Withdrawal Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/2/19

School Withdrawal Committee 

FMRHS Library

October 2, 2019 6:00 PM

 

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


Chairman Mr. St.Pierre called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM. 

 

Motion made to approve the minutes of the September 25, 2019 meeting by Mr. Emig, Second by Mrs. Vogel.  All in favor.  Mr. Levesque abstained.  Minutes are accepted as presented.  

 

Motion made by Albert St.Pierre that the Withdrawal of Charlestown from the Fall Mountain Regional School District is recommended and a plan be created to be presented to the State of NH Board of Education, according to the requirements of RSA 195.  Seconded by Mrs. Vogel.  

 

Mr. Dalessio offered a statement.  “It has become clear that Charlestown, through their Select Board, wants to withdraw from the Fall Mountain School District.  They have tried unsuccessfully for decades to have the apportionment formulas and the articles of agreement changed.  This is a long time coming.  The study process has brought to the table many issues.  Such as local control and better understanding of the cost of education.  These discussions must continue for the betterment of the school district.  Voters, I encourage you to become involved.  Go to school board meetings.  Go to budget hearings.  Go to the Deliberative Session.  That also includes going to your local selectmen asking questions.  Ask the hard questions of your school board reps as well.  Selectmen sitting here at the table, we started working together and I think we should continue that for the betterment of all of our communities.  The vote tonight, if passed, will allow the process to move forward.  Both the NH State Board of Education and the citizens of each of the five member towns must approve the plan before they can move forward.  It seems fair to Charlestown to let the process move forward.  The understanding will be an uphill battle to approve the withdrawal at the polls in March, due to the expected increase in costs for the four remaining towns.  Thank you.”

 

Mr. Levesque asked for clarification of the motion.  Mr. St.Pierre noted that if the motion passes, the committee will continue for the purpose of preparing a plan to send to the NH Board of Education.  The committee has about a month to put a plan together for the state’s review, to be in compliance with the timeline laid out in RSA 195.

 

Mr. Stahl noted another option: If we vote against the plan, we [the committee] can file for an extension.  Mrs. Vogel clarified this as the three options in the RSA.  Yes, No, or Need More Time.  Mr. St.Pierre expressed that the motion was made, but that if the motion is defeated, then someone could offer another motion to include the three options.  Or, an amendment to the current motion could be made.

 

Mr. St.Pierre called for the vote on the motion, alphabetical by town as agreed at the September 25, 2019 meeting.

 

The vote is as follows:

 

Francis C. Emig, Jr., Acworth Select Board n

Sarah Vogel, Acworth School Board n

Alan F. Dustin, Alstead Select Boardy

Joseph A. Levesque, Alstead School Board  y

Albert A. St.Pierre, Charlestown Select Board  y

Scott Bushway, Charlestown School Board  y

Lucien Joseph Beam, Langdon Select Board  y

Mary Henry, Langdon School Board  n

Steven J. Dalessio, Walpole Select Board  y

William K. Stahl, Walpole School Board  n

 

By a vote of 6 to 4, the motion passes.

 

Motion by Mary Henry to ask for an extension of the November date.  Second by Mr. Stahl.

 

Mr. Dalessio asks how long is needed for an extension?  Mrs. Henry does not know, but will not delay past deadline to get the plan before the voters in March.

 

Amendment to the motion made by Mr. Dalessio to set the date of extension to November 15, 2019, if approval of an extension is given by the State of NH BOE.  Mr. Dustin seconds the amendment.  

 

Discussion on the amendment to ask for an extension until 11/15 to present the plan.  Mrs. Vogel asks for original date.  Mrs. Henry clarifies the date as November 1, according to RSA 195.

 

Mrs. Henry requests that legal counsel for the district be allowed to speak to the process.   Mr. St.Pierre asks the committee to vote by a show of hands.  At the board’s majority but not unanimous approval, Mrs. Henry introduced Atty. Gordon Graham of Soule, Leslie, Kidder, Sayward & Lougmann.  Mrs. Henry asked what this committee is charged with reporting to the state of NH? 

