Voters Will Meet and Discuss Londonderry School District Articles

While voting is still over a month away on March 9, 2010, there will be a meeting this Friday to discuss several articles up for amendment. Residents from the School District of Londonderry, NH, who are qualified to vote in District Affairs, are invited to meet in the Londonderry High School Cafeteria.

Deliberative Session

The meeting will begin at 7 PM, on Friday February 5th.

LHS Cafeteria

During this meeting, the School Board members will explain all of the articles. Deliberations could be held on each article as well. For articles to be amended, they are susceptible to the following limitations. First, an amendment from the floor requires a quorum. This means 500 people must attend the meeting. Then, the majority of 500 voters, (or 4% of registered voters, whichever is less) must agree. Second, article amendments made by the School Board, who can make changes without a quorum, must have the majority vote of the School Board. Thirdly, a warrant article amendment not prescribed by law will not be accepted. Finally, the articles will be moved to the official ballot for a final vote as is or as amended.

Translation

Unless 500 people attend Friday, no changes can be made except by the School Board. If no changes are made by the school board, the eight items will be voted on in the voting booth.

Yes or No votes only. There is no other option.

This includes the $63,472,328 budget. If you vote No on the budget, the town spends more; $63,814,172.

This is not like the town side where the voters can change the budget at the Saturday Town Meeting.

Note: A ballot question on the town side this year could possibly change the town format similar to the school. You would likely be given a selection of two budgets to pick from. If the charter committee passes it, by voting yes, the committee will format the actual change.

While there are eight articles on the warrant, only seven of them will be discussed at the meeting. The one that will not be discussed is that of the election of the new School District Officers. However, this will be voted on in the official vote in March. Not a single elected position has any opposition.

To view the articles that will be discussed at the meeting, read the rest of the story.

THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

SCHOOL DISTRICT WARRANT (Unofficial)

Article 1 – Election of Officers

To choose the following School District Officers:
One (1) Member of the School Board for the ensuing three (3) years
One (1) School District Moderator for the ensuing three (3) years
One (1) School District Treasurer for the ensuing three (3) years
One (1) School District Clerk for the ensuing three (3) years

Article 2 – General Fund – Operating Budget

Shall the voters of the Londonderry School District vote to raise and appropriate as an operating budget for the fiscal year 2010-2011, not including appropriations by special warrant articles, or separate warrant articles, one of the following amounts for the purposes set forth in the budget posted with the warrant? Vote for only one:

$63,472,328 (School Board budget as amended)
Estimated Tax Impact $12.16
Recommended by the School Board- Yes 5 – 0
Recommended by the Budget Committee- Yes 6 – 0

OR
$63,814,172 (Default Budget)
Estimated Tax Impact $12.26
NOTE: Warrant Article 2 (Operating Budget) does not include appropriations proposed under any other article in this warrant.

Article 3 – Londonderry Support Staff [AFSCME Local 1801] Bargaining Agreement

Shall the voters of the Londonderry School District vote to approve the cost items included in the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Londonderry School District and the Londonderry Support Staff (AFSCME Council 93/Local 1801), and further to raise and appropriate the sum of $60,727 for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, such sum representing the additional cost items attributable to the increase in salaries and benefits over those paid, at current staffing levels, in the prior fiscal year?
Estimated Tax Impact $0.02
Recommended by the School Board- Yes 5 – 0
Recommended by the Budget Committee- Yes 5-0-1

NOTE: Pursuant to RSA 273-A:12, if approved, the terms of this collective bargaining agreement, including the pay plan, but excluding cost of living increases, will continue in force and effect until a new agreement is executed. The Londonderry Support Staff consists of the following job classifications: Monitors, Clerical Assistants, Office Assistants, Instructional Assistants, Special Education Assistants, Library/Media and Computer Assistants, Bookkeepers, 504 Assistants and Administrative Assistants.

