School Doesn’t Use Surplus To Buy Pencils, Gives It To Staff Instead

There is a lot of information here so please bear with me.

First of all I need to point out that I’ve always been a huge supporter of staff both at the town and school. I believe they are our most important resource and should be treated as such. What follows is not an attack on the staff, nor is it meant to minimize their accomplishments or to say they didn’t deserve the payment. My problem lies with a Board who choose not to follow the direction of the Legislative Body and violated the law by expending money that had not been authorized. The Board had every opportunity to present this to the Town, but instead choose to circumvent the process and act on their own. Sound familiar?

On March 8th, 2014 Chichester Taxpayers rejected an attempt by the School Board to mandate an almost 20% pay raise over 3 years (an approximate $50,000 yearly increase). A short month later, on April 16th the Board approved $34,534.12 in surplus funds to be given to staff in recognition of the Blue Ribbon School Award.

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I believe this to be in contrast to the budget authorized by the Taxpayers at the district meeting and in direct violation of the following state laws, specifically RSAs 32:6 32:8 and 32:10. On June 27th I sent a letter to the School Board. In the letter I questioned their authority under these laws to expend funds not specifically authorized by the Taxpayers.

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On July 9th the Board responded indicating their ability to expend funds under the same law RSA 32:10, which states, “If changes arise during the year following the annual meeting that make it necessary to expend more than the amount appropriated for a specific purpose, the governing body may transfer to that appropriation an unexpended balance remaining in some other appropriation”. So we are all on the same playing field, here is Merriam Webster’s definition of Necessary.

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In addition they placed the following letter in the July 23rd edition of the Suncook Valley Sun

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Along the way I received a letter welcoming my 8-year-old to the 3rd grade. In the letter they ask me to provide 2 boxes of pencils, a set of colored pencils, crayons, and 4 or 5 colored folders. This indicates the school doesn’t have the funds to provide the necessary supplies, yet they had a surplus.

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For me this doesn’t pass the sniff test.

1. What made this “Necessary” as required by law? Prudent does not equal Necessary.
2. If this was indeed discussed “behind the scenes since January”, why was it not included on the Warrant, and subsequently voted on by the Taxpayers? Instead done a month later with much less Taxpayer involvement.
3. Why was the surplus not used for supplies, and instead a letter sent to parents asking for additional money for a salary increase?
4. After all of this, how are we to believe this is not in “retaliation” or in spite of the defeated collective bargaining agreement? And not just a Board who has decided they will do whatever they want regardless of what the Taxpayers have authorized.

Even if found legal, this is an extremely arrogant action taken by a school board who has seemingly forgotten who they work for. This is not a childish game, the Board had an obligation and legal requirement to ask Taxpayers before spending this money.

The School Board has a meeting scheduled on August 14th @ 6:30 at the School, I encourage all Chichester residents to attend and remind the board who they work for and pressure the Board to justify, if not reverse this action.

If we cannot control this type of behavior at the local level what hope do we have at the state or federal level?

Please contact your School Board for more information or to express your concern.

Chairman Harold Losey Jr. – (603) 798-4055 – harold.losey@rbc.com
Co-Chair Benjamin Brown – (603) 798-4116 – benjamin.brown@ieee.org
Member Sally Kelly – (603) 798-5806 – sallymakessense@gmail.com
Co-Superintendent of Schools Helene Bickford – hbickford@sau53.org

Please contact me if you plan on attending the meeting or have questions.

Thank you,
Jason Weir
jason.weir@comcast.net
603-736-7762

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8 Responses

  1. Rachel Harlow August 13, 2014 / 11:45 PM

    Jason,

    I will be at the meeting. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
    I am interested to learn more.

    Regards,
    Rachel

  2. Richard Bean August 13, 2014 / 9:58 PM

    As a former selectman from Bow for many years and chairman of the town’s budget committee for nine years, I must tell you that, as a start, the Town of Chichester needs to adopt RSA 32 http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/NHTOC/NHTOC-III-32.htm which mandates control of the budget by the budget committee. At both town and school meetings, the budget committee’s is presented by as the official budget for the upcoming year. All motions for any other considerations must come at town meeting and their a limitations and restrictions. In 1999, my wife Andrea and I, moved from Bow (where I lived from 1963) to Kara Drive because we saw what was coming to Bow which is about the 5th or 6th highest tax rate in NH.

    While I really doubt that any sitting selectmen or school board members would like this, I would strongly encourage the adoption of RSA 32 http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/NHTOC/NHTOC-III-32.htm to the town.

    Richard Bean
    10 Kara Drive

  3. jweir August 12, 2014 / 11:14 AM

    Just a reminder of the upcoming meeting on Thurdsday, 6:30 @ the School

  4. Brandon Giuda July 29, 2014 / 12:27 PM

    It is disappointing to see that Sally Kelly did not respond to the assertions. I would expect elected officials to either provide a proper explanation for their actions, which they have not, or at least acknowledge that the concerns may be warranted.

