Fourth graders at Hampstead Central School presented the annual Multicultural Musical last week. The students studied the culture of five countries and made a day of music to share with the school. Caroline Danner, Anthony Samoisette, Emma Adrien take part in a Russian dance. Photo by Chris Paul
While this past winter may not have been the longest on record, it would be hard to convince us of that. It was the icing on the cake when the official start of spring arrived at 6:45 p.m. last Friday, followed quickly by a snow shower. And another one the next morning.
This year, except for the change in the sunlight, you could fool us that spring is here. Friends from other parts of the country send Facebook photos of flowering shrubs and remind us of how long our winter lasts. There may be sun and 50-degree temperatures in the forecast, but it’s hard to keep the bright promise of springtime at the forefront in the midst of the non-stop sound of the furnace.
But if nothing else works, congratulate yourself on having just about gotten through an old fashioned, northern New England winter. Now, when old-timers talk about the winters of long ago, you can offer your own experiences and snowfall depths. And if nothing else makes you feel better, at least we aren’t dealing with the 25 feet of ice off the coast of Nova Scotia.
So we rejoice over finally being able to see the bare patches of brown leaves left over at the edge of the lawn from last fall, we look forward to having soggy mud replace the treacherous ice patches in the driveway, and we smile when the temperature rises above freezing. We may even haul out a lawn chair and sit outside, however briefly, as that March sun shines down, even though we’re still bundled up in gloves and sweaters.
And we never fail to look toward the future. We know mud season is coming when the basement starts to flood. And when the mud and water finally fade away, we’re visited by black flies.
But as stalwart New Englanders, we’ll get through all that and get down to the business of waiting for the weather to warm up so we can enjoy the summer, however brief. There will be a summer this year, won’t there?
Those of us who stick it out during the ever-extending winter know that blue skies and warm weather are just around the corner, and summer isn’t far behind. Right? But can we please have a little bit of spring first?
SANDOWN – The board of selectmen will be seeking legal counsel on what to do with a citizen’s petition passed earlier this month that seeks to study the town’s withdrawal from the Timberlane Regional School District.
The board took up most of the three hours of its Monday, March 23 meeting to discuss the matter, but didn’t come to any definite conclusions except to ask for advice.
Article 19, which passed 699 to 302, reads, “Shall the Town of Sandown, New Hampshire direct the Timberlane Regional School Board to conduct a study of the feasibility and suitability of the withdrawal of Sandown from the Timberlane Regional School District and to be completed before October 1, 2015 as per the provisions of RSA 195:25?”
Sandown is one of four towns in the Timberlane District – the others are Danville, Plaistow and Atkinson.
The study in question, by law, is to be in the hands of the State Board of Education 180 days after the formation of the committee.
But there’s a rift between the board of selectmen and the school board as to whose responsibility that study is, and though some say the selectmen should take an aggressive tack with the petition and confront the school board, others cautioned against making mistakes by acting too quickly without all of the information in hand, especially as the issue is not clearly in the hands of the selectmen in the first place.
Lead petitioner Anthony Piemonte and Timberlane budget committee member Cathy Gorman have met with the board of selectmen for the past two meetings to seek information and pose directions to take with the study. On Monday they sought the board’s blessing to set up a committee to put together a minority report in conjunction with the one they assume is going to come out of the district.
But even at that early stage everyone is not on the same page. According to district superintendent Earl Metzler and school board chair Nancy Steenson, the responsibility for the study lies with the town, not the district.
Reportedly this opinion comes from district counsel. But town counsel has said the opposite.
And to make matters more complicated the two opposing opinions come from the same law firm, forcing the board to seek an opinion elsewhere in coming days.
After much discussion, selectman Tom Tombarello joked that he didn’t realize that even the attorney question was going to have its own set of problems.
Though town administrator Lynne Blaisdell suggested early on in the conversation that the best first step would be to get some expert opinion on the issue before any decisions were made, it took quite a bit more time and discussion before the board agreed that was the wisest choice.
Discussed were what a minority report would entail and how it would be created, who would lead the group, whether it would be a town or a citizen led endeavor, why the district and school board don’t agree with the town, and how various sections of the state law on the issue should be interpreted.
While selectman Cyndi Buco was sure the board should move forward and set up a minority report committee, fellow selectman Jon Goldman was hesitant to head down a path without all of the information in hand.
Goldman spoke to concerns about creating a situation where the selectmen and school board were the principal players at odds.
The selectmen sent a letter to the school board last week alerting them to the fact that the article had passed and indicating the state law on the matter. Chair Jim Devine said the town should move forward with a minority report committee, and if the district decided to slough its responsibility on the matter, it meant that when the issue came to the State Board of Education, the minority report would be the only opinion discussed.
After the board decided that the best thing to do on the issue was to seek a legal opinion, later in the meeting Buco presented a letter she hoped the board would sign and send on the State Board of Education.
Buco read the three-page letter into the record, detailing the timeline of the petition and the disagreement over its enactment and various arguments against the district’s and school board’s actions on the matter, including audit findings surrounding the district’s compliance with government accounting standards.
Goldman again cautioned about moving too quickly. He pointed to the document and its lack of a concise request to the state and noted again that the fight was not a selectmen’s fight. Goldman added fears that the board was going to spend the next six months to a year discussing the matter, when in his opinion it was in the hands of the school board, and it was up to that board whether to abide by their responsibility, and thus suffer the consequences from the voters.
The board did not act on the letter, reaffirming its earlier decision to seek expert advice.