Forum, March 2: SAU 70 budgets are thoughtful, prudent

Friday, March 01, 2019
SAU 70 budgets are thoughtful, prudent

The Dresden and Hanover school boards, in cooperation with our administrators, teachers and staff, are presenting to the residents of Hanover and Norwich thoughtful and prudent budgets and associated warrant articles for consideration and approval on Tuesday.

The Dresden, Hanover and Norwich school districts, under the SAU 70 umbrella, are one of the defining features of our community and one of the factors that have encouraged many of us to make these communities our homes. Our towns’ commitment to a high-quality public education for all of our children is reflective of the values and priorities of our community.

The school boards are faced with the task of ensuring the excellence of our schools while being prudent and responsible custodians of taxpayer monies. I know I can speak for my school board colleagues in saying that we take these responsibilities seriously and are confident that the budgets and warrant articles this year are thoughtful and prudent.

We are grateful to our administrators, teachers and staff who have partnered with us in evaluating our resources at hand and identifying responsible ways to ensure that we offer our students the best available public education while ensuring that every penny at our disposal is used carefully and thoughtfully.

I commend our voters to the budget and warrant article materials that can be accessed via the SAU 70 website (SAU70.org). I encourage all of the residents of Norwich and Hanover to go to the polls on Tuesday and vote to approve the budgets and warrant articles on this year’s ballot.



The writer is the vice chair of the Dresden and Hanover school boards.

Hartford cemeteries are in need of help

I write to bring to your attention a matter of utmost importance relative to the 16 cemeteries in Hartford, especially the five active burial grounds: Hartford, Quechee, West Hartford, Christian Street and Mt. Olivet. Our cemeteries are in dire financial straits and need the funding provided for by Article 25, to be voted on by Australian ballot on Tuesday.

Each cemetery in town is experiencing the rapid depletion of funds available to do basic maintenance, such as mowing and trimming, much less address needed repair work. Without this funding we will be left, in a very short period of time, without means to maintain the cemeteries in respectful, dignified and safe condition. Short of the town being asked to take over care, and perhaps ownership, of these important facilities, your approval of the request for funding is imperative. Regrettably, there are no other apparent alternatives.

If you are unfamiliar with the plight of cemeteries in our community, or wish to learn more about the matter, I encourage you to turn to our local community access cable television website, www.CATV8.org, and view the Hartford Selectboard meeting tapes of Nov. 20, 2018, the night the Cemetery Study Committee report was presented and discussed in detail. You can also view the tape of the Selectboard’s budget hearing on Dec. 6, 2018.

This is a vital matter for our community to resolve. I hope you will lend your support by voting for passage of Article 25. Funding for this article will come from the recently adopted local option tax funds. If you have questions, please contact the town manager’s office.



The writer serves on the Hartford Cemetery Study Committee.

Why not make the most of Lebanon’s Opera House?

Would someone please provide a compelling reason why Lebanon voters should approve an expenditure of over $9 million for a new school auditorium? Rather than create a competing facility at taxpayer expense, why wouldn’t Lebanon schools, students and citizens prefer to maximize the utilization of the city’s wonderful Opera House?



Respect service

Thank you, those that serve us in local government. I have read recent stories and columns in the Valley News centered on what is not working well in small towns in our region. Certainly, these are stories that capture reader interest and disseminate information. I ask that we also all consider all that is right in our small towns and cities.

Our system of local governance depends heavily upon residents being willing to be elected to positions that offer little or no compensation and on volunteers willing to serve on boards and committees out of a sense of community spirit and civic duty.

As New Englanders, change is not something we typically embrace. Yet the Upper Valley will continue to change as we grow in population and become more developed, with workforce and housing shortages, transportation concerns, etc. It is our elected and appointed local officials and volunteers who are out late into the night at meetings trying their best to deal with changes and challenges in our landscape. So, as we enter Town Meeting and school meeting season, let’s take a moment to thank those who give freely of their time to serve us. It is because of their efforts as school board members, selectboard members, planning and zoning board members, volunteer fire personnel, or as library trustees, to name just a few, that so much does work well in our local governments.

We won’t always agree, but we should always respect and appreciate service.



The writer serves as town administrator in Plainfield.

Don Bettencourt for Selectboard

We are writing in support of Don Bettencourt who is a candidate for the Sunapee Selectboard. We are his neighbors and have come to know him over the years as an informed, articulate and passionate advocate for the various issues which the town must confront. What matters is not what points of view he holds, but that he has researched each issue thoroughly and is therefore well educated on it and approaches each with reason.

Selectboard members in any town are elected to represent the best interests of that town’s residents. We do not ask, nor can we expect, unanimity of opinion on every issue they face. But we should ask, and expect, that they are informed, logical and thoughtfully reasoned in the decisions they reach. We strongly believe those characteristics are precisely what Don Bettencourt will bring to the town of Sunapee.



Newport’s teachers need our support

Newport School District is facing a crisis. During the 2018 school year, Newport lost 33 of its 98 teaching staff members. According to the Learning Policy Institute, the cost of replacing a teacher in a rural district is $9,000. That means the cost to the district of last year’s staff turnover is an estimated $297,000. The money lost to turnover would have almost completely funded teacher raises.

Most important, the cost to our students is devastating. Research has shown that high turnover rates reduce achievement for students whose classrooms are directly affected. Currently two classes — a second-grade and third-grade class — do not have teachers as we have not been able to find replacements.

Newport’s uncompetitive salaries mean it cannot retain and recruit teachers. Newport has the 17th lowest average salary of the 160 districts in the state. The starting salary for a teacher after four years of college is a paltry $34,363. In addition, teachers who have worked for the district for five years are still making the starting salary because step increases have not been funded.

Newport taxpayers are strapped because the state unfairly places the cost of education and unfunded education mandates solely on the back of property owners. With that said, though, we cannot afford double-digit teacher turnover and the inability to hire and retain the teachers our children need. We need to vote yes on Article 4 to support the teacher contract. Our children’s education depends on it.



Vote yes on Article 4 for Newport schools

I am writing in support of the Newport teachers in anticipation of the school vote on March 12. In the last 10 years, the teacher contract has failed six times. That means that teacher salaries have gotten further and further behind those in surrounding towns. We have seen many good teachers leave.

Each time this happens our school system is weakened and students suffer. As co-principal of Towle School for 15 years, I enjoyed a stable staff of excellent teachers. We began many initiatives that are no longer in use because of the change in staff. A consistent staff is so important to the stability of a school.

A good school is the best way to attract new people and new businesses to Newport, both of which give us a better tax base. A good school would keep more of our young people in Newport after graduation. A good school attracts, keeps and supports good teachers. As a lifelong Newporter who has dedicated my entire career to the Newport School District, it pains me to hear negative things about the schools or to read in real estate reports that our schools rate poorly. I know many excellent teachers in Newport, but without the support of the town we will lose them, too. Please support them and vote yes for Article 4 on March 12.



Vote for Royalton library supporters

I would respectfully request that those who support retaining our beautiful old library in Royalton support Tim Murphy for the two-year position and Phoebe Preston for the three-year position for Selectboard. I also support a three-year term for town clerk.


South Royalton