Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome to the WSC Questions and Comment Page


  Goshen-Lempster Withdrawal Study Committee Presentation
Saturday – January 25, 2014
    10:00 a.m. Goshen Town Hall and 2:00 p.m. Lempster Meeting House

After 6 months of review, the Withdrawal Study Committee (WSC) has determined it is feasible for Goshen to withdraw from the Goshen-Lempster Cooperative and have submitted their study to the State Board of Education (SBE)for review. If it meets the SBE parameters, it will come back to the voters of the two towns, Goshen and Lempster, who will decide if the plan will pass at the Annual District Meeting scheduled for March 8, 2014. Each meeting on Jan. 25 is open to members from both communities. Please attend to ask committee members your questions regarding background data, costs, or potential changes, or to comment on the proposed plan.


Unable to attend? Go to www.sau71.org and review WSC minutes, submitted plan, and data,

Post your questions or comments below and check back to see the questions or comments by others.



77 comments:

  1. SAVE OUR SCHOOL!!!!

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    1. We need to gather our neighbors in for informal coffee meetings. There we could help them understand the ramifications splitting up our wonderful school would bring-and not just financially! There is an upcoming information meeting on Jan 25th-if a grass roots foundation of “save our school” supporters could host some of these informal meetings before the informational meeting, we could really do some good. We need everyone to come out and vote at the district meeting on March 8th. Every parent should be there and support our school staying together!

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    2. There seems to be a real "knee-jerk" reaction that all change will be bad even before there's been a discussion. My child's educational experience several years ago at GLCS was absolutely horrible. So bad we pulled him out of the place. Yet, I can accept that positive changes may have been made since then. Why can't people even consider that Lempster could continue to operate a viable school? It seems the "save our school" sentiment is more "don't change our school". I'm trying to be objective, so to help me understand...maybe someone could post specifics about what they fear will happen under a :Lempster operated school. Let'get away from the sky is falling sentiment and present specifics.

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    3. Is Lempster going to accept ALL Goshen students? Or just the current ones? If they say they will now who is to say that this will be the case forever? There is no guarantee, like there is now, that Goshen students (current AND future) can go to school in Lempster.

      There are families who cannot pay the tuition difference to Sunapee, who may have children not yet in school with no guarantee they can go to Lempster, and families who may have already had bad experiences in Newport. For them the sky may actually feel like it is falling....

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  2. I think that it will be a sad day should our school be split up, we have a good school with teachers and paras who truly care for and know our kids. The children of Goshen and Lempster would not get the same care and attention at another school that they get now.

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    1. This is very true. Parents who have had children in Newport should be listened to. It is not the same. What we have here is a million times better. I absolutely do not want to lose our wonderful school. It also seems to me that Sunapee costs so much more that it isn't going to be a real option. This means it's Newport or Goshen Lempster.... Newport is not what I want for my children.

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    2. One root of the problem was Lempster's drive to change the school funding formula that shifted more of the cost to Goshen taxpayers. The court has said a consideration vote should take place, but the school board has blocked the vote. Maybe some folks from Lempster should tell the school board to allow the vote and also tell Lempster voters to go back to the old formula. That would be a first step toward some reconciliation of all of this. Goshen's school tax rate jumper over 35% as a result of this formula change...Lempsters DROPPED over 2%!

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    3. From what I understand each town will pay school related expenses only based on the percentage of students each town has in the school district. Right now that means that Lempster will pay about 65% of the school costs and Goshen will pay 35%.

