Our 2017-2018 Legislative Initiatives

The School District Governance Association of New Hampshire is promulgating two very important bills in the 2017-2018 legislative season.

Making Default Budgets Honest Again

Default budgets, especially in school districts, are often higher than the proposed operating budget, even when those operating budgets are higher than the current year’s budget. To all who understand the point of default budgets to be a status quo budget, this state of affairs mixes puzzlement with mistrust.

HB 1396 was written by SDGA-NH board member, Arthur Green and was sponsored in the NH House by Sandown Representative Chris True. The bill attempts to define “one-time expenditures” rather than leaving it up to the discretion of the governing body. The bill also requires the default budget to be presented to the public in the same level of detail as the proposed operating budget.

The bill, with significant annotation and explanation, can be found here…

Summary Package HB1396

Bringing Sunlight to Collective Bargaining Negotiations: HB 1344 and SB 420

When I, as a school board member, was participating in the collective bargaining negotiations with the Timberlane Teachers’ Association, it was plain to me that opening these meetings to the public would put an end to posturing and unreasonable positions that would not gain respect from the public. The public should see the positions their school board members and their lawyer are taking and the way they honor their undertakings during negotiations. Similarly, union members should also have the right to see how their union leaders and their hired negotiating lawyer are representing their interests.

Right now everything is cloaked in darkness. No one is permitted to say what goes on in these negotiations – what each side offered and what was rejected and why. We’re all left to trust that our respective interests are being defended. But the fact of the matter is that this trust is not based on any evidence whatsoever. What we have had since closed-door negotiations began is the hear say of negotiators who have every incentive to spin things to their own advantage.

Union officials – not their membership – object to transparency. SAUs – not school boards – object to transparency. The objectors say this will make negotiations stiff and unproductive. Frank discussions won’t happen, they say. I call that out for the nonsense it is. At least 9 other states require negotiations to be conducted in public and two more require school districts to negotiate in public. Those states have not collapsed for lack of “frank” negotiations. What does collapse is unproductive posturing, unreasonable positions, and insulting games.

This is your tax money being negotiated. These are the wages of hundreds if not thousands of employees being negotiated. None of it should be done outside the scrutiny of the people whose money and interests are on the line.

For a list of states requiring negotiation transparency see this article…



Click on the name of each state to be taken to their legislation:
Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas.