Birthday to Rita Maxwell, celebrating February 4!
Pittsfield’s School Budget By The Numbers
Dr. John Freeman, Pittsfield Supertintendent of Schools
year’s Pittsfield Budget Committee hearing on the school district
and town budgets will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8
(snow date: February 9), in the PMHS lecture hall, and
Pittsfield’s annual School District Meeting will be held at 7:00
p.m. on Thursday, March 16, in the PES gym. As always, all
Pittsfield voters are strongly encouraged to participate in these
meetings, which will determine the budget for the district’s schools
for the 2017-2018 school year. This budget will provide the
basis for the school portion of Pittsfield’s tax rate.
residents know, the Pittsfield Schools have been engaged in very
important work to personalize learning for all our students.
This transformation is based on new knowledge about how people learn
as well as changing workplace demands for our graduates.
Importantly, these changes also respond to the community’s demand
for stronger outcomes for Pittsfield’s youth.
to the hard work of students, school staff, and community members,
Pittsfield’s schools have emerged as models of personalizing
instruction in recent years. Visitors from across the nation –
approximately twenty groups or teams have visited the schools per
year over the past five years – to learn from us better ways to help
children learn. While most of these visitors have learned from
PMHS, we’re very pleased that we are now also hosting visitors to
we don’t believe that we have finished our schools’ transition, we
are heartened to see the data that indicate improvement across a
range of indicators. For example, in 2012, 66% of our
graduates were accepted by post-secondary educational institutions;
in 2016, 83% of our graduates were accepted. In 2013, the
average per student scholarship award for our graduates from all
sources amounted to $8675, while in 2016, that average had jumped to
$14,514 per student.
Throughout this period of growth and improvement, the district’s
annual budget has remained relatively flat. For example, the
2008-2009 approved budget was $9,952,132. While the subsequent
approved budgets have moved up or down slightly from this amount,
the 2016-2017 approved budget is $9,846,477. This represents a
decrease of $105,655 or 1% over nine years. And, while other
districts have experienced significant student enrollment declines
in recent years, Pittsfield’s decline averages just four students
per year over this same nine year period.
Increases have been controlled through good fortune (we haven’t had
any facilities disasters, for example, in this time period), good
management decision-making, a fiscally conservative approach to
budgeting, and an aggressive pursuit of grant funding. In
fact, the district’s schools today are staffed by about twenty-five
fewer employees over this nine year period.
Additionally, Pittsfield School Boards have “returned” funds to the
town on June 30 of every year that was unspent from the approved
budgets; these funds offset taxes for Pittsfield taxpayers.
School districts are not permitted to carry over funds from one year
to the next except by vote of the district meeting to place funds in
Unfortunately, a number of factors beyond the control of our
Pittsfield School Board will negatively impact some of these
favorable financial trends this year. These four factors are:
Adequacy grant cut: As noted in a previous letter to The Sun,
the state’s stabilization grant portion of the adequacy grant is
being completely phased out over the next twenty-five years by
action of the state legislature. This grant was intended to
support the cost of educating students from property poor
communities. For Pittsfield, this means a reduction of $86,000
next year and an additional $86,000 loss for each of the following
twenty-four years, an eventual reduction of more than $2,000,000 per
year twenty-five years from now.
Health insurance cost: Our guaranteed maximum increase in health
insurance cost for the next school year is 17.2%; this increase is
shared by both the district and district employees.
Retirement system cost downshifting: The state has continued to
downshift retirement costs to local towns and school districts; the
downshifting has continued with increased costs being assumed by
local entities caused by the state legislature’s failure to fund
retirement system costs as it has in the past in order to balance
its own budget.
Special education out of district placements: Although the
district is able to accommodate most students with special needs,
those with particularly complex disabilities require placement in
specialized schools out of Pittsfield; these placements include
students who are placed by the court system. Our personalized
approach in Pittsfield had reduced the numbers of students requiring
such placement over the years; however, our estimate for next year
represents both an increase in the number of students and an
increase in costs. In the 2014-2015 school year, for example,
tuition and transportation for these complex learners was budgeted
at $523,000. It is anticipated that these budget lines will
cost $1,148,609 in 2017-2018.
the district developed the budget proposal for 2017-2018, these
factors were taken into account, and another frugal, fiscally
conservative budget was developed. However, the impact of
these four factors was great. In fact, to maintain the same
programs and the same staff next year as are currently in place
would require an estimated tax increase of $4.74/thousand, and this
increase doesn’t include the cost impact of the new proposed teacher
School Board was not willing to put such an increase before the
voters and worked to further reduce the budget. To do so,
additional cuts were made to supplies, books, and equipment lines,
among others, and the planned-for staff was reduced by eight
positions. These positions impact both PES and PMHS; they
include both teacher and support staff positions. At that, the
tax impact of the current version of the budget is $2.97/thousand,
again, not including the teacher contract.
