Journey to Africa
by Diane Chubb
Lions and tigers and zebras! The children who attended story hour at Pelham Library last week were treated to a lesson about the wild animals found in Africa.
Miss Debbie Laffond, the new Children's Librarian, showed the children a large picture book featuring the various animals of Africa. Everyone was able to correctly identify most of the animals pictured, but there were some new ones.
After the story, Miss Debbie helped the children create their own zebras, using marbles and paints. The zebras are on display on the second floor of the Pelham Library.
Miss Debbie hosts story time every Tuesday and Wednesday. Children ages 4 and up are welcome to attend the 10 am session, and the session for children ages 2 - 3 is at 11:00 a.m. For more information, contact the Pelham Library at 635-7581.
Governor Lynch Endorses Running Start
by Lynne Ober
Pelham High School is already offering Running Start courses (as previously reported in an article in the Pelham~Windham News) and now Governor John Lynch, who spoke on Friday at Pelham High School, wants to expand this program.
At Pelham High, students are eligible to enroll in the program when they are sophomores. There are 101 Pelham students currently participating in Running Start.
When Lynch asked the students listening to his speech who had taken a Running Start course, he was pleased when all of the students raised their hands. “That’s great. I’ve very excited about this program,” he said.
Project Running Start is a partnership between the state community colleges and the public schools, aimed at helping students get a “running start” on their first year of college and helping families cut the cost of college tuition. High school student take college-credit courses for $100 per course and earn 3 hours of college credit.
Earlier Lynch announced $382,000 more funding for Running Start. He said he wanted to be able to provide scholarships to youngsters who cannot afford the $100 tuition cost, thus making college more accessible to high school students.
According to Lynch more than 3,000 New Hampshire high school students are participating in the program at 66 public high schools, but he hopes to see that expand. Lynch’s goal is to enroll 7,500 students into Running Start.
Get Educated on Important Ballot Issues
by Lynne Ober
A few months ago there was public outrage at the U. S. Supreme Court when they ruled that people’s homes could be taken by eminent domain for commercial development. No one wanted to think about the possibility of their home being taken so a Dunkin’ Donuts could be built, but that’s exactly what the U. S. Supreme Court ruled could happen.
The New Hampshire Legislature took steps to prohibit that in this state and now it is up to every person to get to the polls and vote to support protection of their property.
The first article on this November 7 ballot reads, “Are you in favor of amending the first part of the constitution by inserting a new article 12-a to provide that property can only be taken as follows:
[Art.] 12-a [Power to Take Property Limited.] No part of a person’s property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property.”
If a voter votes yes at the polls on Tuesday, November 7 on this warrant article, that voter is voting to protect an individual’s property from being seized for commercial development.
Because of the U. S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that defined “public use” to permit the government to take private property for the purpose of promoting economic development through the resale of the property to private parties, a person’s property could be taken.
However, if this amendment (article 1) is adopted, it will preserve property owners’ rights and will expressly prohibit the government from taking a person’s property for either private development or any other private use of the property.
Following the eminent domain article, the second question on the ballot focuses on representation in the legislature. New Hampshire Supreme Court decided, in a past decision, that the method of providing representation in the legislature was “unconstitutional.” That left the legislature struggling to develop a different approach. The question proposes amending the constitution so that the Legislature can go back to the old way of representation.
The question reads, 2. “Are you in favor of amending the second part of the Constitution by amending article 11 to read as follows:
[Art.] 11. [Small Towns; Representation by Districts.]. When the population of any town or ward, according to the last federal census, is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or more representative seats the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative seats. The apportionment shall not deny any other town or ward membership in one non-floterial representative district. When any town, ward, or unincorporated place has fewer than the number of inhabitants necessary to entitle it to one representative, the legislature shall form those towns, wards, or unincorporated places into representative districts which contain a sufficient number of inhabitants to entitle each district so formed to one or more representatives for the entire district. In forming the districts, the boundaries of towns, wards, and unincorporated places shall be preserved and contiguous. The excess number of inhabitants of a district may be added to the excess number of inhabitants of other districts to form at-large or floterial districts conforming to acceptable deviations. The legislature shall form the representative districts at the regular session following every decennial federal census.”
Currently, the New Hampshire Constitution does not guarantee that each town or ward having enough inhabitants to entitle it to one representative seat in the Legislature shall have its own district. This proposed amendment would overturn the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling.
