain items, such as transportation and tuition to outside institutions, in order to arrive at a number which is meant to be comparable across districts.  Timberlane’s budget per pupil in 2018 was $20,000, which is a clearer measure of the overall taxpayer burden.  But the state CPP is a convenient figure for comparison across different districts.

*All fat references added by Donna Green.




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Yossarian! ! ! (?) !

I’ve been told that Superintendent Metzler brought up my name repeatedly during the SAU meeting last night. Enjoy this brief extract from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:

Colonel Cathcart … was tangled up in a brand-new, menacing problem of his own:  Yossarian!

Yossarian!  The mere sound of that execrable, ugly name made his blood run cold and his breath come in labored gasps. …. The name of the man who had stood naked in ranks that day to receive his Distinguished Flying Cross from General Dreedle had also been … Yossarian!  And now it was a man named Yossarian who was threatening to make trouble over the sixty missions he had just ordered the men in his group to fly.  Colonel Cathcart wondered gloomily if it was the same Yossarian.

…  A moment ago there had been no Yossarians in his life; now they were multiplying like hobgoblins.

…  he sat right back down behind his desk and made a cryptic notation on his memorandum pad to look into the whole suspicious business of the Yossarians right away.  He wrote his reminder to himself in a heavy and decisive hand …  so that it read:

Yossarian! ! ! (?) !


He … resolved to embark upon a mature and systematic evaluation of the entire military situation.  With the businesslike air of a man who knows how to get thinks done, he found a large white pad, drew a straight line down the middle and crossed it near the top…  at the head of the left column … he wrote “Black Eyes!!!”.  At the top of the right column he wrote “Feathers in my Cap!!! !!”.  He leaned back once  more to inspect his chart admiringly from an objective perspective.


Alongside “Ferrara” and “Naked man in formation (After Avignon)” he then wrote:


Alongside “Bologna (Bomb line moved on map during)” “Food poisoning (during Bolgna)” and “Moaning (epidemic of during Avignon briefing)” he wrote in a bold, decisive hand:


Those entries labeled “?” were the ones he wanted to investigate immediately to determine if Yossarian had played any part in them.

Simon and Schuster, New York: 1955, pp. 206-210.

Thanks to Arthur Green for the literary reference.


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Hampstead SD Prevails against Timberlane Today in Court

Today Justice N. William Delker of Rockingham Superior Court ruled that the Timberlane School Board must attend the next SAU 55 Board meeting and must deliberate in good faith over SAU 55’s 2019/20  budget.  If the Timberlane board fails to attend or to provide a quorum, the judge also ordered that the SAU 55 Board could deliberate and vote on the budget without a quorum present.  The order further said that “[A]ny Timberlane School Board Member who is present for a meeting of less than a quorum shall be entitled to vote all of the Timberlane School District votes (or a proportionate share thereof) as authorized by RSA 194-C:7 (2008).”

The Hampstead School District won all of its requests.

Just recently hired, Timberlane’s counsel was not present in court as he had previously committed to being out of the country.  He did, of course, submit a written objection to Hampstead’s demand for a Writ of Mandamus, as well as a subsequent request for clarification by the court. Here are all the filings as well as today’s decision:

Emergency Petition (1)  This is Hampstead School District’s petition to the court.

Objection to Hampstead Petition  This is Timberlane’s response.

Motion for Clarification JK

Hampstead School Dist v SAU No 55  

For those who understand the history of this dispute, this is a disappointing day for Timberlane and its taxpayers.

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Hampstead SD Sues Timberlane SB and SAU 55!

Did you hear that noise on Friday afternoon?  It was SAU 55 falling apart.

Believe it or not, the arrogant folks that populate the Hampstead School Board think the best way to conduct SAU 55 business is to sue their fellow SAU board members; namely, those of the Timberlane School Board. The suit was filed in Rockingham Superior Court on Friday.

The Hampstead School Board is asking the court to issue a Writ of Mandamus which would require Timberlane School Board members to attend SAU meetings and vote on an SAU budget.  Timberlane seems to be boycotting SAU meetings until their votes are recognized and Jason Cipriano, SAU 55’s chairman, steps down in favor of a Timberlane chairman. It will be hugely interesting when Timberlane’s legal representation explains to the judge the circumstances leading up to this impasse.

