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.
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.
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.
In addition they placed the following letter in the July 23rd edition of the Suncook Valley Sun
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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Chair Benjamin Brown – (603) 798-4116 – email@example.com
Member Sally Kelly – (603) 798-5806 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Superintendent of Schools Helene Bickford – email@example.com
Please contact me if you plan on attending the meeting or have questions.