Thursday, March 6, 2014

Voting Guide for the 2014 Oyster River Cooperative School District Election

ORCSDcleanslate busy voter guide: Vote for Denise Day and Sarah Farwell for school board and YES on all the school district questions.

This is my annual guide to the 2014 Oyster River School District election.  I call it a biased guide, because in addition to (I hope fairly) explaining each warrant article, I tell you how I'm going to vote and why, which is the biased part.  I hope it's useful even to people who don't agree with me, but if you just want to see the unadulterated ballot click here.  I'll try not to pontificate too long on each question, instead providing links to source documents and previous posts to those interested in digging deeper.

Election day in Oyster River is this Tuesday, March 11th.   If you're a citizen over 18 who lives in Lee, Madbury or Durham, you can just show up on Tuesday at your town's polling place and vote. Like almost all elections in New Hampshire, same day registration is available.   So even if you've never voted or registered to vote in New Hampshire before, you can vote Tuesday.  It's easier if everyone brings a state photo ID and if new registrants also bring proof of address (a utility bill), but under New Hampshire's new voter ID law you can vote even if don't bring those.

Your polling place and voting times depend on where you live:

Durham:   Oyster River High School  7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Lee:         Public Safety Complex       7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Madbury: Town Hall                         11:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

As always, voters in each town are given identical school district ballots.  Let's go through the ballot questions, also known as the warrant articles.

Articles 1 & 2: Elect a Moderator and Two School Board Members



Article 1 elects the moderator -- there's one choice, take your pick.  Last year as a kind of joke reaction to what I thought was a badly-run deliberative session, I showed a sample ballot with a former board member's name written in for moderator.  I think she got 14 votes.

This year's deliberative session ran much better.  A touching bond developed between the audience and the moderator, as tributes were repeated paid to his mother-in-law, beloved citizen Shirley Thompson, who recently passed away.  This year I'm urging everyone to enthusiastically vote for Mr. Laughton.

Article 2 chooses two school board members to replace departing members Ann Lane and Megan Turnbull, both of whom declined to run for reelection.  It's been an incredibly calm election season this year as no material differences between the candidates' positions have been uncovered.  I've decided to go with the two people who have by far the most experience with the district, Denise Day and Sarah Farwell.  You can read my endorsement here.

The February 17th candidate forum is available online but unfortunately Mr. Williams did not attend.  All three candidates were at the student candidate forum last Wednesday, but the video has not been posted online yet.   It is however being broadcast on our new cable channel, Comcast channel 95 pretty often: 11am, 3pm, 5pm, 11pm and the middle of the night.  Here's the questionnaire the Teacher's Guild gets the candidates to answer.   You can check out the candidates' websites  DeniseDay2014.blogspot.com, SarahFarwell2014.blogspot.com and sites.google.com/site/michael4oysterriver. (Full disclosure: I helped Denise and Sarah get their websites going.)

Article 3: Approve the 3 year teacher contract just negotiated


Article 3 ratifies the new 3 year teachers' contract negotiated recently.  The Guild and the district came to a pretty fair agreement, so I'm voting YES.  I'm not sure what happens if a majority the district votes NO  -- probably they have to go back to the negotiating table.

The contract contains an additional raise for teachers at the highest rung in the pay latter.  This is significant because most of the teachers in the district are at their highest step.  The effect is to make their pay go up 2.0-2.3% annually instead of the 1.7% you might guess as the average of the three percentage increases.


If we want our salaries to grow at the nominal rate shown in the contract we need to replace teachers leaving from the highest step with new teachers hired at lower steps.  This doesn't have much to do with the warrant article directly, which I support.


Articles 4 & 5: Build a Moharimet Cafeteria




I put articles 4 and 5 together as they really should be voted as a pair:  Vote YES on both if you want to spend around $545,000 to build a Moharimet cafeteria and NO on both if you don't.  I'm voting YES on both.

The complications (two articles, confusing wording) arose from the funding of the cafeteria.   $500,000 or so is expected to come from a statewide fraud settlement with our health insurance broker LGC.   The rest comes from a Capital Reserve Fund with around $100,000 in it.