Article 4 – Authorization for Special Meeting on Cost Items

Shall the voters of the Londonderry School District, if Article 3 (Londonderry Support Staff [AFSCME Local 1801] Bargaining Agreement) is defeated, authorize the School Board to call one special meeting, at its option, to address Article 3 cost items only?
Estimated Tax Impact $0.00
Recommended by the School Board- Yes 5 – 0
Recommended by the Budget Committee- Yes 6 – 0

Article 5 – Amendment to School District Charter

Shall the School District amend Section IV (C) of the Londonderry School District Charter by deleting ‘4% of registered voters, or’ and ‘whichever is less’ so that the section reads, ‘quorum of a meeting’ shall mean 350 registered voters at the first session of an annual or special meeting.”
Note: This amendment, if adopted, would change the definition of a quorum for the first session to reduce the number of voters needed for action at the first session from 4% or 500 voters, whichever is less, to 350 voters.
Recommended by the School Board 3 – 2

Article 6 – School Lunch and Federal Projects

Shall the voters of the Londonderry School District vote to raise and appropriate special revenue funds for the support of the school lunch program and federal projects as follows: school lunch program, $1,479,185; federal projects, $2,333,100; such funds to be self-supporting through local, state or federal revenue sources?
Estimated Tax Impact $0.00
Recommended by the School Board- Yes 5 – 0
Recommended by the Budget Committee- Yes 6 – 0

Article 7 – Special Article – Expendable Maintenance Trust Fund

Shall the voters of the Londonderry School District vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $550,000 to be placed in the School District’s Capital Reserve Expendable Maintenance Trust Fund? The Expendable Maintenance Trust Fund was previously established and approved at the March 1994 School District Meeting.
Estimated Tax Impact $0.16
Recommended by the School Board- Yes 5 – 0
Recommended by the Budget Committee- Yes 6 – 0

NOTE: The intended use for these funds is for major one-time capital costs for district facilities including roofs, paving, boilers and small renovation projects.

Article 8 – LHS Robotics Team – By Petition – Special Article

Shall the voters of the Londonderry School District vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $7,000 to support the LHS Robotics Team? If approved, the cost of running the program will become part of the annual operating budget in subsequent years.
Estimated Tax Impact $0.002
Recommended by the School Board- Yes 5 – 0
Recommended by the Budget Committee- Yes 5 – 1

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5 Responses

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  1. Vote -1 Vote +1BobS.

    Nice explanation of a meeting not a lot of people understand.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Bigguy2

    Allright you taxpayers, here is YOUR chance to do something! We need 500 voters to show up at the High School cafeteria tomorrow (Feb 5th) night 7 pm.
    The school budget is laid out for you on the school website. Please take a look. The school budget is about 2.6 times larger than the towns budget. Yet it serves only 5200 students versus over 19,000 townspeople!
    We need to get the school budge in balance with the needs of the townspeople. Our population is aging and needing more services, development alone will not cure the imbalance.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1jim loiselle

    In these times where “change” is all the rage; one needs to look very closely at what is being proposed with SB2 on the town side. The proposal to change the town charter.

    With all do respect to the folks that create the school budget, lets look at the bottom line impact of the SB2 process. Yes, with SB2 there is a chance for voters to attend a meeting and make changes to the budget and then present that input along with a default budget as choices for the voters. That is a given fact.

    Bottom line however is that does not happen. Regardless of the rules, since SB2 was put in on the school side; and specifically in the past several years has there been any input on the school side to make changes (up or down) to the school budget. That answer would be no. We have placed artificial barriers (500 or 350 voters to attend a meeting) in order for any tax-payor specific inputs. (again up or down). Simple question, if you are doing your job and being responsive to the community, why (for lack of a better term) fear the voters. That is what the result of the process implies.

    What has been, and continues to be unique to NH is the concept of the town meeting. NH where voters who take it upon themselves to participate are allowed to make inputs and changes (again up or down) to the town budget. This has been the tradition in NH for hundreds of years. Is the process perfect, no. Can it be made better, perhaps. Minimally it keeps elected officials more concerned with the bottom line and more in tune with the voters. Your one voice can and often does make a difference. Why change that.

