March 3, 2022
After six years as an elected selectman in the town of Hampton I have heard many views on the Hampton SAU 90 school district, some positive and some not so positive. Since we will be having our town meeting next Tuesday, for our annual local elections, this topic is currently a hot one.
It has been my personal experience that most of the "all positive" comments came from faculty, staff, or individuals who had an established relationship with the SAU 90 district (long serving locally elected / appointed officials.) Whereas others who do not have a relationship or no longer have children in the school system are more likely to have the "not so positive" comments about the district. As an individual selectman, here are a few concerns about happenings at SAU 90 that I have come across:
1. Some Hampton SAU 90 taxpayers are concerned Goal #4 - Equity, within the Superintendent's Strategic Plan as posted at sau90.org. What does this mean, what does achieving this goal involve? Superintendent's response: Goal 4 ensures that all students have access to an education. It takes into account their academic, behavioral, and social emotional needs. For example, students who require additional support due to language and speech needs, receive that service. Other students who need support due to anxiety would receive counseling support. All of this is contingent upon team agreement which includes parents. Additionally, prior to my role as superintendent, we were required to fulfill a number of requirements per the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) agreement related to a prior case filed against the district. The OCR is part of the US Department of Education. So, as one can see, the district sort of had its hands tied, in order to rectify the complaint, an agreement was signed by the previous superintendent, and this was part of the stipulations, aka "the strings attached." 2. Irate parents back in February of 2021 when they had discovered that their academy children had received a school email from the vice principal with an open zoom link invite to an upcoming Black Lives Matter Youth Town hall. This invite was sent without prior parental consent. After speaking with the Superintendent about all this and doing a little of my own digging, I would argue that there may currently be a few teachers and students at the academy that buy into this Marxist propaganda and ideal and these folks want to spread its agenda throughout the youth in our local community. That is what communists do. Luckily, it seems that this form of Marxist infiltration has left or is laying low within the school district. However, parents and taxpayers should continue to pay attention and ensure this propaganda stay out of the three Hampton public schools. 3. Budget increases are by far the number one complaint I receive from constituents. Luckily, I can wholeheartedly vouch that the SAU 90 district and administration has an open-door policy and welcomes any concerned citizen. 4. Another common concern, why do school budgets keep increasing when school enrollment is down? Enrollment as of October 1, 2021, was 956 for the three schools, per a recent discussion with the superintendent, there has been a slight increase since then to somewhere in the 960's, so let us round that up to 970. If we take the proposed budget divided by 970, that equates to $25,753 per student for the 2022-2023 school year. 5. Why do we still have common core at SAU 90 and in NH? If the citizens of Hampton no longer want common core, we must demand its repeal to the statehouse. Contact our state representatives, state senator, executive councilor, and the governor; that and not accepting federal monies with common core strings attached, are the only ways to rid it from Hampton schools. We must demand that both the state and the feds "leave it local" when it comes to our schools. Our district knows what is best for Hampton Below I am going to list a few facts about the SAU 90 proposed budget for the 2022-2023 year:
The proposed 2022-2023 SAU 90 budget is $25,005,913, this is $196,174 or 0.8% more than the 2021-2022 adopted budget of $24,807,739, if this budget is passed, the estimated tax impact will be $0.22 per $1,000 of property valuation.
Out of the proposed $25 million budget, approximately $18,654,000 or 74.6% is for employee wages and related benefits and insurances.
$2,769,485 or 11% of the proposed is for special education.
So, I will end with this, Hampton has a great school community, if taxpayers would prefer more accountability and transparency from the district, then they must step up and demand it by attending SAU 90 school board meetings, speaking at public comment, volunteering with the Parents Teachers Association, and running for SAU 90 school board. As we can see above, almost 75% of the $25 million budget is going toward wages and related benefits, which leaves only 25% for operations and supplies. The best way to rectify and/or address most local SAU 90 concerns is to become more involved locally and demand less involvement from the state and feds in regard to the operations, the curriculums, and the strategic plan of the SAU 90 local school district. #barnes4nh