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    4. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions relating to the withdrawal process and study. I encourage people to collect all the facts and listen to the presentations on Jan 25th to make informed decisions. The statement above is actually not accurate. The increased amount in Goshen's taxes are subsidizing certain educational costs for Lempster. If it is truly about each town paying costs/expenses only based on the percentage of students each town has, then I think this would all be a mute issue. As a taxpayer and resident of Goshen who does not have students in the school, I am certainly willing to support education for Goshen children. Education is the key to providing students with opportunities no matter what background from which they come. It is my civic duty and responsibility as a citizen of New Hampshire. Thus, I want to hear how withdrawing will provide Goshen students with access to educational opportunities that may not be offered currently at the GL school. This is more than about money at least for me. It is about are we giving Goshen students access to the best educational services that our taxes can afford. Set aside the emotions. Let's hear a comparison of what GL school offers in terms of educational services versus what is offered in some of the area schools and then let's make a decision!

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    5. Actually the statement of 1/13 is correct as to how the district will be funded. The language in Article 8 is explicit. Each town will pay a portion of the budget based on the percentage of students each town has in the school district. Based on current enrollment figures that means Lempster pays about 65% of the cost of the budget and Goshen pays 35% of the budget. It is true that Goshen will subsidize some of the Lempster educational costs - to the tune of 35% - but it is also true that Lempster will subsidize some of the Goshen educational costs at a 65% rate. Article 8 is not complicated and is the only current authority for school funding, there is no secret document that charges either town additional educational costs.

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    6. Educationally I have seen a new math curriculum, one that I can access online. There is also an online math program separate from the regular curriculum called ALEKS math - students can do this at home as well. The regular Language Arts curriculum is called Reading Streets and seems good. The school also has two online reading programs. The first, called Reading Plus helps students to read faster with better comprehension. The program also helps improve vocabulary. The other program is called Reading Eggs is designed for younger students and does a lot with phonics etc. Kids seem to like both programs. Both reading programs are available for students to do at home and for parents to be able to check out. These aren't all the programs but are representative of the solid program offered at GLCS. Other stuff like band, chorus, sports, enrichment activities like chess team, drama and way to much to mention seems like a ton to offer our students in such a small school. I was at the Christmas concert and saw lots of kids with solos and small group performances, have seen the same at Memorial Day concert where veterans are honored. There is so much going on for a small school I can't mention it all. Add to that that the staff really cares about and knows the kids and its hard to believe that another school could do any better but I don't know other schools as well and can only compare scores and in this area GLCS holds its own.

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    7. Thanks for clearing that up.

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  3. Unfortunately, the reality is that the G-L school has no future. Do you recall that voters rejected a new school bond several years ago when the state was paying 60% of the cost? Better to develop a plan now for how we will educate our children when the state condemns the school than bury our heads in the sand and think that everything is fine. Continuing the school for Lempster students is a viable short-term solution for them; it is logical for Goshen to make a shift now to some other school.

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    1. I don't think there is any way the state will condemn the school building. Seems like they have been keeping up with maintenance like a new roof, heating system, energy efficient lights, accessible ramps and general cleaning. Very different situation than the one in Unity.

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    2. Maybe...maybe not. Sometimes its the stuff you don't see that can get you like mold and asbestos. Time will tell.

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  4. Didn't the WSC vote that withdrawal was feasible AND suitable?

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    1. The focus at the meeting was on feasibility, there was little discussion on the committee as to whether or not the plan was suitable or in effect, in the best interests of the children. Most of the audience comment seemed to be that the plan was not in the best interests of the students. Also seemed that just about everyone agreed there would be very little savings and some believed it would actually cost both towns more money and there would be a big loss of local control.

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    2. People who focused on the costs presented in the plan missed the point. Those costs projections simply showed that withdrawal is feasible...they would not be the final costs for any educational option. In a Lempster operated school, for example, some staffing reduction would be associated with fewer students, they might need to return to a teaching principal, additional education services might be contracted, part of the facility would be "shuttered"to reduce operational costs, etc, All the above would reduce the costs figures given for feasibility. In Goshen's case, it is quite likely that a single bus route is workable and there are questions about tuition and special education costs that remain unanswered. As of yet the WSC members have not been able to speak directly to Newport and Sunapee school officials to address these questions. My expectation is that final cost estimates will reduce the WSC feasibility estimates.