    Look at one perspective on the school side. The economy for the past two years has not been doing well; even here in Londonderry. The unemployment rate continues to rise, home owners are still (even here in Londonderry) losing their homes; and our ability to ‘pay’ (quoting FDR) has fallen. Even with declining enrollment and all of the economic pressure we are presented with two extreme choices on the school side. One budget with a 6% increase as presented by the administration or a default budget that is even higher.

    Bottom line is that the process is broken, regardless of what is allowed by the Londonderry SB2 process there is no true chance for voters to express or impact change on either figure. Even the ability to raise the budget higher……

    Is this what we want on the town side. Is this the kind of ‘change’ needed in Londonderry where the voters will be almost entirely locked out of the process. Do we want to turn over almost entirely the spending reigns to a town council disguising themselves as fiscal conservatives.

    Cynical yes, but it is equally cynical for the town council to present this to the voters.

    Minimally if you agree (and I don’t) that the town meeting process is flawed and broken, the attempt to change the town to SB2 will not make it better. It will only further remove the voters from the process. One only needs to look at the actions of this current TC on ignoring the voters – from the secret budget plan, to the silly garbage can and shenanigans with open space ethics/spending – where input was not asked for and when provided ignored. All of these actions taken together further remove, by design, the tax paying public from the process.

    Change is a good thing. This is not the change we need.

    If you want to preserve the NH tradition where one voter, one person can make a difference. If true participation is important. If you want to make sure your voice is heard, reject the change proposed by the Londonderry Town Council to move the town to SB2.

    I am running for the Charter Commission. I hope you vote no on the proposed attempt to change the town charter, and to make sure your individual voice continues to be heard select proposed Charter Commission members that will preserve your rights, your voice and your tax dollars.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Bigguy2

    I agree with you Jim, SB2 will be the death of voter participation in Londonderry, yes we will get to vote on a budget and default budget but both budgets are the creature of the TC and town administration with minimumal participation of taxpayers.
    As you point out about the school budget, we had only 84 people show up last night for a 63.5 million budget. No changes allowed, the present school board and superintendent are tone deaf to the pleas of the voters of Londonderry, I don’t believe for a minute that the majority of townspeople are happy with the situation, they only shrug their shoulders and pay ever increasing school budget thinking that they can’t do anything about it.
    I think the time has come for a TEA party to hit Londonderry. Only then will the current powers take notice and do something positive for the town.
    AS was said on the other topic, “gay marriage” the TC has sold out to developers, the TC is more afraid of developers than they are of the townspeople. The reason for the sell out is very simple, the town needs ever increasing taxes to pay for the infrastruture in place and for future infrastructure to be built (see MasterPlan).
    The “rural” character of Londonderry is being sacrificed for tax gain.
    The proof of this is the PUD and POD zoning district. The POD is a mixed zoning use, similar to what Boardway St. in Salem looks like minus the train line (to be built later). The PUD is designed to accomodate a gambling casino when the state (due to its own finanical problems) will be forced to accept gambling in the state.
    If townspeople don’t get involved in the monthly meetings of various town committees, we will wake up one morning looking like Medford or Tewsbury with a heavy tax burden.
    Tax stability means yearly increases of about 3%, because of the recession this has forced the TC to keep it under 3%.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Glenn Douglas

      I can see advantage to SB2 and Town meeting.

      As Bigguy2 said “If townspeople don’t get involved in the monthly meetings of various town committees” that really is the key.

      At the School Board meetings we hear ‘No one is here because people are happy with the way things are”. Attendance on the Town side is dropping off too.

      As good as it sounds to voters to be able to walk into Town meeting and “cut” the budget there is a danger. The budget can be decreased or increased. Last year’s Town meeting almost brought us a one time tax increase of 1.8 million to build North Fire Station after it was defeated on Tuesday.

      The Town is bigger now and like it or not it takes months to plan out the budgets. If the people making these budgets don’t hear from anyone will the numbers are being crunched nothing will change.

      What kinds of tea do you recommend :)

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