Chester Academy sixth graders marvel at a giant moon snail before placing it back into the Atlantic during a visit to the shore. The students spent a full week exploring and learning at Nature’s Classroom in Ocean Park, Maine. Photo by Matt Rittenhouse
In recent weeks, Presidential hopefuls have begun paying barnstorming visits to New Hampshire, a phenomenon sure to increase in the months ahead for this first-in-the-nation Presidential primary state.
Whether chatting with breakfast diners, glad-handing tavern patrons, hosting “town hall” question and answer sessions or making their case at fundraising dinners, whichever candidate interests you is likely to be planning a visit down the road or across town or in the community next door.
We encourage you to take a personal look at the candidates, check out the man or woman behind the public relations hype, and hear for yourself whether your views match up to the promises of the person who is eager for your vote.
In the next few months, you should have the chance to see a horde of candidates in person. We urge you to make time to do so. We live in a state that gives us the opportunity to vote for a candidate based on our personal impression, not what a paid promoter wants us to think. That’s an opportunity residents of other states can only envy.
If you’re a Democrat or an Independent, you should be in the room with the Republican candidates as well. Hear for yourself what they are saying, if for no other reason than to know the opposition.
But the clock is ticking. Winning or losing in New Hampshire doesn’t seal the fate of any candidate, but it definitely plays a significant role in what will happen in other states in the months ahead.
So ask some questions. And if you have the chance, don’t accept the answer of “I favor smaller government, I want to end health care reform, I want to cut the deficit, I want a strong foreign policy.
Anyone can say that – and more often than not, they do. Anyone can attack their presumed opponent rather than express their own views.
Platitudes and generalities mean nothing. Push the candidate to offer specifics. How will each candidate help the unemployed? How does a candidate’s religious views impact his or her decision making? How will a candidate “fix” Social Security in laymen’s language? What can be done about ISIS?
Ask real questions – politely. If you don’t get real answers, keep in mind that failure to answer or be specific may be the most telling answer of all.
By virtue of living here, the significance of our vote resonates from one coast to the other, from the border with Canada to the border with Mexico. That’s another reason to vote intelligently. And that means asking tough questions and making up our minds for ourselves.
HAMPSTEAD – The School Administrative Unit (SAU) 55 Board, comprised of the five Hampstead School Board members and the nine Timberlane School Board members, re-organized for the post-election year and approved implementation of the 2015-2016 budget and salaries.
Peter Bealo from Timberlane was elected chairman and Jason Cipriano from Hampstead was elected vice chairman. The board approved the nomination from Superintendent Earl Metzler for Paul Sullivan to continue as treasurer and Laurie Parrillo to continue as the deputy assistant treasurer. Human Resources Director Nancy Danahy was re-elected recording secretary.
Sandown member Donna Green prompted a discussion at last week’s meeting over approving Metzler’s recommendation that the SAU Board authorize him to seek legal counsel by specialty as needed. Green sought to get the board to change this to have the board approve the superintendent’s seeking legal counsel.
“The board should always approve this,” Green said.
Bealo suggested Green recuse herself on this issue because she is presently suing Metzler. Green said she wouldn’t recuse herself because this wasn’t about her but about protecting the rights of the board.
Cipriano and Timberlane member Jack Sapia disagreed with Green’s suggestion, and Timberlane member Nancy Steenson said the board hires and evaluates the superintendent and should not be tasked with approving his actions.
For lack of a second, Green’s motion failed.
The proposed budget that is the result of last October’s budget meeting was proposed and the board was asked to authorize Metzler to implement it in the amount of $1,622,820.
Green said because of the 11.66 percent bottom line increase, she couldn’t in good conscience vote for this budget. She said the budget had not been provided to the voting public, something other members disagreed with, noting that the budget had been discussed in depth in October and put before voters in all the towns at Town Meeting elections in March.
Hampstead member Karen Yasenka asked for clarification on a couple of budget lines, as she had not been part of the October discussions. She asked about in-district travel, which has risen to $5,000, and was told it covers Metzler, Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson and Business Manager George Stokinger and transportation costs to the various schools in SAU 55.
Yasenka also asked what the “Other Employee Benefits” line is that is projected at $22,697 and was told it covers annuity contributions to administrators.
The board voted to approve authorization of the budget and salaries.
In other business:
• Metzler introduced the School Food Service Agreement between Timberlane and Whitsons New England, Inc. The contract in the packet was the 2014-2015 contract but Metzler said many changes have been initiated by the district and Whitsons, and he plans to sign a new 2015-2016 contract.
He said Whitsons has worked cooperatively with the district in the contract agreement and in the delivery of the product, and noted that Timberlane, which was roughly $38,471 in the red last year for food service, is now operating in the black and is operating at a profit of $11,143. Hampstead, he said, is operating at a $4,439 deficit but there are provisions in the contract to cover this.
Green had several questions about the contract but Metzler said he didn’t have the answers because in part the contract is a boiler plate. Yasenka took exception to this and suggested that it would be wise for the superintendent to have read and understood the contract and other contracts and should be able to properly answer constituent questions.
Metzler said the official contract and price increase approval should be done at each district’s board meeting but he thought it appropriate to discuss it at the SAU board because Hampstead’s contract with Whitsons is contingent on Timberlane’s contract.
Green made a motion to put the Whitson contract out to competitive bid but there was no second.
• The board went into non-public session for the evaluation of the superintendent. During that time Metzler, who had returned to his office, said that when they returned to open session he wanted to ask the board to approve releasing his three-year comparison evaluation in the interests of transparency, even though he said no other New Hampshire superintendent does this.
However, the following day Metzler said the board preferred to complete the current evaluation first, and then it would be up to him to release any and all of his evaluations.
• The board approved a four-day work week for the summer for the SAU office staff.