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Marie Lozito


January 1, 2011

Marie Lozito is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Massage Therapist, wife, mother, grandmother and life-long conservative. She wrote a text on medical massage and taught at New York College of Health Professions. 

Interested in, and observing politics since 1960, she ran for elected office in 2010. 

 

Unity's School It's a Constitutional Issue!

The moment Paul LaCasse said to me that he thought the Unity school was an unfunded mandate from the state I knew he was correct. All along I had been considering it a fiscal issue. Well, it is a fiscal issue BUT the much bigger issue is a constitutional issue the Legislature needs to resolve! Please let me explain:

  • The school in Unity has been in existence for many years.

  • It had Department of Education 'approval', as all schools in New Hampshire must have to function.

  • In 1980 an addition was built the state never inspected the building after the addition.

  • About a decade ago, a new roof was put on the building again, the state did not inspect it.

  • In 2007, an architectural survey said the school needed repairs and changes.

  • This caused the school board, state Fire Marshal and Dept. of Ed. to all became involved.

  • In 2008, the Dept. of Ed. told the town that they had 2 years to come into compliance with fire/safety issues and other 'issues' they had with the school.

  • In 2009, the school board proposed a bond to build a new school for 6.7 million dollars.

  • It was voted down and many townspeople said they should just do the repairs/changes required.

  • In March 2010, the school board again proposed a new school (for 6.5 million this time).

  • The townspeople were not offered any other option in the vote, just yes or no on the new school. The bond for a new school was voted down.

  • In June, the town requested another year to come into compliance and the Dept. of Ed. refused.

  • July 2010, the Fire Marshal and the Dept. of Ed. inspected the school and the Dept. of Ed. closed the school by removing it's 'approval'.

  • The price to make the changes required by the Fire Marshal was estimated to be only $143,000 but other "issues" still existed as far as the Dept. of Ed. was concerned.

  • Never before, in the history of the State of New Hampshire, has the Dept. of Ed. closed an existing approved school. This was a totally unprecedented move!

  • The Dept. of Ed. refused to even reconsider unless the town had both a short and long term plan for dealing with the 'issues'.

So what do we have here? We have an official agency of the State of New Hampshire demanding that the people of Unity must do something based upon the agency's rules and regulations. The people of Unity had previously had only one option which they had rejected . It was very obvious at the first town meeting after the school was closed that they resented not being given choices. They wanted a more reasonable project that would not cost an arm and a leg. They were now forced into choosing among:

  1. sending their kindergarden through eight grade children miles away to other schools for an estimated $500,000 a year. (That was a special "discounted" rate offered to them which would obviously only go higher in the future!)

  2. tuitioning the students for 2 years and doing reconstruction on the present school building, or,

  3. building a new school

In other words, the unelected bureaucrats in the Dept. of Ed. MANDATED that the people of Unity do one of these. The people voted and chose the least expensive option - to bond for 4.7 million dollars to build a new school. (That really did work out to be the least expensive of the options available!)

The State of New Hampshire has for years given building aid for schools. It would bond for 45% of the building cost. Unfortunately, lack of discretion in doing this in the past has caused a moratorium on this aid which began in June 2010. Consequently the Unity school would be unfunded by the state. This makes the Dept. of Ed. ruling an UNFUNDED MANDATE by the state.

Unfunded mandates are expressly forbidden in the New Hampshire State Constitution. I quote Part One, Article 28-a "The state shall not mandate or assign any new, expanded or modified programs or responsibilities to any political subdivision in such a way as to necessitate additional local expenditures by the political subdivision unless such programs or responsibilities are fully funded by the state or unless such programs or responsibilities are approved for funding by a vote of the local legislative body of the political subdivision." The "legislative body" of Unity did not vote on this issue nor for this bond.

This "additional local expenditures by the political subdivision", Unity, was forced by the Dept. of Ed. mandate!

Since the superior law in the state is the Constitution, the Legislature needs to make a decision. Will they act to fund the building of the school in Unity, OR, will the Legislature act in contempt of the State Constitution? In my opinion, there is no legal option but to fund the school.

 

 

Contact Marie Lozito with your comments.

 

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