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Boscawen voters: More transparency on International Baccalaureate program

After a relatively quiet evening in which most warrant articles passed unanimously, Boscawen’s town meeting ended with an impassioned debate over the Merrimack Valley School District’s funding for the International Baccalaureate program and a call by voters for more transparency.

“The reason this is so important is that sooner or later, the IB program, it is expanding and it’s going to become so costly, and the grants that are funding it right now are going to dry up. And one of these years we’re going to have a giant surprise that ‘Oh, by the way, it’s our problem,’ ” said Bill Murphy, a member of Boscawen’s budget committee and frequent critic of the school board.

Murphy introduced a nonbinding resolution requesting the school board print all sources of revenue and spending related to the program in next year’s annual district report. He made this request to board members at last week’s annual district meeting, and board members said providing the information would be possible. Lorrie Carey, a school board member from Boscawen and state representative, came out sharply against Murphy’s request, saying he and others were fear-mongering and fueling conspiracy theories about the program’s ties to the United Nations.

“For some reason there’s this conspiracy theory about IB,” she said. “It has nothing to do with educating the children, it has to do with individuals believing it’s the U.N. takeover of the world.”

Voters approved the resolution, 36-28, after rejecting Carey’s motion to table it.

Also at the meeting, the $3.09 million budget, up 2.2 percent from last year, passed without discussion. Voters also approved adding $170,000 to various capital reserve funds, redesignating the purpose of a facilities capital reserve fund and appropriating money to the Penacook Community Center, Boscawen Historical Society and Penacook Rescue Squad.

Murphy told the crowd he was making his IB request for the sake of transparency because the school district is a main consumer of tax dollars. The board has never provided detailed information on where the money for IB comes from and how it is used, he said. If the grant money dries up, residents need to know what the program costs, he said.

“And when it becomes our problem, we can say ‘No, we don’t want it anymore,’ ” he said.

The district pays for the program through grants, and that information is available to anyone who calls the administrative office, Carey said. The district never prints accounts of federal grants in the annual report because it would take up extra pages and cost more money. But the district must strictly report grant activities to the government anyway, so all of the information is available, she said. Furthermore, IB is a teaching method, and the district has used grant money for professional development purposes for years, she said.

“If we printed all the federal grant detail in the annual report it would be the size of War and Peace,” she said.

Murphy and others, including Salisbury Selectman Ken Ross-Raymond, who presented the same resolution to Salisbury voters, are trying to accuse the teachers, administrators and school board of a cover-up and conspiracy that does not exist, Carey said.

After Murphy’s resolution passed by 12 votes, he came to the microphone again.

“Just remember who didn’t want you to know,” he told voters.

“That’s bullsh--,” Carey stood up and said. “I appreciate you want to know, but this insinuating, this is bullsh--, and I don’t mind saying it. And somebody needs to stand up and say it’s time we take back our town from people who are fear-mongers. It’s time we get involved with our schools and see what’s there, and to insinuate that this information is not available is a bunch of crap.”

One voter stood up making a motion to seal the proposal from being reconsidered, and the meeting promptly adjourned. After the meeting, Carey sent an email to the selectmen and other town officials apologizing for her strong language.

All three selectmen voted in favor of Murphy’s motion. Boscawen residents are generous and generally supportive of education, said Chairman Craig Saltmarsh. Supporting Murphy’s amendment, he said, was about making sure voters have every piece of information possible.

“We just want to make sure we know where we’re headed,” he said.

Aside from the IB proposal, the article generating the most discussion was to redesign the purpose of the town recreation and senior center facility capital reserve fund to apply to any facilities within the Parks and Recreation Department. In 2007, the town made plans to build a state-of-the-art senior and recreational center, but that has been put on hold since the economy collapsed. There are other buildings in town, such as the old town hall and the old fire station, that are in need of repair.

During that discussion and at the end of the meeting, fire Chief Ray Fisher and other voters spoke up about buildings that need repair.

“We’re at a point where we’ve got to spend some serious money to keep town buildings standing, and I just think it would be a good idea to get the input from the townspeople so that the board and everyone else knows what avenue should be taken,” Fisher said.

A committee has been established to evaluate need and set priorities, and the selectmen will bring any proposals to a public hearing before spending from the fund.

