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. Voting membership is open to past or present elected officials with fiduciary responsibility over a school district’s budget. Non-voting membership is also available for those who share our mission.
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.
Karen has served as a budget committee member for Mont Vernon Village School and for Souhegan High School. She has classroom teacher experience and is a long time advocate of family values. Shortly after moving to NH, Karen joined a group of grass root activists who studied and brought the introduction of Goals 2000 into New Hampshire to a standstill. As Executive Director of Cornerstone Policy Research (the New Hampshire family policy organization she founded in 2000), she became the leading voice for the traditional family and led the fight on numerous family rights issues.
Karen is the recipient of the Family Research Council “Family Faith and Freedom” award and the Cornerstone Policy Research “William Wilberforce” award. Additionally she was recognized by NH Magazine as one of their “Remarkable Women,” by Smart Girl Politics with the “Engage” award, by Eagle Forum with the Eagle Award for New Hampshire, and by the Nashua Area Federation of Republican Women as their Woman of the Year. Karen is a columnist, author and current co-host of talk radio.
A former candidate for governor, Karen has the ability to build broad coalitions of diverse groups to accomplish common goals. These have included pro family, pro gun, taxpayer groups, political leaders, military groups and religious leaders. She has personal involvement with the military as a wife, mother and daughter. She and her husband raised four children and currently reside with their Bouvier des Flanders, Dutch.
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.
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.
Standing Committee Chairs
Communication and Outreach
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.
BUdget and Finance
Wayne serves town of Hooksett as a School Board member, elected in 2020 just as COVID-19 became a primary education and societal consideration. Previously, he served two years on the Hooksett Budget Committee, including a year as Vice Chair. Taking quite seriously his mandate to “ensure the prudent appropriation of public funds”, his experience with accounting and finance led him to produce materials to help the committee more easily find budget accounting lines that greatly exceeded past actual spending, and to help educate the public.
Prior to public service, Wayne volunteered for over a decade with the Appalachian Mountain Club as a hike leader and instructor. He served on AMC’s New Hampshire Chapter Executive Committee from 2009 to 2017, including roles as Vice Chair and Chair, representing 14,000 of AMC’s members. He helped shape the Chapter’s budget, ensured volunteer activity leaders got the training they wanted, and supported AMC’s mission to help people enjoy and conserve our forests, mountains, and waterways.
Professionally, Mr. Goertel is a software engineer, having both a Bachelor and Master of Science in Computer Science. He has developed computer software to support a variety of industries, including accounting, manufacturing, customer service, radiology, finance, and trucking.
Wayne has been a Hooksett resident for over two decades, residing there with this wife and two children.
Jim is a resident of North Conway, New Hampshire, locating there after he left the US Army in 1987. While on active duty, he spent a considerable amount of time in the Federal Republic of Germany during the Cold War period, and also as the Director/Master trainer of the Active Duty Retention Department, Recruiting and Retention School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN.
Jim received his BA degree in history from the University of Vermont, and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UVM in the early 1990s. After he received his Master’s, he spent over 20 years working for a major Defense firm. During this period, he worked as a site manager on five different Army Installations and as a Fire Brigade member, traveling to various US and overseas locations experiencing difficulty. He retired in 2017.
Jim has served several terms as a member and Chairman of the Conway Budget Committee, and is in his last year of the most current term. He has focused on town and school district spending and ways to improve performance while removing unnecessary infrastructure and personnel. He continues to be active as a volunteer with the American Legion, the New Hampshire Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and the Knights of Columbus.
Arthur Green is a past member of the Timberlane Regional School District Budget Committee. He is an Information Technology Project Manager in the Financial Services sector, and has led the implementation of complex projects for many top tier banks and insurance companies. In this capacity, he has developed and executed multi-million dollar budgets. A proudly naturalized citizen of the US, Mr. Green moved to New Hampshire from Canada in 2007. He holds a BA in Economics from McGill University and is married to Donna Green with whom he has three adult children who call often.