To the editor:
I'm writing this letter to Randolph residents to provide you with an update and to express my deep concern over the status of the Gorham Randolph Shelburne Cooperative Withdrawal Study and forthcoming recommendation it will produce.
At the Aug. 28 meeting, there was a recommendation that a final decision be made in the upcoming meeting, scheduled for Sept. 15. It is my strong opinion that this vote is premature, and I'm asking you to seek a delay for one month to allow for a proper conclusion to the study. Up to now, there has been absolutely no cooperation within the group to objectively look at Randolph’s education options, with the study group focusing only on justifications to maintain the status quo. Sadly, neither Selectman John Turner or School Board member Gayle Ruble have provided any input whatsoever to fulfilling the charter Randolph residents imposed on the cooperative — to conduct a thorough study inclusive of alternatives to the present obsolete and costly cooperative agreement.
Because this is a very complex, costly and emotional issue, I'm asking selectmen to immediately schedule a town-wide school withdrawal status meeting so Randolph residents can be involved in the process. This is a necessary step, and any decision-making going forward made by Randolph’s representatives must consider the will of our residents.
To additionally emphasize how important it is for you to intervene, I want you to consider a new state Senate Bill, signed in June with an effective date of Aug. 28. Senate Bill 8-FN specifically addresses education in small towns that don't have public schools in their district, which Randolph would be eligible to enact. You can find the final version on the gencourt.state.nh.us website. I also want you to consider that left unchecked, it is highly probable that Randolph's cost per student will continue to escalate as state aid to Gorham diminishes and Gorham’s property tax rates explode to adjust for the loss. One Gorham representative even stated that some residents in Gorham do not think Randolph is paying its share — even though Randolph’s actual cost per student is over 100 percent more than Gorham’s actual cost per student absent state aid. It is my conservative estimate that at the current trajectory, our cost per student will reach $30,000 within five years. Unsustainable by any measure, and the study committee has refused to consider any forward thinking whatsoever to discuss how to control these costs, especially when there are alternatives we must consider as stewards of our neighbors good will.
I think we all acknowledge that there's no free ride when it comes to education but one thing’s for certain, costs in the cooperative will escalate disproportionally if left unchecked. Alternatively, if we act today we can put Randolph on a more independent, cost effective and pragmatic course rich in educational alternatives. For example, Milan and Dummer have enacted tuition agreements with SAU 3 in Berlin, but preserved the options of school choice to the benefit of their community. The same is true of other small districts contracting services from SAU 36 (White Mountains Regional School District). Similarly, Randolph could put in place tuition agreements with SAU 3, SAU 36 and SAU 20, and any other educational institution we feel would most benefit our community. Given that SAU 20 services have diminished considerably and now lacks in-house vocational education in its program of studies, it might be suggested that Randolph’s educational needs might be better served through access to other institutions such as SAU 3 and SAU 36, which are rich in vocational opportunities. It is also important to note that throughout this study process, representatives of SAU 20 have sadly threatened to not allow Randolph students to attend school in Gorham should we decide to withdraw — a ridicules threat and unlikely outcome should we withdraw, but attempts to get an answer to this question from the study group have gone unanswered. It is my strong recommendation that this issue be resolved prior to scheduling a final withdrawal study determination.
As for my involvement in the study, I volunteered to be on the study committee for several purposes, one of which was to keep the study process and forthcoming recommendation from being hijacked by the status quo leaving the residents of Randolph stuck in an agreement without any cost controls going forward. Unfortunately, my fears were justified and absent your immediate intervention, we will be delivered an incomplete study biased by defenders of the status quo — people who have made no contribution to researching contract alternatives or investigating school choice options. To the contrary, I have been shut down and viciously attacked by them and others when I have tried to introduce the subject of switching to tuition agreements and the option of allowing school choice.
For example, at Monday’s meeting, my wife and I were wrongfully accused of seeking some form of special financial benefit for our daughter’s education at the expense of the retired residents of Randolph. That is utter nonsense, and these inflammatory attacks are neither warranted nor helpful and provide no substantive input whatsoever to this process. A process started because the Randolph community acknowledged that the GRS Cooperative per-student costs have become unsustainable by any measure. Of even greater concern, there was a conversation between Randolph representatives questioning how the voting process would work and seeking any way that they could somehow exclude my vote from Randolph’s input.
