The battle is over, sanity won.

On March 9, 2023, approximately 600 people showed up to vote on the School District warrant.  This was about double the number who have ever showed up at such a meeting.  The minutes of the meeting are HERE.

  • To fund the new school addition for $14,500,000, the final tally was 182 Yes and 293 No.  To pass, the Yes votes needed to be 60%, or 285.  It needed 60% and got 38%.  Clearly the townspeople voted.
  • To construct a new library for $1,491,000, the final tally was 115 Yes and 202 No.  To pass, the Yes votes needed to be 60%, or 191.  It needed 60% and got 36%.  Again, the townspeople voted.

Dozens and dozens of townspeople came up to members of the Thornton Taxpayers Group (TTG) to thank us for getting the word out.  Universally, people said “Why didn’t I know about this?  Thank goodness you sent that postcard and put up this website.”At the regular, monthly, School Board meeting on March 27, 2022, each board member gave their thoughts on what happened and several of us did too.  Here are our notes from the meeting.  There were two items on the agenda that seemed most relevant to update everyone on.  The first was under the heading of “Board Reorganization” and the second under the heading “Building Project Feedback Review.”

On the Board Reorganization, the Superintendent announced that the Board would be making a change with the Vice Chairman, Tara DiSalvo, running for the Chairman position.  Tara shared why she is interested in becoming the Chair and bringing some new perspectives to the role.  The Board approved her unanimously and also approved Mark Fischler As the Vice Chairman after one of the new Board members declined to accept the nomination. On the Building Project Feedback Review, the Superintendent and School Board provided their feedback on the outcome of the vote against the building project.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Superintendent, Kyla Welch, kicked off the review saying that she had never seen so many people at a School Board Meeting. She shared her perspective that it seemed a lot of the people felt blindsided, the Board was on the defensive more than the offensive, we need to do better communication and that the price tag was an issue.  She suggested that we need to be more collaborative in our working sessions and be better prepared for our Board presentations to the community.  The Principal, Jon Bownes, agreed that the price tag was too much.
  • Some historical perspective was added to this project which started back in the 2016/17 school year in looking at fixing things in the building. In 2019, they specifically addressed the need for a new gym and library and decided then to separate any library project from the school so as not to distract from the school renovation.  One person who had served on the first building committee in 2019 shared her disappointment in how that effort resulted in ignoring the three options and going for only one option that was the most expensive (need to check this out).  This seemed to be repeated on the 2021 building committee who also had multiple options and were directed by the School Board to only go with the one that was most expensive.
      • Several questions from the audience (a group of about 25) addressed the following:
      • Would the School Board entertain ideas from the community concerning the building project going forward. The Superintendent said that any ideas could be submitted either to her or to the School Board President.
      • There is a continuing lack of transparency and communication to the Thornton residents. Most do not attend Board Meetings or frequently check the School web site where any information from the Board is reported.  Also, the lack of any formal report when a major initiative is set up like the Building Committee leaves everyone in the dark as to what the thinking, options and rationale is for the final recommendation.  This needs to be addressed going forward to avoid the anger residents and taxpayers expressed at the meeting in lacking knowledge and understanding of the building project related to the needs of the school and associated impact on the tax payers.
      • The lack of a capital reserve fund in anticipating major building maintenance issues like the boiler has contributed to these major deferred building expenses of about $4.5M. While the School Board acknowledged they have a Capital Improvement Plan, it has not been funded.  Several people suggested that a flat funding expense be added to the budget going forward to address these issues in the future.  One person commented that many of the needs of the school could be addressed for far less money than is being recommended.  For instance, the installation of a new boiler will impact on every room in the current building.  This might be best addressed with a new building instead of a major renovation of the current building.

As far as the next steps, it appears that the Board reorganizing was their first step.  They will now take time to review what their immediate needs are with the deferred maintenance on the current building.


We will keep you posted on what we learn in the months ahead.   If you’d like to be put on our mailing list, please send an email to


Your property taxes are going to go up a LOT.  Here’s why.

Your property tax bill is going up considerably very soon.    Much of it is because of the Thornton Central School.  In addition to a proposed 8% increase in the school budget (which means we’ll spend about $30,800 per student), your school board is looking to renovate and expand the Thornton Central School at a cost of approximately $14.2 million and another $1.5 million for a new library.

The school addition adds 62% to the school footprint.  It’s both unnecessary given the declining school population (227 kids ten years ago, 185 today see the figure below) and extravagant (construction costs of $531 per square foot).  Together these two bond proposals would raise property your taxes by $2.32 per thousand-dollar evaluation (that’s the estimate from the Superintendent).  But in addition, they also want an 8% increase in the school operating budget.  Here’s what this means:

2022 Thornton Tax Rate $20.01/thousand
8% increase in school operating budget $1.18/thousand
Bond to fund the school $2.10/thousand
Bond to fund the new library $0.22/thousand
New Tax Rate     $23.51/thousand =========>>> 17.5% increase!

School renovation and addition

The school board contends they are out of space and the new addition is desperately needed.  The following facts show this isn’t true.

The school has an enrollment of 185 this year, expected to grow by one for next year.  The existing school is 35,911 square feet which is 194 square feet per student.  National estimates are 120-150 square feet per student.  So, 194 square feet per student (43% more than the national average seems more than satisfactory.  But they want more.  The new addition would add 22,409 square feet for a total of 58,320, a whopping 315 square feet per student.

Doing some research and using the state’s “Right to Know” law, I have some insights on why they claim they don’t have enough space.  In short, they use too many classrooms for too few kids.  Here are two examples:

In the seventh and eighth grades there are 34 students. They use four teachers and four classrooms to accommodate these 34 kids. A student teacher ratio of 8.5 students per teacher. New Hampshire state guidelines say these classrooms should accommodate 128 students [1].