The two boards that make up SAU 55’s board have serious differences.  I’ll try to be fair here. Timberlane is 100% correct, and Hampstead is breaking every rule in the parliamentary procedure book to cling to illicit power. Rather than surrender the chairmanship of SAU 55’s board as demanded by the Timberlane majority of the SAU board, Hampstead is spending its taxpayers dollars and yours to defend its illegitimate chairmanship.

Just so you understand how things work, you should know that Mr. Cipriano’s wife was hired as a teacher in the Timberlane district a few years ago, while he was on the SAU board.  Timberlane has been an employment agency named “Nepotism” for years. Timberlane’s former boards never saw anything wrong with it. Neither did they see anything wrong with Dr. Metzler’s legal bullying – cease and desist orders, no trespass declarations.  These are symptoms of failing management. The symptoms have now erupted into a full blown illness.

In light of all this, Stefanie Dube’s citizen petitioned warrant article that will be on the March ballot looks amazingly prescient.  She is asking voters of the four Timberlane towns to consider withdrawing from SAU 55.  Hampstead deserves to have SAU 55 all to itself and wise voters should make it so.

Emergency Petition (1)




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More to excellence than academic achievement

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

TRSD embraces the proposition that there is more to excellence than academic achievement.  There must be.  In evidence, here are the 2018 standardized test results posted to the NH DOE web site early last week.

I’ll focus primarily on the SAT (grade 11) results, as a proxy for the result of the students’ educational careers at Timberlane.

First the “raw” reported numbers:

  • In ELA (English Language Arts), 62% of grade 11 students met or exceeded the basic proficiency standard (compared to 67% last year).
  • In Math, 43% achieved or exceeded basic standards (compared to 45% last year).

I don’t know what the TRSD administration has to say about these results, as I don’t recall seeing their press release on this topic.

Now for context.

First, the percent of students meeting or exceeding the proficiency standard, with the state average shown for comparison:

Timberlane Raw SAT scores 2010-2018

Keep in mind that grade 11 has been using the (revised) SAT as a state-wide general measure only for the past 3 years, so these years may not be directly comparable to the prior years which used different tests.  We can work around that problem by showing the Timberlane result as a ratio compared to the corresponding state average.  On the next graph, the line at 1.00 represents the state average.  So, for example, in 2010 Timberlane’s ELA and Math results were both at about 0.9 relative to the state average, or in other words 10% below state average in the percentage of students achieving proficiency.

Timberlane SAT scores as fraction of NH average 2010-2018


  • Math achievement, the blue line, is up to 8% above state average.  This is an improvement over last year, which was 2% above state average, and matches the previous high point in 2013.  TRSD has certainly improved from 2015 and 2015 when the students scored only 90% and 80% of the state average proficiency.  However we also need to note that the number of students scoring proficient or better this year is actually down from last year, and the improvement on this chart is due to a big drop in the state average.  Was the math SAT harder this year than last?  We don’t know, but the cork should probably stay in the champagne bottle for now.
  • ELA achievement, the orange line, is stuck very close to the state average and this year dipped below, negative movement in both absolute and relative terms.  ELA is down by about the same amount that math is improved.

To get a view on whether TRSD is making tangible progress, I’ve put the result above onto a scatter chart.  On this chart the x-axis is ELA, the y-axis is math, the crossing point represents the state average in both ELA and math. The right-hand half of the chart is above state average results in ELA, the upper half of the chart is above state average results in math.

Timberlane SAT scatter chart 2010-2018


In only one recent year, 2013, has TRSD been clearly above state average in both ELA and math.  2015 represented a significant low point, following which the district has climbed back close to the state average, with math showing above-average results in all of the past 3 years, and ELA just below average in 2 years, just above in the third.

And for a different sort of context, let’s see the 2018 grade 11 result for the “comparable” NH school districts which have a similar enrollment, number of schools, and grade levels served.

This is another scatter chart with ELA on the x-axis, math on the y-axis:

Comparative SAT scatter 2018


  • 3 school districts, namely Bedford, Londonderry and Salem, have stronger results than Timberlane in both ELA and math.
  • 3 districts, Rochester, Concord and Dover, have weaker results than Timberlane in both ELA and math.
  • 3 districts, Merrimack, Keene and Hudson, have stronger ELA results and weaker math results than Timberlane.