Board’s adopted budget is $10,230,732. This represents an
increase of 3.9% over the current year budget, but a 2.8% increase
since 2008-2009. (In terms of comparison, the consumer price
index averaged a 2.12% increase per year over the same period, and
Social Security recipients received a 14.6% increase over these same
years.) But what would happen in the schools if this budget
were cut further? What would be cut?
fact, options for further reduction are limited and all impact
students. One option would be to further reduce staff; this
would result in larger class sizes and reduced on-site course
options for high school students. Another option would be to
eliminate programs, such as the extracurricular or athletics
programs. Other options would include possible elimination of
expenditures for books, supplies, and technology. These are
all choices that impact students and diminish the district’s ability
to provide our kids with what they need.
last year’s Budget Committee hearing, a citizen asked if the
district could save money by tuitioning our high school students out
of town. In May, the Board reported on cost comparisons with
the six nearest high schools and found that this approach would
clearly be more costly than educating our students here in town.
(Additionally, the voters of Pittsfield would lose control of
spending at the high school level and would be subject to the
variations in costs in the receiving school district.)
Unfortunately, there are no cost-free solutions to these financial
challenges. And, unfortunately the system of funding education
in New Hampshire will likely continue to disadvantage kids from
Pittsfield and other small, property poor towns. The
stabilization grant referenced above was intended to create equity
for students across all community types. Though grossly
inadequate from the start, the elimination of this funding source
will eventually reduce the state’s contributions to Pittsfield by
more than two million dollars per year.
related and even broader, long-term issue than the loss of the
stabilization grant is the role of property values in impacting the
level of support that a community can afford and the cost of that
example, the 2015-2016 local school tax rate of $15.66/thousand in
Pittsfield compares with $17.44 in Barnstead, $16.74 in Northwood,
and $16.03 in Allenstown, all communities that enjoy a greater
equalized valuation per student than does Pittsfield. When we
compare Pittsfield’s equalized valuation per student of $429,024
with Alton’s at $2,002,630, and Alton’s tax rate of $6.94/thousand,
the inequity in our state’s funding system becomes shockingly
this points to the fact that this year’s annual School District
meeting is a very, very important one, both for students and
taxpayers in Pittsfield; it’s an important opportunity to weigh in
on our kids’ future. Every citizen’s participation in two
lead-up meetings is strongly encouraged:
p.m., Wednesday, February 8, PMHS Lecture Hall: Budget
p.m., Tuesday, February 21, PMHS Media Center: Community
Conversation Series Annual District Budget Presentation and
Annual School District Meeting: 7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 16,
Letter To The Editor
Regarding The Proposed Town Budget
town of Pittsfield is a small, poor town. Town and school employees
need to live within the means of its taxpayers. The property tax
rate is unsustainable. Long-time residents, especially the elderly
and single-income homeowners, cannot continue to pay these property
tax increases and are being forced out of their homes.
lived in Pittsfield all my life and have paid my taxes faithfully.
For those town and school employees making more than adequate
salaries, try stretching $14,000.00 in Social Security with property
taxes that are already nearly $6000.00 a year. Even with a part-time
job and keeping the heat in my house at 62 all winter, it’s pretty
town needs to be run like a business and, like the taxpayers, must
live within its means. The taxpayers are not a bottomless pit of
funds that the town can draw on. A $4.74 increase will devastate
1. Find cheaper health insurance for town and school
employees with higher copays and deductibles, and if the employees
are not already contributing a portion of their pay toward their
insurance premium, they should be just like the workers in the rest
of the country.
a maximum cap on all salaries. Once that cap is met, no more
increases. Just like regular business does.
that is not enough to bring the budget in line, then cut hours, cut
pay, and cut staff as needed until it is in line. Just like business
does. How many Aides and Special Coordinators does the school really
need? When I went through the Pittsfield Schools we had none, only a
principal, guidance counselor, and secretary.
