To The Daily Sun,
SAU 2 is made up of Ashland, Center Harbor, Sandwich and Meredith. Ashland is a separate school board from Inter-Lakes. For towns to get into the SAU they have to petition the SAU, and all towns have to accept them, then the state has to approve the new configuration. To get out of the SAU you have to meet the requirement of RSA 194.C:2 and the state has to approve. Ashland's share under the formula is that they pay 9.6 percent of the revenue for 13.3 percent of the students which means they pay about 27 percent per student less than Inter-Lakes' towns.
To get into the school district you must petition and be accepted. To exit, a warrant article must pass in each town by two-thirds vote and the state must approve. The applicable RSA is 195:25. The towns in the Inter-Lakes district break down by number of students, Meredith 78.5 percent, Center Harbor 9.9 percent, Sandwich 11.6 percent; by revenue contributed, Meredith 68.8 percent, Center Harbor 14.8 percent and Sandwich 16.3 percent.
On Monday, Dec. 8, I went to a SAU 2 public hearing at the Humiston Building in Meredith. All the elected School Board representatives were present, Mary Ellen Ormond Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Special Education, etc. Lisa Merrill was chairperson. Ms. Merrill is a Meredith School Board representative. The budget description of the account was 2320 Executive General SAU. The hearing was about the proposed budget for 2015-16.
Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond thanked the board for increasing the salaries in accordance with the industry standard and other SAU boards. I like to know what the other board levels are? The meeting was quick with little input on the line items cost and how the dollar amount was derived, especially the line items with increases. The increase in the SAU budget is $12,404 for 2015-2016. 20014 being $880,500, and 2015-2016 =$892,904. Net increase of 1.5 percent.
Superintendent Ormand ($117,000) was permitted to disperse her $3,500 raise to individuals she deemed special because of their effort, which was evidently discussed in non-public, because the board went into non-public session and came out to vote on an amended budget, supposedly with the same bottom line. The public in attendance thought the non-public discussion dealt with upcoming benefit costs, but upon voting, the board kept the benefit costs as they appear in the budget and now the merit pool for SAU employees will evidently be augmented by the $3,500 superintendent's raise. Is this really legal? What is that all about?
What are the Medicaid services? Where do the federal funds go — $225,000? What are the indirect costs? I have never seen a budget hearing where discussion was limited on the budget line items. Inside the discussion there was no mention about the citizens (middle class, workers, and retired) and their finances in this troubled economy, but the budget increases to $892,904. The townsfolk have no say about the increases, but are forced to fund them. Is this logical? Something needs to change!
At the end of the meeting, when dates were set to begin budget talks for each School Board, I was astounded to hear that the meetings for the Inter-Lakes Board would start at 5 p.m., when the elected school board members who actually have jobs announced that they could not come until 6. Why not change the time to 6 p.m. when everyone can participate? Every school board member should be present. They do volunteer and are elected representatives.
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