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Inaccuracies in Jan. 12 article make writing this letter unavoidable

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing to correct a number of inaccuracies contained in the article headlined "Laconia tax cap makes budgeting for school district difficult," which ran in the Tuesday, Jan. 12, edition. I agreed to be interviewed for this article under the understanding that it would clarify any misperceptions created by the quotes attributed to me in an article that ran in the Jan. 6 edition of The Laconia Daily Sun, which I had asked to be corrected. I had hoped to avoid having to write a letter to editor but, unfortunately, the inaccuracies in the Jan. 12 article make this unavoidable.

First, the article makes it appear that I met with a reporter to bash the City Council, which was not the case. I disagreed with the council's decision to cut the school budget last year and the year before and believe that it was not a prudent decision given the tax cap, the fact that a flat CPI was projected, and the future implications of these cuts. The prior year's cuts will make it more difficult for the district during this budget process and will make it more difficult moving forward. However, I also made it clear that the district would be facing difficult budget decisions regardless of the council's decision.

Second, it was stated that I applied a theory brought forth by the Columbia Business School regarding Massachusetts' Prop 2 1/2. This is not accurate. I did mention a Columbia Business School article that studied the impacts of the Prop 2 1/2 tax cap. However, I did so simply to point out that this study concluded that cities and towns that were able to increase school spending despite their tax cap limitations had proportional increases in property values and that non-school spending had little impact on property values in cities and towns under the Prop 2 1/2 tax cap.

Third, it was stated that I said that the Columbia Business School study said that many Massachusetts families pay user fees. This is inaccurate. I have done a fair amount of research on the issue of user fees for extracurricular activities and noted that Massachusetts, which operates under the Prop 2 1/2 tax cap, has a large percentage of districts that charge fees for student activities such as sports, drama and clubs. However, I did not cite the Columbia study as a source regarding the reliance on user fees. 

As this is the case, I felt that Laconia should be exploring this possibility. I also noted that we have a large percentage of our students who could not afford user fees and, were such fees instituted, it was my feeling that they would need to be waived for these students.

Finally, it was stated that I said that "the district has no idea where all these clubs come from, except for donations made through the United Way and the Children's Auction." This is completely inaccurate.

What I said was that I have been involved with both United Way and the Children's Auction and the cooperative funding model used by each is very effective, as it relieves the "charitable fatigue" on donors who are being bombarded with requests for donations and ensures that funds are given to groups who really need them. Currently, we have multiple school-related groups conducting fundraising activities and, although these activities are approved and overseen at the building level, there is no mechanism in place at a district level to determine how much is raised or whether the uses of the funds raised are the best uses for the limited charitable funds available to district-related organizations.

Accordingly, it was my feeling that the district should explore moving to a cooperative funding model where all funds go to a district "student activity fund" from which funds would be distributed to organizations in response to funding requests in a manner similar to those used by United Way and the Children's Auction.

In closing, I have had a long and cordial relationship with The Sun and hope that the last two articles in which I was quoted are the exception and not what is to be expected as the norm in the future.

Michael Persson

Laconia

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We all love you Christine Campione-Rudolph; this is not goodbye

To The Daily Sun,

As I sit and think about all the things in my life that aren't exactly how I want them, I can't help but feel very fortunate at the same time for my health and the health of my family, something we all to often take for granted. There is one woman in particular who comes to my mind when I do start to feel that way and her name is Christine Campione-Rudolph.
Christine moved here from Brooklyn, New York. She was born Dec. 9, 1966. She gave birth to one beautiful daughter and two handsome sons, who are all grown now, with children of their own. Most people know Christine because she owns Brookside Pizza/The TAP Sports Bar, here in downtown Belmont which I must say truly reminds me of the televison show "Cheers." Plus, they have the best wings in town and don't even get me started on their Bloody Marys. Everybody knows everybody, if you're having a bad day or just want to get the heck out of the house, you go to the TAP, where you will see Christine yelling at one of her kids because they didn't do something right with the pizza dough, or something to that effect. It truly feels like home to most of us. I can't say enough good things about Brookside, I could literally go on for days.

However, over the past several years Christine's health has not been that great. Diabetes took a toll on her body and her sons took over when she was not able to work. I would still see her car there every morning no matter what as she made sure that the business was a tight-run ship even if she couldn't be there all day.

Everything changed in the blink of an eye. Her health took a turn for the worse right before Christmas when she was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer, as well as cancer in both of her lungs, it has also spread to her skull. Cancer took my father 10 years ago and I have had several clients diagnosed with this awful disease, but not like this. The doctors gave Christine six days to live. How do you even process something so horrible? Six days? This was a massive shock to her and her family.

In order to get a few more days she has chosen to do chemotherapy. As of today she is undergoing her second treatment. I am writing this letter because I want anyone and everyone to know what a strong woman she is, that there isn't anything she wouldn't do for you, especially if you are on her good side. Belmont is a very small town, it doesn't take long to hear good news or bad, maybe a day or so depending on who you tell first, (that's the key right there.) I should know, I own a local hair salon. Christine is a well known figure here and always has been. She has made several donations in this town to such as the Belmont Fire Department, Police Department, schools, library, Belmont football, Bogie Busters, Spanish Club, Santa Fund, etc. Actually I can't think of who she hasn't donated to, it truly is endless. She's also set up a scholarship at Belmont High School.

As she lies in her hospital bed in the comfort of her own home, with friends and family by her side, she gets upset knowing that she is missing meetings and is not able to go to the restaurant and check on things because this illness has kept her from doing so. A gofundme.com account was also set up for her and she has refused to take any money from it. Rather, all the funds raised will be returned back into the community. She has also taken the burden off of her family by planning her own funeral, writing her eulogy, picking her plot and anything else you can think of. So, upon her passing there will not be one thing left to do but embrace the memories and the love she had for everyone around her. As I look at her Facebook page, I notice one of her favorite quotes to her kids is, "I'm not around for the rest of your life, I'm only around for the rest of mine." How true is that?

Christine had a good day last week and was able to get some family photos done at the restaurant by a local photographer. It was an amazing day, a day none of us will ever forget. She came to the salon to get her hair done and was in good spirits laughing and joking, like her normal self. But, there were also tears that day, a lot of tears thinking that might be the last day we see her. Death is a scary thing for anyone, but Christine has almost made me feel better about it by showing me that it's all in how you handle it. I see a strength in her that I don't see in many others and it inspires me to be a better person. There's a time to be selfish and there's a time to be selfless, she seems to have it down pat. She reminds me of my own mother in that way.

We all love you Christine Campione-Rudolph. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't think about you on this journey to whatever is next. Remember, it's not good-bye, it's until we meet again. And don't forget to kick my dad in the ass when you get there. Big hugs and kisses.

From Belmont to Brooklyn, Babe.
Amy Perkins

Belmont

 

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