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Newfound board prefers simple tuition formula for Hill

By Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — The Newfound Area School Board dismissed Business Administrator Mike Limanni's attempt at a "realistic" tuition formula for Hill students as being too complicated and settled on an unspecified tuition rate that would be based on the Franklin model.
The Hill School District is looking at ending its long-standing Authorized Regional Enrollment Area agreement with the Franklin School District and realigning with either the Winnisquam or Newfound school district for the education of its middle and high school students. Elementary school students would continue attending the Jennie D. Blake School in Hill.
When Newfound's Hill Subcommittee met on July 31, members noted the lack of specificity in Hill's request for proposal (RFP), which did not ask for a tuition rate but did ask that Newfound maintain a middle and high school while not requiring Hill students to attend Newfound if they chose to attend a different district. The committee struck that language so the district could make changes if it chose to do so in the future.
After that initial subcommittee meeting, Limanni developed two options for determining the rate, the first based on Hill's current agreement with Franklin and the second option using a tax assessment model. He presented both options to the subcommittee on Aug. 11, prior to the regular school board meeting. Hill's RFP called for a proposal on a 10-year agreement by Aug. 13.
After the subcommittee spent an hour and a half going over the options, the two members present decided that, rather than making a recommendation to the full board, they would just present the options before them.
Limanni's version of the Franklin model took the total appropriations for the middle and high schools, subtracted the tuition costs for special education students and regular transportation, and divided by the average daily membership for each of the schools to arrive at a per-pupil cost for each of the two schools. The formula then added a rental factor based on the depreciation schedules for the middle and high school buildings.
The current agreement with Franklin also includes half of Hill's state adequacy grant; Limanni did not include that but board members asked that it be included in the cost template.
The business administrator pointed out that a drawback in that model is that Newfound's income would fluctuate with the amount of Hill's adequacy grant. He also felt that the resulting rate would be prohibitive for Hill and would not reflect market values with cohort districts.
Some of the board members questioned why market rates should be a factor when member towns in the school district are paying even higher costs per pupil.
Limanni's second option, he said, was based on real costs, rather than average daily membership. It began by taking the operating budgets for each of the schools and determining their cost ratios; in other words, the percentage of the total budget allocated to each school. He subtracted Newfound's costs for one-on-one aides, out-of-district tuition, contracted transportation, specialized equipment, and contracted services required by law; Hill would be responsible for those costs associated with its own students outside of the tuition amount. He added back in the Newfound Adequacy Aid before dividing by average daily membership to determine the tuition rate. The final provision was to cap annual increases in tuition to two percent as allowed under the Newfound Area School District's tax cap.
That plan, Limanni contended, provided a more realistic tuition rate which would be competitive with whatever Winnisquam comes up with for a rate.
Board members were unimpressed. Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater said its complexity could get the district in trouble in the coming years, especially if the district has a business administrator who is less competent than Limanni. Jeff Levesque of Groton called both options "magic math" and said it needs to be simpler.
Limanni said the first question board members should ask is whether they felt there was a value in bringing Hill students into the district in the first place. If the answer was no, there was no point in working the numbers further, he said.
For Migliore, the answer was a definitive no: "I am vehemently opposed," he said, explaining that the million dollar increase in revenues could take away the incentive to address the district's high budget. "We could save $4 million by a closing a school," he said. "The business administrator says the cost per pupil is prohibitive for Hill, but why not change that for Newfound taxpayers first? Or give Hill the opportunity to pay us what they pay Franklin, since he referred to market value?"
Migliore also was worried that, with such an attractive tuition rate, Hill parents who currently home-school their children might decide to send them to Newfound, requiring more teachers and higher costs for taxpayers.
When Limanni said such an opportunity to bring in additional tuition students does not come along often, Migliore said, "The real value is the opportunity to straighten things out. We can get our budget more in line with our cohort districts, but if we do this, it will prolong the delays."
Levesque said he agrees with some of what Migliore said, but "I don't think their coming in will mean a damn. They'll just replace some of the kids we've lost." His concern, he said, was having to make a decision quickly on a formula due in two days.
The board voted to strip out the actual calculations Limanni had made and offer a generic plan that did not include a specific tuition amount. The board also voted to place any tuition agreement approved by Hill onto Newfound's school district meeting warrant for voters' approval.
At the end of the meeting, Levesque made a motion to address the larger question that the board has been "pushing down the road", asking for two questions to be included in next month's meeting agenda: to consider closing the middle school for the 2015-16 school year; and to begin a study of the property to determine whether there should be a permanent closure or redevelopment of the property. His motion passed unanimously.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 01:45

