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Nutfield News • April 15, 2010

Council Debates Usefulness of Public Hearing on Union Contracts




Are public hearings on union contracts, which account for almost 80 percent of the town budget, a worth- while endeavor, or does the timing of the hearings, after the negotiations are over, make them irrelevant and nothing more than a com- plaint-fest? The town council is debating these questions. Councilor Neil Wether- bee raised the issue at the council’s April 6 meeting, noting the public does not have input when the negotia- tions start and ends up becoming armchair quarter- backs. Wetherbee said if the council’s parameters for a contract were made known in

advance, it would hurt the town’s ability to negotiate. He added that councilors are elected to make decisions and need to take responsibility for that.

Councilor Janet Fair-

banks asked why public hear- ing should be held on any- thing if that were the case. Wetherbee’s response was that some public hearings are required by statute, but are not mandatory for union con- tracts. He said they had been held by the council as an experiment, which Wether- bee considered to have failed. Wetherbee noted the pub- lic can contact councilors to discuss contracts, and added that he did not like the type of discourse that happens during contract hearings.

Chair Brad Benson agreed with Wetherbee that the process is flawed. He said itwould make more sense for input to be given before nego- tiations with the unions, while the hearings are held afterward. He said if the con- tracts had accomplished what the councilors had asked for in terms of parameters, they had an obligation to approve them. Fairbanks said shutting

down the hearing process would give the appearance that the council does not like negativity, but Benson said that is not the case. He said that a resident’s ability to con- tact the councilors at any time can accomplish the input process.

Councilor Kevin Coyle

said eliminating a public hearing would eliminate peo- ple’s opportunity to publicly state their opinion of the con- tracts, in front of all the coun- cilors and on television. He said eliminating the public hearing would shut out the public. Coyle said he could recall only two such hearings, and said they lasted no longer than 15 minutes. Coyle also said the

Council gives the administra- tion parameters but they are not always met. He said the public has a right to comment on that, and Benson agreed, but did not think the current process of hearings works. He did not have an alternative in mind. Fairbanks said not every- thing the council does is pro-

ductive, and sees what she considers a lot of micro- managing.

“I understand there is a super majority, but leave the public involved,” Fairbanks said.

Benson said he took

offense to Fairbanks’ use of the word “micromanaging.” Councilor David Milz suggested a public hearing at the beginning of the contract negotiations, when residents could comment on what they like, dislike and want changed. He said the council could take input and then turn it over to the negotiators, ad- ding that holding a hearing after the negotiations amount- ed to nothing but a “bitch ses- sion.”

Human Resources Dir-

ector Larry Budreau clarified several points, saying first there is no right to such a public meeting and the public has an opportunity at every council meeting to discuss contracts during the public forum.

He also said that having a meeting before the contracts were negotiated would severe- ly tie his hands. “What would I go in there

with?” Budreau asked. “I am not invited to the union meet- ings.”

Budreau added that part

of negotiating is not tipping your hand.

Benson suggested Bud- reau write a staff report with recommendations, and the council could address the issue at a future meeting.

School Board Hires Technology Director for District




As the world gets small- er and more interconnected, technology will become an even more important aspect of education. That is why the Derry Cooperative School District has hired Raymond Larose for the post of Technology In-

formation Services Director. Larose has spent the last four years teaching comput- ers in the school district. He replaces Dorothy Wiley, who will retire following this school year.

Larose is a graduate of Plymouth State College with a degree in marketing and joined the United States Air Force, where he served in

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Operation Desert Storm. While in the military, Larose worked as a programmer and software engineer. He later received a mas-

ter’s degree in computers and worked for Lotus Development Corp., a soft- ware development firm. He left a Web development company in 2006 to teach computers in Derry schools.

School board chair perfect

Kevin Gordon said Wiley had done an amazing job of building the technology pro- gram and turning it into something special. Larose said one of his goals is to educate the kids on Web 2.0 applications. Board member Neal

Ochs told Larose that the academic world is quite dif- ferent from the business world in the sense that often one has to work with what one has. Larose cited his military background as the

training for being

able to adapt to a variety of situations and personalities. Superintendent Mary Ellen Hannon said she was looking forward to working with him. Larose will receive an annual salary of $75,000. While the school board

filled one position April 6, it also accepted resignations that created three new teach- ing openings. The board accepted the resignations of Elizabeth Drolet, a fifth- grade teacher at Grinnell

Elementary School; Laura Howell, a fourth-grade teacher at Derry Village Elementary School; and Nina Vanderburg, a science teacher at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.

The board also voted for 2010-2011 staff nomina- tions. Hannon said she is beginning to put contracts together and can’t say enough about the hard work the teachers do. “They make a huge dif- ference in the lives of our students,” Hannon said.


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