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State lawmaker accusing SAU 53 of illegally hiring administrator

  • At the outset of SAU 53’s board meeting Thursday, the audience was mostly empty. But it doubled in size by the end, as attendees who understood the meeting would start later filed in. NICK REID



Monitor staff
Sunday, July 02, 2017

A Republican state representative is accusing his local school district of improperly creating a new administrative position to oversee curriculum and assessment for the five towns of School Administrative Unit 53.

Rep. Kevin Verville of Deerfield, who serves on the town’s budget committee, said he believes the law wasn’t followed when the SAU board approved the $90,000 position last October.

He points to the state law that governs SAUs, which says that new positions will be created in the central office “only after 50 percent or more of the school districts in the school administrative unit representing 60 percent of the total pupils in the school administrative unit has voted favorably upon the establishment of the position.”

Patty Sherman, co-superintendent at SAU 53, which includes Deerfield, Pembroke, Allenstown, Epsom and Chichester, declined an interview, but said in an email that the district felt it was in the right.

“We believe that we have met the requirements of the statute to establish this position. We have consulted with our attorney who is in agreement that this position meets the requirements of the statute,” Sherman said.

Last October, the SAU board voted, 9-4, with two abstaining, to create the position, according to meeting minutes. A majority of board members from Deerfield and Pembroke approved the position. Two Epsom board members voted against, one abstained, and another voted yes. Of the two Chichester members present, one voted against, and the other abstained. There was only one Allenstown member present, who voted yes.

Verville said he believes the vote needed to go to the individual districts and couldn’t be approved by the SAU board by itself.

“In that language, it’s very specific to separate school districts from school administrative units,” Verville said. “I’m reading the plain language of the law. So I’m not sure how a school administrative unit board can do that.”

SAU 53 board Chairman Jim Deely of Deerfield said the board supports the administration.

“The administration and the SAU Board are on the same page,” he said.

Verville has filed an appeal with the board. Their next neeting is in late fall.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)