      And...nobody factored in that the G-L facility will need replacement. Look at the annual G-L school budget, there's almost nothing for facility maintenance. How many years down the line before the state condemns the school?

      Goshen can't lose much more control!

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    3. Will Goshen taxpayers be able to vote on a Newport or Sunapee school budget? Right now Goshen has 2 members of a 5 person school board and on occasion has had 3 members (a majority) on the board. How many voting members will Goshen taxpayers have on a Newport or Sunapee board. I heard that Goshen and Lempster decided to leave Newport more than 10 years ago because they had no say in what went on or costs - is this true?

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    4. Is Goshen going to know what tuition and other costs would be at Newport before we vote in March? If we don't have a vote on the Newport board and we can't vote for or against a Newport budget how do we control costs?

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    5. Indeed Goshen-Lempster voted some years ago to leave SAU#43 to form their own SAU because it was felt that we had little to no say in what went on in the district and were at the bottom of the priority list. That was a different situation to some degree because we were a separate school within the SAU. I don't know what it would mean if we were just students in the SAU. Interesting though that Croydon left 43.

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    6. I guess this is why this is called a blog...it is scary how much of this conversation is based on speculation and rumors. Please do your own research. Unless we were all present in the meetings as to why GL left SAU #43, why are we even discussing this? It is mute and irrelevant to the current situation. Focus on the future and not the past. Ask yourselves what are the advantages and disadvantages NOW of making such a change. Approach this based on facts and evidence and what it takes to educate ALL students in a 21st century and not a 19th or 20th century. Don't we want all GL students to be on the cutting edge educationally to compete with their peers from other regional, national, and yes...internationally schools? This is the shift in 21st century education.

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    7. Know history or doomed to repeat mistakes??

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  5. What happens if the SBE doesn't respond before the March 8, 2014 District Meeting? The leading description is inaccurate.

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    1. We are currently on the January 14 Agenda for the State Board of Education. That will give us some time to address a concern the SBE may have and still get the Withdrawal on the Warrant.

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    2. The State Board of Education has approved the Withdrawal Study. It will be placed on the Warrant for the March 8 meeting.

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  6. Page 30 of the WSC report presents Goshen expenditures to tuition to Newport and Sunapee. Some of these numbers don’t make sense. It is my understanding that the tuition values used are those based on standard calculations by the state. Certain costs are excluded from these calculations, but special education costs are included. Am I right? If so, why then would Goshen pay full tuition AND full special education costs for its students? That seems like double billing. Do we have anything in writing from Newport and Sunapee to confirm these charges, or is this all based on hearsay? Word-of-mouth is not a good way to relay facts.

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    1. School districts have a basic tuition that covers the cost for all students. Sometimes the needs of Special Education IEPs require that a student specific aide is required. There are additional costs that districts pass on to cover the cost of the aide and in Newport and Sunapee the benefits for those staff members.

      I have had conversations with Newport and a call into Sunapee asking for any specific potential costs they may have. I have asked for the replies in writing and these will be shared with the WSC.

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    2. I give up! The system lost my reply twice! I'm sure some WSC members will pick upon what I perceive as double billing.

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    3. Has it been proven down the road that Goshen taxpayers will save money if they leave?

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    4. The numbers presented by the WSC are estimates. So, no there is no guarantee that Goshen taxes will go down. In fact since it's just an estimate no one is to say that they may not increase. Additional costs may pop up. Currently sending the children to Newport will save the Goshen tax payers a TOTAL of $8000. That's not much of a savings to begin with. It is my hope that voters will value the children more than a very small (theoretical) decrease in their tax bills.

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    5. How many years can you remember recently when the budget went down at the GLCS school? The WSC report was to assess feasibility not develop final budget proposals. That was not their legal assignment. Yet everything discussed would indicate that the WSC feasibility numbers are high.

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  7. Does the RSAs provide the specific language for the warrant article to be presented to the voters? If "Yes", what is the question.

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  8. If the SBE approves the withdrawal plan, what is the role of the WSC? Obviously, the education plans and budgets are far from complete. Many questions are unanswered. Voters will want more information than in the WSC report. Two info sessions Jan 25 won't do it.

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    1. The Withdrawal Study Committee has served its function determining if the withdrawal is feasible and suitable. After the informational meetings the WSC will disband. They are still representatives with information and can direct those with questions to various people or documents. After the towns vote then the School Board or Boards will make firm future plans.

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  9. Are two busses really needed to transport Goshen elem/middle school students to Newport? What are the specific logistics that require two busses and what efforts has the WSC made to discuss and overcome these limitations with the Newport district?

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    1. Currently all students from Goshen either ride the bus or have their parents bring them to and from school. The daily beginning and ending times are the same for grades K-8. In both Newport and Sunapee the elementary and middle schools have different start and end times. If the withdrawal passed, the new Goshen School Board will work with the community to determine and budget for bussing needs.

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  10. Will there be a transition plan that allows some Goshen students to tuition to a Lempster school? Will the tuition charged in that case cover transportation for those Goshen students?

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    1. Lempster has indicated the intent to accept Goshen students. However, the Goshen School Board will need to make an agreement. Transportation costs are the responsibility of the home district,.

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    2. They will accept all Goshen students or just the current ones? I was under the impression that only current students were guaranteed a place. Not future ones.

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  11. What high school choice options will be available to Lempster and Goshen students? Will each town pay the full high school tuition cost?

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    1. Would Goshen or Lempster pay for tuition to a private high school?

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    2. This will be determined by the individual school district(s).

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  12. Explain the difference between withdrawing from the Cooperative District and withdrawing from the SAU. What are the pros and cons for Goshen, if they were to consider withdrawing from the SAU?

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  13. If Goshen were to withdraw and enter into an agreement with Newport or Sunapee, what would be the duration of such an agreement? Would the agreement "freeze" costs/student during that period?

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    1. Would we have the agreement before we vote. If we leave first and get agreement after.....well thats pretty risky.

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  14. The WSC spent time looking at enrollment and ADM numbers. It was stated many times that students join and leave the school throughout the year. If sp ed students are added these significant unanticipated costs can be a burden on the budget. But what happens to a student's assigned paraprofessional when a sp ed student leaves? Is there an immediate layoff or a layoff after two weeks or what?

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    1. If there is no need for a student specific aide after a student moves away, position changes are dictated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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    2. That seems like an evasive answer. So what does the current collective bargaining agreement state for the situation the person described above?

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    3. I worked as a para years ago and I know it still works pretty much the same way as it did back then. Chances are someone will be laid off. The administration has to look at the big picture and see if there is a unfilled need or if there is a different way to fill positions that makes it better for the students. Just like any business you don't want to loose good people, but last hired is the rule if the position is between equally qualified people.

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  15. Members of the public asked if withdrawal was good for the children. A partial answer was provided; a better complete one should be developed. Obviously, the whole WSC process should have been better explained to the students at the school. It would have been an opportunity to demonstrate how responsible people in a democracy use laws and procedures to address difficult issues. Also it would have been an opportunity to discuss change and how to deal with change. That wasn't done I guess, but the WSC needs a good answer for the question.

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  16. After reading this blog is seems like there are way too many unanswered questions to consider taking such a radical step as splitting up a school that is working. We know what we have now, a pretty good school, we have no idea the end result of dividing a school thats been around since the 1950's.

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    1. All these questions have answers, but the WSC got off to an extremely slow start and produced a minimal report to meet the deadline required by the RSA. Hopefully, the SBE will request more details and the WSC will have another couple months to finish the effort. There is no need to rush to a vote at the March District Meeting. The statutes provide for calling a special meeting to address the withdrawal vote. We can only hope the SBE will allow the WSC to complete the work.

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  17. If a child has an IEP, what is the risk that they will lose special services if the withdrawal plan is approved? In other words...does withdrawal have any impact on a child's IEP?

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    1. When a student enters a new school their IEP's are reevaluated by the school SPED team and the family. A new IEP is developed based upon the services the school may offer and the specific needs of the child.

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  18. The WSC was told that state law requires that transportation be provided for grades 1 through 8 (maybe look up RSA in case anyone asks), but state law does not require people to use the transportation provided or else people couldn't drive their children to school. Therefore, could Goshen establish Newport as the primary school with transportation provided, but allow parents to elect Sunapee IF they voluntarily paid tuition costs over and above Newport's rates AND if they provided transportation? Does the WSC have a legal opinion on this approach?

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  19. What happens if the withdrawal vote doesn't pass? Is that the end of it?

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    1. The town can do a new petition for withdrawal and the process would continue for another 180 days and follow the same procedures.

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  20. What happens if the withdrawal vote does pass? Like a divorce...who gets what and who decides?

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    1. There are specific statues regarding how this is determined. The withdrawing district (Goshen) gives up all equity in the current district and certain contracts or debts are divided.

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  21. The WSC report included enrollment comparisons on page 10. What are more meaningful breakdowns to reflect actual schools? What are enrollment figures by elementary, middle school, high school for each group?

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    1. That information is included in the report data.

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  22. How useful are all the NECAP scores for between school comparisons when number of students tested differ so significantly between schools compared? At G-L the number of students tested is so low because enrollment in a grade is low that percents are highly influenced by just a very few kids. For example,if you test 10 kids and 5 are proficient and above the percent is 50%. If only 2 more students were proficient or above the percent jumps to 70%. If 100 kids and 50 proficient or above 50%. If 2 more kids proficient or above the percent is 52%. Thus schools with small sample sizes have their percents heavily influenced by individual students. Even for year-to-year comparisons at G-L are changes in scores due to a few "bright" kids moving through the system or some improvements in teaching methods? What are the convincing arguments that these standard tests are useful?

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    1. Good NECAP scores, a summative assessment, have been corroborated with NWEA thrice yearly assessments in math and reading. NWEA is a formative assessment and is nationally normed. There is no bell curve either, if you are, as a student or school, above the 50th percentile, you are in the top half. Almost all grades at GLCS are at or above national norms in both reading and math. In sum both assessments, taken together, show the same thing. The school has been on an upward academic track.

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    2. For more information about both NECAP and NWEA visit:
      http://www.education.nh.gov/instruction/assessment/necap/index.htm
      and
      www.nwea.org.
      The more relevant conversation to have about assessments is how are GL students being prepared for Smarter Balanced assessments coming in Spring 2015 which are replacing NECAP?
      Visit www.smarterbalanced.org for more information.

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  23. I was wondering what would happen to the students from Lempster if the school did split? Would they be able to continue at the current school or would they have to go somewhere different also. If so where would that be and how would it be decided? I am a parent of a student at the school and I am very concerned about the possibility of her not going to the Goshen-Lempster school. I don't think that there should be a split the two towns have been joined for many years and it has worked quite well, we all have a say in what happens at the school whereas we wouldn't have much of a say at all at another school. Please help us get the word out to parents and the community to help save our school!

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    1. Most likely the school would not continue to operate as it does now. Lempster parents and voters need weigh stand up and say SAVE OUR SCHOOL. It will take both towns standing together to do this.

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    2. I find the idea that "it will take both towns standing together to do this" quite ironic. This collaborative spirit was certainly not the case a year ago when one town decided to blindside the other town through manipulation of legal parameters and deadlines to change the apportionment formula. Where was this call for collaboration a year ago? Oh yeah I think a Goshen resident asked this at the annual meeting and then got yelled at by the moderator of the meeting. Strange...how a year later Goshen is seen as the "evil" town for standing up for its rights because they were violated by others who were supposed to be part of a "cooperative" school district. Guess Goshen did not get the "golden egg" that the school board chair kept referring to at last year's annual meeting. Where was everyone a year ago during this conversation? Amazing how much is forgotten in one year.

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    3. The School warrant was published and available well in advance of the school meeting and Goshen was represented by their members of the school board; I don't understand how you can say Goshen was blindsided. I wonder what residents of Goshen would do if the shoe was on the other foot? What if it was Goshen which had the increase in assessed value creating this situation, would they be willing to pay $3500 more per student, per year than Lempster? I think not.....

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  24. On Dec 3rd spread sheets were posted in the withdrawal section. They say that the total cost for Goshen to tuition to Newport is $989,225 and that Goshen staying in Goshen Lempster will cost $941,868. Are these numbers with the old 40/60% split and the numbers presented on the 16th 50/50? I am trying to figure out why these are not the same numbers that were presented on the 16th.

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  25. Here is a direct link to Chapter 195 of NH RSAs that govern cooperating school districts. This may help people to understand the processes in play and allow people to conduct their own research:
    http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XV/195/195-mrg.htm

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    1. Everybody in both towns really needs to read section 195:24 of the document at the link provided above. You don't even need to be an attorney to understand that there is no way a Goshen withdrawal is feasible. They have not considered their forfeiture of all assets (e.g. school buses) or the fact that the plan that they will need to provide to the SBE must also include a plan for the continuation of the existing cooperative school in their absence.

      I wanted to understand what caused the large discrepancy in equalized evaluation and its effect on the apportionment formula. While I don't have a complete grasp on why it was included back in the 50's to begin with I don't think that it should have ever been part of the formula in any cooperative district. If it costs $X to educate a pupil from one town why should it cost anything different to educate a pupil from another town that is being educated in the same system?

      I don't see this happening as Goshen's cost will increase way beyond those estimated in the feasibility report. Just my 2 cents.
      A concerned and fair-minded Lempster resident

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  26. The NH DOE approved the withdrawal plan on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. Evidently, they did not feel the components mentioned above needed to be included in the plan. Per RSA 195:7 there are 3 options for the apportionment formula. (See below). Option C was available last year and through a collaborative effort planned well in advance between the 2 towns perhaps a more equitable formula could have been developed and approved that might have avoided this entire situation.
    195:7 Costs of Capital Outlay and Operation. –
    I. If a cooperative school district was organized prior to July 1, 1963, during the first 5 years after the formation of a cooperative school district each preexisting district shall pay its share of all capital outlay costs and operational costs in accordance with either one of the following formulas as determined by a majority vote of the cooperative district meeting:
    (a) All such costs shall be apportioned on the basis of the ratio that the equalized valuation of each preexisting district bears to that of the cooperative district; or
    (b) One-half of all such costs shall be apportioned on the basis of the ratio that the equalized valuation of each preexisting district bears to that of the cooperative district and 1/2 shall be apportioned on the average daily membership for the preceding year.
    (c) Some other formula offered by the cooperative school board with the board's recommendation, adopted by the cooperative school district and approved by the state board of education.

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  27. The State Board of Education approved the Withdrawal Plan as presented.The plan will be on the Warrant for the Annual School District Meeting on March 8th. Please learn more about the withdrawal plan at the January 25th sessions planned for 10:00 a.m. at the Goshen Town Hall and again at 2:00 p.m. at the Lempster Meeting House.

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  28. This whole withdrawal plan has made the school board cut corners on the budget! As a parent I'm concerned that next year the school is only providing a half-time nurse. How do students schedule a need for the nurse? Please reconsider and allow our kids to have a full time nurse!

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    1. I hadn't heard about this, and yes I'm guilty of not being able to go to the budget meeting. I know the loss of a school nurse means added hours to both classroom teachers and principals! How can our teachers administer to sick children while working to improve the education of the rest of the kids? Who will be administering medications, because I'm sure there are kids there who need their medication mid-day.

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