 

Atty Graham clarified that RSA 195:26 lists all the elements required by the State of NH.  The Plan must include

 Name of district (or districts) that is withdrawing.  
 Number and Name of grades that are withdrawing.  
 Number, composition, and method of selection of the term of the office of the withdrawing district, as well as the districts in the remaining co-op..  
 Proposed date of operating responsibilities of the new district.  
 The method of apportioning capital expenses among members of the remaining co-op.  
 A plan for the education of all the students in the withdrawing and remaining districts.  
 Including union contracts, transportation, detailed provisions of tuition agreements.  
 Assignment of students for each district in all town’s — which grades in which schools for all schools in the district.  
 Anything else not incompatible with the plan.  

 

Mr Dalessio asked for clarity regarding the School District’s bylaw stating that adopting a change to the articles of agreement requires a ⅔ vote of the five towns,  but a withdrawal requires only 50%.  Atty Graham does not know –  though he would predict that because the change to the Articles of Agreement may be in the withdrawal plan, they would be subject to the simple majority 50% vote.  Mrs. Vogel asked whether each town must vote in the affirmative or a majority of all votes total in the five towns?  Atty Graham states that each town must vote in the affirmative for a withdrawal.  Mrs. Henry clarified that if one town does not vote in the affirmative, the withdrawal would not pass.   Mr. St.Pierre asked for the RSA stating that each town must vote yes.  Atty Graham read from RSA 195:29.   Upon reading the RSA, it was determined that the total vote of the five towns must be a simple majority of 50%.  

 

Discussion to adjust the amendment to the motion for a deadline of December 1, 2019, pending that the State of NH will grant  an extension.  Made by Mr. Dalessio and seconded by Mr. Dustin.  By a vote of 8 in favor, 2 opposed, the motion passes.

 

Original motion to request an extension from the State Board of Education, as made by Mrs. Henry and seconded by Mr. Stahl.  All in favor.  Motion passes.

 

Mr. St.Pierre continued to the next agenda item, asking if the committee is ready to work on a plan.  Mrs. Henry asks if the committee will vote on the plan when it is complete?  Mr. St. Pierre notes that that will be a majority vote.

 

Public comment:

Mr. St.Pierre opened the floor.  Tom Cobb, Charlestown, thanked the members of the board for their dedication and hard work.  He appreciates that the board is allowing the vote to go to the voters.  Mike Patton, Charlestown, questioned if Charlestown withdrawing will save money or if it is a reallocation of money to the remaining towns?  Mr. St.Pierre clarified that a plan will be put together and the committee has numbers to do so.  Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Vogel feel they have hard numbers from the CFO, showing that costs will go up.  Mr. Dalessio spelled out that the finance subcommittee presented drafts of budgets, showing that some things will go up and some will go down as a result of a Charlestown withdrawal.  Only Charlestown has offered a reduction from the proposal by Jim Fenn, CFO.  Mr. Dalessio advised Mr. Patton to have a conversation with the finance subcommittee or the Charlestown Withdrawal Advisory Committee for clarification.  Mr. Emig clarified that the State BOE has to approve the plan before it goes to the voters.  Shelly Andrus, Charlestown, asked that a majority vote of the committee has to approve the plan before it goes to the voters?  Yes, the committee will vote on the plan before the plan goes to the state.  If the State BOE approves the plan, then it will go to the voters.  Mr. Dalessio lays out that the committee will:

 Form a plan
 Vote on the plan
 If the plan is approved, submit the plan to the State of NH BOE
 If the plan is not approved, the minority can submit a plan to the BOE
 On the ballot in March for voter approval

 

