The School Budget Committee

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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby ggkrupp » Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:12 pm

That is fair Matt ... I agree
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby MattPublicover » Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:38 am

lynn wrote:us senate??
2 senators represent vastly difference number of "man"s
the US House is divided up proportionately but not the US Senate


Yes, but we elect our senators through a democratic election, don't we? "Amendment XVII: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each
State, elected by the people thereof." Prior to the passage of this amendment in 1913, the US Senators from each state were appointed by the state legislatures, not elected directly by the people. I am sure you know this, Lynn, but I am being specific for the benefit of others reading this forum who may not be aware of this fact.

That is what I meant when I said the Senate is elected democratically.
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby lynn » Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:56 am

you are correct on the elected vs appointed issue
it was the "one man, one vote " comment I was referencing
that usually refers to the fact that the Congress members each represent
the same number of voters as opposed to the Senators who do not
though here the NH Senate is proportionate as well as the NH House
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby ggkrupp » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:40 am

MattPublicover wrote:Prior to the passage of this amendment in 1913, the US Senators from each state were appointed by the state legislatures, not elected directly by the people.


We are way off topic here and I apologize for continuing to derail the thread but the XVII ammendment is one of my pet peeves. This single change to the Constitution has more to do with the ineffectiveness of Congress than any other change in Government at the Federal level since our founding. The Senate was meant to be a body that represented the interest of the States, not the people. This is why each State has equal representation in the Senate. Because of the XVII ammendment however, we now have a House of Representatives and a House of Super Representatives, both of which spend most of their time pandering for votes rather than representing their intended interest. This ammendment should be repealed so that the Senate will once again listen to the State legislatures that appointed them or risk being recalled.
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby Norman Phillips » Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:43 pm

Lynn wrote

hard to argue with your logic, BUT
first: we have an article to dissolve the budget committee
second: we have 4 seats for 3 years and only two people running - one incumbent and one new-comer
third ; noone running for two open one yr terms seats
what does that tell us

Lynn, this is the most serious criticism of the BC, one that might convince me that the current BC is a lost cause. .
Matt Publicover wrote:
Why is the Budget Committee considered by the voters to be "their specialized Committee" any more than the School Board itself is? The BC and the SB both consist of members of the community who are elected to serve as representatives of the people. The School Board is the people's committee.

Matt: Neither of us can really speak as to the mind of the voters, but this was the conclusion I drew from the large majority that approved the formation of the BC in 2006. (My memory tells me that it was even slightly larger than the majority approving the change from Selectmen to Councillors, etc. )
Gary Krupp wrote:
Besides having authority over only a small portion of the budget, the BC is a waste of resources beyond the 11 cents in direct costs that Mr. Phillips cites. Department heads and administrators (who have salaries in the $60-130K range) have to defend their budget before the SB, the BC liaison sub-committees, the full BC, and the public hearing. From budget creation to DS is currently July-Mar. Even if you discount the time from the public hearing on, we are still having these officials defending budgets for most of the school year, rather than running their departments
.
Gary: The BC only adds one month, in which a department head will spend at most one or two additional hours or so meeting with one of the BC liaison groups. And since this takes place after their discussions with the administration and School Board, the preparation is already accomplished. The administrator required time is more severe, I admit.
Gary also wrote:
Finally, we have witnessed the very prudent and transparent budgeting on the town side with no BC for several years now. I believe that voters would see the same from the School Board.

It was not always so, Gary; the first year of the Council was a mess. I agree that more recent town budgets have been well designed to accomodate our current fiscal restraints.
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby Debra Huffman » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:24 pm

Now that the BudCom is being retained, I hope the School Board and the BudCom will work together to come up with ideas that address some of the concerns people raised. Can the BudCom and SB piggyback in some way to minimize the time constraints on the budgeting process?

I look forward to hearing some creative thinking on this. Since the vote was close to 50/50, it means a lot of people question whether the BudCom adds enough value to be worth their impact on the process.
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby TonyRichardson » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:40 am

ggkrupp wrote:
MattPublicover wrote:Prior to the passage of this amendment in 1913, the US Senators from each state were appointed by the state legislatures, not elected directly by the people.


We are way off topic here and I apologize for continuing to derail the thread but the XVII ammendment is one of my pet peeves. This single change to the Constitution has more to do with the ineffectiveness of Congress than any other change in Government at the Federal level since our founding. The Senate was meant to be a body that represented the interest of the States, not the people. This is why each State has equal representation in the Senate. Because of the XVII ammendment however, we now have a House of Representatives and a House of Super Representatives, both of which spend most of their time pandering for votes rather than representing their intended interest. This ammendment should be repealed so that the Senate will once again listen to the State legislatures that appointed them or risk being recalled.


I agree 100% Gary, but I guarantee we are a minority opinion on this.

A problem with full democracy which is overlooked is that EVERY question becomes local and the "big picture" becomes blurry consensus rather than actual vision.
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby RBarnes » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:23 am

Considering this is now the 2nd time the budget committee was put to a vote and voters choose to keep it I think it would be worth considering looking to put it up to a vote on whether or not the people would want it brought back on the town side as well. Regardless of whether you supported it or not it just seems a little foolish that we'd want it for the school budget but not the town. We should go all in or nothing.
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby ggkrupp » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:41 am

RBarnes wrote:Considering this is now the 2nd time the budget committee was put to a vote and voters choose to keep it I think it would be worth considering looking to put it up to a vote on whether or not the people would want it brought back on the town side as well. Regardless of whether you supported it or not it just seems a little foolish that we'd want it for the school budget but not the town. We should go all in or nothing.


50% of 2500 people is hardly a mandate from the 16,000+ voters for more oversight but there is nothing preventing another group of petitioners to pose the question Rick ...
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby Debra Huffman » Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:39 am

I agree, Gary. The vote says that we are pretty evenly divided on the issue. I'm eager to hear some creative thinking from the SB and BudCom for how to address the concerns of the slightly <50%, while respecting the vote of the slightly >50%.
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby Tim Tenhave » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:01 am

Hi Gary and Deb,

I agree as well. It is evident to some of us (including comments from other current School BudCom members) that there are issues with the current status quo of the Budget Committee. It is my sincere hope the new acting Chair will call a meeting of the BudCom earlier than later and provide for some discussion on the path forward. I would be very happy to participate if wanted.

Rick, you commented to me and others that you have concerns with the Budcom as it sits now. I would much rather see a working BudCom model get ironed out on the School side before thinking of moving that model to any other body in our Town. I realize that "working" has a different definition to different people. I understand from serving on boards, committee, councils it is also in the end a bit of compromise and censensus. Let's take a moment first and try to reach some compromise on the model to see if it can become viewed as having value to a super-majority.

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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby Norman Phillips » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:42 pm

Two aspects of the BC come up in my thinking on this. A frequent criticism from the SB is the timing, in particular, competition with the Xmas holiday.
1. There is considerable history with the former Municipal BC as to time lines and what is doable.
Unfortunately, some of that history took place under different conditions, such as the time of
Final Town meeting (ballot) vote.
2. I recall that in later years the BC sometimes got the school budget before it was completely finished by the School Board. This might be a key to easing the time problem. Consider for example, the following schedule.
a. The SB begins its hearing of the Superintendent’s budget so as to be about 50% done by the start of the Xmas holidays. It should begin with the more predictable departments, ( e.g. Food Services and Maintainance (?) ).
b. In early December, the BC receives the complete budget of the Superintendent, printed on the usual white paper.
c. Changes to the Superintendent’s budget made by the SB are printed on colored paper, to distinguish them from the original version.
d. The BC thus has a complete Sup.’s Budget, plus the SB changes to part of it, all by the beginning of the vacation period. At this time liaison appointments will have been made by the Chair of the BC, so that liaisons for departments in c above can immediately study the relevant parts of the SB comments and Sup's budget. They can then make appointments with the appropriate department head(s) and report back to the full BC by mid-January.
e. In the first two weeks of January the SB finishes its review of the remaining departments and sends changes to the SB, again on colored paper.
f. By mid-January the BC has all the information it needs, after the final liaison appts.

Some tweaking of the above achedule is undoubtedly necessary, but I suggest that the prinicipal idea---the partial overlapping of revisions by the SB and BC -----could be a key to easing the time crunch. (Note that I have purposely avoided the matter of joint revision by the BC and SB.)
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby Ken Coleman » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:00 pm

I would bet the vast majority of those voting do not even understand what the budget committee is and what it does.

Next time you have a group of friends from Merrimack together, ask them the question. I bet 80 to 90 percent either don’t know we have a budget committee or understand its function.

I think many of both the yes and no votes for this warrant fall into this category.

If you lay it all out on paper, we have a VERY complex government structure in Merrimack. Three totally different government bodies, all with very different rules!

We have deliberative sessions which once again, very few of the town’s people except for some of the old timers understand.

When we had the old town meeting form of government, it was a complex system, but at least everyone who voted had a chance to ask questions and hear discussion before a decision.

Since going to SB2 Our government has gotten much more complex (Town, School District and Water all operated the same way under the old structure). Now we have a town council without a budget committee, a School board with a budget committee and a water district that does not use SB2 government. Now we still have deliberative sessions and on top of this all day voting, but just for two of the three governmental structures.

My biggest reason for voting to eliminate the budget committee was to make the school process a little closer to the town and thus a little simpler.

I believe that we must try and move to make Merrimack's governmental structure simpler and easier to understand, if we ever hope to get more people active in the process and empowered.

Ken Coleman
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby Brian McCarthy » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:26 pm

Norm, check the settings on the Forum - your email address is incorrect.
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Re: The School Budget Committee

Postby RBarnes » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:35 pm

ggkrupp wrote:50% of 2500 people is hardly a mandate from the 16,000+ voters for more oversight but there is nothing preventing another group of petitioners to pose the question Rick ...


I agree but let's also not forget that this is also the 2nd time such a vote was put up to the town. The first time being when the charter was first established in 2006 and the vote then to create the the school budget committee passed by a far larger margin of around 60% (3,660 to 2,551).

Not saying I agree or disagree here with actually doing it, only that given the fact that twice now the town had a choice and choose to keep the committee that we should consider giving voters that same choice on the town side based on the outcome of the two votes.
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