Withdrawal Committee Plan

Regretfully, I was unable to include all the formatting from the original document but the important text is here. A lot to consider and digest.

Perhaps you would like to share your thoughts here under Comments. If interested in the feelings others in the community please understand that you need to go to the home page at http://www.thewalpolean.org. Would love to see the dialogue on this very important decision. – Lil

Report of the Withdrawal Study Committee

Studying the Withdrawal of the

Town of Charlestown 

From the

Fall Mountain Regional School District

Pursuant to New Hampshire RSA 195:25

To: The NH State Board of Education

From: Fall Mountain Regional School Board Withdrawal Study Committee

School Withdrawal Plan

Date: October 23, 2019

1. At its meeting on October 2, 2019, a quorum being present, the Withdrawal Study Committee determined by a vote of 7 YES and 3 NO, with O Abstentions: 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.
2. The Withdrawal Study Committee therefore, pursuant to RSA 195:25, submits the attached Withdrawal Plan by and approved by the Committee at it’s meeting on October 23, 2019, by a vote of 6 to 4.

In Favor

Alan F. Dustin

Alstead Select Board Member

Albert St. Pierre

Charlestown Select Board Member

Joseph A. Levesque

Alstead School Board Representative

Scott Bushway

Charlestown School Board Representative

Steven J. Dalessio

Walpole Select Board Member

Lucien Joseph Beam

Langdon Select Board Member

Opposed

Francis C Emig

Acworth Select Board Member

Mary Henry

Langdon School Board Representative

Sarah Vogel 

Acworth School Board Representative

William K. Stahl

Walpole School Board Representative

Background

The towns of Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Langdon, and Walpole are rural communities located in Sullivan or Cheshire Counties, in southwestern New Hampshire. Each of these towns has a long history, having been incorporated in 1772, 1763, 1753, 1787 and 1752 respectively.

In 2017, Charlestown had a population of 5004 people. (696 people aged 5-19) and the other four towns have a combined population of 8741 people (1256 aged 5-19). Charlestown’s per capita income is $25,147, with a median household income of $50,297 and 2.1%unemployment. The other four town’s per capita income is $33,937.25, with a median household income of $66,997.75 and 2.275% unemployment.

The State Board of Education authorized the Charlestown School District and the districts of Acworth, Alstead, Langdon and Walpole to organize the Fall Mountain Regional School District pursuant to the provisions of [Chapter 199 of the Law of New Hampshire of 1947]. At a special meeting held on February 11, 1964, the five districts voted to establish the Fall Mountain Regional School District with an effective date of operating responsibility of July 1, 1966.

In 1976, a group of Charlestown residents, chaired by Oscar Makinen, met to discuss the merits of Charlestown in the Fall Mountain Regional School District and its effect on the people of Charlestown.

In January, 1984, a study was done locally to study the makeup of the district.

In 1985, Charlestown voters called for a withdrawal study to be done. The Select Board of Charlestown hired Mason & Rich Professional Association and Fleek & Lewis Architects to conduct the analysis. The study resulted in Charlestown voting to invoke RSA 195.

In 1986, as a result of the Charlestown vote to invoke RSA 195:25, the Fall Mountain Regional School Board appropriated $15,000 to hire the Center of Educational Field Services (CEFS), led by Dr. Richard Goodman and Dean Michener. Upon completion of the study, it was determined that Charlestown would be able to withdraw from the five town cooperative at no additional cost. The four remaining towns voted, by a vote of 12 – 3, to maintain the status quo. The opportunity to vote on withdrawal did not make it to the voters.

In 1988, an article was placed on the warrant to change the cost allocation formulas. This was voted down at school meeting.

In 1989, another article was placed on the school warrant to change the cost allocation formulas. Again, this was voted down at school meeting.

In 1998, Bill Wheeler, of TRACE, completed a study found that determined that Charlestown taxpayers were overpaying relative to services received.

In 2002, a district-wide vote approved a change in the formulas. The result of that decision is the incredibly complicated set of formulas with which we live today.

In 2015, Charlestown Selectmen advanced a motion to change the district school funding to a 50% ADM / 50% Equalized Valuation formula. District-wide, the resulting vote was 913 YES, 1970 NO, or 68% to 31% opposed. However, Charlestown voters voted 805 YES to 294 NO, or 73% in favor. Interestingly, 88% of all yes votes came from Charlestown voters, while 85% of all no votes came from the other four towns.