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NH 1 Media opens: ‘New Hampshire is what we are about’

LACONIA — With a ribbon-cutting at the NH 1 Media Center on Church Street yesterday, Bill Binnie of the Carlisle Media Group not only brought a new, dynamic enterprise to the city but also breathed fresh life into its broadcasting heritage.

The Carlisle Media Group consists of WBIN-TV in Derry and 17 FM and AM radio stations around the state operating from studios in Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Lebanon and Laconia. The media center at 51 Church Street is housed in the building that last served as the police station and will be home to WEMJ-AM (1490) and WLNH-FM (98.3) as well as the Lakes Region news bureau of the NH 1 Network. Manager Mike Trombly said that approximately 15 people will be working at the center in on-air, sales and administrative positions.

For Dirk Nadon, vice-president of engineering, who began his career in radio with WEMJ-AM in the 1980s, the opening of the center was particularly special. The building, which had sat empty since 2003, was once a law office his grandfather Bill Nadon shared with longtime District Court judge Bernie Snierson. "I remember getting dragged through there as a kid," Nadon said. "It's great that Bill has given the building a second life."

Binnie said that members of his team advised him against acquiring, joking that some from Laconia "had a little history here, bad memories" from when it was a police station. Nevertheless, he said "I paid $1 and probably overpaid a lot and took the risk of bringing stations back to downtown." In return, Binnie agreed to invest at least $300,000 in renovating the building, an obligation he more than fulfilled. Binnie said that the company has also moved into renovated space in Concord, where it operates from a former elementary school, and Portsmouth.

In officially welcoming Binnie's Carlisle Media Group to the city, Mayor Ed Engler said that the opening of the center was significant for two major reasons. First, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been reinvested in a building that stood empty for a decade as an empty at a central location for a decade and radio stations that originated in the city but migrated to Gilford have returned home.
Second, the mayor described the Carlisle Media Group as "not just any company, but a media company with a real commitment to community programming." Stressing that every community needs "a bigger, better sense of community," he expected the presence of the NH 1 Media Center will enhance Laconia's ability to generate a stronger sense of community.

Underlining Engler's remarks, Nadon noted that WEMJ-AM has restored "open mike," broadcast Muskrats this summer and will broadcast Sachem football this fall. He said the previous owners of the station "took it all away , but Bill is letting us put it all back." Nadon said that Binnie has retained those who have broadcast in the Lakes Region since he was in his teens and added personnel. "Bill has a dream and I'm thrilled to be helping him pursue it," he said. "It's exciting. It's show biz."

Binnie said that WBIN-TV will begin airing evening news at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. as an alternative to WMUR-TV. He said a news team of experienced television journalists has been assembled from the ranks of CNN and the three networks — ABC, NBC and CBS. Bureaus in Laconia, Portsmouth and Lebanon will contribute stories from the Lakes Region, Seacoast and Upper Valley. "New Hampshire is what we are about," he said.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 01:17

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Correction: Instructor of Wine & Design class misidentified

The Wine and Design painting class at the Belknap Mill, which was pictured on the front page of last Thursday's edition, was taught by Kare Roche Criscone, not Heidi Little.



Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 12:20

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CORRECTION: First alleged rape of Tilton girl was in 2006

CORRECTION: Regarding a story published on Page 8 of The Daily Sun's Tuesday edition about the alleged rape of a Tilton girl, police said the date of the first assault was in 2005 and the child was born in 1999.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 12:17

Hits: 189

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