“I don’t think it’s up to us as a group of three to make these decisions,” said Selectman Roger Sanborn.

Voters also re-elected Saltmarsh over former selectman Ed Maloof.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

Legacy Comments26

We all know how the vote went down Bruce. Elem teachers had to stand in front of their adminstrators and vote and HS had to stand in front of all the district adminstrators to vote. I believe that is called intimidation.

You're simply spouting more nonsense you get third-hand from those who spin conspiracies from thin air. The only attempts at intimidation in this entire tempest in a teacup have come repeatedly from those who oppose IB and make extraordinary allegations and claims about the process and about IB. When they lost at the 2012 district meeting, TruthaboutIB and others alleged voter fraud on the part of the district. They (meaning a handful of people--and mostly from outside the MV district) also made outlandish claims that intimidation and sinister mind- games--what they call "the Delphi process" were used to brainwash teachers and parents. What nonsense. This thread is one long trip down a rabbit hole (pun intended) of unreality. As usual, the facts make no difference to those who believe in conspiracies and think themselves the possessors of "truth", which justifies in their minds the very behaviors they accuse others of--repeated distortion of the facts and outright dishonesty. Get real and give it a rest.

My information about the vote process comes from teachers Bruce not whistleblower. Are you telling me the teachers voted in a different manner than I stated?

I am indeed. What you've described is a complete distortion of the facts. My posts on the topic are an accurate description of the IB process nearly from day 1. The only 'intimidation' has been that attempted by opponents of IB. Any MV teacher who feels differently and believes I have misrepresented the facts has been free to speak out on here at any time. The silence is deafening. You're making things up. As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The facts do not support the claims made by opponents of IB, either about the program itself, or its adoption by MVSD. A fair-minded comparative reading of the respective posts on this thread shows which ones are based on the facts, and which are not.

Great point, RabbitNH, we all know how unions hate the secret ballot, was this a voice vote? I would think it should be a secret ballot. If they had to stand there and vote in front of their bosses, that is not democracy.

Whistleblower or RabbitNH, Can you tell me the nature of these alleged "grants"? Federal, State, private?

Federal Grants. And you cannot apply for Race To The Top grant money unless you sign on for Core Standards.

Sorry Bruce, as far as I am concerned, getting info about the IB Program costs has been like pulling teeth. That also applies to getting info on what the Program teaches, what courses are accepted by colleges credit wise, and what experiences other school districts have had with these issues, and why they dropped the program. That info is hidden. Replaced with "Trust Me I know What Is Best For Your Kids". The history of our school system tells us that our Public Schools are failing. Even with the high costs we pay to run them. Why woud we trust any school board? They have let us down time and again. .

Re: "...getting info about the IB Program...has been like pulling teeth." Really? Are you a district voter? Did you attend the District Meetings? Read the IB website? There are few in the district who share your opinions about either IB, the MV board, or its teachers--the program and the schools have the overwhelming support of district voters and parents. For that matter, there are few in the district who share your opinion about anything having to do with education--thankfully. Those who make distorted and false claims about IB are led by a small coterie of outsiders, who are fueled by right-wing paranoia that is the equal of anything the John Birch Society put out in the 1960's. One just has to read the rant by 'TruthaboutIB' quoted in my post below, to begin to get a sense of how far removed from reality they are.

You have no idea Bruce about how many folks share my opinion. Nor do you have any idea how many teachers supported this program. Are you aware that MV did not post a meeting on their website so parents could attend? Instead they filled the audience with teachers and pro IB folks. You are the one who is not informed. Nor do you put forth any examples of cost after the grant runs out. Unlike you, most of us look this stuff up. IB is a huge costly mistake that the taxpayers will be feeling in their wallets. But that is not the only sham being pushed on folks. The Common Core Standards are even more damaging to our education system.

The annual district meeting votes are proof of the support the district initiatives have, and of the faith that voters have in the teachers, the administrators, and the school board. And since I work in the district, I know very well "how many teachers" support IB, and how limited in number are those who oppose IB.

Yes, they are far removed from your dream scape reality but for people who want the truth, here is the link: http://truthaboutib.com/indefenseofib.html. It is not the only link I could provide. By the way, the John Birch society, although extreme has been correct on several fronts since the 1960's. You talk about the "right wing" as if it is something extreme and evil, what about the "left wing" that you and most people in the administration belong to. Also extreme? I think so.

Feel free to tell us on what exactly you think "the John Birch Society... has been correct on...since the 1960's". It would be enlightening--about the degree of your own extreme views.

I hasten to add that a post of mine down below contains a long statement by "truthaboutIB" [sic] of her political views. Her views, I believe, are representative of those who most vocally oppose IB, and indeed public education in general--including those who post on this site.

Just wondering if anyone commenting on this discussion is an MVSD teacher? I myself agree with others people in thinking that the district is trying to sneak things by the voters. For example, the fact that they added very quietly a second teacher mentor, maybe 2-3 years ago, now the district is back to one mentor and the other person oversees the implementation of IB. So I can see why the taxpayers of the district would definately be wary of anything the administration says.

Yeah Bruce, the CM. They have a track record like you of omiting facts, and instead publishing articles to support their political agenda. They do not call it lying if they leave out information or being biased. They just hope they will not be caught at it.

Back to the point of this article, the question remains; Why the hysteria, defensiveness and attempt to block the release of BUDGETARY information when it comes to IB? If the district has nothing to hide, it should be able to compile a revenue/expense IB budget without any problem. End of problem! Therefore, the only possible reason for such defensive obstructionism must be that if Merrimack Valley SD were to honestly produce such a budget, the numbers wouldn't match up to its initial projections.

IB has a track record of hiding costs. Look it up folks, don't believe me. There are also many districts dropping this program once they find out the actual costs when the grants run out, and take a look at what their kids are actually being taught. This is not hysteria. It is actually happening. The folks who support it are very good at hiding the costs, and making sure they omit fatcs about the program.

While the poster's logic may be impeccable, her basic premise is faulty. There has never been an attempt by the district to hide the costs of IB. The costs to MVSD of IB have long been available. At the 2012 district meeting, for example, that information was distributed to all attendees. Most, if not all professional development money in MVSD, including IB, is grant money. Spending on professional development was never broken down into sub-categories because it was never an issue until IB appeared. It's only an issue now because of the misinformation that opponents spread about it. As for the charge leveled below by rabbit that I'm 'name-calling' in my exchanges with whisleblower-- readers are free to judge. But I'm not the one who used the words "liar," "child-abuse", "treason", "communist", and "nazi". As for "TruthAbout IB", visiting from NY, these are some of her past statements: "It [UN] is a destructive, corrupt, dysfunctional, power-hungry organization that seeks to rule the world. Our idiot President just yesterday, joined the UNHRC. If ANY division of the UN is a bigger farce and more full of communist hypocrites, I can’t really think of it. UNESCO is a close second. Reagan pulled the U.S. out of UNESCO and it was only idiot Bush the 2nd who rejoined after the adoption of Goals 2000. Tax cheat TurboTax Geithner and the Obamination are now meeting with the G20 and the concept of a “global currency” is “on the table”. And you ask me what I am afraid of? I am afraid that this naive President who thinks we can sit down and “talk” to crazed dictators like Chavez and Achmadinejad is shredding our Constitution. I’m afraid that this President who duped the American public into believing his message of “hope” and “change” is changing this country into what can only be described as “democratic fascism”. I’m afraid that all of our individual freedoms are being stripped from us in a far more dangerous manner than the Patriot Act ever did. And I’m afraid for my children and my grandchildren as to what kind of America they will have to live in and be mercilessly taxed in if we don’t stand up for the Constitution and American fundamentals. Remember, 48% of this country DID NOT vote for Obama. I am afraid a revolution is coming. I’m just a suburban Mom, yet for the first time in my life I have purchased a gun. I now go to the range regularly to hone my skills. The cost of ammunition has gone up 250% since the election. I am not alone."

Congratulations to Bill Murphy for proposing this resolution to provide transparency about the funding of IB in Merrimack Valley for the taxpayers. IB has been shoved into MVCSD public schools over objections from the public and at a great expense. The taxpayers are entitled to know how their money is being spent. The incredible lengths public school administrators undertake in order to obfuscate the cost of IB across the country, is astonishing. Ms. Carey's crude, uncivil and outlandish reaction can only cause one to think, "Methinks thou dost protest too much". If you have nothing to hide, what are you so afraid of, Ms. Carey?

The poster's statements above regarding the development of IB in the MVSD are flat out false. My post below gives a brief history of the process--it was hardly "shoved into" the schools. Misinformation about IB is this poster's stock-in-trade, as it is for most of those who claim to oppose IB.

Ms. Carey can lie all she wants about the IB program but facts are facts. Anyone can see from the www.ibo.org website that it is the UN, the UN agenda, and it's mostly political, having kids work towards the goals of UNESCO. It's an attitudes program, preparing them for world government. It is treasonous after all to have a group of people from a communist organization sell you a program that requires the teachers to embed UNESCO projects into EVERY subject. Carey was warned in 2009 that this was child abuse, not academic, and she never informed the public. To continue to say it's not connected to the UN or UNESCO, well how stupid does this woman think these folks are? When you have TEACHERS telling you about it, what more do you need to know? I am sure most of the MV teachers just don't want to be fired, but they see what they are doing to the kids. It's child abuse! If you really want to see what the IB program is about in MVSD, just check out the page that the parents put up in protest of it. It will show you things that will boggle your mind, all taken right from the program itself. www.mvsd-ib.org

Whistleblower's post is scurrilous nonsense about Ms. Carey, about the UN, and about IB. The IB program has the overwhelming support of the district's voters and teachers--as the district meetings each of the last 2 years demonstrated. Opponents are a handful of people--and not many of them parents, who rely on misinformation and paranoia to spread their misleading and outright false claims. Their claims have their origin in thinking right out of the John Birch Society, a far-right group that has been making outlandish and paranoid claims since the 1950s. Some things don't change.

Interesting since the CM itself refused to print extra information on this according to the teachers who approached them about it. Their excuse? It could not be proven that it cost anything, for one example. How outrageous. Whether it cost anything was not even in dispute!!! But that is how overprotective of the information that Carey, the school district, AND this newspaper were, from what I am reading. The effort to expose this program was made because of a request by the TEACHERS of MVSD, and there was no such involvement of any group named John Birch Society that no one ever heard of. But the above poster has to find a 'bogeyman' so he can call names like 'paranoid'. Typical. Just visit the www.ibo.org and everything the teachers are saying about this program is correct. Visit the website they put up and you'll see what goes on in these classrooms with our youngest children -- it reads like out of nazi germany... checking their 'attitudes' daily to see if they comply with UNESCO. Scary crap.

Speaking of paranoid....You've just added the CM to your list of co-conspirators behind IB. Your claim that MVSD district teachers are behind the attack is false. While there are undoubtedly some teachers in the district who might not like IB for pedagogical or cost reasons, I doubt more than one or two in the entire district would cite the reasons you cite--which come right out of the paranoid ravings of the JBS--contrary to your disclaimer about a group "no one ever heard of". As I've written here before, the decision to become an IB district was carefully thought out, and made in response to what teachers felt were deficiencies in student engagement and in higher level thinking skills--being able to think critically and analytically. This came about after teachers at each school looked critically at NECAP test results and student writing. In response, the need to develop better science and social studies units requiring true inquiry and investigation by the students became a major focus for the teachers. The framework provided by IB has been instrumental in helping to develop those units. But the content for each and every one is based on NH DOE standards, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the UN. The anti-IB campaign at MV was not initiated by anyone in the district. Instead, it was instigated by a woman living in Bedford, who claims to be a retired teacher. Her opinions on taxes, the UN, Agenda 21, land use planning, as well as IB and a host of other issues, are well known and freely bestowed on the Bedford Patch site. I suspect this same person initiated and runs the anti-IB site that claims to have links to MVSD. Discerning readers would have a hard time separating her opinions (or those of the poster above) from those that appear on the JBS website. I suggest that "Whistleblower" read (or re-read) last Sunday's piece by Grant Bosse and his discussion of IB, for a bracing dose of reality.

Forget it Whistleblower. Bruce will leave out important facts to support all his claims. He will give you the part of the story that reflects his political agenda and leave out the rest. If that does not work, he will label folks who disagree with him with names. That is how he rolls. He is totally controlled by his political agenda and refuses to even consider what his party does and hopes that folks are just so uninformed they take him at his word. Right out of the Dem Handbook.

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