Article 5 doesn't mention the cafeteria in case it passes and the article 4 doesn't.  The dollar in article 4 adds the line to the current (FY14) budget and allows construction to begin immediately after passage.

Moharimet has suffered without a cafeteria for a long time, and deserves one.   They especially need it in this period of overcrowding.

While it's technically true that no new tax dollars are being appropriated for the cafeteria, if the article fails the LGC settlement will go into the fund balance and lower your taxes around 1.4% for one year.


Article 6: Approve a 10 year tuition agreement with Barrington



The tuition agreement was probably the major decision taken by the board this year.  I was mostly in favor of the Newmarket option, which would have provided the most tuition students and thus the biggest break to district taxpayers.   The difficulty would be swallowing 250 new Newmarket tuition students in the first year.  There were some trouble with the negotiations that made me doubt it would work out with Newmarket and in the end all that was moot -- the new enrollment projects implied a substantial probability that if we took Newmarket students enrollment would exceed the 915 capacity under current board policy (max 22 per class).

So the board chose Barrington.  As we currently take 70 Barrington tuition students and the contract stipulates they will not increase the number more than 20% per year, the transition will be much smoother.  That's great for the students and teachers, but a bit disappointing to the taxpayers, who aren't going to see much of difference for a while.  The contract also has a minimum number of students that Barrington pays for:

The basic plan is to take at most five years to ramp up from 70 to 125 students, then maintain a level between 125 and 200, an increase from current levels of between 55 and 130 students.   This assures we have a sufficient student body to offer a wide array of electives.   Barrington gets a good tuition rate and preserves Oyster River as one of it's high school choices, we get a guarantee of additional tuition students, additional income and (slightly) lower taxes and the students get more electives.   Win win win.

There's not much downside to the deal.  It's possible (but I think unlikely) we might get more tuition income negotiating year to year than with this long term agreement.  My worry, which I've been assured by the superintendent several times is unfounded, is the tuition charged will actually decrease after the first year (much more of a concern with Newmarket than Barrington).  We might want to hold out for Newmarket, who may vote down a new school this year and be in the market to tuition out their kids again in a few years.  But the Barrington deal is real and it's now and we should ratify it.

Foster is running this article about the tuition agreement today.   They always miss the point that when comparing this year's and other schools' tuition to the $14,000 in the deal being voted on that the $14,000 includes (most) special education while the other numbers don't.

Let's go through the fairness question for what is hopefully the last time.  The complaint is that we're only charging $14,000 for the same seat local taxpayers pay around $17,000 for, which isn't fair. There was a false argument that we're losing money because of this, but the truth is it costs us significantly less than $14,000 to serve each incoming tuition student (because we don't pay for any more heat or principals or custodians, etc.) and that difference goes to lowering local taxes.  I don't think there was a financial analysis done of the final deal, but earlier presentations showed an additional cost of $10,000 to $11,000 per incoming tuition student and thus a savings to local taxpayers of $3,000 to $4,000 per student.  So while it might not be fair, it's a good deal for local taxpayers as well as for students and for Barrington.  I think the cost estimates are high and could be tightened, but that's something we can work on in the year ahead.

There was a letter March 3 in Foster's urging a NO vote that was full of bad information. "If we accept 200 or more Barrington tuition students, they will be a majority town at ORHS." I'm not sure what a majority town is, but we currently have 600 local district students in the high school, most from Durham, along with 70 Barrington students.  The agreement says we won't go over 200, so "or more" can't happen, and we probably won't get that close to 200 as Barrington's model requires parents choose ORHS from among three high schools and pay the difference between ORHS's and Dover's tuition themselves.  Ramping up an additional 55 tuition students over five years isn't going to change ORHS much at all.   The letter expresses concern that bad enrollment projections might lead to an overcrowded state, but the current projection of around 250 available seats to handle a maximum of 130 new students (probably much fewer) gives us a comfortable margin.

Article 7: Approve the $39.3 million budget


Article 7 is the budget. It's confusing, but the default budget (what we get if "NO" wins) is only for Fund 10, and thus represents a cut of $550K, around 1.4%.   I'm voting YES -- the board and administration did a great job holding the nominal growth of costs to 1.7%, below the inflation level (a reduction in real terms).  Despite attempts to add SROs and add back a language teacher and a paraprofessional, the board-passed budget was left unchanged at the deliberative session.

I always say the default budget is what we get if "NO" wins, but that's a bit of an oversimplification.   If NO wins, the board could choose to pass another budget and have another election.   If it doesn't (or the voters vote the new budget down too and we don't have another vote) we get the default budget.

The budget usually passes in Oyster River, though a couple of years ago it was kinda close.  I think the board has done a great job of turning things around the last couple of years, and I hope that is reflected in a big YES vote for the budget on election day.

Foster's just published the superintendent's message to voters which is somewhat similar to this guide.  Typos: "0.08%" should read "0.8%" and "mount" should read "amount."  More worrisome is the misleading implication on the default budget, which you know is only for Fund 10, so a NO vote reduces the budget by $550K (1.4%), not the $1.8M (4.6%) implied in the message.   I also don't agree with the explanation of the one amendment that passed the deliberative session.

See you all at the polls Tuesday. Vote Day and Farwell!

16 comments:

  1. I guess comments are ok so long as they correlate to the propaganda ;)

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  2. Comments are welcome pro and con -- bring 'em on.

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  3. Dean,
    You are not connecting the dots regarding the tuition warrant. Not sure if intentional or not but it's very important that voters understand the long-term implications of a fixed contract. Once Barrington hits the 125 threshold then ORHS becomes a school of record for them. That means Barrington parents no longer have to pay any tuition adder for their kids to attend ORHS. I know if I lived in Barrington where I'd send my kids if I had the choice, and made easier without having to pay a tuition premium.....
    At 20% per year, it's only a handful of years until Barrington could easily exceed 200 kids or more if most of them decide to attend ORHS. So what happens at year 5, 6, 7, 8? It's absolutely a possibility at that point we'd be dealing with hitting the 22/class threshold. So then the district, bound by the contract, would either have to change the class size policy -or- go to voters and ask to expand the school. So then after expanding the school, you can't just eliminate Barrington from consideration at 10 years as now you'd have an even BIGGER school that would be empty.
    I fully expect this scenario will play out that a lot of Barrington's kids end up choosing ORHS over Dover during the 10 year contract. And if the Towns in the district themselves end up adding kids (or even just not declining as projected), the issue of class size could flare up even faster.
    Also, not one person on the board or adminstration has said they plan to use tuition dollars to reduce anyone's tax burden. It will be spent unfortunately, and the school empire will continue to grow. They already keep trying over and over again for full day K even during the last few years when the economy was in the toilet. A 10 year fixed contract is very risky for the district taxpayers. An obvious boon for those who work for the school district.
    Of course nobody wants to discuss the fact that ORHS was already made too big from bad projections. History will repeat itself if the projections are wrong and 10 years is an eternity with no escape clause even if only a few years from now we find out the enrollment projections are wrong.
    If ORCSD can't find a way to actually REDUCE spending, not just flat budgeting when you have declining enrollment, IMO it shows structural issues with how the school and district operates.
    The tuition deal is not the panacea people want it too be. I wish it were but it's just not the case.

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  4. I also should follow up that the district is not fully disclosing that the $14k per student is not taxpayer profit. The district will spend all of it.

    Even if 10k is for education and 4k per tuition student is "profit", we're looking at a ideal case of 400k annual revenue. So taxpayers would, AT BEST, get a 1% reduction in tax bills.

    The risk to the district is far too great given the paltry benefits we would gain. And heaven forbid our test scores drop

    Let's be real here. The district kids would do well even if we went to bare bones state minimum standards (I'm not suggesting we do that). It's all about the demographics..... Some of the stuff I see staff and parents picking at nits about should be fall under the, "first world problems" category. Having only a few kids in an AP class is not fare to taxpayers. Sorry, AP calc, AP english are essential. AP foreign language is not and will have no impact on a students ability to get into any college.

