GrokWatch: what’s going on with Northwood’s School Board?

by GrokWatch News Desk

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As a concerned taxpayer and 16 year resident of Northwood, the bus crisis has been a topic of concern.  Searching for more information, I submitted an RTN request. The SAU office and the documents I received were astonishing.  The Northwood bus crisis was self-inflicted, courtesy of the Northwood school board and superintendent Gadomski. We ended up in crisis because our bus company, Northwood Transportation, could no longer afford to service our community despite still having a year left on a 3-year contract.

August 2016 found NT short a driver and a bus run, which caused NT a loss of $43,000.  NT told the board and superintendent Gadomski this was a financial burden on NT as the company had fixed expenses.  The NT busing contract included a mid-day kindergarten run. When the board voted to implement all-day kindergarten (going against the voters of Northwood who voted against it four years in a row), it omitted the midday-run. NT submitted their letter ceasing service to Northwood School district the next day on April 21, 2017, citing the loss of the midday-run as the reason.

May 4, 2017,  the board voted to send out an RFP (request for proposal) to get bussing bids, yet our superintendent and school board chair did not send it out until June 15.  Why would they wait so long?

It’s bad enough we had a defaulted bus contract and no bus company, but it’s even worse when we find that our superintendent and school board failed to verify the only form of protection that we had in the bussing contract- the required surety performance bond.  The bond was a requirement in the contract which required NT to put up collateral to the bond company in order to guarantee the contract in case of default, which NT did default.  Without the performance bond, we are responsible for ALL the costs incurred in this bussing fiasco including increased busing costs, $4500 bonuses, childcare ($1000 per week) and all legal fees.

These are irresponsible business practices from those who are supposed to be trusted with taxpayer funds. What other parts of the bus contract weren’t verified, liability insurance? Are the bus contracts in Nottingham and Strafford also left without bond protection?  What other irresponsible business practices will we be responsible for?  The Northwood school board chair Keith McGuigan and superintendent Gadomski need to resign so we can find competent and responsible people to fill their positions.


GrokWatch Note: this is merely the first post in a series that may go on for a bit.  After hearing from other ‘Grok readers, this is just yet another instance of local School Boards going rogue.  There is one common thread among them all – and that would be the NH School Board Association.  Their watchword / PR phrase is “At your service since 1916” – we think that the “non-operative” is “your”; perhaps something more in line with “serving ourselves” may be a better fit.

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  • Bryan W

    So who teaches them to operate this way?

    The School Boards association is just like the Municipal Association – an entity unto itself. Rather than act as a legislative watchdog and mutual resource, it acts as a driving influence for its own interests, and not necessarily the interests of its members.

    If you want some fun, get the budget committee to just mention zeroing the NHSBA fees in the budget. They will complain about all the stuff they will lose and how “education will suffer.” But look at what they actually do:

    1) Collective Bargaining Agreement online database – available for free from NHDOL.

    2) “Legal Services” for the School Board, not the school district. I question why the board as a separate entity requires legal services separate from the school district, which they govern.

    3) Legislative work – advocating for the policies set by their “delegate assembly.” But why aren’t the local NH State Reps doing that? The answer is simple – they have tax dollars being used to advocate in front of the legislature, which is inherently corrupt.

    4) School Board policies – a template policy that is “fill in the district name here” for local use, and legal services to review policies. I wonder if this is where the crazy bathroom policies are coming from? This might be the only useful thing they do, but I am suspicious.

    5) “Professional Development and Training” – this one is a hoot. While it could be beneficial to train the enlightened in how to deal with deplorables, tell me they really don’t think of the school board members as “professionals?”

    A sample of our professional development workshops and training topics include:
    • School Board Roles and Responsibilities
    • Running Effective Meetings
    • Right to Know law
    • Collective Bargaining
    • School Board Goal-Setting and Strategic Planning
    • Evaluating Superintendent Performance
    • School District Budgeting
    • Preparation for Annual Meetings
    • School Board Role in Personnel Matters
    [end quote]

    6) Strategic planning – “The key long-term success for a school board, administration, and a school district is a viable, usable and active school district strategic plan. Generally, strategic planning is a process by which a group of stakeholders gathers information to establish goals, design desired outcomes and identify processes in order to ensure that initiatives and priorities of the school board are implemented.”
    Sounds like a RTN request for this one..

    7) Superintendent Searches – helping districts find a superintendent. Possibly useful, but any executive talent agency should be able to do this also.

    Many of these things can be obtained by means other than an unnecessary taxpayer-funded bureaucracy.

  • 175jfs

    Local school boards are stymied from making any meaningful changes to the way the SAU’s run, Reason: You’ll find more than a few school board members have family members who work for the district or have lucrative business contracts with the district. Conflict of interest be damned. They no longer represent the voters, they represent themselves.

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