Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Football Amended, New Moharimet Principal

Football Amended

Election day is one week from now, Tuesday March 14.   At the Deliberative Session February 8, the citizen petition warrant article asking if the voters want football at Oyster River was amended to read:
Shall Oyster River High School continue to provide a large range of athletic programs excluding football?
The warrant article had read:
Shall the district establish a football program at the Oyster River High School with the object of moving toward a varsity team in coordination with the rules and regulations of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA)? Budgeted start-up costs of $34,000 include; $15,000 raised by a community based "booster" club, $5,000 contribution from the school district and the balance of approximately $14,000 paid by the players (larger number of players lower cost per player) at 35 players it would be $400 per player
I've tried to accurately convey the grammar and punctuation or lack thereof.  

David Taylor proposed the amendment, which was debated for almost an hour before being passed by a narrow margin.  I wasn't at the DS; I unfortunately had to miss the two feet of snow because I was on a Caribbean cruise.   Folks who attended told me the football boosters were livid at the outcome.

I personally had a problem with the amendment, which I made clear before the DS, in that it wasn't clear exactly how a football supporter should vote.   A NO vote could be construed as a vote against athletics in general.   That didn't seem to be a problem for the folks at DS; the boosters were clearly against the amendment and will vote NO on election day; the anti-football folks will obviously vote YES.

I should point out that while this amendment effectively killed any hope of a football program next year, there really wasn't any hope of one given the original ballot article. The law says the board can read these articles much like what dogs hear: blah blah blah $5000 blah blah blah.

The board had already indicated that football wouldn't be implemented even if the article passed.  The primary reason given was the $5000 raised was insufficient to address all the considerations involved in a new program.  Looming large is Title IX, which says if we have 30 new boy athletic slots filled, we need to fill about 30 new slots with girl athletes.  In other words, we'd have to create a new opportunity just for girls, and find girls to take it.  The district is under extra Title IX scrutiny as the result of a lawsuit a few years ago.  The district could choose to drop other boys sports to keep the numbers even.

At the school board candidates' forum both candidates (see below) said they did not support the amendment and voted NO at the DS.

I've likened the original article to asking "does to district want Santa Claus to give us a football program?"  As YES vote wouldn't really mean much -- who wouldn't want a gift from Santa? So it's really not that different than a NO vote on the new amendment.

I had proposed an amendment which upped the amount raised to $50,000.  If such an amended article passed, the board wouldn't have the excuse of insufficient funds.  There are plenty of other reasons to be against, especially the risk of concussion and other brain injury, but the board would probably have gone ahead with football if a reasonable plan was voted in next Tuesday.  Either way we'd get a definitive voter sentiment on a realistic proposal. Of course no one presented my amendment at DS.  Now we'll never know; at least we won't know from the result of this election.

There was I believe a procedural error at the end of the DS.  Once the amendment had passed, the moderator should have opened the floor to further discussion on the article, including possibly additional amendments.   But, seemingly at the request of the district's lawyer, the meeting ended as soon as the first amendment was voted upon.  This seems wrong.

New Moharimet Principal

The district has announced the top candidate for the Moharimet Principal job, David Goldsmith.  Mr. Goldsmith (application here) is currently the Assistant Principal of the K-5 Stratham Memorial School in Stratham.  He lives in Durham and has two children attending Moharimet, though one will be in the middle school next fall when Mr. Goldsmith takes over.   He has 13 years experience as a teacher. Before Stratham, Mr. Goldsmith was a teacher in the Horne Street Elementary School in Dover and a professor at Franklin Pierce University.  (NH1 story)

The board still needs to ratify the decision.  It will do so at tomorrow's school board meeting.  Principal Goldsmith's appointment is the sole item of business on the agenda, so I expect tomorrow's meeting will be short.

The folks I talked to who attended the parent meeting with Mr. Goldsmith were all very impressed.  While it's hard to imagine Moharimet without Principal Harrington, it looks like the school is in good hands for the foreseeable future.  Congratulations, Principal Goldsmith.

School Board Candidates Very Likely to be Elected

There are two candidates for two school board seats this year.   Denise Day is currently on the board, having served the last three years.  The somewhat new face is Michael Williams.  Mr. Williams (website) lost to Sarah Farwell and Denise three years ago.  He is a mechanical engineer who works on medical devices.  Michael graduated Iowa State and got his Masters at Stanford.  He has three young children, two currently at Moharimet, one soon to start PEP.  At the candidate forum he stressed the desirability of the parent of elementary school children and a special needs child to add perspective to the board. He sees his analytic skills as complementing the educational experience of the existing board members.

Let me congratulate Michael Williams and Denise Day on their likely election to the school board.  I also thank Sarah Farwell for her stellar service over the last three years, especially as a voice for fiscal sanity.

Bomb Scare Forum

I attended the forum on the bomb scares tonight.  In addition to superintendent Morse and Principal Filippone, three police officers attended:  State trooper Sgt. Dade of the NH bomb squad, Chief Kurz of the Durham PD and School Resource Officer Malasky.

I was disappointed there wasn't a review of the incidents to date.  There was a bomb threat written in a girls bathroom at the high school before Christmas.  That perpetrator has been caught and punished, though neither identifying details nor details about the punishment were offered, with state confidentiality laws cited.  Some parents expressed dismay that the perpetrator was walking the halls of the high school, seemingly unaffected by punishment.

In the past week or two there were two more bathroom bomb scares, in a boys bathroom this time (at least for the first; not sure about the second).  The superintendent announced tonight there were good leads.  SRO Malasky said she interviewed 25 students identified as using the bathroom from hall video.  She was certain the perpetrators were among them, but said there would be nothing public until an admission or witness was forthcoming.  The district has suspects.

There are two separate tracks of investigation, or at least punishment.  The school district can suspend or expel the students.  The police can investigate criminal charges leading to a possible felony indictment.

There was one more incident, involving a bag at the middle school that turned out to be gym clothes.  I'm not really sure, because like I said, they didn't really review the incidents.

I live tweeted (really facebook comments) the meeting here.   I'm not sure if video was recorded  (It was, here's the link).  The main conclusion I got is that the district is really looking for a student who has information about what actually happened to get in touch.   Apparently there's an app called Quick Tip that lets students anonymously contact the district and they're encouraged to use it.

Foster's has an article about the meeting.

Election Day is Tuesday, March 14

That's one week from today.  I'll try to get a guide to the school district ballot out soon.  I probably should have mentioned earlier that all articles except football were approved as is (i.e. not amended) at Deliberative Session,

Lee voters, please vote NO on article 5 on the Lee ballot.  That's a citizens' petition to eliminate SB2, the form of government in which there's a Deliberative Session to amend the ballot articles which are then voted upon on election day a month later.  If article 5 passes, Lee would revert back to town meeting governance, where everything gets voted on at the town meeting.  This makes it difficult for many folks who don't have multiple hours to spend at town meeting to weigh in on town affairs.  I think the SB2 system is much better, as it allows the truly engaged to shape the ballot at DS, while allowing a large number of voters to weigh in on election day.

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