Finally, let’s see how the TRSD class of 2019 has fared through their statewide test points over the years since they were in grade 3:

Class of 2019 Cohort test history


  • In ELA, the class of 2019 has scored above the state average at each evaluation until the SAT in grade 11.  This is a particularly noticeable falloff after the improving results shown in the grade 7 and grade 8 evaluations, at which point the students were scoring 10% above state average.
  • In math, the students scored most years very close to the state average.  The huge spike in grade 8, to 25% above state average, was due in part to a big drop in the statewide percentage of students scoring proficient compared to the same group measured in grade 7; the statewide percentage dropped from 68 to 44, while Timberlane dropped from 69 to 55.   So the good news is Timberlane students outperforming their peers in grade 8, and then leveraging some of that skill set in grade 11 to achieve 8% above the state average.


A school district cannot be described as “excelling” if it is at or below the average of the state or of its peer districts in standardized evaluations.  Academic achievement is part of excellence.

Parents and educators should want to know more about educational practices at the higher-achieving peer districts, all of which spend less per pupil than Timberlane.   (Bedford, $12,867, Londonderry $15,479, Salem $14,846 in the most recent available 2016-17 report.  Almost forgot, Timberlane was $16,780).

Memory Lane:

My commentary from last year on the 2017 SAT results.




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Budcom Member Issues Complaint Against SAU 55 for Withholding Info

Normally by this date, the Timberlane School District Budget Committee has approved a proposed budget for the forthcoming academic year.  This year, the budget committee has not even seen the administration’s recommended budget.  For Cathy Gorman, Timberlane Budget Committee Representative from Sandown, this is the last straw. She has called out SAU 55’s administration for withholding budget information from the budget committee and asked the Timberlane School Board to do something about it.
It is always to the administration’s advantage to deliver a proposed budget at the very last minute in order to give very little time for the budget committee to scrutinize and question the budget. The budget committee falls for it every single year and shame on them. It’s easier for them, too, you see, not to have to hold the administration accountable in any way.  Since Metzler has been Superintendent, each year the budget process has become more and more a last minute negotiation over a single bottom line number.
Cathy Gorman is crying foul and it is shameful that she is alone among her fellows in doing so.

Cathleen Gorman

12:07 PM (2 hours ago)

to BudComBudComJenniferKimberlySbSblewissavagetrsb@comcast.netmichaelsarahsheilalowes64@gmail.comGeoffreyEarl
Dear SB members and Michael,
Please accept this email as a formal complaint against the superintendent and the BA. I speak as a BudCom member and not on behalf of the BudCom as a whole.
The Budcom was informed of the following via the BudCom Chair:
1) on December 3rd the superintendent emailed the following: (in part) the current proposed budget number that I prepared approximately three weeks ago with the Business Administer
2) on December 4th the superintendent emailed the following: Good morning! It should be ready to post on Friday.
Please be advised the Budcom has yet to receive the comprehensive request for funding for 2019-20 school year even thought it was prepared 3 weeks ago and said to be posted by this past Friday.
In my opinion the SAU is withholding financial information from the elected officials; financial information that is not theirs to withhold.
It is expected and required per RSA the SAU provide financials requested by elected bodies and in a timely manner.
I would like this matter to be addressed by the SB as the collective boss of the TRSD  superintendent as these delays on behalf of the SUA as obstructing the Budcom to efficiently carry out their elected duties.
Cathleen Gorman

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Staffing Down 24: Calamity Missing

Guest contribution by Arthur Green

Here’s something not a single elected official in Timberlane knows:  Timberlane staffing was reduced by 24 full-time equivalent positions (FTEs) this academic year.

I obtained this information through a Right to Know request of the NH Department of Education for Timberlane’s A12b filings. These filings are not given to your elected officials, they are not posted on any Tiumberlane website, and yet they are of critical importance in understanding what the administration won’t volunteer.

What is the incentive to keep you and elected officials in the dark about staffing?  Well… when the truth comes out, the fraught threats of disaster at the prospect of a default budget vanish.

Do you remember the tumultuous days in April, after the wise voters handed TRSD a default budget?  WMUR reported that 62 employees had been given pink slips. Thanks to this reporting, the school board became aware of the layoffs and stepped in to agree to a reduction of 15.

The actual reduction in force was 24. What we don’t know is how much of this reduction was by layoffs. You would think the school board and the budget committee would want to know. You would also think they would be mentioning that Timberlane lost 81 students this year despite dire predictions of a student population boom in Sandown. (Remember the urgency of installing a portable at Sandown North two years ago?  Mr. Boyle and the board saw through that nonsense to their credit. Seems the professional demographic predictions were correct after all!)

