Mascenic: Board shuts off speaker

  • Jeff Salmonson of the Mascenic School Board and Superintendent Ruthann Goguen. Staff photo by Brandon Latham

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, December 08, 2016 7:8AM

The chairman of the Mascenic school board cut off a resident speaking about a possible cut in the art department, saying he couldn’t speak because he was not on the meeting’s agenda.

“I’m going to have to shut you off right there,” said Jeff Salmonson, chairman of the Mascenic School Board.

DJ Leger, whose wife, Christen Leger, is an art teacher at Mascenic, delivered the following statement. “As soon as the decision is made, a teacher who has remained steadfastly dedicated to the students of the district is at risk of losing her position.”

Leger, who had asked not to be identified, said he was speaking as a “resident, a parent in the district and a spouse.”  

Leger was told he could speak only about the budget as a whole, not personnel decisions. The board suggested he write a letter to the board.

“He was getting into personnel matters,” said Salmonson. “That wasn’t what was on the agenda and we need to go into non-public to get into personnel.” The public is not allowed into non-public portions of board meetings.

According to Superintendent Ruthann Goguen, the members of the board had to make their final suggested changes Monday night after the meeting so it would be ready for an approval vote in two weeks, and then a public hearing on Jan. 9, 2017.

Mascenic Regional High School has two art teachers, Christen Leger and Rebecca Williams, who will teach 116 students in the 2016-17 school year.

As of the last announcement, the budget for fiscal year 2018 is $18,719,703, which is 1.7 percent higher than 2017’s.

The proposal has a surplus built in, as well as a health care contingency fund and funds to lease additional equipment to plow and salt the school and district office parking lots in the winter.

Facilities and Maintenance Director Gary Somero said that the snow day this week was a success.

“First kind of snow day went fairly well,” he said. “Despite being slippery and the timing being off, overall good with no incidents.”

A large portion of this Dec. 5 meeting covered the board’s weekend strategic planning session, during which members of the district discussed their five-year goals.

Members of the board said it is a priority to find out what residents want as well.

“Obviously, student learning is the focus,” said board member Tara Sousa. “But people’s ideas on what we do or how we get there might be wildly different.”

That issue – what people value within the realm of student learning – also spilled into the arts debate.

“One of the things we talked about [at the strategic planning session] was making arts a core part of the experience of Mascenic,” said board member Steve Spratt.

The board is planning on mailing surveys to every mailbox in Greenville and New Ipswich asking residents for input regarding the future of the district.

The next strategic planning session is Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The next school board meeting is Monday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m

Brandon Latham can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or blatham@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @blathamMLT.