Monday, November 9, 2009

Charter Commission meeting Thursday

The Legislative Charter Commission, analyzing what to do with the school board charter, will hold its last public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m., at the city council chamber on Green Street.
Over a period of months, the group has been studying the issues around the school board charter and now has two proposals before it.
The first would be to take the school board charter out of the Legislature's hands and amend it by adding a 49B amendment process to it. This would allow citizens to collect signatures in an effort to propose changes to the charter. Those changes would then be put before the voters for approval.
The second would be for the commission to recommend the creation of a charter commission to study the charter. The commission would be elected by residents in 2011 municipal election cycle. Once elected, the commission would spend several months studying the charter before offering a revised charter to the public for approval. This would probably be put on the 2013 municipal election and implemented sometime after that.
Once this process is underway, the Legislature is removed from the process, which is what everyone wants. But the public will have no way to propose altering the charter until the commission makes its recommendations and those recommendations are approved by the public, assuming the voters do. This essentially puts the charter in limbo, eliminating any process for amendment or petition for nearly four years.
Clearly, the first proposal, giving residents the option to alter the charter as soon as possible is the best one. The second proposal is a trap; a four year distraction that could end up not changing anything at all. If it approves the second option, the charter commission is basically saying that parents, taxpayers, and voters in Concord should remain second class citizens while virtually everyone else in New Hampshire, and many communities in the United States, are able to change their school board charter. That's just unacceptable.
This is the commission's last meeting and is set up to hear public input. It is crucial that residents of the community attend the meeting or email their thoughts to the commission secretary Pia Shea at
After this meeting, the commission will meet again on Nov. 19, to consider what to do.

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