Officials outline path to withdraw
GREENFIELD — ConVal School Superintendent Dick Bergeron responded Tuesday to reports that the Temple Select Board plans to form a committee to investigate whether the town should withdraw from the ConVal School District.
During a School Board meeting at Greenfield Elementary School, Bergeron said withdrawal from a district requires a multistep process that would require a majority vote at a Temple town meeting in order to initiate a withdrawal study, followed by the formation of a study committee made up of School Board members and Select Board members from each of the town’s in the school district. Any plan that committee develops would then require approval from the state Board of Education and after that approval by majority vote at a school district meeting.
Bergeron, who passed out a copy of the relevant state statutes to board members, said questions of possible withdrawal were raised several years ago by residents of Dublin, but it never got to the stage where the School Board was required to conduct a withdrawal study.
Bergeron said none of the Temple Select Board members had spoken to him about their concerns.
At Tuesday’s meeting, David Martz, Temple’s representative on the School Board, said he had not attended the Temple Select Board meeting where the issue was discussed. Martz said he has since talked to Select Board members John Kieley and Gail Cromwell.
“They are looking to see if there are other options. I don’t think it’s an attempt to leave the district,” Martz said. “It doesn’t hurt to explore options.”
Kieley, the Temple Select Board chair, is the town’s representative on the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee to the school district. Cromwell is a former School Board member who was often at odds with the majority of the board during her tenure. She recently promoted a petition warrant article calling for the district to have just one middle school in Peterborough, which she contended would help ensure that the small elementary schools in towns such as Temple, would remain in operation. That proposal, which would have closed Great Brook School in Antrim, failed by a wide margin, although it was supported by a majority of voters in Temple.
The New Hampshire law on withdrawal procedures from a school district, RSA 195:25, states that either the school board of a cooperative district or the voters of a pre-existing district that joined the cooperative — such as Temple in this case — may direct the school board to conduct a withdrawal study.
The study committee would have to have at least one member of the school board from each town and one select board member from each town but could also have other members. Within 180 days, the committee would have to submit a report the state Board of Education. If it determines that withdrawal is feasible, the committee would have to submit a withdrawal plan. If the committee decides withdrawal isn’t feasible, the town that requested the study could submit a minority report, which could include a withdrawal plan.
The withdrawal plan, according to RSA 195:26, would have to include a method of apportioning operating costs and capital expenses, a date for a change to take place and a plan for educating students in the withdrawing town, including tuition arrangements if necessary. Withdrawing towns would remain liable for their share of indebtedness on capital costs. According to RSA 195:28, buildings and land would be transferred to the withdrawing town, which would have to pay an amount determined by the school district and the withdrawing town as part of the agreement.
If a withdrawal plan is approved by the Board of Education, it would go before voters of the full School District. If approved, the town could leave the district under the terms of the plan. If it failed, the town seeking to withdraw could appeal to the Board of Education.
School Board member Myron Steere of Greenfield said at Tuesday’s meeting that a withdrawal study when the town of Surry sought to leave the Monadnock Regional School District cost between $10,000 and $12,000 and the overall cost to the Monadnock district when Surry withdrew was about $25,000. Bergeron said it would be premature to speculate on how much a withdrawal study could cost, since each school district has quite different issues to consider.
Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.