2016 Globe Gear Giveaway Provided 13 Departments with Needed Turnout
Fifty-two sets of new, state-of-the-art Globe turnout gear were
distributed to 13 North American volunteer fire departments in 2016,
thanks to Globe and DuPont Protection Solutions, in partnership with
the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). The Globe Gear Giveaway
program provides struggling volunteer departments with much-needed
gear to help improve the safety and protection of their
Volunteers are a critical component of the U.S. fire service,
comprising 69% of firefighters. However, volunteer departments are
often dealing with inadequate budgets and limited resources.
Firefighters have to make do with gear that is decades old,
ill-fitting, overly worn, and that does not meet current safety
standards. Since launching in 2012, the Globe Gear Giveaway program
has worked to make volunteer firefighters safer by providing 351
sets of turnout gear to 69 departments.
you to everyone who applied for the 2016 Globe Gear Giveaway,” said
NVFC Chairman Kevin D. Quinn. “There are many volunteer departments
that are struggling to make ends meet and provide their firefighters
with the best protection possible. We are grateful to Globe and
DuPont for recognizing this need and helping some of those
departments enhance the safety of their boots-on-the-ground
owe a huge debt of thanks to the thousands of volunteer firefighters
who protect our communities every day,” said Globe Senior VP of
Marketing Rob Freese. “They deserve the best personal protection to
ensure their own safety, and Globe is pleased and honored to be able
to give back with the most advanced turnout gear.”
2016 Globe Gear Giveaway recipients are as follows:
Ridge Fire Department (KY)
• Cottonwood Shores Volunteer Fire
• Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire
• Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Department
• Glacier County Rural Fire Department (MT)
Community Volunteer Fire Department (PA )
• Klawock Volunteer
Fire Department (AK)
• LaGrange Fire Department (ME)
Northwest Washington Volunteer Fire Company (IN)
Volunteer Fire Department (New Brunswick, Canada)
Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders (NC)
Sylvia-Yellow Creek Volunteer Fire Department (TN)
• Walker Lake
Volunteer Fire Department (NV)
eligible for the 2016 giveaway, departments had to be over 50
percent volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less, be located
in the U.S. or Canada, be a member of the NVFC, and demonstrate
significant need for new gear that could not be met through other
funding sources. To help departments with the membership
requirement, Globe also sponsored 500 NVFC memberships.
600 departments applied for the gear, demonstrating the urgent need
for this type of program. The 2017 Globe Gear Giveaway application
period will open in February. Stay tuned to the NVFC web site at
www.nvfc.org for details.
Firefighters need to be prepared to perform at their peak,
on every call. That’s why Globe delivers the most advanced,
best-fitting, and longest lasting protection by listening to our
customers, creating breakthrough designs, and applying the
engineering skills of the nation’s most trusted turnout gear
manufacturer. Globe turnout gear is designed to protect you, move
with you, and improve your performance. It’s athletic gear for
firefighters. Learn more at
About DuPont Protection Solutions
DuPont Protection Solutions (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class
science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of
innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company
believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs,
and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global
challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere,
decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the
environment. For additional information about DuPont and its
commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit
About the NVFC
The National Volunteer Fire
Council (NVFC) is the leading nonprofit membership association
representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue
services. The NVFC serves as the voice of the volunteer in the
national arena and provides invaluable resources, programs,
training, and advocacy for first responders across the nation. Learn
more at www.nvfc.org.
Pittsfield School Board
Submitted By Ralph Odell
The highlights of the recent meeting were as follows: Derek Hamilton
summarized a study, which had been presented to faculty, related to
student behavior, teaching practices, environmental safety, plus
other student attitudes. Positive responses occurred in the area of
teaching and learning. It was indicated that students felt that
teachers were taking time to know them, they have a choice in how
they express how they learn, and what they are learning relates to
real world situations. Areas existed that will be addressed for
He also summarized winter sports programs,
indicating that participation has increased in both boys and girls
basketball. The coaches have prepared statements of philosophy for
the players outlining the standards expected of players.
