Friday, March 9, 2012

JoAnn P. makes our case

[JoAnn Portalupi cc'd me on this letter she sent this Foster's.   I don't know if they'll get to it before the election, so I'm happy to post it here.  It gives a great first hand account of recent board history.  Thanks, JoAnn.   - Dean]

The Facts Speak for Themselves

I was on the Oyster River School Board in August of 2010, when Jim Kach was appointed to fill a vacated seat. I voted to appoint Jim based on his easy going, friendly demeanor and his claim that he had no agenda other than to serve his community. He thought he could help heal tensions that were rumbling in the district.

At his second meeting he voted against a nomination put forth by then Superintendent Howard Colter. This was a clear vote of no confidence, which struck me as odd coming from someone without an agenda who additionally claimed to know little about the school system. 

At the Candidates Forum in February of 2011 Mr. Kach told voters he was in support of hiring a permanent principal for the high school. But on April 14th, shortly after his election, he voted NO on the nomination that came as a result of a long and thorough search process, a vote that directly led to the need to hire an interim.

In June of 2011 Mr. Kach stated at a public board meeting that he believed every dollar of the unreserved fund balance should be returned to the voters. And yet at the very next meeting (June 30th), he voted to spend $185K to buy out the last year of Superintendent Howard Colter’s contract. The money came from the unreserved fund balance.

Mr. Kach includes support for technology on his list of accomplishments and yet on December 7, 2011, after already approving cuts in technology hardware for our teachers and students, he voted to cut further. 

A clearer picture of the real Jim Kach has emerged.

I’ve also observed that Mr. Kach does not follow the will of the voters. On September 21st, 2012, he voted NO on a motion to expend the $15K that voters approved to help heal the tension in the district. (Henry Brackett, also up for re-election, voted NO as well.)

I’ve watched Mr. Kach minimize issues when confronted with concerns about his or the Board’s behavior.

About a string of personal tweets that offended many in the community, Jim claims they were attempts at humor and that he didn’t mean to offend. And of the first of two lawsuits against the Board, Jim claims this was merely a matter of 3000 emails. When asked what he would do to prevent this from happening in the future? He quipped, “Hire a better lawyer.”

Such attempts at humor are fine for shooting the breeze over a cup of coffee, but they are not the response one seeks from an elected school official. They reveal an inability to look reflectively at, and take responsibility for, actions that have wronged or hurt others.

Voters in all three communities will be allowed to cast a vote for the Madbury race between Jim Kach and Ed Charle. We need school board members whose words are backed by actions and who respect constituents enough to own up to mistakes when they are made. Eighteen months ago I gave Jim Kach my vote. This time around my vote will go to Ed Charle, a Madbury resident and civic-minded individual who sees the facts and knows our community deserves better.

JoAnn Portalupi
Lee, NH

1 comment:

  1. [My letter was printed in the paper today. - Dean]

    Charlé and Barth

    To the editor: We are lucky to have Dr. Ed Charlé and Maria Barth running for Oyster River School Board. Ed is founder, family physician, and medical director of Salmon Falls Family Health Care, and serves on several boards. Maria served with distinction as chairman of Kittery's school board for 11 years. Their common platform: improving education, reducing taxes, listening, and healing the district. Both have unblemished records of public service.

    Not so for their incumbent opponents. Mr. Kach infamously tweeted such gems as "It starts now at the lowest level: School board ... cut the legs from the beast." Under Chairman Brackett and Mr. Kach's short, tumultuous reign, the district has lost an unprecedented seven administrators. The courts have rendered two judgments against them. The first judge found "the Board and Brackett knew or should have known their conduct violated the Right-to-Know Law." The second judge imposed the harshest penalty available. But they haven't learned — both blame their lawyer. This is the lament of convicted criminals everywhere.

    Chairman Brackett's board so botched a principal search that the students marched in protest. The denied candidate was subsequently hired as principal of the state's top ranked high school, Hanover High. The board paid $185,000 for Superintendent Colter not to work this year, and $60,000 in legal fees defending their illegal secret meetings to do it. Despite their promises, taxes have gone up.

    Please vote for Ed Charlé and Maria Barth on Tuesday. Find out more at

    Dean Rubine