In addition to direct challenges to the Articles of Agreement and the cost allocation formulas, Charlestown voters have expressed their frustration at Fall Mountain School Board budgetary proposals by repeatedly and resoundingly voting against annual budgets that have proposed increases running well in excess of inflation or increased cost of living rates. Charlestown voters have also attended the annual deliberative sessions in substantial numbers to vote against proposed budget increases and force the default budget to be advanced.

Most recently, on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, the Town of Charlestown at its annual Town Meeting elections, passed Article 8: To see if the Town will vote to direct the School Board of Fall Mountain Regional School District to conduct a study of the feasibility and suitability of the withdrawal of the Town of Charlestown from the School District as set forth in RSA 195:25 (Ballot Vote Required). This vote passed 617 for and 248 against, representing an approval rate of 71% of Charlestown voters.

In March of 2019, a letter was sent to the School Board of Fall Mountain Regional School District notifying the board that Charlestown voters voted to invoke RSA 195:25. The FMRSD commenced a Withdrawal Study Committee. The initial meeting was held on April 30, 2019, where the guidelines for a Withdrawal Study and the procedure for adding committee members were outlined.

Twice monthly meetings were held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of May, June, July, August, and September, and each Wednesday in October until the plan was complete.

Data collected by the Withdrawal Study Committee to assist them in determining the feasibility of the withdrawal is included below.

Per Section RSA 195:26

195:26 Withdrawal Plan — A plan for the withdrawal of a member of district cooperative shall include the following:

I. The name of the withdrawing district and the grades.

The name of the withdrawing district shall be the Charlestown School District. This district shall oversee and provide for the children residing in the Town of Charlestown for grades Kindergarten through grade 12 and as required by RSA 186-C.

The remaining district, the Fall Mountain Regional School District, shall oversee and provide for the children residing in the Towns of Acworth, Alstead, Langdon, and Walpole for grades Kindergarten through grade 12 and as required by RSA 186-C.

ll. The number, composition, method of selection, and terms of office for the school board of the withdrawing district and of the Regional School District.

The Charlestown School Board shall be the governing entity of the Charlestown School District and shall be comprised of 5 members, elected at large by the voters of the Town of Charlestown for three-year staggered terms.

In the first year of the Charlestown school board elections, 2 positions shall be for 3-year terms, 2 positions shall be for 2-year terms and 1 position shall be for a I-year term.

The Fall Mountain Regional School Board shall continue to be the governing body of the Fall Mountain Regional School District with the exception that it shall be comprised of 5 members.

Ill. The method of apportioning the operating expenses and capital expenses among the members of the cooperative school district if a change is to be proposed in conjunction with the withdrawal procedure.

The Town of Charlestown will assume all costs for operating the Charlestown School District.

The Towns of Acworth, Alstead, Langdon, and Walpole will assume all costs for operating the Fall Mountain Regional School District. The remaining districts will determine an appropriate charging formula.

IIII. The proposed date of operating responsibility, at which time the withdrawing district shall be responsible for the education of its pupils and after which the cooperative district will no longer have such financial and educational responsibility.

As of July 1, 2021, the Charlestown School District will be responsible for the education of all Charlestown students.

As of July 1, 2021, the Fall Mountain School District will be responsible for the education of all Acworth, Alstead, Langdon, and Walpole students.

V. The liability of the withdrawing district for its share of any outstanding indebtedness of the cooperative school district in RSA 195:27.

The Charlestown School District will assume all obligations for the remaining bond payments of

$100,000 per year through 2024, related to the 2006 renovations performed at Charlestown Primary School. The Charlestown School District will also assume full responsibility for its pro rata share of the energy project initiated in 2014 as it pertains to its three school facilities only, which will require 7 further payments after July 1, 2021.

There is no other indebtedness.

