After a relatively quiet evening in which most warrant articles passed unanimously, Boscawen’s town meeting ended with an impassioned debate over the Merrimack Valley School District’s funding for the International Baccalaureate program and a call by voters for more transparency.
“The reason this is so important is that sooner or later, the IB program, it is expanding and it’s going to become so costly, and the grants that are funding it right now are going to dry up. And one of these years we’re going to have a giant surprise that ‘Oh, by the way, it’s our problem,’ ” said Bill Murphy, a member of Boscawen’s budget committee and frequent critic of the school board.
Murphy introduced a nonbinding resolution requesting the school board print all sources of revenue and spending related to the program in next year’s annual district report. He made this request to board members at last week’s annual district meeting, and board members said providing the information would be possible. Lorrie Carey, a school board member from Boscawen and state representative, came out sharply against Murphy’s request, saying he and others were fear-mongering and fueling conspiracy theories about the program’s ties to the United Nations.
“For some reason there’s this conspiracy theory about IB,” she said. “It has nothing to do with educating the children, it has to do with individuals believing it’s the U.N. takeover of the world.”
Voters approved the resolution, 36-28, after rejecting Carey’s motion to table it.
Also at the meeting, the $3.09 million budget, up 2.2 percent from last year, passed without discussion. Voters also approved adding $170,000 to various capital reserve funds, redesignating the purpose of a facilities capital reserve fund and appropriating money to the Penacook Community Center, Boscawen Historical Society and Penacook Rescue Squad.
Murphy told the crowd he was making his IB request for the sake of transparency because the school district is a main consumer of tax dollars. The board has never provided detailed information on where the money for IB comes from and how it is used, he said. If the grant money dries up, residents need to know what the program costs, he said.
“And when it becomes our problem, we can say ‘No, we don’t want it anymore,’ ” he said.
The district pays for the program through grants, and that information is available to anyone who calls the administrative office, Carey said. The district never prints accounts of federal grants in the annual report because it would take up extra pages and cost more money. But the district must strictly report grant activities to the government anyway, so all of the information is available, she said. Furthermore, IB is a teaching method, and the district has used grant money for professional development purposes for years, she said.
“If we printed all the federal grant detail in the annual report it would be the size of War and Peace,” she said.
Murphy and others, including Salisbury Selectman Ken Ross-Raymond, who presented the same resolution to Salisbury voters, are trying to accuse the teachers, administrators and school board of a cover-up and conspiracy that does not exist, Carey said.
After Murphy’s resolution passed by 12 votes, he came to the microphone again.
“Just remember who didn’t want you to know,” he told voters.
“That’s bullsh--,” Carey stood up and said. “I appreciate you want to know, but this insinuating, this is bullsh--, and I don’t mind saying it. And somebody needs to stand up and say it’s time we take back our town from people who are fear-mongers. It’s time we get involved with our schools and see what’s there, and to insinuate that this information is not available is a bunch of crap.”
One voter stood up making a motion to seal the proposal from being reconsidered, and the meeting promptly adjourned. After the meeting, Carey sent an email to the selectmen and other town officials apologizing for her strong language.
All three selectmen voted in favor of Murphy’s motion. Boscawen residents are generous and generally supportive of education, said Chairman Craig Saltmarsh. Supporting Murphy’s amendment, he said, was about making sure voters have every piece of information possible.
“We just want to make sure we know where we’re headed,” he said.
Aside from the IB proposal, the article generating the most discussion was to redesign the purpose of the town recreation and senior center facility capital reserve fund to apply to any facilities within the Parks and Recreation Department. In 2007, the town made plans to build a state-of-the-art senior and recreational center, but that has been put on hold since the economy collapsed. There are other buildings in town, such as the old town hall and the old fire station, that are in need of repair.
During that discussion and at the end of the meeting, fire Chief Ray Fisher and other voters spoke up about buildings that need repair.
“We’re at a point where we’ve got to spend some serious money to keep town buildings standing, and I just think it would be a good idea to get the input from the townspeople so that the board and everyone else knows what avenue should be taken,” Fisher said.
A committee has been established to evaluate need and set priorities, and the selectmen will bring any proposals to a public hearing before spending from the fund.
“I don’t think it’s up to us as a group of three to make these decisions,” said Selectman Roger Sanborn.