Second grade has 21 students. They use two teachers and two classrooms, a student-teacher ratio of 10.5.  New Hampshire state guidelines say these classrooms should accommodate 46 students.

What’s causing this supposed “shortage of space”?  The answer is that the school uses an arbitrary cutoff of 20 students per grade.  That means if there are 19 students, they use one teacher and one classroom; and if there are 20 students, they hire another teacher and use one additional classroom.

I say this is arbitrary because the New Hampshire Department of Education has recommendations [2] as to student teacher ratios.  They are:

  • K-2, 25 students or fewer per educator, provided that each school shall strive to achieve the class size of 20 students or fewer per educator.
  • Grades 3, 4, 5, 30 students or fewer per educator, provided that each school shall strive to achieve the class size of 25 students or fewer per educator.
  • Grades 6 – 8, 30 students or fewer per educator.

Bottom line is that a 20-student limit causes a lot of problems and a lot of wasted space.

In fairness, though, we do need to spend some money.  Because of the shortsightedness of your School Board, they have failed to budget for any major maintenance over the past ten years.  To bring the current building up to code, replace boilers, lighting, etc., they estimate almost $4.2 million for this effort.

At the bond hearing on January 23, 2023, I asked what the impact on the bond would be to the town.  Their answer was that the school bond issue would add $2.10 per thousand to the tax rate.  Last year’s rate was $20.01 per thousand.  But this is just the cost of the bond.  With an additional 22,409 square feet, there will be added costs for heat, electricity, custodians, etc.  The School Board doesn’t know or won’t disclose those costs.

What’s disturbing is that the School Board convened a committee to study the school situation.  It was comprised of ten townspeople.  Yet after more than a year, they did not produce a report stating why this effort is warranted.  The town needs to know exactly why we need to spend this money.

New town library

Because the school shares a library with the town, they are also insisting on a new library.  The cost of that is $1.5 million.  Without any analysis as to the usage of the library by students and the public, the School Board decided to scope a new library. It’s projected at 2,804 square feet and would cost $531/square foot.  (Note that not one single house in the town of Thornton sold for that amount.)

The school board is asking for another bond for this amount.  Using their analysis that a $14.5 million bond increases taxes by $2.10 per thousand, the bond for the library will add $0.22 per thousand to the tax rate.

Total impact on the property tax rate:

2022 Thornton Tax Rate $20.01/thousand
8% increase in school operating budget $1.18/thousand
Bond to fund the school $2.10/thousand
Bond to fund the new library $0.22/thousand
New Tax Rate     $23.51/thousand =========>>> 17.5% increase!


[1] Here is the LINK, scroll down to section 321.10:G and H

[2] Here is the LINK, scroll down to read section 306.17

For more information, send an email to

Why is this website necessary?

Despite the huge tax impact on Thornton taxpayers, neither the Thornton School Board, nor the Library Trustees have been forthcoming as to why these construction projects are necessary.  Much of the info above was received only after a “Right to Know” request to the SAU office.  (Right to Know is the state equivalent of the federal “Freedom of Information Act”.)  Because of this dearth of information, a group of concerned Thornton taxpayers formed an ad hoc group to inform the public, the Thornton Taxpayers Group (TTG).  We’ve received literally dozens of communications from taxpayers saying, “Why didn’t I know this?”, “Why don’t they tell us what’s going on?”.  So, it seems our website is doing its job.  If you’d like more information, contact our webmaster, RV Hatcher, at

Your property taxes are going way up unless you do something to stop it.

Vote to stop the madness at the Thornton Central School, March 9, 2023 at 6.00 PM.  Vote NO on the bond articles.  Here is a link to the Warrant.  Familiarize yourself with it.

How will this impact you?

The average house in Thornton is valued at about $400,000 and has property taxes of about $8,000.  This homeowner will pay an additional $1,400 a year, or $42,000 over 30-yrs!

  • If your property taxes are $5000 a year your annual increase would be $875, or $26,250 over 30-yrs.
  • If your property taxes are $10,000 a year your annual increase would be $1,750 or $52,500 over 30yrs

What’s the burden on the people?

  • There are about 1,000 households in Thornton (2020 census), $15.72 million is the equivalent to asking each household to take a mortgage of $15,720!
  • There are about 2,800 people in Thornton, $15.72 million is the equivalent each person owing $5,614!

These bonds will have an undue burden on retired folks.

  • Only roughly 18% of the households have one child under the age of 18.
  • Fully 43% of the households have one person over the age of 60.

The school board is ramming this down our throats

They haven’t:

  • Produced a document explaining why the school is inadequate
  • Told us why this is the best option
  • Explored other, more cost effective solutions
  • Told us how much this new addition and new library will cost us each year in operating costs

The process

Please note, it’s not an election, it’s a town meeting.  The meeting is Thursday, March 9 at 6.00 PM at the school on Rt 175.  GET THERE EARLY TO GET A SEAT!  You need to show up and show your ID to get credentials to vote (you are a registered voter, yes?)  The warrant has a number of things on it. They go one by one down the warrant and take a vote.  I’ve attached the warrant.  The big ones are numbers 2 and 3 (the first one is administrative).    The procedure is this:

  1. The moderator will read the warrant article
  2. He will ask if anyone wants to comment.  Here’s your opportunity to get up and tell them how angry you are.  This will likely take a while, 15-30 minutes or so.
  3. When comments close there will be a vote.  We’re going to ask for a secret ballot, not a hand count.
  4. They’ll count the votes and announce the result.

The parents of school kids are mounting a big offensive to get this passed.  We need a 100 or so people to vote against it, so PLEASE come and vote; and if you have friends and neighbors, please alert them.