Withdrawal Committee Meeting Minutes – 6/12/19

Call to order by Albert St.Pierre, 5:35 pm.

 

Approval of Minutes made by Mr. Stahl, seconded by Mr. Beam.   All in favor.  Abstain by Mrs. Henry and Mr. Emig.

[noting that a future discussion of paragraph regarding 195:25 be had, noting the specifics of 195:25 wording for clarification]

 

Report from Subcommittees

 

1  Methods of financing a single district and Methods of financing Co-op from withdrawal perspective.  Mr. Beam, Mr. Dustin (Mr. G. St.Pierre sitting in), Mr. Levesque

This committee met twice during the previous two weeks.   The findings of these two meetings was presented by Mr. Beam.  The committee looked at how to develop budgets for the withdrawal and discussed what processes they will use to determine the budgets, while keeping it simple.  A lot of discussion regarding process, timelines (critical to this group), and the process to use for determining costs were discussed in committee. It was determined that three budgets will be created.  

 A Charlestown only budget, including tuitioning students to FMRHS
  ADM would not be used in the Charlestown budget.   In the budget for Charlestown would be the expenses required by law, including payroll and benefits that are part of contracts — and these wouldn’t change.  The committee looked at other expenses, revenues and reserve funds and will determine how to build those into the Charlestown budget.  The budget amounts for transportation, tuition, other expense items will have to come from the town of Charlestown.  Questions will be asked about such things as snow plowing — and whether this will be a town responsibility or a school responsibility.
 A budget for the remaining districts plus the FMRHS including tuitioned Charlestown students
 An individual budget will be created for each of the four remaining towns plus the high school, which will answer the same questions as the budget for Charlestown, less the questions regarding plowing and such. 
 A budget for the remaining districts if Charlestown makes a complete withdrawal and does not tuition their students to FMRHS
 It is important to understand the implications of this scenario in regards to the articles of agreement.

Gabriel St. Pierre has been asked to be an additional member of this finance committee, and he has accepted that position.  

 

A second meeting was held with Mr. Fenn.  Mr. Levesque and Mr. Beam attended to present the idea of three separate budgets to Mr. Fenn, and to determine the difficulty in completing this task.   The finance committee has tasked themselves with having the Charlestown template in place — and for it to include items in the current budget that can easily be migrated over (wages and such) at their next subcommittee meeting.   The 2020 budget will be used as the comparative for development of the Charlestown budget.  The current available data by current district and town vendors will be used.  The committee plans to meet every other week, on the off week, and will be presenting updates on the templates at each meeting.  It is noted that the finance committee discussed that the FM Teachers Association and support staff should be invited to the committee meeting — for transparency as well as to hear their concerns for the path forward.  The four town and high school budget will be the hardest, and require the most work due to use of ADM.  

 

Mrs. Henry has asked to be a part of this committee as she currently builds budget for a single town district, as well as for FM, and has experience that she feels will be valuable.   This is acceptable to the current committee.  Mrs. Henry is now part of this and the Disposition committee.

 

Mr. Beam asked for any questions, comments, recommendations?  

 

2  Education impact of Charlestown and impact of Co-op comprised of four remaining towns. (Impact from school and SAU perspective.  Including if Charlestown does not tuition in.)  Ms. Vogel, Mr. Stahl, Mr. Emig

 Not yet met

 

3  Disposition of buildings.  SAU assets and liabilities.  Mr. Bushway, Mr. Dalessio, Mrs. Henry

 Not yet met

 

 

Mr. Stahl noted that per Mr. O’Shaughnessy, the RSA 195:25 wording of feasibility and suitability no longer exists in the RSA.  However, Mr. Stahl notes that it is in the first sentence of the RSA.   Mr. Stahl notes that in part II, this committee has to submit a report to the Co-op School Board whether the withdrawal is recommended, not recommended, or more time is needed.  In part III the committee shall develop a plan and submit to the State Board by 11/1 if recommending withdrawal.  Mr. Stahl  asked for clarification, Do we need a plan in place or just a recommendation by 11/1?  

Mr. Spilsbury, Charlestown, noted that feasibility and suitability is in the first paragraph of 195:25.  Paragraph III states that in the event that withdrawal is recommended by the committee, a plan must be filed with the State Board of Education by 11/1.  However, if not recommending withdrawal, a report must be filed with the school board.  Only in the case of recommending withdrawal does a plan need to be filed.

 

Mr. Stahl asked if one lawyer is here, should advance notice be made?  Mr. Stahl wondered if school attorney should be here?  Mr. A St.Pierre noted that Mr. O’Shaughnessy came because it was the Charlestown presentation and he was here to reinforce the information that he has provided to the Charlestown School Research Committee.

 

Mrs. Henry commented that the plan is going to take a lot of time and the committee must focus on what the RSA is requiring be done.

 

Withdrawal plan preparation

Mr. A St Pierre was in contact with the State Board of Education, and was advised that we can be on the agenda for September.  They want to see the written plan by 8/29 for the September 12th meeting.   

 

Other Business  

 

Mr. Fenn is present to explain some concerns from the Charlestown Withdrawal Committee in their 5/29 presentation.  