TITLE LXIII ELECTIONS
CHAPTER 659 ELECTION PROCEDURE
659:44-a Electioneering by Public Employees. –No public employee, as defined in RSA 273-A:1, IX, shall electioneer while in the performance of his or her official duties or use government property, including, but not limited to, telephones, facsimile machines, vehicles, and computers, for electioneering. For the purposes of this section, "electioneer'' means to act in any way specifically designed to influence the vote of a voter on any question or office. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
As the IB Coordinator at Bedford High School I have seen the first hand benefits of the program. It prepares student for college by providing assessments that you can't fake your way through. Whether it is a recorded conversation in a World Language or being asked to design your own science experiments these requirements develop critical thinking skills. It also allows for tremendous local control over what we teach and how we deliver the information. Our English teachers pick the books we read, our school decides what part of the world we want to study in History Class. How would limiting the number of nationally accepted honors programs that schools can choose to offer improve our national security? If you have any questions about how we deliver this program feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bedford IB Coordinator electioneering on Facebook?
Greetings: I am a teacher from MVSD. It was really nice to see how many students showed up at the recent hearing. HB1403 is just the tip of the iceburg, though. It is one bill out of many in this state and beyond that challenge public education as we know it. How do you feel about expanding your passion for protecting your quality education in Bedford to advocating for quality public education for all? We could use your passion and energy! There are so many ways to get involved. Here's one possibility:http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/
Bedford IB World School Promotes Political Activism
Apparently, a "rigorous" IB education involves school officials posting fliers to lure students away from their studies to protest HB 1403 at the State Capital. Note the disingenuous inclusion of AP on the flier.
Controversy has increased dramatically in the state of New Hampshire since HB 1403 passed the House by a vote of 209 to 102. From local LTEs to a pro/con two hour TV feature, both sides are gearing up for Senate testimony next week. Here are some of the recent exchanges. The Concord Monitor requires a paid subscription for its articles, so unfortunately, TAIB cannot share most of what has been written on that site.
And of course there is this parent website at http://www.mvsd-ib.org/ where they pull info from the IB website that cannot be refuted as it's from their own mouths.
March 9, 2012 - Much has transpired since TAIB paid a visit to MVSD in October, 2011. The Concord Patch gave Lisa McLoughlin's op-ed front page billing. NH Republican Representatives Laurie Pettengill, Gregory Hill and Seth Cohn have worked tirelessly to introduce a bill before the Assembly which would allow New Hampshire parents the ability to "opt out" of an all IB district.
"House Bill 542, which the Legislature passed over Gov. John Lynch's veto earlier this month, allows parents to pull their child from a class if they deem the material objectionable. But objections to IB aren't about a single book or class discussion, and HB 542 requires the parents to pay for the alternative materials, Cohn said."
While the final version of the bill does not specifically name International Baccalaureate, it provides a venue for parents to object to course material.
Several LTE's and op-eds began to appear in the Concord Monitor beginning in February, leading up to the biggest public turn out for a budget hearing meeting in MVSD's history. Here are some of the op-eds and LTE's:
TAIB would have loved to have featured the terrific pic of Heidi Martin featured , but it is copyright protected. Love the looming shadow behind her!
Merrimack Valley SD Called Out on Districtwide IB Takeover
TAIB was honored to be invited to a meeting held in the Merrimack Valley High School library on October 12, 2011. The ride up from NY was delightful and upon entering the state of New Hampshire, the roads were lined with signs supporting various Republican candidates who were arriving for that night's Republican Presidential debate.
For the most part, it would appear that the parents of children actually enrolled in MVSD have been kept in the dark about what their district is planning. A quick look at the MVSD website reveals that anyone interested in "relevant documents" will be directed to a "page not found".
Right away, that tells TAIB that the district is attempting to hide information and is not being transparent. Before the meeting, TAIB prepared a packet of the following documents and THIS ARTICLE by Dr. Thomas Sowell, which are referred to in the video that follows:
We were somewhat shocked (but not entirely) to learn that the "Committee" decided to make the meeting only one hour in length and had not bothered to place the meeting on the district's website schedule of committee meetings. Other than the Republican Representatives, TAIB and my gracious hostess Jane Aitken, the only members of the audience were handpicked pro-IB staff members.
It is unfortunate we did not capture on video the one committee member claiming, "Only one person has complained to me about IB so far!" While TAIB fully expected the Delphi Technique to be employed, the faux-parliamentary procedure (in other words, rudeness and arrogance) displayed by this committee should make any open-minded parent and taxpayer's toes curl.
TAIB and NH citizen watchdogs will endeavor to increase awareness among MVSD parents about what is happening in their district. This is much too beautiful a district to allow it to waste millions of dollars and indoctrinate an entire generation of public school children.