VI. A plan for the education of all students in the withdrawing school district and for the continuation of the school system of the cooperative district. This shall detail the proposed assignment of students in grades operated by the cooperative and withdrawing district or districts, including, if any, tuition arrangements or contracts.
1. Educating grades preK-8

The Charlestown School District shall create a budget to raise and appropriate all funds necessary to provide for the education of its students enrolled in grades preK-8, utilizing the existing Charlestown Middle School, Charlestown Primary School, and North Charlestown Community School.

The Fall Mountain Regional School District shall create a budget to raise and appropriate all funds necessary to provide for the education of its students. The Fall Mountain Regional School District plans to maintain the current primary and middle schools in the remaining four towns for grades preK-8.

2. Educating Grades 9-12

The Charlestown School District intends to enter into an agreement with Fall Mountain Regional School District for the majority of their students in grades 9-12 (eg: 90%). Charlestown reserves the right to make arrangements with other school districts, including both public and private high schools, as is deemed educationally appropriate.

The Fall Mountain Regional School District will continue to operate the Fall Mountain Regional High School and has expressed a willingness to accept students in grades 9-12 from Charlestown on a tuition basis on terms yet to be determined.

3. Special Education

The Charlestown School District shall meet the requirements of RSA 186-C to educate the students with special education needs in the district.

The Fall Mountain Regional School District shall continue to meet the requirements of RSA 186C to educate the students with special education needs in the district.

4. Bus transportation

The Charlestown School District shall provide bus transportation for its students.

The Fall Mountain School District shall provide bus transportation for its students.

5. School Continuity

The Charlestown School District will determine arrangements with Charlestown parents or guardians and the Fall Mountain Regional School District to develop procedures and guidelines for school continuity arrangements. The current Fall Mountain Regional School Board has indicated they will accept Charlestown’s high school students on a tuition basis.

6. SAU Status

There are no plans for withdrawal of the Charlestown School District from SAU #60 at this time.

7. Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) Obligations

Charlestown will honor the conditions of the existing CBA with all staff, including teachers and support staff, who choose to remain a part of the Charlestown School District.

8. Remaining town(s)

Upon withdrawal of the Charlestown School District, the Fall Mountain Regional School District will continue to serve the students of the towns of Acworth, Alstead, Langdon, and Walpole.

VI’. Any other matters, not incompatible with law, which the planning committee may consider appropriate to include in the withdrawal plan.

Per Section RSA 195:28

195:28 Disposition of Property — SAU #60 currently operates and maintains 13 properties within the Fall Mountain Regional School District. The 1966 Articles of Agreement state that at the time of the formation of the FMRSD, SAU #60 shall acquire all existing properties from the previous existing districts.

Upon withdrawal of the Charlestown School District, effective July 1, 2021, Charlestown will reacquire the North Charlestown Community School, Charlestown Primary School and Charlestown Middle School at no cost. The Charlestown School District will acquire the contents of each building as well as capital reserve funds connected to the Charlestown buildings.

Fall Mountain Regional School District will distribute to Charlestown School District its share, whether ear-marked or pro rata, of any reserve funds of any kind, not limited to capital reserve funds associated with Charlestown area schools, high school reserve funds, health care selfinsurance reserve funds or surpluses, and reserve funds of any other description.

The Charlestown School District will forfeit all interest in Fall Mountain Regional High School, as well as any other school or facility being retained by Fall Mountain Regional School District and will in turn be absolved of all obligations associated with those facilities.

5 thoughts on “Withdrawal Committee Plan

  1. Max Imhoff 10/31/2019 at 1:14 AM Reply

    Looks like Charlestown comes out a short-term winner but over the long run…

    Like

  2. Walpole tax payer 10/31/2019 at 11:00 AM Reply

    Is the plan really to keep all teacher and support positions while eliminating one-third of students? If not, how many positions might/could be eliminated to offset tax increases for remaining towns?

    Like

    • Lil 10/31/2019 at 11:15 AM Reply

      Excellent question. Hope you will attend the informational meeting that our selectboard has promised to have. This question is one that we all need an answer to.

      Like

  3. j beer 11/02/2019 at 3:34 PM Reply

    It looks like Charlestown will pay on a monthly or quarterly basis for the students they tuition into the high school. Pay as you go might work for some items, but that system looks impossible for handling employee contracts which are binding and need to be signed in the spring and summer. Come fall, it seems like the high school could find itself uncomfortably understaffed or overstaffed.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: