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The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Friday, June 11, 2010

School Board plans quiet little "workshop" to discuss new school!

Yes folks, on June 21st, your own elected school board chairman, Elizabeth Kosta of Plaistow, has announced to her board, that they are going to have a "workshop" to discuss a proposal for a new high school. The reason for the "workshop" is so that, although the meeting will be open to the public, it will not be televised, nor will they "need to keep minutes".

The facilities manager has already stated that both the middle school and the high school are "structurally sound", and therefore they do not NEED replacement for that reason. For those who are unaware, the school administration has been having student fill out surveys on what they would like to see in a new school. Do you get the feeling that this is a foregone conclusion?

The school board wants to;

1.) Build a new high school
2.) remodel and repurpose the existing high school to a middle school
3.) Demolish 80% of the existing middle school.

And those new $400,000 science labs, we just paid for...........

Well THOSE will make GREAT silent sustained reading rooms!

By the way, the expected cost of this boondoggle project.... Upwards of $60,000,000.00, Yes that's U.S. Dollars, not Yen or Lira.

Here is a little history for the TAXPAYERS in this tight economy; The middle school was built in 1976. The high school in 1966. When the high school opened it was a model school for the rest of the country to copy, with open air courtyards, skylights, and lots and lots of windows for children to see nature and not feel so closed in. The middle school has undergone a number of expansions and renovations as has the high school over the years, as the schools population has increased, BUT NOW IT IS DECREASING! The school district has lost 300 students in the last three years! Most to other schools where their parents feel they will get an education.

Is it too much to ask that the middle and high schools do a good job of educating students before we spend money we don't have on a new palace of education? How about dealing with that pesky "school in need of improvement" designation?


Curt Springer said...

I followed up with a school board member about this. The meeting has been legally posted, and he is going to make sure that minutes are taken. Thus it will be in compliance with RSA 91-A.

Sometimes committees wrongly think that they don't have to comply with the open meetings law if they don't plan to take votes. But it applies equally if a quorum simply discusses matters that are under their jurisdiction.

Len Mullen said...

There will be a camera in the room. All they have to do is turn it on. There is a reason for their secrecy -- they don't want anyone to be able to play back their words in a year. Last year La Salle said there were no plans to use the new science labs for anything except what they were intended for. How many TRSD middle schoolers are ready for physics and robotics. The new project begins this summer. Why not simply bank the money until they figure out which end is up?

Everyone should go back and watch the deliberative session.

PS Mr. La Salle hasn't attended a budget committee meeting since we started recording them.

PPS Only 98 years until they unseal the pedo-files.

MAcciard said...

If a quorum attends the meeting they WILL take minutes and have them available in 6 days like the law says.

I will have no problem reminding them on camera of their illegal budget public hearing last year, and of the legal ramifications of continuing to ignore the law.

Len Mullen said...

I know no one has been paying attention, but there have been some changes on the budget committee this season.

First and foremost, the meetings are televised and posted in the internet (click my name to vist TRSD's vimeo archive). The fact that the sessions are being witnessed has affected people's behavior positively. For starters, we now pledge allegiance to the flag. People are more civil. The fillibustering has subsided.

Because of this, we were able to schedule (so far) THREE special meetings. These meetings were hearings with special needs, facilities, and technology. I encourage all to watch these meetings. I came away from the special needs meeting confident that services to these kids are NOT a budget buster. They are substantial, but the cost of servicing the kids is lost in the cost of administering the programs. My only interest in facilities was the condition and viability of the infrasturcture -- we learned this week that the infrastructure is FINE.

We've made it very easy for people to be engaged -- take advantage. In September, we will have a space for the presentations. By February, most of the district will have resources to debunk the rhetoric spewing out of the SAU office (upstairs and downstairs).


Anonymous said...

Regarding the "school in need of improvement" designation, make sure you understand the innane methodology of Bush's "No Child Left Behind" boondoggle. A small group of students with severe learning disabilities can make the whole school look like it's not working. Just about anyone that's take the time to examine it knows the law needs to have significant changes to it to accurately reflect how a school is doing.

That said, as an educator that supports well-designed and effective education initiatives, I can't believe that this district has the gall to come back to us so soon after the recent spending on the high and middle schools to even HINT that it's now innadequate: They had better do a damned good job explaining exactly why they think it needs to be replaced, expecially with the population going DOWN.

From what I read, there are plenty of people here that constantly whine about the quality of the schools because they didn't take and raise their children for them; go and take a look at New Hampshire SAT scores versus other states to see how we do.

If someone from Timberlane is reading this, please take it to heart; this educator has yet to have a hint of why you are seeking to spend $60 million when you just got $30+ not that long ago...

Len Mullen said...

Anon, the poor performance of TRSD is pervasive. Their strategy of inclusion and tactics of meeting the minimal legal definition of a school has cheated our best and brightest out of a decent education. All schools have students with special needs. Few perform worse than TRSD.

Special Needs, old buildings, unsupportive parents, unmotivated students, and George W. Bush are excuses for poor performance. (see The first step to resolving a problem is admitting you have one.

You noted that TRSD has declining enrollment. I believe this trend will accelerate. I moved into the district despite high taxes because of a reputation the schools earned in the seventies. Taxes are higher and the good reputation is long gone. No one moves into a school district with high taxes and poor schools.

My kid took his SATs at the new Exeter HS last Saturday. When I picked him up, he was very excited about how nice the school was. I asked, "What did you think about their Performing Arts Center?" He paused for a moment, "I don't think they have one." Timberlane's problem is that academics is not important to the management team -- the SAU and the school board. Until they make academics P1, we will be a School in Need of Improvement.

MAcciard said...

Timberlane is a school is need of improvement because of poor management, weak curriculum, and lack of academic rigor.

Mr. Mike Hogan, the Middle School principal's philosophy of education, as expressed to me personally, is; "they will catch it up in high school"! That was his response to me when I asked how a child could graduate the eighth grade with straight "F"'s!

We have a school board that acts as little more than bobble heads to their employee, Mr. LaSalle who leads them around like a horse to water. Mr. LaSalle is the third highest paid superintendent in the state of NH., after Manchester and Nashua. His compensation package costs us taxpayers $160,000/yr. for what? Illegal meetings, lack of information, lack of achievement, declining enrollment, and a bloated budget.

It pains me to see how far my alma mater has fallen. When I graduated in 1979, Timberlane was a great school, routinely beating Pinkerton, Salem and Sanborn academically. It was one of the top academic public schools in the state, now it isn't even among the top schools in the county.

With a budget of $14,500/kid, Timberlane still pleads poverty. My kids now go to Pinkerton, as do a number of their friends, ALL of us parents who have made the switch agree that the academic rigor, and the curriculum at Pinkerton FAR outshines that of Timberlane, and at 2/3rds the cost!


Len Mullen said...

WHY #1 is that the ratio of nonteaching personnel to students is very high. These people are the highest paid staff. The SAU has repeated stonewalled on discussiing staff at this level. WHY #2 is that the ratio of teaching personnel to students is very high -- 1:15 by my calculations vs 1:20 recommendation of the state. I don't see classrooms with less than 15 kids, so I can only conclude that teachers are doing other things during their work days. That's a problem that is easily remedied.

Anonymous said...

The school board criticism is deserved and earned by them and congratulations to everyone who brings to public notice their failures. I am happy to know the school board members will be watched and watched closely.

While that is important, our country is being ruined by a rogue company, called British Petroleum.

This snippet is from BBC online published today and it shows BP has a long, long, long, history of criminal behavior I did not know about. Much like how I didn't know the school board operates!

There are ecological criminals in Atkinson too, like the lady who sprayed her neighbors trees THIS WEEK with ROUNDUP. Hope she gets sued for $50,000 to replace the beautiful trees and much more for harassment. Such people are bums. Also, don't forget the bums who wanted to dump tons of herbicide into Big Island Pond last year! That would have destroyed wildlife and harmed any child who accidentally got a mouthful of water and kept anyone from even getting near the water for over a month if not the entire summer!! (You go first. You put your child in the water!)

We must be vigilant against the environmental criminals in our own area.

So here is the news today on British Petroleum. Noooo! It was not in the New York Times or Washington Post or from President Obama's lips. NOOOO! I got it from the British Broadcasting Corporation minutes ago.

"Despite its success, size and profitability, BP is no stranger to controversy.

The Deep Horizon spill is certainly a massive challenge to the company, both financially and in terms of public relations, but it is not the first time BP has been in the international spotlight.

In 2006, a US congressional hearing accused BP of "unacceptable" neglect of pipelines in Alaska after it was forced to shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay because of leaking pipes.

In 2007, the company was fined a total of $373m by the US Department of Justice for environmental crimes and committing fraud.

The fine included $50m relating to a Texas refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured 170 more.

The largest single fine of $303m related to a price manipulation scam in the propane market.

Last October, BP was fined a further $87m for failing to correct safety hazards at the Texas refinery.

The company has also faced harsh criticism, from shareholders and environmental campaigners, about its plans to develop oil sands in Canada.

The methods used to extract oil from these sands give rise to far more carbon emissions than even standard oil drilling, they argue.

To some in the US, therefore, the Deep Horizon spill feels all too much like a terrible deja vu.

Indeed, given its chequered recent history and experience of controversy, perhaps the most surprising thing about the Gulf oil spill is just how badly BP has handled the publicity surrounding it."

Anonymous said...

What's with the obnoxious party of Meditation? I could barely get down the street tonight by all the cars. Drunks everywhere, loud music. What's going on in this town???????

Anonymous said...

It's been going on since friday but the cops won't do anything about it. Stay away unless you want to get hit by a drunk driver.

Anonymous said...

