Saturday, April 19, 2008

Budget beef finds way into student backpacks

Union Leader.
Lizbeth McDonald the school president denies that she knew what she was doing was against school policy, she is either ignorant or lying either way she should not remain in her current position. The tactic of sending political propaganda home in students back packs is nothing new and a tactic widely used by PTA and PTO's which have been hijacked by teacher unions and their agendas.

Budget beef finds way into student backpacks
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Saturday, Apr. 19, 2008

MANCHESTER – A letter written by Weston Elementary School's PTO president urging parents to lobby aldermen on school spending was given to Weston students to take home this week.

That violates school board policy.

The board adopted a policy in the 1990s banning the use of school children as couriers to distribute material of a political nature.

Jennifer Lenox, vice president of Weston's parent-teacher organization, said the letter was written by the group's president, Kathleen Epperson.

Attempts to reach Epperson and Weston Principal Lizabeth MacDonald yesterday were unsuccessful.

Superintendent of Schools Henry Aliberti said both women became aware of the violation after the fact and regret the mailing.

"Liz was not aware of (the policy)," said Aliberti. "She's fairly new to the position. I know that both she and the head of the PTO feel very bad about it."

Aliberti said he learned of the letter yesterday and immediately called Mayor Frank Guinta.

"I wanted his office to know this wasn't a practice of the district," said Aliberti.

The administration also took steps to avoid a similar misstep this political season.

"We notified all principals, all assistant principals and school secretaries that any material containing political, budgetary information is not to go home through students," said Aliberti.

Though written by Epperson, the letter was approved by MacDonald for distribution to every child in the school.

The one-page, unsigned letter is addressed to "Weston Parents" with the headline: "EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ~ PLEASE READ."

The letter lists the city's 14 aldermen and their contact information.

"I urge every parent, guardian, aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather to place a call to their Alderman or send an email voicing their concerns as soon as possible," read the letter, in part.

"Please let the decision makers know that we cannot tolerate such a drastic decrease in the funding for our children's education."

The letter also urged people to attend an April 28 public forum on the school district budget at Memorial High School.

Guinta said that sending such information home with students puts the children in an awkward position.

"It troubles me that an organization that has good intentions would make an error in judgment and utilize kids in that fashion," Guinta said. "When I heard about it, I was surprised that it occurred."

Guinta said it is important to move beyond the incident and continue productive talks on the city's financial challenges and ways to improve education.

Lenox said the letter was not meant to be political.

"We all feel strongly about the class sizes increasing, especially in the Weston School district," she said, "because we have new houses and condominiums being built and we already have a portable (classroom)."

Alderman Real Pinard, whose Ward 6 includes Weston School, said he expected to be inundated with constituent calls after a neighbor showed him the letter.

As of yesterday, however, Pinard said he'd received just two calls, one from a person concerned about funding sports and another who was worried about music.

"I called the school yesterday and asked them who sent this letter and they couldn't tell me," said Pinard.

"As far as I'm concerned, this letter is worthless because it doesn't have a signature."

The letter actually understates the gap between the school board's and the mayor's proposed budgets for the district, citing a $7 million difference when it is $13.1 million.

Guinta's spending plan is approximately $7 million less than this year's district budget. The school board has proposed a $6 million spending increase.

Staff Writer Dan Tuohy contributed to this story.

No comments: