Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winchester school board to sue panel

By Christina Braccio Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — After a turbulent start to budget season, Winchester’s school board and budget committee may land in court.
The board plans to sue the committee, saying the panel cut the budget to an inoperable amount, according to a letter from Superintendent Kenneth R. Dassau to committee Chairman Brian D. Moser.
However, the budget committee believes cutting the budget, and therefore cutting taxes, is what’s best for Winchester residents, Moser said.
The committee adopted a budget of $9,197,777 for the 2012-13 year — which is 20 percent lower than the school board’s recommended budget of $11,510,850.
Dassau said the loss of $2.3 million from the budget plan would leave the district unable to function. The committee proposed eliminating the district’s business office and business software, which would cause serious payroll and financial troubles, Dassau said. It also wants to cut 14 teaching positions at Winchester School.
The committee also proposed cutting nearly $1 million in funding for special education programs required by law, Dassau said.
“I spoke with our attorney, and cutting that is illegal,” he said. “They don’t have the authority to do that. They are violating state and federal laws, and opening up the district to lawsuits from parents with children who need those services.”
The budget plan now heads to voters, where during next month’s deliberative session, they can discuss and amend the committee’s budget proposal. According to law, residents can add only up to 10 percent to a budget committee’s recommendation. Even if that happened, the budget would still be 10 percent lower than the board’s recommendation, which would leave the district scrambling to provide services to students, Dassau said.
He said the board decided to file suit in the hopes that the budget will be increased to its recommendation.
Dassau said the school board has placed a warrant article on the March ballot to eliminate the budget committee. “This has to stop,” he said.
However, Moser said the budget committee is doing the best it can for Winchester residents.
“Cuts in the school will be hard on the kids, but if parents can’t pay their taxes, that will be just as hard on the kids,” Moser said.
The budget committee researched the district’s finances and consulted outside authorities, partly because of a lack of trust in the school board and mostly so the committee could make an informed recommendation, Moser said.
Moser said earlier this month that the budget committee was frustrated by a lack of information from the school board, and that because of this missing information did not set a budget figure in time for the public hearing.
As of this morning, Moser had yet to see Dassau’s letter stating the board will file suit.
“What they do, I have no control over,” he said. “But they are not happy. That much is clear.”


relick said...

Imagine,A $100,000. + a year bully trying to intimidate the representatives of a town full of workers that probably have an average yearly pay of around the mid 30's. Time for change Winchester, send Mr. Dassau packing.

Anonymous said...

Winchester without the safety net of the elected budget committee, is like having the fox guard the chicken house. If you think that taxes went up last year, you had better check your bank balance. The SAU regime must think that the voters are all crazy.

Anonymous said...

Has nothing to do with intimidation, the facts are that the cuts proposed are illegal. And according to a previous commenter, this suit will cost the town due to the BC.

what a jerk said...

You are a jacka$$, these cuts are NOT illegal and you can stop waving your Ken Dassau flag now and go climb back under the rock you came out from under. The BC cut salaries and positions, they did not cut sped or sped programs. Get a grip and try, though it is probably hard for someone like you, to actually read what the committee PROPOSED they cut. Then when you are done struggling, please put into print for all of us to see exactly what statute any of these cuts violates to make them illegal. Provide the RSA #'s and a link for all of us to see.

Anonymous said...

The school board can redistribute the funds any way it wants to and is fully capable of meeting federal laws within the BC's proposed budget. The BC can only recommend how money will be spent, but it is a bottom line budget and the school decides where to apply resources. The BC has zero authority over actual expenditures.

What you are seeing is Dassau's fear that his Reign of Fiscal Terror may be coming to an abrupt end. Dassau must think he is royalty because he refers to himself in his own communications as "Dr. Dassau."

Anonymous said...

If you look under sped related services it is cut. Those services includes occupational therapy counseling psychological services speech and special ed teachers. They even cut sped transportation.
You may want to look at the text again since you can't seem to find any sped cuts. There they are.

Anonymous said...

One advantage the budget group had was the budget numbers. Perhaps their suggestion of cutting SPED costs was to eliminate dollars and make the board bid services. The same old deal is not going to cut it anymore. You will still have your SPED services but they will be delivered in a cost effective manner instead of ok the job is yours.

Just remember the board has the job of determining how the funds are spent. They spent more than they should have last year. Don't be fooled by as some of the numbers from the board could be inflated. I wonder are next year's supplies bought? Hmm are we paying for things ahead of time?

Anonymous said...

Sped transportation was cut????? No, the proposed transportation was cut. The SAU proposed a $140,000 increase over last year. Did the BC line item show a $140,000 cut????? They spend more for sped transportation then the regular one. Get a copy of the budget, not just the proposed cuts.

Very concerned said...

Think about this: as written in the Brattleboro Reformer, 01/25/12, pg 3, Headline: "N.H. gets a D- (minus) on teacher quality policies".
"New Hampshire has made almost no progress in enacting policies that promote teacher quality in the last two years and continues to score poorly in a national report being released Wednesday". " to ensure the quality of teachers entering the classroom, to retain the best and get rid of the worst". And, on the article goes. Just how does the system in Winchester fit into this picture?

Anonymous said...

Must be the super wants to get a raise as he is going to have the troops prepare their own budget. Enough of this-pay attention to the budget committee as they have worked hard. They have the taxpayers in mind not lying to people about what needs to be spent. The committee is the only game in town that we can trust.

Trust is very important as I for one would like to keep my house!