    We are going to tax ourselves into oblivion and there is plenty of ways for the district to actually CUT, yes, CUT spending with declining enrollment and have no impact on students ability to get into colleges of their choice.

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  5. Thanks for the comment. You're correct about becoming the school of record at 125 students. I didn't realize at that point there's no parental contribution to the tuition, but I don't think that's all bad. It doesn't affect the tuition we get and it makes it easier to attend ORHS, increasing the odds we get to 200. That's the maximum taxpayer relief, though as you and I point out it's not very much. The downside is that with the parent contribution the students self-select so we get the better students.

    You can't exceed 200 -- that's the max in the contract, and it's only 130 additional students. I don't see it making much difference, though as you say test scores could be affected. Even if Barrington sends 200 every year in the tightest year our enrollment is not predicted to pass 858, which is quite a comfortable cushion. The 915 capacity assumes the classes are full at 85% (of 22 students, fewer if the room seats fewer). So we're not really pushing that hard on the capacity, which currently averages under 18 (the nominal minimum) for most departments. It would be a good thing for taxpayers to at least fill the classes to our stated minimum.

    I'm all for cutting, and like I said I think the cost estimates are too high and we could extract more profit per student with some attention. But that doesn't mean it's not a good deal to take the students.

    The district has been pretty good on the budget lately, coming in with increases around the the inflation rate (zero real growth) for the past few years. This is in marked contrast to the state average, which consistently grows faster than inflation. I think the board is going to continue this trend, which is gradually getting us back in line with the state averages. Having the extra students makes it easier to cut, as costs go down as average class size grows.

    I wouldn't presume to know if AP French gets you into college. But yes, like any class, it's not fair to the taxpayers if only a few students take it but it consumes a whole teacher for a period. Having the tuition students around makes it more likely we'd get enough students to make it worthwhile, or fair as you say.

    You're wrong to say the district will spend all the tuition -- they've committed some of the money to taxpayer relief and capital improvement (which is also taxpayer relief if other tax money would have been spent). Like I said I haven't seen an analysis of the final deal, but I made lots of posts detailing the various interim deals over the year, and they all include some taxpayer relief.

    This is really about as mild a change as we could hope for which materially increases our enrollment and raises some revenue.

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  6. I question how the contract will actually be able to cap at 200 once ORHS becomes the school of record, then how could any student in Barrington be denied the ability to go to the school of their choice? Something doesn't add up....

    And what happens if the disctrict test scores drop? Then what? Does ORCSD have a knee jerk reaction to throw more money to "fix" the problem? That would mean more remedial classes, not the "AP" classes. The district is not putting out all the subtle negatice issues that are real scenarios that can play out. It's not all win win win.

    Regarding enrollment, I'm actually shocked at how people are so willing to dismiss any concerns about the numbers. It only takes a couple years of a modest housing boom and a few subdivisions to pop up and voila, we're struggling with capacity. Ten years is a looooooong time. Just think back 10 years ago and how much has transpired from boom to bust. Things go in cycles. Very expensive mistake if the numbers are wrong and I believe they will be. And the potential revenue benefit to district taxpayers is nowhere near enough to take the risk.

    The district will spend ALL the money from tuitioned students. You're a fool if you don't believe that. The supt keeps tossing all day K into the ring which fits in nicely with his desire to grow the empire. If it happens I'll be incensed enough to call for Morse's ouster for that alone.

    Regarding language, it's easy to determine the academics from those in the working world of technology. Dump French and Spanish and learn Mandarin. It's the language of money in a world economy. Any student pursuing an engineering degree would be a fool taking any romance language over Mandarin/Cantonese.

    For school board, I am loathe to put teachers or ex teachers in positions of power of school purse strings. I find most teachers are too biased to make objective desisions. There is a reason elementary and secondary teachers work in a school, and not in finance, accounting, or other fields of analystics. Current board candidates appear to be members of the echo chamber club for the administration. I don't see any candidate worthy of my vote. It was really hard to watch Ms Day at the candidates meeting as she all but said she would just follow what the adminstration put forward. Ditto for Farwall's response. Because of course the adminstration is all knowing. /sarcasm

    I've read many of the posts on your blog and appreciate you putting things out there. Must be honest that lately your posts appear that you've become a sycophant with the board and school adminstrators.

    Please stop touting it as a positive that the district is staying at the inflation rate. Inflation is much more than just school budget items so to be accurate, the school shoudl grow BELOW the inflation rate otherwise they are accelerating spending.

    If a school system can not find a way to actually cut spending with declining enrollment after this recent economic downturn, we are doomed as taxpayers. We need to lay off teachers, period. Nobody wants to say it, but time to cut!

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  7. Thanks for the comment. Is that you Cal?

    The inflation rate defines what zero real growth is, so when we nominally grow at a rate lower than the inflation rate, that's a cut in real terms. I'm correct to say it, and I will continue to say it. The rate of growth of school costs (CPP) in NH is much higher than the inflation rate, around 6% (nominal) before 2008 and around 4% after. So we are growing more slowly than the average district, and if we keep it up we will continue to close in on the NH state average.

    I don't think I've become a sycophant for the board -- when they do things well I say it, when they screw things up, I say that too. I thought the tuition and elementary issues were decided correctly and I've said so. Along the way I think there've been some missteps and I've said that too.

    Call me a fool, but I have no reason to mistrust the superintendent when he says we're getting some tax relief from tuition students. My wish is that for the Barrington influx they staff up as little as possible, growing class sizes to a more sustainable level before hiring.

    I did a test score analysis for accepting 250 kids from Newmarket once and concluded we might drop a rank or two in the state rankings. To answer your question directly, if it's not working out and scores start to drop seriously because of the Barrington students, I think there'd be a big movement to end the agreement, and that's what would happen.

    I'm not against laying off teachers per se, but it can damage morale if widespread so we have to be careful. I've always maintained, like I just did, that tuitioning offers the opportunity to increase the student/teacher ratio without morale-sapping layoffs, which is just one of the reasons I'm for it.

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  8. Very short-term thinking. I'll say it again, 10 years is forever for a school contract and there will be no way to back out before it expires. Once you bake the tuition dollars in the cake we're forever tied to it. Barrington is getting a sweetheart deal if this warrant article passes. People won't listen, not much I can do about it.

    Play out the scenario for the long-term. Either 1) we're stuck with them as people won't want to cut the school back to the base town levels at the 10 year mark (and whack staff as should be done) -or- 2) We get actual growth in the district enrollment and we're stuck facing decisions on expansion or class size.

    I definitely see the deal as a net negative. If Barrington kids reach 200 for enrollment levels ar ORHS we're screwed as it will be very hard to undue things. The adminstrative empire will have 10 years to grow bigger making it even harder to right-size.

    As for spending, if you add $X dollars to a budget year on year, even if below the "inflation rate" (must define what inflation index you are using) it's still an increase in spending. I also want the disctrict to stop using percentage and talk specifically in mil rate and total dollars. Of course the don't do that because if they told everyone that the tax savings is going to be $50/year that will make people actually realize the "savings" projections are a joke.

    I want to retire in Madbury and the school spending is going to break our backs.

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  9. Barrington's getting a good deal, we're getting a good deal and the students are getting a good deal. The district is doing well on tamping down on tax increases and the tuition deal will help keep that up. Everything else seems like a distopian scenario running in your head that has little relation to reality.

    If you add X dollars to get next year's budget it's a nominal increase in spending. It may or may not be an increase in real dollars, which is the correct way to compare dollar amounts across time. If the total dollars spent are worth less next year than this, that's a real decrease in spending. In this case it's both -- we're paying a few more nominal dollars that are worth less the amount we paid the year before. You may not like or understand inflation, but that's how it works. For the record I use the broad CPI (as is the standard in most inflation discussions) but the various inflation metrics have been in pretty good agreement that inflation's been running in the low 2% range.

    I'm sorry you have a problem talking about percentage changes to the total budget -- it's a pretty straightforward way of talking about things that has a direct connection to your taxes so should be easy to understand.

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  10. Dean,
    You can choose to be coy but you clearly know there is a marketing/psychological difference in telling the masses that they are going to get a 1% tax hike instead of saying it's an increase of "X" to the mil rate or the actual dollars spent. I would like to see the mil rate impact actually spelled out on the warrant for any spending item, by town, for their respective median house values. The "savings" via tuition dollars in mil rate is never quoted to voters. Why is that? Because we know it's paltry if it's even realized at all.
    1% could mean $1000 per year increase or a $1 per year increase in property taxes. Using the smallest number obfuscates how much is being spent. I bet if you polled every voter, the vast majority would have no idea at the booth exactly what the actual impact is to their property taxes for any spending measure.
    Keep lying to yourself about spending below the inflation rate as an actual spending cut. It may be a "real" cut in budegtary/accounting terms but it's not an actual cut in dollars spent. Ask anyone on a fixed income about the difference.
    If you want to push numbers around, let's cherry pick the basleline spending back far enough to reflect the spending above the inflation rate for many years. The district spent beyond its means so we need actual cuts, not inflationary "cuts". An actual cut would lower the mil rate. Show me where we're getting a cut in the mil rate for the school portion You can't. Wanna wager that the district spends 100% of the tuition revenue?
    We're still spending more money each year with the projections of a decline in enrollment. That is where I have a major problem with the district mentality. I can only surmise that you've been well groomed to join the school board at this point. Spend away my friend....
    The Barrington deal is going to create serious structural issues for the school district over the life of the 10 year contract and they'll be no easy fix. Barrington gets a SWEET deal out of it and will dumb down the district. ORHS gets as much of it's higher ranking through demographics rather than any magic teacher potion. I'll be right on this one.

    Now let's get into second order impacts which almost all of the calculations have wholly ignored but are very real. In Madbury, a lot of money is/has been spent for conservation easements. We have restrictive ordinances limiting development. Durham and Lee have similar measures but I'm not sure if they are as aggressive as Madbury. Why does this matter? As taxpayers we're getting soaked for the school premium either way and then giving Barrington a great deal in the process. We have restrictive development so we make room for Barrington to use ORHS!!! It's ridiculus. I'd at least rather see district kids using the school.
    Appears to me the towns and school district have disjointed goals, plans, and it makes it impossible to execute seamless long-term planning. This plays right into enrollments.
    The ORCSD already has excess capacity because of bad long-term planning/projections and here we go again with people taking a first order view and not considering any downside. These issues are way more complicated than just saying we'll get "free" dollars via tuition students and all is well. I will gladly remind you as these issues play out of time.


    Teacher morale as a reason for not reducing staff? I'm laughing hard at that. The ORHS teachers have it easy. Let's see how they would do (and compare the NECAP scores of the same teacher) if they moved over to Rochester. Sympathy = ZERO

    1. Raise class size minimum
    2. Get rid of all Barrington tuition students
    3. Reduce staffing levels
    4. Kids still have good school
    5. Taxpayer relief is actually realized with a reduced mil rate.

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  11. Dean, any idea on the question of capped enrollment and if legal if a HS is a school or record? How would a Town deal with kids not getting to go to their school of choice yet paying for it in taxes?

    Interesting editorial from Barrington resident discussing "hidden costs" of a deal with Oyster River. Me thinks she see's exactly what I see happening and more Barrington parents sending their kids to ORHS (with possible name change to BORHS in the future)

    http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140308/GJOPINION_0102/140309323/-1/FOSOPINION

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  12. You may want to read this in more detail: http://www.orcsd.org/images/documents/Tuition_Framework_Powerpoint_10_07_13.pdf

    I can't find the actual contract but Morse's own tuition revenue numbers specifically states 250 Barrington students. I think ORCSD taxpayers are being sold a bill of goods.

    Oh, and if the deal is sour as I expect, it's really a 13 year deal because at 10 years if we don't renew, any student gets to attend BORHS until graduation. Even worse than I thought!

    Note not one negative possibility is presented to taxpayers. For $19.99 sign right up, WHAT A DEAL!

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  14. I linked to the actual contract in the post. Maxes out at 200, meaning 130 additional. Trying to get an answer on the school of record issue -- according to the letter there'd be a dual school of record, which probably mutes the effect.

