January 15, 2010

Attempted end-run by School Board gets stuffed
Chairman apologizes to Budget Committee for "incorrect legal advice"

GOFFSTOWN - At a hastily called meeting Thursday night, the Goffstown School Board declared it had determined that the Goffstown Budget Committee had failed to deliver a budget prepared in accordance with state law.  Relief for such, school board chairman Keith Allard said, would result in the school board posting its own proposed budget to the School warrant.

In a email sent to the entire budget committee following the meeting, Allard wrote:

"January 14, 2010

Dan Cloutier, Chair
Goffstown Budget Committee

Persuant to NH RSA 32:5 section IX, the Goffstown School Board has determined that the Goffstown Budget Committee has failed to deliver a budget prepared in accordance with NH RSA 32:16. The relief that is afforded the Goffstown School Board is to post the proposed budget along with a notarized statement indicating that the budget is being posted pursuant to RSA 32:5 in lieu of the budget committee’s proposed budget. The determination and motions were made at the January 14, 2010 meeting of the Goffstown School Board. The School Board has confirmed our understanding and interpretation of the RSAs with both our legal counsel and the NH Department of Revenue and Administration. We will be posting the minutes from this meeting on our website by the weekend so that it is available for review by the Budget Committee. Pease find attachments of the documentation. The requested copies of the default budget and MS27 will be forwarded to Dan Cloutier on Friday 1/15/10. 

Keith Allard, Chairman
Goffstown School Board

But the school board's attempted end-run around the budget committee's reduction of over $691,000 to the school's requested budget was quickly stuffed.  Budget Committee Chairman Dan Cloutier requested an opinion on the school board's claim from the Legal Government Center (LGC).  The LGC issued an opinion which pointed out that the school district's interpretation of state law was faulty.  (Click here to read the LGC opinion.)

Cloutier immediately forwarded the opinion to Allard, who responded the following day in another email to the Budget Committee, apologizing for the attempt to circumvent the work of the committee:

"Dear Mr. Cloutier:

It is necessary to notify the Budget Committee that the Goffstown School Board received incorrect legal advise and acted upon it at our January 14, 2009 meeting. It was the Board’s understanding that that the Goffstown Budget Committee had failed to provide a timely budget pursuant to RSA 32:5. After receiving new information this morning, the Goffstown School Board requested our legal counsel to review the information provided by Mr. Cloutier and the Local Government Center. Shortly after 4:30pm today we were informed by our legal counsel that incorrect legal advise had been given. As School Board Chair, I immediately acted upon this information and began the process of correcting the error. I requested a letter from our legal counsel discussing the error so that the Budget Committee can be assured that The Goffstown School Board’s action were not intended to mislead the resident’s of Goffstown.. I have personally called Mr. Cloutier to share an apology from the Goffstown School Board and assured him we are correcting the error. The Goffstown School Board will repost using the Budget Committee’s recommended budget as soon as the committee provides it.

I apologize to the Goffstown Budget Committee on behalf of The Goffstown School Board for the error. Attached is a letter from our legal counsel, Sulloway & Hollis, acknowledging the error. I have also taken the liberty to include the legal opinion provided today to the town by the Local Government Center. The Goffstown School Board acknowledges that this legal opinion from LGC is indeed correct.

I have requested from Mr. Cloutier the opportunity for both myself and Ed Kaplan from Sulloway & Hollis to apologize and be available for questions at the beginning of the Budget Committee meeting on January 19, 2010. Mr. Cloutier has been gracious enough to allow us this opportunity.


Keith Allard, Chairman
Goffstown School Board
11 School Street
Goffstown, NH 03045

The Budget Committee will hold a public hearing on the school appropriation articles on Tuesday evening, January 19th at 7:00 PM in the Mildred Stark Room at town hall.  Thereafter, the Budget Committee, should it choose to do so, will have the opportunity to re-open discussions on the school district budget and reconsider the amount it originally presented at its public hearing of January 6th.



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