2018 Raymond School Deliberative

Budget Discussion Short-Circuited at Raymond School Deliberative Session By Penny Williams   2-11-18

The Raymond School District Deliberative Session turned out to be one of the most unusual on record.

The Saturday, Feb. 10 Session, held at Raymond High School, was delayed a few minutes from its 10 a.m. start time so the sound system could be worked on, and School Moderator Tim Louis's microphone then had issues with static, which may well have contributed to what followed when Article 2, the School District Operating Budget, was moved to the ballot and a motion to restrict reconsideration was approved before several attendees had the opportunity to speak to the article and offer amendments.

Louis introduced Article 2, which has a bottom line amount of $24,283,331 and a Default Budget amount higher by $142,079. The 2018-19 Operating Budget is an increase of  $303,969 or 1.3 percent year to year over the 2017-18 Operating Budget of $23,979,362.

School Board member Joe Saulnier said he had a presentation on the article, and spoke to the budget comparison with the previous year. While Saulnier was waiting for the next slide to be shown on the screen, Louis looked around the room, and seeing no one rising to ask a question or offer an amendment, moved the article to the ballot. A motion was then made and approved by the audience to restrict reconsideration of Article 2. Before that vote, Louis asked those in attendance if there were any comments or amendments to Article 2, and when none arose, explained what restricted reconsideration means and said that if passed, the article could not be brought up again.

No one was standing at the microphone waiting to ask a question or offer an amendment to Article 2 while Saulnier was making his presentation, and no one tried to stop Louis from moving the article to the ballot.

Louis then introduced Article 3, a three-year negotiated contract agreement between the Raymond Educational Association (teachers’ union) and the Raymond School Board. School Board Chair John Harmon narrated a lengthy slide presentation of elements of the agreement and where changes were made to reach the estimated increase of $408,424 in year one (2018-19), $309,650 in year two, and $403,531 in year three.

Stacy Small came to the microphone and asked why all that time was being spent on Article 3 when almost no time was spent on the Operating Budget. She also asked why people who had come prepared with amendments to Article 2 had not had the opportunity to be heard. She and others who followed said they were confused and did not hear what was being said and did not realize the discussion on Article 2 had been ended before it began.

While there was static in the microphone, Louis could be clearly heard and understood by those in the back row.

Louis consulted with the School District attorney, who said that Article 2 was closed to any further discussion after having been moved to the ballot, and noted that the motion to restrict reconsideration of the article had been approved by the majority in attendance.

Several of the individuals who had intended to introduce budget amendments continued to ask how they could air their concerns. Small was particularly disturbed about two teachers being cut at the elementary school. Small and other speakers did not indicate whether they wanted to reduce or add to the proposed budget, only saying they had prepared amendments to present.

The legal decision was checked again and the audience was told that there could be no further discussion of Article 2. Those individuals who had sought to amend the budget article were told they could and should take their concerns to School Board meetings. Randy LaCasse asked if the Operating Budget is a bottom line budget and was told it is. He then pointed out that as such, the School Board could do what it wanted with the money in the budget, regardless of whether it was the Operating Budget or the Default Budget, indicating that those who wished to change things might be able to do so by making sure the School Board knew of their concerns.

Louis apologized for his mistake in closing off discussion of Article 2 before people had their chance to present their amendment motions, and said he thought Saulnier was finished with his presentation. At the conclusion of the meeting Louis apologized again, saying he was devastated by his mistake.

Those in attendance moved Article 4, which would allow the governing body to hold one special meeting if Article 3 were defeated, to the ballot.

Article 5, the raising and appropriation of $245,400 total to be added to Capital Reserve Funds - (Equipment, Facilities Maintenance, and Replacement; Technology Capital Reserve Fund; Food Service Equipment Capital Reserve) - was moved to the ballot with only a single question from Kathleen Hoelzel, who asked Ron Brickett, School District Business Director, the amount currently in each fund.

Article 6 dealt with adding $50,000 to the existing Equipment, Facilities Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund if there was money in the undesignated fund balance as of July 1. It was moved to the ballot without any questions. Article 1 is election of officers.

With that, the Deliberative Session came to an end just before 11 a.m., lasting just under one hour. About 50 to 60 people were in attendance.

Election Day is Tuesday, March 13 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School.


To read a detailed description of what a YES vote versus a NO vote will mean visit the Raymond Voter Information Project Website.

Be Sure To Come Out and Vote on March 13.









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