    As for percents versus mils, sure whatever. Personally I find the millages more obscure. I know how much tax I pay and when someone says such and such change will raise or lower my tax X% I know what that means. I also know my appraisal so I can calculate based on the millage. I'm not being coy when I say I don't see much of a difference (either way you gotta multiply), but I wouldn't have any objection to the district reporting millages. To me the percentages have more meaning so I use them -- obviously you're different. There's no spin involved.

    That's quite a view of inflation you have. Obviously people on a fixed income have less spending power over time when there's inflation, just like people borrowing money at a fixed rate win as they get to pay back their loans with devalued money. It's just a fact of our lives that money's value changes over time and we need to adjust to constant dollars to compare.

    I'm with you about "pushing the baseline back". I've been harping for a while that the district has gotten away from the state average cost per pupil and needs budgeting that gets us back there. I even wrote and graphed it in the strategic plan. But I also said the board's turned it around lately -- growing at the inflation rate does that, as school costs increase faster than inflation.

    I would love to see zero nominal growth. But you're failing to see that zero real growth is a pretty great result for a school district, as usually those things grow at a 2% - 4% real pace and sometimes Oyster River has grown a lot more.

    I would love to wager that the district does not spend 100% of tuition revenue to handle the extra load of tuition students. Any use of the money for spending that we would have done anyway (using taxpayer revenue) of course lowers taxes. Not sure how to measure though.

    I read the tuition PDF, was at that meeting, and I think wrote about it at the time. The Barrington proposal in that document was just that, a proposal, to try to get Barrington to send us 250 students (about what a Barrington/Deerfield combo would have sent before Deerfield dropped out). Barrington didn't want to commit to a count that high and they compromised on the 125 - 200 plan in the contract we're voting on.

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  15. Dean,
    Even if the tuition deal nets us the paltry savings for a few years, it still doesn't address the structual issues involved. Play it forward to 10 (13 actually) years, an dassume we have 200 students. How do you unravel it? You won't be able too as the board will be hooked on that revenus like an addict on crack.
    The tuition deal as proposed is much more than status quo when you ramp up that many students into a school. In fact, one of the the stated goals of the district is to have a "best performing" school so one could argue that the board, via the tuition deal is harming the district.
    Zero real growth means we're still spending more money year on year with declining enrollment (per projection). I'm not missing anything. I believe 100% that the HS can shrink and not impact ranking/education in any meaningful way. It's pretty basic math, just change the class sizes. There is data showing NO correlation to class size vs NECAP. Class size is a red herring that the board/administration uses to grow the empire.
    I emailed the DoE but did not get a response on the legality of restricting students to a school of record but got no response. I don't trust a response from the district but please advise if you are able to get an answer from anyone.

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  16. If I understand this decision, the ORCSD did not even need voter approval once the board signed the contract. It's independent of a need for voter approval http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2005/foote104.htm

    The only issue is for Barrington to appropriate the funds to pay for the executation of the contract. I think voters have been fooled.

    The contract as I see it, leaves wide open legal holes in my opinion. Unless they do a lottery every year, I am not sure how the school district could not get sued for not allowing a kid to attend ORHS if they so choose. So I move to Barrington with a student as a rising junior and the school says grades 11 and 12 are full, sorry. Well, if I don't get a chance in the "lottery" because the cap is already reached then I would sue on the grounds the contract was not followed. Otherwise it's not equal chance. The only way I see Barrington being free from potential issues is by assigning schools by location within their town/proximity. If such a case comes to fruition where more than 200 want to attend ORHS, what do you think will happen? I know the answer, ORCSD will say come on in that water's fine!

    I also can't believe ORCSD signed up to accept a foreign exchange student for free. Didn't realize we are now a charity. Barrington should eat that cost, not us. And that student would not count toward the 200 so they already wiggled in above 200 ;)

    Sorry, I just don't believe the enrollment projections. A few subdivisions in the next 10 years added to 201+ from Barrington plus any additional enrollments that are not expected and we go from having supposedly excess capacity to having to change class size policy at a minimum or expand again.

    The only thing that may save us is Barrington may balk at the higher cost of ORHS.

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