|from left: Margaret Redhouse, Kenny Rotner,|
Tom Newkirk, William Leslie
About seven members of the public attended. School District Clerk William Leslie was the moderator, which turned out to be a difficult job. Board member Day and Assistant Superintendent Allen sat in the audience. The Moharimet PTO provided refreshments; thanks.
Newcomer Margaret Redhouse
This is Margaret Redhouse's first and likely only appearance at a school board function. She stated that she wasn't expecting to be elected. "It is not my purpose to win." She just wanted the platform to publicize her issue, which turned out to be Lyme Disease. She is opposed.
Ms. Redhouse shared her background. She has 10 years experience in education, as a teacher and librarian in NH and Massachusetts. She is a long time Lee resident who's had three children go through the district schools and UNH.
Ms. Redhouse told a story of her husband who was diagnosed with Lyme, but failed to respond to treatment, and, unfortunately, died five or six years later. She distributed copies of a 2015 Scientific American article on Lyme .
She was against the new track and field because she thought it would expose users to Lyme. One of her opponents offered that the new field will be artificial turf and not harbor ticks, which was news to Ms. Redhouse.
Ms. Redhouse was also concerned about district scholastics. She claims an ORHS class is using 25-year-old textbooks which include an inadequate definition of "jihad."
Ms. Redhouse also claimed that the children of "influential" parents are treated favorably by the teachers. She cited this as the reason she didn't run for school board while her children were still attending district schools; she prefers they succeed on their merits alone. I asked her if she had any evidence of what sounded like a pretty serious accusation at our teachers. She didn't, replying "it's just human nature." Apparently UNH professors are among the influential; who knew?
New Track and Field
A district resident spoke at length about the possible carcinogenic properties of tire crumb rubber in the field. Of course, as candidate Rotner pointed out, the board already addressed the issue by substituting EPDM for tire crumb in this year's proposal. The best thing for the health of the students and the community is to get the field built and folks exercising.
It was disheartening to witness how ill-informed the community is about the field. A school board candidate didn't know the field was artificial turf and a member of the public who cares enough to write the board and attend a meeting didn't know tire crumb was eliminated.
New Middle School News
I would say the only real news to come out of the evening was that, according to Chairman Newkirk, there is a middle school committee that's been meeting for the last two years and they have been looking at architectural drawings. My submitted question was about the middle school, but unfortunately the important part, what it's all going to cost us, was unasked and unanswered. I suspect if we need a new school it would cost around $40M or 1 year's budget, so if you pay for it over 20 years that's a 5% annual increase plus a few more percent for interest; that works out to a tax hike of 7% to 10% -- ouch.
Anyway, the meeting surreally went off the rails a few times, despite the moderator's noble attempts to rein it in. After it was over, I suggested to Ms. Redhouse that if she wants to address the community about Lyme she can make public comments at town and school meetings. She didn't have to file to run for office. Her reply was something like she couldn't do that because she didn't know when the meetings were. Upon questioning, I discovered that Ms. Redhouse does not use the Internet.
So I guess there's not really a race for school board this year. Congratulations Tom and Kenny.