Forum, March 8: Claremont School District on unsustainable path

Thursday, March 07, 2019
Claremont School District on unsustainable path

The Claremont School Board is touting its latest spending program, the elementary special education program, as a cost-saving measure. Yet, by its own admission, the first year will cost taxpayers an estimated $60,000 more. In addition, the program will include the hiring of nine staff members. These staff members will receive future increases in both salaries and benefits, just as current staff members do. As long as salaries and benefits increase, there will be no cost savings.

In the proposed $35.3 million budget, there is $81,000 allocated for the school administrator’s three-year contract, which means that not only in the upcoming fiscal year, but in the next year and the following year, taxpayers will feel the effects.

Next year, there will be yet another collective bargaining group’s contract asking voters for more money. The School District has become a revolving door for staff funding. Over two-thirds of the school budget is designated for salaries and benefits for 476 employees, making the School District the largest employer in Claremont. Is it any wonder taxes are high?

At a time when the School District is losing both stabilization grant money and catastrophic aid for special education at 4 percent annually, it just doesn’t make sense to be adding nine more positions with future increased costs.

The path of the School District is unsustainable and will only result in bigger budgets and higher taxes with even fewer dollars for the education of the students. On Tuesday, exercise your right to vote.



Invest in Newport by voting to support our teachers

Newport votes our school warrant on Tuesday and we are facing some hard choices

The town is hurting. The teachers are hurting. Parents are hurting. And, especially, the students are hurting. Our teachers haven’t had a contract raise in years, and we lost 30 percent of them last year alone because the town didn’t vote to renew their contract yet again. This cost the taxpayers $300,000 to hire subs and train new staff, which was the same amount as it would have cost by supporting the contract but put us all financially behind even further.

We’re facing the same conundrum again this year: Should the town reject another contract and stopgap fund for another year while students lose continuity, green teachers need training and good teachers leave because they can’t afford to raise their families on such low salaries when our surrounding towns will pay much more? Maybe the better solution is to invest in our town by supporting our teachers, supporting the contract, supporting our schools, and supporting our kids. And while we’re at it, we might save a little money along the way.

Please vote yes on Article 4.



Newport teachers, taxpayers are getting ripped off

The Newport School Board, the Newport Teachers Association and the Budget Advisory Committee failed to secure teacher raises. No excuses. They didn’t get it done for our teachers. The SAU, Newport School Board and Budget Advisory Committee did secure raises for the SAU staff.

SAU staff wins. Teachers lose.

The deliberative session had presentations showing why the budget had to be cut $913,855. Cutting the budget would allow the voters financial room to choose articles they favored. If voters had the room to approve all articles and the reduced budget, the tax increase would have been $3.45. The increase now with no articles approved is $3.84 per $1,000.

The budget got passed because the deliberative session audience was 80 percent teachers and staff. When the 80 percent voted for the full budget, they lost any chance for their raises. They did vote for the SAU raises. There is no money left for teacher raises — sorry! The teachers had a chance to stand up for themselves but were too naive and scared — scared by the SAU. You let yourselves down.

Hang in there. Next year, maybe, with good leadership, you can get your raises. The way it is now there are no tax dollars for you. Blame yourselves. Blame your leadership. Don’t blame the taxpayers. We love you, we need you. Taxpayers are very leery of an administration that keeps ripping off the teachers and taxpayers.



Vote for Meredith Smith for Enfield Selectboard

I am writing in support of Meredith Smith (no relation) for Enfield Selectboard. Smith has made such a positive difference in this town. She has spearheaded the creation of the Heritage Commission and the Lakeside Park. She chaired the highly successful 250th anniversary celebration and was the force behind establishing Enfield’s Old Home Days. She has consistently exhibited a clear dedication to the town. She is fiscally responsible, appropriately questioning town expenditures. Above all, she is a person with vision and integrity, and we need her to continue on the Selectboard. I encourage my fellow citizens to vote for Meredith Smith on Tuesday.



Beware of jury duty scam

You may get a call from a telephone number that checks out as the Grafton Country Sheriff’s office. Someone calling himself “Sgt. David Stinson Warrenson” (or some similar name) from “citations” may tell you that you were issued a summons to appear for jury duty and that when you didn’t appear, two citations were issued — one for failure to appear and one for contempt of court. You’ll be told that, because of your clean legal record, you have the option of solving this problem today — if you follow a series of steps, including sending the caller a money order or using a pre-paid credit card. Hang up.

I’m told that the police will never contact anyone for an arrest by telephone. It would be by either certified letter or in person. The scam caller will threaten to have the police come and arrest you. Hang up. You can then call the police in your town and ask them to look up any citations you may have — and you can report the scam while you’re at it.