Withdrawal Committee Meeting Minutes – 8/28/19

Present:  Albert St.Pierre;  Lucien Beam;  Steven Dalessio;  Joseph Levesque;  Mary Henry; Alan Dustin;  Sarah Vogel; William Stahl

Absent:  Frank Emig;  Scott Bushway

Chairman Mr. St.Pierre called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.  He noted that the meetings are recorded.  Mr. St.Pierre welcomed Mr. James Fenn,  CFO of SAU60 and Patrick Adrian, reporter for the Eagle Times..


Motion made to approve the minutes of the August 14, 2019 meeting by Mr. Beam, Second by Mr. Dustin.  All in favor.  Minutes are accepted as presented.


Budget Subcommittee no report.  

Mr. Stahl presented a configuration of the SAU if there is a Charlestown Withdrawal, and a break down of what that might look like.  Charlestown withdrawal creates 40% increase in work at SAU, according to Mr. Fenn and Superintendent Landry.  


It is the opinion of Mr. Stahl and the sau staff that work for grants will be doubled, audits tripled, NH retirement tripled, payroll reporting tripled, NH State DOE reporting doubled, food service contracts doubled, union negotiation contracts tripled, transportation increases based on needing separate entities.  Facilities management will need two separate structures.


Mr. Stahl opined that in the SAU, the CFO and Super are stretched to the limit and cannot take on additional tasks, thereby needing additional staff.  The Charlestown withdrawal would result in the hiring of two additional staff.  There are currently four SAU staff members in addition to the Superintendent and CFO.  There are currently a minimum of 50 data collection reports annually which will increase to 125 reports annually.  This is due to the need for three entities — The SAU, The FMRSD, and The Charlestown School District.   The end result is that a multi district SAU will result in the need for two or three additional SAU staff to handle additional workload.


Mr. Stahl offered a breakdown of potential staff that Charlestown must hire separately due to the nature of the current employment organization.  Any FM employee who is providing services to Charlestown would no longer provide these services.  If the employee is a SAU employee, they would. 

Mr. Dalessio asked how much of Mr. Stahl’s report is required by the State of NH law, to be done by the SAU?  Grant managing doesn’t have to be required by the SAU.  The withdrawing town could manage their own grants.  This would mean that the SAU would no longer have to handle the grants for Charlestown.  Mrs. Henry said that usually the grants are handled by education people.  Mr. Dalessio asked for an RSA stating what the withdrawing town must do to manage their own grants.  Mr. Fenn says that there is an RSA for the superintendent to approve grants, but not manage them. 


Mr. Fenn noted the Special Ed IDEA grant.  The Charlestown Special Ed person would manage their own grant, but the superintendent would still have to approve.   Mr. Dalessio clarified that the argument being made is that the reporting will double.  Mr. Fenn and Mrs. Henry are in agreement.  However, Mr. Dalessio noted that the argument is being skewed.  It is Not a true statement that the SAU will have to hire more people to manage all the categories.  Perhaps an assistant Superintendent will be necessary to oversee and approve all the grants and other categories, but it is not necessary to double up on grant managers and such.  Payroll can be managed by Charlestown.  Mr. Dalessio wants the document created by Mr. Stahl to be updated to show which items must be handled — by law– through the SAU and which could be handled in Charlestown.  


Mr. Fenn states that all grants will go up 100%.  This may not be SAU staff doing the work.  Audits will be three instead of one.  So noted simply to show that there will be three that need to be done.  Mr. Dalessio firmly states that the SAU should be only doing the work that the RSA stipulates.  He notes that these tasks must be separated for discussion, carefully, as the cost may have to be farmed out to the withdrawing town.  Mr. Levesque clarifies that the costs that go to Charlestown will lessen what the four remaining towns must pay for.  Mr. St.Pierre asks if  there is a dollar figure for these items?  About $20,000 for the list according to Mr. Beam.  Charlestown is willing to pay for those things.  Mr. Beam asks if the assumption is correct that the Charlestown [Withdrawal Advisory] committee is expecting the SAU to handle this work?  Mr. Terry Spilsbury, Charlestown, noted that the purpose is not to show reluctance to shoulder the administrative burdens — but that Charlestown will handle what is required by the RSA during the one year transition.  What happens after the first year is open to discussion.  We aren’t saying we won’t or can’t support the SAU office.  We are saying that the first step is that we must remain in the SAU for the first year, by law.  If tasks are driven as much as possible immediately to the new Charlestown School District, it will minimize the costs for the remaining four towns.  If Charlestown chooses to have it’s own SAU in the future, and perform the duties itself, we would pay the costs.  Mr. Fenn notes that typically towns stay in for a few years.