Only this April the board was told that the salary and benefit savings due to layoffs would be largely offset by higher unemployment insurance costs, and therefore the number of layoffs needed would be higher than apparent.  In fact, the unemployment insurance cost to the end of October 2018 is $3,548, and hardly differs from the $2,998 which had been expended at the same time last year.

Here’s what actually happened:

  • Teaching staff down by 14,
  • Admin and other personnel down by 10
  • Student enrollment down by 81.

More specifically:

  • Teachers down by 7.4, “Non-teaching professionals” down by 7.6
  • TRHS staff down by 12, Atkinson and Danville each down by 5
  • The Learning Center (Sandown Central) staff increased by 3.5


2018-19 Staffing Summary

Conclusions I draw from this

  • Clearly the warnings of disaster from a default budget were wildly exaggerated.
  • Elected officials and administration should be treating staffing level as a key element of management and academic discipline.  We are happy to see that the TRSD has finally taken its first substantial step this year to align staffing to falling enrollment, albeit under the pressure of the default budget.
  • There remains considerable opportunity to operate TRSD on a much leaner staffing model which emulates some of the stronger school districts in the state.  Last year we showed the feasibility of an overall staff reduction of almost 100.

Let’s go through the details school-by school.  With each school, I’m including a column showing the “feasible” staffing level that I worked out last December by comparison with similar schools in strongly performing school districts.

Atkinson Academy

2018-19 Staffing Atkinson

With the reduction of 5 staff (including 2 teachers and 2 SPED aides) Atkinson Academy is operating at a staffing level with which I can’t quarrel.  The current level of 61.5 FTEs is very close to the “feasible” staff count of 60, and TRSD’s administration has even taken reductions in categories such as SPED teaching personnel which I left unchanged in my “feasible” table.  I’ll take this as bragging rights validating my analysis.


2018-19 Staffing Danville

After a reduction of 5 FTEs, Danville still has more staff than Atkinson despite 86 fewer enrolled students (255 students enrolled at Danville compared to 341 at Atkinson).  As an example of the overstaffing, Harold Martin school in Hopkinton, with 276 students in 2016/17, had 9 classrooms (excluding Pre and K) and 11.4 Regular Ed classroom teachers…  2.4 Regular Ed teachers over and above the basic home room count, to cover the specialties like gym and arts.  Danville has 11 classrooms and 19 Regular Ed teachers – 7 available to cover specialty areas.  Would anyone argue that Hopkinton is not one of the best school districts in the state?  Or that the educational programming there is substandard?


2018-19 Staffing PollardPollard has barely changed from last year – enrollment up 4, and staff FTE down 0.5.  Pollard’s is significantly overstaffed by comparison to North Londonderry, even after making allowance for the staffing needs of the Pre and K program.

Sandown Central

2018-19 Staffing Sandown Central

Sandown Central staffing is notable this year because the 3.5 FTE staff increase now exceeds the staffing from the final year before it was “closed” (35.5 FTE in 2014/15).  Were the elected officials aware of the creation of 3.5 new positions while operating on default budget, and with the same enrollment as the prior year?  Does anyone now believe that Sandown Central was “closed” to save money?

Also, note that for Sandown Central I did not evaluate a “feasible” staffing reduction, because I was not able to identify a suitable comparison school.  However, keeping in mind that, except for 20 full-day kindergarten students, most if not all of the remaining students are half-day only, the need for 14.5 professional staff should be questioned by the school board – if only they had this information, and which is why they aren’t given it.

Sandown North

2018-19 Staffing Sandown North

Timberlane Regional Middle School

2018-19 Staffing TRMS

Timberlane Regional High School

2018-19 Staffing TRHS



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Attorney Dowd and Our House of Cards

Geoffrey Dowd was the fourth highest paid business administrator in the state of New Hampshire, according to Department of Education online documents for the 17/18 academic year. Since Timberlane is one of the top 10 largest school districts in the state, this may not seem unreasonable until you learn that Attorney Dowd only recently became certified by the NH Department of Education as a Business Administrator. (July 23, 2018) He was previously on a “pathway to certification,” as it is called at the DOE.  And he has been temporarily suspended from the practice of law by a Massachusetts court, as of August, 2018. (See yesterday’s post.)

Our superintendent was the highest paid superintendent in NH in the 17/18 year.  It takes a giant of a man to hold up a house of cards, which is what SAU 55 has become.