The Constitution permits the Legislature to form multi-town and multi-ward districts for electing state representatives, but does not expressly permit or prohibit the Legislature to form so-called “floterial” or at-large districts using excess inhabitants from one district to create a representative seat in those towns and wards that do not have enough inhabitants to form a district. A floterial representative represents more than one town or ward.
Be sure to cast a vote on these important issues on Tuesday, November 7.
Budget Committee Supports School Board
by Lynne Ober
“Getting the portables is a no brainer,” said Pelham Fire Chief Mike Walker at the Pelham Budget Committee meeting this past Monday. “It’s not going to fix the building, but it removes kids from danger.”
After the Pelham School Board unanimously voted to approach the Budget Committee about using funds for an emergency expenditure, they wrote a letter explaining the alternative under RSA 32:1, “which requires the budget committee’s written approval of an application to the Commissioner of Education for the expenditure of funds to temporarily lease portable classrooms.”
According to the letter from the entire school board, “The Pelham School Board has unanimously agreed to lease a modular six-classroom building for 24 months. This would allow us to have unencumbered access in the areas within the building that need to be addressed and reconfigured to improve the fire / life safety issues that plague those areas.”
Submitted with the letter were a number of documents, including a detailed explanation of funds available as well as a detailed explanation of the proposed expenditure. While the majority of the funds would come out of this year’s funds, funds would also be needed from the two subsequent years to pay for the lease.
The board proposed a $280,620 total expenditure with $70,000 being used to replace the fire alarm system at Pelham Memorial School and $210,620 being used for the six-classroom modular building this year.
To fund this expenditure, principals will be asked to cut $50,000 from their budgets with the remaining money coming from insurance lines, salary savings, and the district maintenance reserve fund.
When School Board Chairman explained that $88,800 would be placed in the 2007 - 2008 operational budget and $44,400 would be placed in the 2008 - 2009 operational budget to cover the cost of the lease during those periods, Budget Committee member John Lavallee noted the committee had agreed to allow departments to put life/safety issues in their operational budgets and not on separate warrant articles.
Lease of the modular building is $7,400 per month for 24 months. The remainder of the costs for this year will cover installation, utility hook-ups, and fire alarm systems for that building.
Under a best case scenario it will be six to eight weeks before the modular building could be ready for occupancy. “That time frame does not start until the actual contract is started,” said Business Administrator Brian Gallagher.
Budget committee member Dennis Viger pointed out that the problems had been there for a long time and he would have preferred to wait until a total plan could be prepared. He noted that architect Frank Marinace would do an on-site visit on November 8 and would then submit a report to the board. Viger suggested waiting until the board had that report.
There was a great deal of discussion about waiting versus going forward on Monday night with concerns on both sides of the equation.
School Board member Bruce Couture pointed out that the school was originally an open concept and that this education model failed. He described how Pelham High School was chopped into classrooms and into space that would meet special education requirements. Later he noted that he’d coached there for over two decades and had personally watched the changes.
Another topic of discussion was money needed for repairs. Budget committee members expressed a concern that the modular classroom did not include money for building repairs. School Board Chairman Mike Conrad explained that some of the work, i.e., tearing down plywood walls, could be done by school maintenance staff after they had the architect’s okay. Based on the fire chief’s walk-through, the school board expects to lose a minimum of four classrooms in the school, but must wait for the architect’s report.
Previously Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler had told the board that repairs requiring much money would need to go onto the ballot, explaining that there was only so far this year’s budget could be stretched.
Others wondered about the lack of a firm plan and timeline, but school board member Eleanor Burton said, “This isn’t about a timeline. The urgency of the situation prompted us to say, let’s get children out of the building and safe.”
Walker agreed and supported Burton’s comments by explaining how removing 150 students would improve egress for the remaining students.
Walker also told the budget committee that he was pleased with what the school board had done and praised the school board for working so diligently on the issues. “They’ve done exactly what I’ve asked them to do.” He continued to urge the Budget Committee to vote to support the school board’s request for the building. Walker noted that classroom space must be lost to provide egress for other students and with the building so overcrowded the only place to go was into modulars.
When budget committee member Doug Viger moved to postpone the vote, Selectmen’s Representative to the Budget Committee Ed Gleason spoke up. “This will solve an emergency situation and gives you time to plan with the architect. Is that a correct summary?”
Gallagher said it was accurate.
Viger’s motion failed on a 5 – 6 vote. Then Gleason moved to allow the school board to proceed with their proposal in the amount of $280,620. When this motion passed unanimously, Conrad presented the budget committee with a prepared approval for them to sign and they did.