Mr. St.Pierre clarified that the minority report may only be filed with the school board of the cooperative, a majority report is filed with the state.  Mrs. Henry asked Atty Graham where the minority report is to be filed.  The Attorney read the statute.  The minority report does not go to the State BOE.  Terry Spilsbury, Charlestown, contended that the statute has two provisions.  One is that if the majority votes yes, which is what occurred, then the majority prepares a plan and files it with the state by the November 1 deadline, unless an extension is obtained.  Those who voted no are entitled to file a dissent with the State BOE.  The other provision is that if the vote was negative, then the minority report would go to the School Board.  In this case, those who voted yes are obligated to prepare the plan and those who voted no are entitled to write a dissent.  Atty Graham called Terry’s interpretation only one interpretation.  Atty Graham feels that their are other interpretations that include that the motion that was approved was to create a plan, not a vote for recommendation for withdrawal.  Mr. Spilsbury requests that Mr. St. Pierre reread the motion.  “Withdrawal of Charlestown from the Fall Mountain Regional School District is recommended and a plan be created to be presented to the State of NH Board of Education, according to the requirements of RSA 195.”  Mrs. Vogel specified that this is the motion created according to the discussion in the September 25, 2019 meeting.  

 

Motion by Mr. Dalessio to reconsider the original motion. Second by Mrs Henry.  Vote is 7 in favor, 3 opposed.  The motion will be reconsidered.  

 

Mr. Bushway asks if we are supposed to be voting on withdrawal or a plan?  Mrs. Henry asks to put forward a plan.

 

Jerry Henry, Langdon, the committee should have had a plan.  Tom Cobb, Charlestown, purpose of this committee is to put together a plan for withdrawal.  Trina Dearborn, Charlestown, original conversation was to create a plan over the summer.

 

Motion made by Mr. Dalessio.  That withdrawal of Charlestown from the FMRSD is recommended.  A plan will be created to be presented to the State of NH BOE according to the requirements of RSA 195, after approval of the FM Withdrawal Committee studying the Charlestown withdrawal proposal.  Second by Mr. Stahl.

 

Mrs. Henry asks to make the motion simpler.  Mr. Dalessio speaks to the hard work that has been put in by the committee to get to this point.  He clarifies that RSA 195 allows the committee to vote on a recommendation to withdraw, and that is what we want to do.  It does not say we have to have a plan in place to recommend withdrawal.  Mr. Beam reinforced that there is elements of a pretty good plan that has already been  presented by Charlestown.  It looks at educational impact and financial impact.  The committee knows what the impact is to all the districts.  There are things Charlestown will take over.  Different proposals have already been looked at.  Mr. Beam felt these were enough to make a recommendation for withdrawal.  Mrs. Henry noted that this committee has no authority over the tuition agreement.  Mr. Beam agreed, but that the committee can go forward.  Mr. Bushway clarifies that if the committee votes for the amended motion, there is another option to defeat the plan before going to the state.  Mr. St.Pierre calls for a rereading of the motion, and then the vote.

 

Francis C. Emig, Jr., Acworth Select Board n

Sarah Vogel, Acworth School Board n

Alan F. Dustin, Alstead Select Boardy

Joseph A. Levesque, Alstead School Board  y

Albert A. St.Pierre, Charlestown Select Board  y

Scott Bushway, Charlestown School Board  y

Lucien Joseph Beam, Langdon Select Board  y

Mary Henry, Langdon School Board  n

Steven J. Dalessio, Walpole Select Board  y

William K. Stahl, Walpole School Board  y

 

 

By a vote of 7 to 3, the motion passes.

 

Mr. St.Pierre asked if the committee can continue to meet Wednesdays?  Yes.  A discussion/comparison of other towns/districts in this situation will be discussed.  Mrs. Vogel will forward the plan put forth from Middleton Farmington to Alissa Bascom to be forwarded out for viewing by the committee.  Is there any objection to the Charlestown plan that was presented earlier this summer being re-presented?  The committee would like to see it again.  A review of the subcommittees will occur.  

 

Mr. Beam would like to understand what areas the board feels they don’t have enough information on? There is already a Tuition proposal and answers to the questions specifically in the RSA.  Is anything else needed for the educational impact?  Mr. Emig noted the impact on the teachers needs to be determined.  A copy of the sick leave buyback and the specific positions and town’s needs to be requested. 

 

Mr. St.Pierre will ask for the extension from the State of NH Board of Education. 

 

Motion to adjourn made by Mr. Dalessio.  Seconded by Mr. Stahl.  All in favor.  Meeting is adjourned at 7:23 pm. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Alissa Bascom

 

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