Lemay, Director of Intervention, described efforts being taken with
upcoming middle school students to ensure that they are able to
maximize their potential. She further described efforts that
teachers will be taking to make contact with families that will lead
to a stronger parent-teacher communication.
summarized a recent visit by 40 NH educators to Pittsfield to
observe classroom activity. Tobi Chassie described efforts of the
District’s Communications team that are creating a Graduate
Spotlight Project. This sounds exciting.
The meeting ended with
discussion of the budget process. It was brought up that Dr. Freeman
has scheduled a meeting to discuss the budget that will be open to
the public. I encourage everyone to become involved. The
conversation will be held Tuesday, February 21 in the PMHS Media
Center (library) at 6 PM.
Your Flu Shot
Submitted By Jennifer Pickard, Wellness
Ambassador, Pittsfield Rite-Aid
According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity is on the rise and is
expected to increase in the coming weeks. The best way to prevent
the flu is by receiving the influenza vaccine yearly. It is not too
late to get vaccinated by your certified immunizing pharmacists and
be ready to immunize against the illness. Flu shots are available
during pharmacy hours; no appointment necessary.
annual flu shot also presents an opportunity to review other
immunization needs, such as pneumonia and shingles. Speak with your
pharmacist today to better understand personal immunization needs.
Come in and say hello to me and check out the Wellness table.
Customers will find useful resources everyday such as wellness
literature; including smoking cessation, and immunizations.
To The Editor
I grew up here, graduated high school here, and
then moved away. In 2005 I came back and built a house. We came back
as we love it here. My family has lived here for generations. I love
my house, my friends, and being close to my family. I do however
have a love/hate relationship with this town.
Last year we
shelled out $7,500 for taxes. This is a totally ridiculous amount
and now it may go up to another obscene amount? What is a person to
do? How much more can one scrounge up and pay? I look at $7,500 like
this- in 10 years that’s $75,000; seems like a building should be
named after me. Perhaps it’s a dream vacation I could have taken
every year or 2,508 containers of ice cream I could have bought. You
get my drift.
When does a person give up and leave their dream
house in search of cheaper taxes? I never planned on feeling anxious
about my taxes; I’m left feeling nothing but anger. I expect to pay
my fair share, but this certainly is not fair. A lot of good people
are going to leave this town. I can no longer recommend for anyone
to move here, not unless they have an endless supply of money. I
know of people struggling to pay for their groceries and their
heating bills, as all of their money is going to taxes.
I do not
know what the solution is, but I’m sure it includes cuts and getting
big business into this town. That won’t happen overnight, if ever.
It’s the harsh truth; with each tax bill, all I get is angrier. All
I care about now is how I’m going to pay my bills.
Workshop: Discovering What’s In Your Child’s IEP
21, 2017 6:00-8:00PM
PIC Office, 54 Old Suncook Rd, Concord, NH
This free workshop provides participants with a more in depth
understanding of the IEP so they can be better prepared and more
comfortable participating as a member of the IEP Team. Participants
may wish to bring their child’s IEP to the workshop.
Pre-registration is required. Please call Parent Information Center
@ 603-224-7005 to register or email
firstname.lastname@example.org with your
name, phone no, email address, name and date of workshop. If you
need special accommodations please let us know when you register.
To The Editor
No select board meeting the 24th. Tues. morning I
attended a hearing at the legislature for HB 525 which would freeze
the annual reduction of state educational adequacy grant payments to
property poor towns. Pittsfield receives around $4,000,000 every
year from this grant and it applies no matter where you educate your
Despite the controversy here over the cost of schools,
it would be hard to argue that without that huge state contribution
we’d go under water. I attended the hearing simply to sign the
support sheet and had no intention of speaking. I assumed I would
see a strong contingent representing the Pittsfield School District
in attendance to express the critical need we have for this grant-
and undoubtedly better able to speak publicly than me.
closed due to a storm that turned out to be not much and there were
attendees from as far away as Woodsville. However, I did not
recognize one representative from Pittsfield at that hearing. So,
much as I hate to address crowds, I did what I’ve done all my life-
spoke up for Pittsfield’s best interests, as I see it.
usual delicate manner I told the committee just how devastating the
loss of that grant would be to the overall tax burden of Pittsfield.
