Pittsfield NH News

February 1, 2017


 

Happy Birthday to Rita Maxwell, celebrating February 4!



 

Pittsfield’s School Budget By The Numbers
Submitted By Dr. John Freeman, Pittsfield Supertintendent of Schools

 

This 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.

 

As many 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.

 

Thanks 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 PES.

 

While 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 reserve accounts.

 

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.

 

When 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 contract.

 

The 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.

 

The 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?

 

In 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.

 

During 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.

 

A 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 support. 

 

For 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 obvious.

 

All 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:

 

• 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 8, PMHS Lecture Hall:  Budget Committee Hearing

 

• 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 21, PMHS Media Center:  Community Conversation Series Annual District Budget Presentation and Discussion

 

• Annual School District Meeting:  7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 16, PES Gym.

 


 

Letter To The Editor
Regarding The Proposed Town Budget

The 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.

I have 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 much impossible.

 

The 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 many taxpayers.

 

Some suggestions:
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.

 

2. Put a maximum cap on all salaries. Once that cap is met, no more increases. Just like regular business does.

 

3. If 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.

 

Cyndi Foss

 


 

2016 Globe Gear Giveaway Provided 13 Departments with Needed Turnout Gear

 

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 firefighters.

 

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.

 

“Thank 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 personnel.”

 

“We all 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.”

 

The 2016 Globe Gear Giveaway recipients are as follows:
• Brindle Ridge Fire Department (KY)
• Cottonwood Shores Volunteer Fire Department (TX)
• Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department (MO)
• Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Department (NJ)
• Glacier County Rural Fire Department (MT)
• Grindstone Community Volunteer Fire Department (PA )
• Klawock Volunteer Fire Department (AK)
• LaGrange Fire Department (ME)
• Northwest Washington Volunteer Fire Company (IN)
• Norton Volunteer Fire Department (New Brunswick, Canada)
• Pekin Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders (NC)
• Sylvia-Yellow Creek Volunteer Fire Department (TN)
• Walker Lake Volunteer Fire Department (NV)

 

To be 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.

 

Over 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.

 

About Globe
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 www.globeturnoutgear.com.

 

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 www.dupont.com.

 

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
1/19/17
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 improvement.

 

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.

 

Kathy 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.

 

Danielle Harvey 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.

 


 

Get 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.

 

Receiving the 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.

 


 

Letter 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.

 

Dulcey Miller

 


 

Free Workshop: Discovering What’s In Your Child’s IEP
Tuesday February 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 frontdesk@picnh.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.

 


 

Letter 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 students.

 

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.

 

School was 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.
In my 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.

 

Carl Anderson

 


 

Letter 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.

 

Having 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 Pittsfield.

 

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 themselves.

 

Bill Miskoe

 


 

Letter 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 annual meetings.

 

The latest total estimated tax impact of both proposed budgets represents an increase of $4.44/thousand.

 

You 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 February 9th.

 

Sincerely,
Pittsfield Budget Committee

 


Obituaries


 

Sue Heino

 

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 Community Center.

 

The Waters Funeral Home, David Pollard, Director, is assisting the family with arrangements.  

 


 

Michael E. Langevin

 

PITTSFIELD – Michael E. Langevin; 60 of Pittsfield, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, January 19, 2017.

 

He was 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 “Tootie” Langevin.

 

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

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barnstead | Chichester | Epsom | Gilmanton | Northwood | Pittsfield

Home | Contact | Advertise | Classifieds | Place A Classified Ad | News Archive

 

Copyright © 2008-2017. All Rights Reserved. The Suncook Valley Sun Inc.