You may recall that the audit for the year ending June 30, 2017 was very late in reaching the board, and it enumerated a number of worrisome deficiencies. The cards were swaying in the wind. Here is a scathing email sent to the Timberlane board about the risible excuses given by the administration for the audit’s delay. Read it yourself and be stunned.

From: Michael Campo <>
Date: May 8, 2018 at 3:56:08 PM EDT
To: “” <>, “Metzler, Earl” <>, “Dowd, Geoffrey” <>
Cc: brian boyle <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>, “” <>
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.


Michael J. Campo, CPA


Plodzik and Sanderson, P.A.

193 North Main Street

Concord, NH 03301

Your board read this email, too, and did nothing at all. Oh, except give Dowd a “consultant” to assist him.  Somehow your elected officials think it is always the number of people at issue and not the skill set and managerial oversight of the people they have hired. That mentality goes hand in hand with throwing money at problems instead of actually managing them.

The deck has long been stacked against taxpayers. Your elected officials have smoked cigars and slapped each other on the back while watching the house of cards grow taller and taller. The trouble is that when the house tumbles down, you will be on the hook to put the cards back in order while those responsible suffer no consequences thanks to your spineless board.





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Attorney Geoffrey Michael Dowd

Could this Massachusetts court order concern our very own Attorney Geoff Dowd, SAU 55’s Business Administrator?   (Readers please note that I have not confirmed that this is the same individual as is currently employed by SAU 55.)

Click to access bd18-050.pdf

For those interested in how our Attorney Dowd was promoted from Assistant Business Administrator to Business Administrator, I would urge you to watch this 7 minute SAU 55 meeting video.  The meeting resulted in sealed minutes under “reputation.”  I voted against going into nonpublic to discuss a done deal.  I voted against sealing the minutes, and I voted against promoting Mr. Dowd simply on the grounds of lack of prior experience in another school district.

More detailed commentary will follow tomorrow.

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More Lawlessness

If you had the misfortune of watching the Sept. 6 Timberlane school board meeting, you would have witnessed verbal gymnastics of an amazing sort.

Three board members, Kim Farah, Shawn O’Neil, and Jennifer Silva, called out the SAU 55’s administration for undertaking a contract with a consultant when the money the board had voted to pay for this contract was no longer legally available.

You see, the Timberlane board had voted to use $20,000 from the 17/18 budget year to pay for a consultant to the SAU to help them mop up the bookkeeping mess that was all over the floor at audit time.  This vote took place close to the end of the 17/18 fiscal year. In order to encumber the money, allowing it to be spent in the forthcoming fiscal year, a legally enforceable obligation had to be established BEFORE June 30, 2018, the end of the fiscal year. This is a requirement of NH state law, specifically RSA 32:7, which you can read below.

The consultant’s contract was signed on July 21, 2018 – three weeks into the new fiscal year.  This means that the $20,000 for the 17/18 year was legally no longer available to pay the contract.  The contract was presented for signing anyway.  To be clear, the board did not authorize the payment of any monies from the 18/19 budget for the purpose of an SAU consultant.

When Dr. Metzler was confronted by the knowledgeable board members, he accused them of making up their own rules!  As I always tell my children, when someone falsely accuses you of something, you can be certain your accusers are doing exactly what they are falsely accusing.

In the superintendent’s defense, another board member pointed out how such things had been done before.

Section 32:7 Lapse of Appropriations.
Annual meeting appropriations shall cover anticipated expenditures for one fiscal year. All appropriations shall lapse at the end of the fiscal year and any unexpended portion thereof shall not be expended without further appropriation, unless:
I. The amount has, prior to the end of that fiscal year, become encumbered by a legally-enforceable obligation, created by contract or otherwise, to any person for the expenditure of that amount; or …

Section 32:12
32:12 Penalty. Any person or persons violating the provisions of this subdivision shall be subject to removal from office on proper petition brought before the superior court. Such petition shall take precedence over other actions pending in the court and shall be heard and decided as speedily as possible.

How did this end?  Dr. Metzler offered to ask our auditors for their opinion about the availability of the 17/18 money.  Dr. Farah, Mr. O’Neil, Brian Boyle and Mrs. Silva all knew the SAU could not use 17/18 money to pay the consulting contract, yet they agreed to defer to a third party. The notion that a contract would be presented for signing when the funding for it had lapsed disturbed no one.  I’ll take bets the issue will never be revisited and SAU 55 will do as it pleases with your money because your elected officials charged with its oversight huff and puff and do absolutely nothing.

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