 ADM is in fact a benchmark, noted that students are tracked by town.  It is not relevant to the budget, as apportionment is determined using k-12 total students.  The state DOE is who publishes the number of students and where the district gets the number from.  
 Regarding the 36 child discrepancy, Charlestown is billed for ADM-R of previous year.  The number of students on 6/30/19 is how the next year is portioned.  The State receives information on each child per each child’s tracking number.  The state certifies the numbers, tells us the number of children some time in September.  ADM is always a fraction because of children that are hear a fraction of the year.  Mr. A St.Pierre the point for Charlestown is that we are billed on ADM, and that number is different than a single district number.  State can agree on where a child is located.  Our formula in the district is unacceptable for tracking kids and how they are billed for.
 In the third bullet point, regarding contracted services distributed by method 6.  This is incorrect, per Mr. Fenn.  Prior to 2018 this particular expense was reported under function code 2210.  The reason there are 0s showing now in the actual budgets, is that in 2018, it was moved to function code 2123.  The $0.00 in years past, because it didn’t exist.  Mr. G St.Pierre responded, in 2019-20, proposed budget has the code and has $25,000. budgeted, but in previous years it is 0.  This is a number shift.  The proposed budget goes to an actual budget of 0.00.  Year to year, that line item is changing.  Mrs. Henry asked if Mr. G St.Pierre was looking for a variance in the cost?  These numbers are important to credibility of information, though not to the committee concerns Per Mr. Fenn.  This will be discussed at a future meeting.
 Regarding amount returned to towns from surplus.  In 2019, the budget was about $30,000,000.  $17,351,640. was raised in local taxes.  The individual towns are reimbursed as a percentage of total actually paid, not including adequacy aid credited to them from the State of NH.  Acworth paid 7.49%, Alstead paid 14.17%, Charlestown paid 38.62%, Langdon paid 5.70% and Walpole paid 34%.  ADM-R in Acworth 6.3%, Alstead 15.72%, Charlestown 44.38%, Langdon 5.06%, and  Walpole 28.53% .  Funds have been returned on percentage of local taxes, and this is how it has always been done.  Mr. Fenn notes that Charlestown paid effectively 38% of the budget for 44% of the kids.  And Walpole paid 34% of the budget for 28% of the kids.  Mr. St.Pierre notes that there is $4.6 million in adequacy aid that came to Charlestown, and Charlestown is discounted for this amount.  Lempster does not contribute their adequacy aid.  Mr. Fenn notes that they receive no surplus back in Lempster.  Mr. St.Pierre would like Charlestown to be able to keep the $4.6 million and spend it as it sees fit; Charlestown does not need to receive the surplus back.  Mrs. Henry figured the difference in giving percentage based on tax raised vs. total percentage of the budget paid in, and noted that the difference in what Charlestown would receive back from the surplus to be $5361.  There is an offset, which, in Mrs. Henry’s opinion, is much greater than the 5000. difference.  Mrs. Henry thinks that the methods are set up to help the part of the district that needs it.  Other towns pay in, their contribution is offset by the adequacy aid coming in from Charlestown. Mr. A St.Pierre noted that the point of withdrawal can get lost in the numbers.  Charlestown wants to make different decisions;  every town wants to be able to make different decisions.  Mrs. Henry voiced that the State makes the decisions regarding what an adequate education is and what the district has to have and what they don’t have to have.  Mr. St.Pierre asserted that this is an unacceptable answer.   Mrs. Henry stated that she is not an education person, so she can’t tell Charlestown how to run a district.  The state DOE is for that purpose.   Mr. St.Pierre does not agree.  Mrs. Henry expressed that Mr. St.Pierre would have to take that issue to the state DOE.  Mr. St.Pierre clarified that this committee is where the process starts.  Mrs. Henry stated that there are many solutions and the committee was tasked with finding one.  Mr. Beam affirmed that the point of the committee is to determine if it is feasible for Charlestown to withdraw.  The committee will focus on and develop Charlestown’s new budget and compare it to the remaining district budget.  They will not focus on ADM or formulas, but develop a new budget.  
 Mr. Fenn noted that some data has changed over the years.  When moving dollars forward year to year, there was an error.  Upon being notified by Mr. G St.Pierre when he was on the school board, this was fixed.  
 In regards to paying off the bond, and how this did not reduce the budget, Mr. Fenn noted that this is true.  HS budget did drop from $9.9 million to $9.5 million between 2016 and 2017.  However, there were two substantial new expenses. $428502.00 increase for health insurance and $272,473 for out of district placement.  In addition, there were personnel increase requests of over 315,484.00.  

 

Mr. St.Pierre asked for any other questions for Mr. Fenn?  Seeing none, thanked Mr. Fenn.

 

Mr. Beam would like to establish timelines for the whole committee in order to meet the August 29 deadline.  What do we need?  Noted in 195:26 —

 Name of withdrawing district/grades.
 Terms of office of school board of the withdrawing district.
 Method of apportionment for  remaining district– use current 1-6 methods as they still pertain to the remaining.  The current Articles of Agreement still apply to remaining districts.
 Operating timeline.  July 2021 to be first fiscal year of the Charlestown School District.
 Liability of withdrawing district for its indebtedness.
 Plan for education of all students in Withdrawing district and Remaining districts.
 Any other matters not incompatible with the law.

 

Goal is for September 23 date to submit to Board of Education for presentation at the October 10, 2019 meeting of the State Board of Education.  

 

Subcommittees email plans to Mr. St.Pierre for June 26 meeting agenda.  

 

Motion made to adjourn made by Mr. Emig, seconded by Mr. Stahl.  All voted in the affirmative.  Meeting adjourned at 6:52 pm.

 

 

Respectfully submitted, 

Alissa Bascom

 

(Note:  These are unapproved Minutes. Corrections, if necessary, will be found in the Minutes of the June 26, 2019 meeting.)

 

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