  5. Sally Kelly July 29, 2014 / 10:17 AM

    Please remove my business email address and replace with my personal one: SallyMakesSense@gmail.com

    I have always had to take either vacation time or forgo part of my paycheck to serve our community. With that in mind, it is not fair to use my employer’s email address in a public forum.

    Thanks Jason!
    Respectfully yours,
    Sally Kelly
    798 5806
    SallyMakesSense@gmail.com

    • jweir July 29, 2014 / 11:00 AM

      Sally,

      Fair or not I used the address that was publicly available at http://sau53.org/chboard.htm. I see that you’ve just changed it there as well, so I’ll update it here.

      Jason

  6. Chris Weir July 25, 2014 / 5:43 PM

    Here is how i see what has happened, based on the documented information provided.

    April 16 2014 Chichester School Board Meeting Minutes:
    “Pam Stiles presented information on the Blue Ribbon Award given to Chichester Central School as the United States Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School, 2014.”

    ****** We were “GIVEN” the Blue Ribbon Award? Id like to see this award seeing the 2014 awards wont be given out until November 2014 http://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/applicant.html *******

    April 16 2014 Chichester School Board Non Public Session Minutes:
    “The Board discussed giving all faculty and staff an additional stipend for the work all had done to have Chichester Central School become a Blue Ribbon School”

    ****** We have “BECOME” a Blue Ribbon School? how have we become a blue ribbon school seeing the 2014 applications wont be processed until August 2014 and the Education Secretary wont be announcing the winners until September 2014 http://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/applicant.html ******

    May 14, 2014 Stipend Checks Handed Out
    “In the letter placed in the Suncook Sun states clearly that checks were handed out on May 14th to coincide with Teacher appreciation week”

    June 27, 2014 Letter sent to the Chichester School Board:
    A Taxpayer expresses concerns that the board has overstepped their authority and may have acted in violation of state statute. A request was made for a response from the board

    July 9, 2014 Response from Chichester School Board:
    it’s my opinion that the board disregarded the concerns of the taxpayer, by stating they were within the law, and that the expenditure was from a different budget year, therefore not relevant to the 2014-15 budget

    July 23, 2014 Suncook Valley Sun Newspaper Article
    The Chichester School Board places an article in The Suncook Valley Sun, and low and behold now the Board now states that Chichester Central School was only nominated to receive an award and had not actually received any award as so clearly stated in the; recorded, approved and accepted School Board Meeting Minutes dated April 16, 2014

    It seems clear to me that the Chichester School Board has arrogantly slapped every taxpayer of Chichester right across the face. I could argue that the School Board went so far as to falsify Board Meeting Minutes to make it look as though Chichester Central School had won the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award. The fact is that Chichester Central School was only nominated. A nomination for the Blue Ribbon Award allows a School the right to apply to the United States Department of Education for consideration of the Award. Upon being questioned for their actions in this matter the Chichester School Board placed an article in the July 23, 2014 edition of the Suncook Valley Sun Newspaper, that clearly states: “Chichester Central School was awarded the highest recognition in the nation this past year by being nominated as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.”

    ****** MISLEADING The school was not “awarded the highest recognition in the nation” they were nominated, which allows them to apply to be considered for recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. *******

    In addition to the blatant smoke and mirrors by the school board, in 2013 there was a total 420 applications submitted to the United States Board of Education, for the Blue Ribbon Award and only 286 awards were actually handed out. So the Chichester School Board has given out more than $34,000.00 in what they call a stipend/bonus, for an award that has not been received, but also there is no guarantee that any award will be received.

    ****** WHAT NOW What happens if Chichester Central School was actually to be awarded the Blue Ribbon Award. I would like to know how much more of our tax dollars are going to be given out as stipends, if we win. I’m not sure we will even know at this point seeing the school board would have liked you to believe that we had already won. ******

    The Chichester School Board is clearly misrepresenting their actions with in the meeting minutes, and only coming clean when their misrepresentations are exposed. It is obvious to me that the only reason the Chichester School Board placed the June 23rd article in the Suncook Sun was to prevent backlash from more concerned taxpayers. It is time to stop this dog and pony show. I am calling on every registered voter in Chichester to join together and take back control of our school by voicing your opinion at the up coming August 14th School Board Meeting, and also by putting the School Board on Notice in the voting booth and at the next School District Meeting. In the meantime please come to the Chichester School Board Meeting on August 14, 2014 to express your concerns. Its high time the Taxpayers of Chichester, inform our elected officials just who is in charge and who they are working for.

  7. Brandon Giuda July 24, 2014 / 4:06 PM

    Jason, I am happy that you have followed up on this. Based on your research and my research, I believe that this is a case of arrogant elected officials believing they know better than the citizens whose money they are spending. The school board had no legal authority to spend the money, except as allowed by statute. The only statute they could come up with requires a “necessity” to arise – and clearly the statute was not intended that the school board create their own little “necessity” because they were displeased at the result of the vote. Further, as we have subsequently found out, the school DID NOT receive the award. See you at the August 14 meeting, and hope to see many other concerned Chichester residents.

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