Hollis, Brookline residents want to reconsider school bond

At the first portion of the Hollis Brookline Cooperative School District annual meeting held on March 3, the proposed $5.5 million bond for renovations to the high school and a new athletic field was defeated by a landslide. The petition to change the apportionment formula also was tabled.

Once residents realized that some of these renovations are necessary for the school to avoid losing its accreditation, the meeting was continued on March 6 and continued again for March 26.

The Journal conducted an informal survey of people in attendance on March 6 prior to any related votes being taken. Participants were asked the following questions:

If the school bond article is brought back for reconsideration, would you support all of it, some of it or none of it? What is your opinion of the reapportionment issue?

Webb Scales of Brookline

“I certainly think we need to reconsider if we have got accreditation hanging over us. It should have been dealt with by now; I think we should have a good discussion. I have not really come to any conclusions. I would like to vote against the whole thing – I don’t want taxes going up – but we have needed these things for ages. It sounds like we need to renovate, it sounds like we need the fields and parking lots. It’s a matter of whether those in the assembly are willing to pay for it.”

“Reapportionment is two basic issues: How do we appropriate costs and how do we figure out how to pay for them. The two parts are not on even footing, it is very hard to separate the notion of fairness from what the impact of that choice is. I have nothing to lose – we’re already at 100 percent ADM, so it can’t get much worse than it is for Brookline.”

Drew Mason of Hollis

“I’d be willing to think about it. I’d like to see it split. I’d vote against the athletic fields and would want to hear the argument as to why they need to so the other piece. It usually takes three attempts to get a bond issue through. I think the School Board needs to try harder.”

“At least three factors are involved: How much does it cost to educate each student, another is how much state aid is awarded to each town, and the third is property tax. For better or worse, New Hampshire has decided that all local education will be funded by property taxes. If we were one town, one taxable entity, then some form of equalized valuation would be applicable, but we are not. I’m undecided as to what is fair, but all three of these factors need to be considered. What I don’t like is the current method of bringing it up without it being studied.”

Robbin Dunn of Hollis

“I would support either part or all of the bond. I voted yes on Monday.”

“I don’t think that is something they should put out here willy-nilly. We need to get an educated committee with parties from both towns. Whether they change it or don’t, I’m fine as long as I see information that they researched it.

Holly Babcock of Hollis

“I would support all of it. It is a great investment in our kids’ future.”

“I would like to see it stay tabled for another year so we can have serious consideration. There are probably some changes that can be made but we need to take a breather and calm the waters.”

George Thompson of Hollis

“If it was broken up, there are pieces I’d support. I’d say yes to the road, parking lot and probably the field, but definitely not the classroom.”

“I would vote the same way. It was handled properly. Brookline is wrong, and we voted to table it.”

Tim McDaniel of Brookline

“I would support discussing on it. I’d support the addition bringing us closer to addressing the things addressed by NEASC. I want the biggest bang for my buck. I would support it all to get the addition. If they split it, I would support the addition but not the field.”

David Sullivan of Hollis

“I am in favor of some of it, like the addition. I’d probably vote for all of it to keep things competitive, but would prioritize the addition. Academics come first.”

“The apportionment should be based on student population and not property values.”

Heidi Forster of Hollis

“I support all of it – it’s long overdue. I think the accreditation issue is embarrassing to the town of Hollis if they can’t even pay for kids to eat in the lunchroom. Being a teacher, the fact that there is only one means of egress is a huge concern. We had a threat last spring and evacuated to the track, but we would have had no way to bus the kids away from the building if we had to. I can’t believe people are not concerned about this.”

“We need a lot of time to study this issue. It’s complex. It makes no sense to just look at the impact of the co-op on taxes. Many decisions are made in each town separately. There was a lot of misinformation on Monday and we didn’t have time to think about it. If the majority feels we need to look at it again, then we need to think about it and vote based on facts.”

Laurie Delaney of Hollis

“I support all of it. We need new fields.”

“I have to learn more about it. I waited too late to do my research.”

Spencer Stickney of Hollis

“I have two kids who I educate to be responsible adults. You want us to spend two and a half million dollars to get accreditation, but then we have to give money for a field, too? We do need to get accreditation but I don’t think a new field will get us there.”

John Carr, selectman from Brookline

“I think at this time it is something that can wait.”

“It’s a fairness issue and should be put back on the table. Both Hollis and Brookline need each other for the success of the cooperative and need to be equally supportive of both towns.”

Brandon Buteau of Hollis

“I would be more inclined to consider the school building needs than upgrades to fields. I think the road improvements are important as well.”

Chris St. George of Brookline

“I would support it as long as the fields are taken out of it. I have a big problem with that, and from what I understand, most people were upset with them being thrown in. I want the infrastructure taken care of. You don’t need fields for academics.”

Brendan Harris of Brookline

“I would support it. I don’t think it was overly explained about accreditation and being on the fence and needing $3 million. If they had explained that the school was in big trouble, I would have understood that kind of argument better than the little numbers on the screen. I actually voted against it and I’m sorry I did.”

Annabelle Harris of Brookline

“Ditto. I feel it was poorly explained so I made a bad vote. Now that I understand it better, I hope it gets reversed.”