They expressed appreciation for hearing from someone on the
municipal side of affected towns.
I am routinely criticized for
not attending school board meetings, however I would have thought
I’d have bumped into someone from the school at that important
hearing to protect $4,000,000 of revenue to Pittsfield.
To The Editor
To The Editor:
Selectman Anderson’s weekly
letter includes a description of a Selectboard meeting with NH
DRED. Evidently the State people don’t think much of
Pittsfield’s obsession with regulation and nit-picking.
just completed a land revision project, I agree completely. My
project went well, until I needed to change some lot lines to create
a zoning compliant lot. In many towns this is considered a good
thing. It could have happened by a simple lot line adjustment.
It didn’t because the Planning Board insisted that I get Subdivision
approval -which is a whole lot more complicated and demanding. The
Board’s requirement tripled the cost for surveying and plan
preparation by adding $4,000 worth of work that contributed nothing
to the end value of the project.
In my opinion, the current
Planning Board is out of touch with reality and out of control. In
the past several years its Rules of Procedure have grown from 10
pages to 33. The Subdivision regulations have gone from 40 pages
to over 100. And EVERY applicant must now pay to have an outside
planning consultant review an application to determine whether
it is complete and approvable. Apparently the Planning Board has
succeeded in creating regulations so complex and incomprehensible
that even it can’t understand them. No wonder people avoid
No doubt some titled PB members will respond that I
am just too incompetent to get things done right and that their
volunteer efforts are saving the town from chaos. I don’t agree.
The town needs to expand its tax base, and it’s going to be hard
to build our way out of our tax problem. It will be impossible if
the rules-intoxicated Planning Board members continue to indulge
To The Editor
Budget Committee Update
The public hearing on
the proposed 2017 Budget for Pittsfield is just one week away.
We encourage all members of the community to join us for the
presentation and discussion of the school and town budgets.
This hearing is for you, the public, to comment on the proposed
budgets. Your input is important to us as the budget committee
finalizes and approves the budgets presented at the school and town
The latest total estimated tax impact of both
proposed budgets represents an increase of $4.44/thousand.
can find a copy of the proposed town budget workbook on the town’s
web page at www.pittsfieldnh.gov.
Our public budget hearing is scheduled for 7:00pm Wednesday,
February 8th at the PMHS lecture hall, with a snow date on Thursday
Pittsfield Budget Committee
Pittsfield - Sue Heino, 58, of Leavitt Rd., died suddenly,
January 25th at the Concord Hospital.
She was born in Manchester,
the daughter of Fern and Estelle (Duhaime) Prenoveau. She was
employed as a machine operator at the Globe Manufacturing Co. for
the past 22 years. She was a wonderful mother, who loved her family,
all her friends, and animals, and she will be greatly missed by all
who knew her.
She is survived by her son, Keith Doucet of
Pittsfield, a granddaughter, Arianne Doucet of Allenstown, and her
partner Charles Hubbard of Pittsfield.
A Memorial Reception was
held Tuesday, January 31st, in the “Function Room” at the Pittsfield
The Waters Funeral Home, David Pollard,
Director, is assisting the family with arrangements.
PITTSFIELD – Michael E. Langevin; 60 of Pittsfield,
passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, January 19, 2017.
born on November 29, 1956 in Laconia; son of the late William and
Mieko (Hayashi) Langevin.
Michael enjoyed listening to and being
involved with music, he played the drums for many years and had a
vast collection of albums; he also enjoyed watching sports,
gardening and cooking, and was a longtime resident of Pittsfield.
Besides his parents, Michael was predeceased by his brother William
He is survived by his sons, Michael Langevin
and his wife Ashley of Concord; Christopher Haire and his
fiancé, Deena Hallock, of Pittsfield; daughters, Stephanie LeBrun
and her husband Brian of Center Barnstead and Amber Haire; sister,
Dorothy Langevin-Byers and her husband Patrick of Chichester;
grandchildren, Conner, Brayden and Liam LeBrun and Violet Haire as
well as several nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service was held
on Friday, January 27, 2017 at the Community Church of Alton. In
lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Community Church of
Alton diaconate fund.
The Petit-Roan Funeral Home, Pembroke is
assisting the family with arrangements. To leave a memory or offer a
condolence go to www.petitroan.com