04-17-2014 News

The Hooksett School Board set the stage for a coming public hearing intended to quote unquote “understand the vote” cast during the recent election against the tuition contract with Pinkerton Academy.  school_board_recap-elfA subcommittee of the board comprised of John Lyscars and Todd Lizotte presented two options; one an open forum where folks could just come to the mic and speak and the other where participants would be given different colored tickets to place in themed boxes that said stuff like “I Just really really love Manchester schools” or “the last school board was soooo bad, I wasn’t gonna vote for anything it wanted.”  Ultimately, they decided just to let people have their say, though Board Vice Chair Amy Boilard said she doubted anyone opposed to the contract was going to attend the session.  Board member Mike Berry pushed to have parents of students notified by the district of the coming hearing, which got some push back from Board Chair Joanne McHugh who said the forum was intended to be for the community as a whole, not just the parents of kids in the school.  Board Member James Sullivan observed a number of elderly folks voting that day and wondered whether or not they could really be effectively notified of the

Central High:  Not so crowded after all

Central High: Not so crowded after all

opportunity.  The hearing, which no doubt will be laden with folks from the pro-Pinkerton ONLY crowd, is scheduled for April twenty first somewhere in the Cawley Middle School.  Meanwhile, Pinkerton Academy expressed its interest in continuing the enrollment agreement governing incoming freshmen from the town for another year.  That triggered a tedious discussion over a motion made by Board Member David Pearl to establish a negotiations committee that included members of the board.  Seems like some folks there wanted to negotiate, but not call it a negotiations committee.  As to the class size data presented on Central and West high schools, which Lizotte had called a useless data dump, Boilard announced she’d reviewed the document for Central and found a mere four classes that had one more kid than allowed by state standards.  Superintendent Charles Littlefield recommended they accept Manchester’s request for representation at their school board sub committee meetings.  We’ve linked to our Live Forum Blog coverage of the meeting so you can see how it all went down.

The Bedford Police Department is the latest to announce its participation in the National Drug Take Back Day this April twenty sixth.  On that day, town residents can bring any unwanted prescription drugs to police headquarters on Constitution Drive between the hours of ten and two.  Bedford cops noted, however, that liquids, needles and patches are not accepted by the program.  No doubt several others will get involved, so contact your local P D to see if they’ll take your unwanted prescriptions off your hands.  With prescription drug crime running rampant across the state, the cops say it’s a good idea to remove any unneeded drugs from your home.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court heard arguments regarding whether or not the state could bar the use of privately funded and granted scholarships that gained state tax credits from being used at religious schools.  Strafford County Superior Court Judge John Lewis ruled that tax credits were essentially tax expenditures of the state and allowing those

Is granting a tax credit the same as spending public funds?

Is granting a tax credit the same as spending public funds?

monies to be used to pay tuition at religious schools violated the New Hampshire Constitution.   Currently, state law allows business to receive a business profits or business enterprise tax credit worth eighty five percent of a donation to a qualifying charitable scholarship fund that assists low and moderate income families with children in K through twelve schools.  According to education advocate Ann Marie Banfield, deductions, exemptions and credits were all discussed by the judges and attorneys to determine if the money given to the charitable organization is really state money.  Those opposed to Lewis’ ruling said it was the parents who determined where the money goes under this program, pointing out that the state has no role in how the money is spent.  The credit, they said, is awarded to the business after they make a donation to the scholarship organization.  Those opposed to the scholarship program argued that this was unconstitutional based on their interpretation of what constitutes public money.  They argued credits deprive the state of funds it could use for public schools and diverts those lost funds to religious schools, thus helping the schools, not the students.  If the court strikes down this provision of the law along those lines, it begs the question as to whether or not they will also have to strike down property tax exemptions and the tax deductions for 5 0 1 c 3 churches and hospitals too.

Zdziarski:  New policy and procedures needed to notify parents.

Zdziarski: New policy and procedures needed to notify parents.

Bedford parent Jonathan Zdziarski is asking the Bedford School Board to develop a new notification system to alert parents to student surveys that contain potentially controversial subject matters.  Zdziarski detailed his objections to the notification process and the survey itself here on Girard at Large on Monday.  He essentially said the notification was contained in a weekly email sent to parents that simply told parents a survey was coming and linked to the letter written by the Vice Principal at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School which failed to mention the controversial content.  Zdziarski said the policy should mandate clear and exclusive (not mixed with yearbook announcements) notification to parents for any materials distributed to students, including surveys, covering topics requiring parental consent by law, and an itemized listing of which  topics are specifically included in the materials they want to distribute.  He also asked for a policy requiring any such materials, including contracts with third parties, be posted in advance on the school district’s Web site so parents can conveniently access the materials.  He said it seemed wildly unreasonable for the district to use online/ email mediums as chosen instruments only when it suited the school system, and walk-in-during-school-hours-locked-in-a-drawer policies, which is how they made this survey available to parents, for anything that doesn’t suit their purposes.  I think I like this guy.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ starts right now.