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Board of Education Votes to Turn Nathan Hale School Over to Town

The school board said it can simply no longer afford to maintain the former elementary school.

Saying they could not afford the roughly $154,000 annually it would cost just for basic maintenance of the now closed Nathan Hale Elementary School, the Board of Education voted Monday to turn control of the building over to the town. 

"The board simply does not have that funding in its budget," said Interim Superintendent Richard Kisiel. 

Kisiel previously told the school board that the district had been paying minimal heating, utilities and custodial costs associated with the school, which amounted to about $154,000 annually. but that up until several weeks ago it still had supplies and equipment in the building. Kisiel said the district now has "no use for the building," while the town has been using the gym and the cafeteria for recreation activities.

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"We're left with this issue of who pays?" Kisiel said, noting that he approached General Manager Scott Shanley with the idea of the town paying the costs associated with the building to the school board while the board maintained control of it, but Kisiel said that Shanley indicated that he did not believe the Manchester Board of Directors would accept the idea. 

"We should simply return the building back to the town so that it can maintain the building," Kisiel said. 

The vote was unanimous, with many members of the school board stating they believed the move was in the best interests of the town's public education system. 

"I think this board is in the business of operating schools, and Nathan Hale is no longer a school," said Sarah Walton, a Democratic member of the school board. "I don't think it's passing the buck." 

The school board voted in August of 2012 to formally close the Spruce Street elementary school, since it did not have the millions estimated to repair and maintain the building's aging systems. 

There have been preliminary discussions in town about the possibility of establishing a charter school, with Nathan Hale being suggested as a possible location. In order for that to materialize, the town would have to cede control of the building back to the Board of Education. 

The building will be formally turned over to the town on March 1, 2013. 

Greg February 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM
It is the right time for the BOE to close the book on Nathan Hale. Well played BOE.
tina bourke February 26, 2013 at 01:11 PM
I watched the entire meeting live stream. I thought it made sense as far as Nathan Hale. It occurred to me and made sense when they mentioned it that either way the BOD or BOE, it is still the towns and the only difference is which budget supports it and has control of decisions. And, it hit home when it was said it is already closed and has been closed. What I didn't understand and it was touched on very briefly is the difference the amount would be to maintain the cafeteria and gym currently being used, vs., completely closing it down? The question was raised, but not answered and I simply wondered afterward is all?
Frank Lea February 26, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Closing Nathan Hale covered two things on the BOE's agenda, not having to pay to renovate it and it took care of the racial imbalance in the school system. What they didn't say was the increase in the transportation costs of busing all of the students to different schools. I think the 154,000 was less than the busing.
Joel Mrosek February 26, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Did the BOE reduce its budget in 2012 or 2013 because it was getting savings from closing Nathan Hale or does dumping the building costs back to the Town effectively mean the BOE has more money to use in other ways? Certainly, the BOE had more than in its budget than the $145,000 it is currently costing, when the building was operational. And does the BOD just have to shrug and take it?
David Moran (Editor) February 26, 2013 at 09:14 PM
It's my understanding that the $154,000 annually to maintain the school - which would just be the bare minimum so the pipes didn't bust or the building didn't deteriorate to the point that it was unusable - was not included in this year's school budget. The money saved from the closing of the school last year - which, if memory serves, was something around $600,000 to $900,000 - was spread around to make up for other shortfalls in this year's school budget.
Joel Mrosek February 27, 2013 at 02:49 AM
Thanks Dave. That is what I thought. They used the money elsewhere and failed to budget for a known expense. Taxpayers are abused again. Only gov't can get away with clown budgeting.
Mark LeClair February 28, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Ms. Bourke couldn't have said it better; the BOE's job is to operate schools. NH is no longer operating as a school. And there is no 'savings' in the budget process, just cost avoidance and distribution to other needs that oh by-the-way, we all vote on. Our town taxes pay for minimal maintenance of all twom properties; it doesn't matter if it's on the BOE budget or the town facilities budget - we still pay for it.
Joel Mrosek February 28, 2013 at 10:25 PM
The question I asked below, which Dave answered, is making sure the Town doesn't pay twice. For example, if Timmy's parents give him an allowance that includes money for haircuts, but he says he no longer needs to, but his parents insist take him for the haircut and pay for it they are paying TWICE unless Timmy gives back that portion of his allowance for the haircuts to his parents. Dave seemed to confirm that the Board of Ed (Timmy) didn't give back to the Town (the parents) the money. Instead, they spent it on other things (candy!) that the Town didn't necessarily approve.
Joel Mrosek March 07, 2013 at 03:47 PM
The BOE is still using Nathan Hale without having to allow for it in its budget. Seems they want it both ways. They turn back the expenses to the taxpayers, without reducing their budget, so we are paying for it twice. Further, they are using the property as a transportation hub for busing the kids all over town. I would suggest the BOD require a rent payment of, say, $145,000 a year. To be clear, the only thing I find objectionable in all of this is how the taxpayers are being asked to pay for the upkeep of Nathan Hale twice. The BOE budget should be cut to account for the savings and force the BOE to justify any budget increases.
Brian Hurlburt March 13, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Joel, I would need to do further investigation, but is the only cost avoidance the cost of the building, and things like oil, electricity, routine maintenance, etc....? The cost of the teachers, and support staff associated with the students from Nathan Hale still exist, as the students who would otherwise attend Nathan Hale are now attending elsewhere. Since we all know that many of our schools need some serious maintenance, the budget that would have been used to keep Nathan Hale open, can now be applied to other unmet needs. What do you believe the BOE is doing with the "extra" money?

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