Elected school district officials now have a resource devoted entirely to educating and empowering them to assert their lawful authority and be responsive to their electorate.
The School District Governance Association of New Hampshire (SDGA NH) has been created to establish a forum for past and present school district elected officials and others with elected fiduciary responsibility over a school district budget.
The aim is four-fold:
- to educate elected school district officials as to their proper role and responsibilities
- to promulgate best practices in good governance and prudent budgeting
- to formulate model school district policies so elected officials will have an independent, alternative resource
- to propose and monitor legislation that enhances local control in education and openness in administration
School Administrative Units were designed to be subject to the will of elected school district officials but too many have developed overweening power over the governance and finances of school districts. Policies and practices tend to consolidate power in the SAU office instead of empowering elected representatives of the people to direct the administration.
The long-term goal of SDGA is to restore local elected control in school districts, and push for some legislative changes to increase transparency and accountability for the ultimate benefit of our children’s education.
The Association meets on the first Saturday of every month in Concord. Membership is open to all who share our mission. The core of our membership consists of past or present elected officials with fiduciary responsibility over a school district’s budget.
Eric Pauer, MSEric Pauer represented Brookline on the Hollis Brookline Cooperative School Board from 2014 to 2017, including as secretary from 2015 to 2016. This two-town cooperative school district includes the middle school and high school (grades 7-12). Eric helped set policies and goals, evaluate the new superintendent (who started during Eric’s term), and improved educational programs while running the school district in a cost effective manner for taxpayers. With a $22M budget, he worked to help keep spending increases at 1.5% per year. His wife Diane served as chair on the Hollis Brookline Cooperative Budget Committee. Eric served the town of Brookline as the chair of its Public Works Study committee, to make the transition from Road Agent to Public Works Director in 2017. He also led the Brookline BudCom Study Committee (2020-2021) as chair to investigate adopting an official Budget Committee for Brookline. As a fiscal conservative, Eric spearheaded the successful citizen efforts to adopt official balloting system (SB2) for the Brookline School District (2016), to adopt a tax cap for the Brookline School District (2018), and to require tax impacts to be listed in future Brookline School District warrants (2021). Eric has worked as an engineer, engineering manager, and systems architect for a number of different companies for over 34 years in defense and medical electronics. He also served part-time for 30 years in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve as a Civil Engineer, State Director of Logistics/Engineering, and Senior Emergency Manager, retiring as a Colonel in 2018. He has two adult children with his wife Diane, and Diane is currently a NH State Representative for Brookline/Mason (Hillsborough District 26). Eric currently serves on the Brookline Planning Board.
Vice-President, Past President, Founding Member
Donna Green, MA
Donna Green represented Sandown on the Timberlane Regional School Board from 2014 to 2018. She was recognized with a Nackey Loeb First Amendment Award for her 2016 NH Supreme Court victory, Green v. SAU55, that established the right of all people in New Hampshire to receive public information in electronic form if it so exists. The New England First Amendment Coalition also honored her with an Antonia Orfield Citizenship award in 2017 in recognition of the importance of that case.
Before retiring, Mrs. Green was a writer specializing in Canadian business and personal finance. Her blog on Timberlane school issues won a New Hampshire Press Association award in 2014, the same year she was honored as Sandown Citizen of the Year. She served on Sandown’s planning board for four years, as an alternate on the Sandown ZBA for three years, and two years on Timberlane’s budget committee before her school board service. She was a member of the NH Legislature’s Commission to Study Issues Relating to Pre-existing Districts Withdrawing from a Cooperative School District. She is waiting impatiently for grandchildren.
Secretary, Past President, Founding Member
Jody Underwood, Ph.D.
Jody has served on the Croydon School Board since 2010 in various roles including Chair (2012-2016) Secretary (2011-12, 2016-17), and Vice Chair (2017-19), and is also School Choice Liaison. She shepherded a bill that clarifies the law to allow private schools to be included in town tuitioning agreements. She completed the withdrawal from an AREA agreement and put into place tuition agreements with the schools to whom Croydon tuitions their students after they leave the K-4 Croydon Village School. Dr. Underwood also oversaw the separation of Croydon from SAU43 (with Newport) and started their own, very small, SAU99.
Jody is also an Education Fellow at Granite Institute (http://graniteinstitute.org), where she has written research papers about how New Hampshire uses tax dollars for private schools and on how town tuitioning works in New Hampshire and New England. She has delivered presentations about town tuitioning and school choice around the state.
Professionally, Dr. Underwood has conducted research and development around the use of technology for learning and assessment in the classroom since 1988. She received her B.S. in computer science from Hofstra University, her M.S. in computer science with a focus on artificial intelligence from Rutgers University, and her Ph.D. in Education from The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
She and her husband moved to New Hampshire in 2007, where they live on a large off-the-grid property with their two dogs.
Treasurer, Founding Member
Jan Bettencourt is a resident of Sunapee and served as a member of the Sunapee School Board. Her experience as a public-school art teacher and raising three boys in the public schools stirred her desire to get involved and work to find ways to improve public education. She attended most Sunapee School Board meetings for the past ten years- an accomplishment worthy of a perseverance award.
Prior to moving to Sunapee and becoming residents, Jan and her husband Don lived in CT and started a business that designed, managed and privatized indoor aquatic centers. Jan also developed and managed a sixty-four-child preschool/day care center that received National Accreditation.
Jan was a mentor in the 4H Families with Promise program in Newport, NH and is currently a CASA GAL (Court Appointed Special Advocate, Guardian ad Litem).
Jan and Don have three boys and currently eight grandchildren.
Board Members At Large
Jon is a 27-year Manchester resident, NH native, and education advocate. He operates a digital marketing consultancy, Liberty Digital Marketing.
Jon graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1990 and has held careers in industrial control system design, software engineering, and digital marketing. He has a long history of volunteer service, including nearly 20 years with the International Society of Automation. During his tenure, Jon received multiple leadership awards including the prestigious Emerging Leader Award, served on its executive board for 8 years, headed multiple departments, chaired its finance committee, and currently serves as its Treasurer. Jon has held multiple board positions with other organizations, including the Manchester Republican Committee, Granite State Taxpayers, and a local private school.
Glenn Cordelli has represented the town of Tuftonboro in Carroll County in the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2012. He is currently vice-Chair of the Education Committee.
Robert Chase is a consultant, investor, and financial independence coach. For thirty-five years, he advised, built, bought, scaled and sold software and services businesses.
Robert benefited from a classical education at Avon Old Farms School and Dartmouth College. He currently splits his time between Kensington and Bartlett, NH where he has served on the Kensington Planning Board, Kensington Trail Committee, Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee, Carroll County Republican Committee, Seacoast Classical Education Foundation Board of Directors, and Southeast Land Trust’s Land Conservation Committee.
When not providing pro bono critical thinking advice to School Board members and superintendents, Robert enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons, hiking, biking, skiing, traveling, learning and eating well.