School district cleverly flies under the radar
given to keeping the public informed
May 4, 2007
Staying informed about what's going on in
our local school district is an important responsibility for everyone in
Goffstown. After all, the school district controls a $33M+ budget
- roughly 2/3 of every tax dollar we pay out. Yet obtaining any
information about the school district is a daunting task - and nearly
impossible. To wit:
Have you ever visited the Goffstown
School District's web site to review the minutes from their
latest meeting? You can't. The posted minutes are never
from their latest meeting. In fact, the school board doesn't
post meeting minutes until 4 to 6 weeks after a meeting is held. That means as few as one, or as many as
subsequent meetings are held in the meantime. Interestingly,
other boards and committees in town such as the planning board, budget
committee and board of selectmen all post their minutes on the town web
site within 3 to 5 days. But the school district seems to prefer
to leave residents in the dark.
You could always rent a DVD of school board meetings from the town
library, right? Sorry, but you can't do that either. They are not
available at the town library like those of other boards and committees
in Goffstown. In fact, DVDs of school board meetings can only be
obtained by submitting a request, in writing no less, to the SAU,
which thereafter decides on the validity of your request, then - if
approved - forwards the request to GTV and then grants authority to GTV
to release the DVD. Don't try to ask GTV for them directly - they
first need authorization from the SAU to "release"
Authorization to release them??? Isn't this supposed to be
public information? Why do citizens of Goffstown need authorization
from the SAU to view school board meetings?
And don't hold your breath waiting to get that school board meeting DVD
- the average waiting time to receive the requested DVD is five weeks after the request is made.
Ok, so you don't want to wait. You can always watch a school board meeting live on
GTV, right? Opps, sorry, you're out of luck again.
meetings are not broadcast live because the school board elects to
hold its meetings at the high school where, conveniently, there are no facilities for
live meeting broadcasts. Of course, if they held their meetings at Town
Hall instead, all the equipment needed for live broadcasts is readily available.
But that's still OK - you can always watch a replay of
the taped school board meetings on GTV-16, right?
Don't get your
The most recently taped school board meeting to be
broadcast on GTV-16 was that of the March 19th meeting (today is May
4th), which was
broadcast for the last time on April 1st (and the audio quality was so
bad, you couldn't hear what anyone was saying anyway). In fact, when checking the GTV-16
broadcast schedule, we discovered that there has been NO taped broadcast
of ANY school board meeting since that March 19th meeting. Yet, the school board has
held two meetings since that time (a third meeting scheduled for April
16th was cancelled due to the flood).
So, it appears the only way to stay on top of what the school board is doing is to
attend the meetings at the high school in person, right? But wait
a minute - if you do, you'll be unable to attend the board of selectmen's
meeting, because the school board chooses to hold its twice-monthly meetings
on the same night and at the same time as the selectmen do.
they do this despite knowledge that they could re-schedule their
meetings to the first and third
Thursdays of every month when no other town boards or committees
hold regularly-scheduled meetings at town hall on those days.
Do you see a pattern here?
School board chairman Keith Allard and SAU superintendent Darrell
Lockwood have both publicly professed the need to stimulate public
interest and involvement in our local school district. Yet both
continue to perpetuate arbitrary policies and procedures that appear cleverly
designed to prevent just that.
We strongly urge, and demand, that the Goffstown School District immediately take the
following steps to promote openness, accountability and public
involvement in our school system:
- Post school board meeting minutes on
the school district web site no later than the first Friday
following the most recent meeting, in accordance with the policies
and practices of other town boards and committees;
- Re-schedule school board meetings to
the first and third Thursdays of each month at 7:00 PM - when no other town
boards or committees hold regularly-scheduled meetings at town hall on
those days - and also move
those meetings from Goffstown High School to the Mildred Stark Room on the
- Arrange for live broadcasts of your
meetings from the Mildred Stark Room on the aforementioned evenings;
- Provide GTV with written authority to
release school board meeting DVDs to the town library, effective
your current policy of requiring a written request by Goffstown citizens
obtaining meeting DVDs.
The school district has cleverly flown
under the radar for years, giving little consideration to keeping
taxpayers informed, and have continued to operate in near obscurity and virtual
It's time for accountability: The school district must come clean, and start promoting
openness, accountability and public involvement in our school
The GRA urges all residents to contact school board members and the SAU
and let your feelings be known. They can be reached as follows:
here for Goffstown School Board contact information
here for SAU #19 contact information