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March 2014 Cooperative School District Meeting Report

Three emotionally charged and well-attended Hollis Brookline Cooperative District meetings resolved on March 26th at the HBHS gym. Voters came to cast their votes for the remaining articles, including Article 2, a revised bond proposal for Hollis Brookline High School building improvements that sought to address a pending probation from the NEASC, which will revoke HBHS' accreditation in Spring 2015 if a plan for the improvements is not in the works. The bond proposal of 2.4 million dollars over 10 years at 3.75% ultimately failed to attain the required 2/3 majority vote. The COOP school board, and many in the education community, continue to believe that these building additions are needed to secure adequate space for our students/faculty, and to secure a renewal of our NEASC accreditation.

 

Article 15. another hotly contested Warrant Article, was a request for re-apportionment of the taxes for the COOP between Brookline and Hollis. The apportionment debate fanned an 'us vs. them' flame which can interfere with making good decisions for the COOP.

Speakers at the COOP meeting stated that they could not support Article 2, not because it was an unnecessary expense, but because of the tax consequences, and their perceptions of the fairness of the division of taxes between the two towns in the COOP. A 2/3 majority vote (necessary to pass a bond) is always difficult to attain, but finding a way to reduce some of the animosity over the apportionment issue would certainly help the COOP move forward. The COOP School Board is putting together a committee to conduct a review of apportionment.

Another controversial article brought to the meeting by Brookline resident and newly elected COOP School Board member, Eric Pauer, was Stop the Common Core in Hollis Brookline. The wording of this petition asked Hollis Brookline voters to throw out the national standards (in the works for 7 years, 4 of those with formal adoption by the NH Dept of Education), in favor of higher standards, to be written by a local committee. This article was passed at the meeting.

Many thought taking a closer look at the standards was a good idea, but many are unaware that the NH Dept of Education has been partnering with Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island since 2010 to incorporate existing curricula into the standards. Our COOP school board, administration and faculty approve of the Common Core standards and are currently working to implement them. We believe that all the effort, expertise and partnering done by the people who built the wonderful school district we already enjoy will continue to make our schools excellent. We hope people will take the time to listen to and talk with our teachers and SAU41 administrators - when making up their minds on this issue.

The good news is: we now have real world examples of how important it is to be informed and to cast a vote. Keep calm & carry on!