Mr. Stahl presented the elementary only budget for 18/19.  Showing that every year some towns go over budget and some are under.  In the cooperative this can be absorbed by other towns.   Mr. Dalessio asked Mr. Fenn for a report of how many years did Walpole go over budget?  Mr. Fenn does not have time to do so.  Mr. Fenn noted that NH.gov, under Laws and Rules, particularly ED 300, state what Superintendent and SAU must do by law.  


Education Subcommittee No report.  

Mr. St Pierre noted the previous discussions that there will be no impact to Education if Charlestown withdraws. Charlestown will have a macro budget to present 9/11/19.  Mr. Levesque asked if anyone looked at what happens if Charlestown does not tuition in?  Mrs. Vogel states that Charlestown has stated clearly the intent to tuition students to FM.  The subcommittee noted that they have looked at this issue slightly, but do believe that Charlestown will be tuitioning in.  The subcommittee will look at this issue further and report back next week.  Mrs. Henry stated that FM will survive and the FM can reorganize and welcome other towns in if Charlestown does not tuition in.  

Mrs. Vogel feels that Charlestown should recognize that a withdrawal will take away any control of what happens at the high school level.  Mr. Dalessio asks “how do towns have local control now?”  Via the school board representation, according to Mrs. Henry.  Mr. St.Pierre clarifies that the Only change would be that Charlestown would have no representative on the school board.  It is not an issue to not have a representative on the school board at the high school.  The Charlestown School Board will look out for and negotiate for the Charlestown K-12 students.  Mr. St.Pierre confirmed that Charlestown trusts that the school board will take care of the education at the highschool. Mr. Stahl comments that Charlestown would still only be responsible for k-8 students.  Mr. Fenn clarified that Charlestown would be responsible for students age 3-21, but that only the school facilities in Charlestown would be under Charlestown School Board control.


Mrs. Vogel commented on RIF’d teachers.  Mr. Levesque states that this should be negotiable.   Mr. Fenn clarified that if Charlestown withdraws, a teacher with 25 years who is a Charlestown teacher could “bump” into an FM position and leave Charlestown, but noted that what Mr. Levesque said is potentially true. Mr. St.Pierre confirmed that the question has been asked of the town lawyer, and it was confirmed that a Charlestown School Board CAN negotiate longevity and seniority.  These are two different things according to Mrs. Fenn.   Mr St.Pierre read from email from Charlestown attorney acknowledging that Charlestown can negotiate the contracts with its Teachers’ Union as it sees fit.  


Mr. Dalessio asks why has Walpole increased by $800,000  if Charlestown withdraws.  He would like to know what drives the number to increase between FY20 and FY21.  How proportionally do these numbers play out.  Mr. Levesque.  The best scenario is that Charlestown can withdraw and leave the least amount of impact on the remaining four towns.  How do we make that as painless as possible for the remaining four towns?   Mr. Levesque agrees that Alstead will need to know what the cost is.  He does not want to hold any town hostage. Charlestown wants to leave, and the committee needs to find a way to make that happen.  Mr. Beam is in complete agreement, as well as Mr. Dustin. This committee needs to understand the impact on the remaining towns and work to minimize that impact for their respective taxpayers.   The selectmen are invited to go to Jim Fenn’s office 9/6/19 at 9:00 am.  This will be at the SAU office.  Objective will be to look at Walpole as the comparative, but will go all through the other towns.


Mr.St.Pierre asks if the Withdrawal Committee wants to hear from the Charlestown Withdrawal Advisory on 9/11?  Yes, as general consensus.  Mary Henry left the meeting.


Mr. Terry Spilsbury, Charlestown presented for Charlestown Withdrawal Advisory Committee.  He clarified that the Winchester budget numbers and demographics are enlightening and instructive.  There are a lot of parallels between Charlestown and Winchester, simply indicating that Charlestown can feasibly run a school district.  Costs can be limited.  If administrative costs are 


Mr. St.Pierre thanked Mr. Fenn for coming to spend the evening.  There will be no meeting of the whole committee on Wednesday 9/4.  


Motion to adjourn Mr. Stahl, second by Mr. Levesque.  All in favor.  Adjourn 7:42 PM


Respectfully submitted,

Alissa Bascom

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