As for the withdrawal process itself, I find it imperative that the residents of Randolph be informed of the mechanics of the withdrawal process and specifically what to expect going forward. Alarmingly, it has been suggested by legal counsel to SAU 20 that Randolph entered into an agreement we cannot vote ourselves out of, even though we’ve fulfilled the 10-year contract terms. State laws appear to require, in a very allusive way, that Randolph must be “allowed” to exit the agreement by the cooperative. Yes, that means that Gorham and Shelburne will control any decision-making given Randolph’s minority status. When this process was discussed in the withdrawal study group, I was told we, “we, the residents of Randolph,” should have asked what the definition of what "we" meant before we entered into the cooperative agreement! I was also told by members from Shelburne that they had no intention of voting to allow Randolph out of the agreement because of the probable financial impact to Shelburne in a two-town cooperative.
Finally, I strongly suggest we — the Randolph we — schedule a special school board meeting as early as possible, next weekend if the town hall is available, to discuss among ourselves our educational needs, what alternatives we have as a small community, the probable costs to exit and operate on our own, the impact of the loss of state aid, and yes Senate Bill 8-FN — school choice. I recommend that you coordinate this meeting with our town legal counsel so they can be present to address the contractual issues associated with the cooperative agreement and the process to exit it, issues which, given the circumstances, will need to be resolved going forward and to ensure Randolph is protected from any further wrongful actions.
Dennis M. Tupick
To the editor:
I have read and listened to, with interest, various opinions both pro and con, regarding the issue of voter checklists.
I believe I have a simple solution: remove the requirement for declaring party affiliation and let the parties deal with proposing candidates for various offices.
An individual can still remain a member of a particular party, but it removes the phishing expedition in order to “gerrymander” political districts. This isn’t really a problem in New Hampshire. We have two districts, south and north or, as I prefer to call it, the rich and the poor.
Given Texas’ issue of multiple court appearances and the resultant cost to the taxpayers of that state, it would behoove them to consider the possibility that they might not only save money but make for a more honest vote.
As for Social Security numbers and the current request for them by the president, I would suggest that your number is well-known to many groups both political and nefarious. I say that as one who has had his number hacked.
Roger M. Clemons
To the editor:
It is certainly curious that despite the attention in the news that the Northern Pass project receives, there continues to be significant misunderstanding or misrepresentation of it.
The recent letter to the editor by Rich Collins of Intervale is just the latest example.
Northern Pass has proposed to bury the project in and around the White Mountain National Forest. There will be no visual impact along the Appalachian Trail or in the Franconia Notch area.
More than 80 percent of the project will be constructed underground or within rights of way where power lines exist today.
The remainder of the project will be constructed on property the project owns or is leasing from willing landowners.
The federal government recently issued the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, declared the proposed route the “preferred alternative” and reported that the “total average scenic impact” of Northern Pass is considered “low” to “very low.”
A link to the full text of the Final Environmental Impact Statement is available at northernpass.us.
To the editor:
Outside interests — particularly from corporations — are influencing local policies, something that must stop. The citizens run this great country, not those seeking profit.
We have a gem in the state of New Hampshire, the White Mountain National Forest — one of the most visited recreation areas, period. It is loved because it is beautiful and provides easy access to wilderness. I need not go on; Instagram can show you the way.
There is no benefit to putting power lines through it. I am opposed to the idea because it makes no sense. There are no economic benefits outside of short-term jobs to build it, and there is no “clean” energy for us, it all goes South. Large, ridiculously profitable utility companies, including Hydro-Quebec and Eversource, stand to make billions from this project. Conservation organizations in the state are opposed to the project and for a good reason: the destruction of our magnificent landscape will not be salvageable. We ravaged these vast forests in the name of personal profit once, let’s not do it again.
Eversource has not been forthcoming with information, including the project cost and cost to customers. The actual cost details of the project remain “confidential” — if they want access to our public land, they must hold to standards of full disclosure.
So, smarten up, New Hampshire, Let’s protect America, not ravage it to fill someone else’s pockets. Let’s Live Free or Die — without corporate bullying.
No Northern Pass.