Noise Ordinance

Adopted May 15, 2006

Fred J. Childs, Jr., Chairman; Jack Sapia, Paul Sullivan

It shall be unlawful to make loud or unreasonable noises in a public place, or making loud and unreasonable noises in a private place, which can be heard in a public place or other private places, which would disturb a person of average sensibilities.

It shall be unlawful to allow outside construction, loud parties, radios or loud bands or any other loud activities to start prior to 7:00am Monday through Sunday and shall not continue after 9:00pm at night.

First offense shall carry a $50.00 fine.

Second offense shall carry a $100.00 fine.

Anonymous said...

21 Meditation Lane

Owner: Jordan Shallow

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter, they won't enforce it. The board knows, the cops know but they still won't do anything about it.

Curt Springer said...

31:39 Purpose and Penalties. –
I. Towns may make bylaws for:
(n) Regulating noise.

"Town" means a town meeting vote, not a vote of the selectmen.

Anonymous said...

That is a by law, but the selectmen have the responsibiity for enacting ordinances, right?

Curt Springer said...

The terms "bylaw" and "ordinance" are interchangeable. These usually mean actions voted at town meeting.

Generally selectmen actions are called "regulations," because they regulate public use of roads and most town property.

Selectmen have licensing authority and they can create health regulations in conjunction with the health officer. But generally they don't have authority to regulate private activities, e.g., noisy parties on private property.

There is a provision for selectmen to create town ordinances in place of a town meeting vote. It only applies in towns with a population of greater than 10,000, and only with advance permission of the town meeting. They have to have public hearings in advance of enacting the ordinance, and if just 50 voters object and sign a petition, the ordinance is deferred until the next town meeting.

I've heard it said (or read it in minutes) in my town and in other towns that selectmen can enact town ordinances that are in force until the next town meeting. This is incorrect.

tim dziechowski said...

Curt, I told our selectmen about the RSA requiring a town meeting vote for a noise ordinance, both when they originally passed the ordinance and recently. All they need to do is put forward a warrant article for us to vote on. Our current selectmen might actually get around to doing that.

Of, course, our feisty townfolk might decide to vote "no", and maybe that's why there never was a warrant article proposed.

Anonymous said...

I thought the noise ordinance went to the ballot back around 5 years ago.

Anonymous said...

The Chief is going to see what they can do about this noise problem.

Anonymous said...

They can use their bag of tricks and do something when the party is obstructing traffic, or there's under age drinking, or other problems. They could even set up a road block for sobriety checks. That would break it up and everyone would get out of there in a big hurry.

Anonymous said...

Disturbing the peace? Public intoxication (once they walk onto the public right of wayt)? If they arrest the home owner for creating an unsafe condition, they'd all leave. Fireworks are illegal and an excuse to break these parties up.

It gets bad on the lake and summers coming and lots of opportunites to test effective solutions.

Anonymous said...

Having students fill out a survey on whether they'd like a new school, great.

How about letting me fill out a survey to see if I'd like the student to pay for it? Or maybe just the students parents.

Anonymous said...

that party was just a warm up, live free or die.

Anonymous said...

hahaha. So ridiculous. Time to wake up people and demand excellance from the school district. If I had a choice, my students would have attended a charter school. Build, build, build. Saving us money. What a joke. Don't be fooled.

Anonymous said...

everyone has the right to freedom and liberty, not just one goofball imposing their ignorance on everyone around them

Anonymous said...

I dont believe ignorance is the term, I think arrogance is more like it.

Anonymous said...

yes, that too.

Anonymous said...

I think its ignorant for certain neighbors to call cops, stop snitching. It fuels the fire.

Len Mullen said...

The school board voted to NOT record the 'work session' on building a new high school. I enourage all to show up. The only reason for keeping this meeting secret is so that they can deny it happened later. La Salle last year assured me that the new science classrooms would never be repurposed. Less than a year later, he is planning to move the hs kids out of the building. If he intends to teach physics and robotics to the middleschoolers, this is good news. Otherwise, he is a LIAR. I do not think there are plans to teach physics and robotics to middleschoolers.

Show up at the work session and INSIST no more money be squanderd on the HS until we decide if it is going to be a middle school.

Anonymous said...

"I think its ignorant for certain neighbors to call cops, stop snitching. It fuels the fire."

Snitching? Are you five? Have you totally missed the fact that the house had over 150 people, there were 40 cars, it has a history of under age drinking arrests and people are moving from the MEDITATION LANE area to escape the noise and dangerous situation on the street?

You are worried about snitching? Are you for real? The snitch is doing the lazy, untrained town employees a big favor by putting themselves out there and calling the PD.

What is the PD and the Town doing in response to this? NOTHING. Are they going to be ok when someone gets hurt? If it's my friend or family member that gets hurt, I'm going to find the snitch and sue the f'n pants off those who turned a blind untrained eye to this.

Then I'm going to buy the snitch some lunch.

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