TITLE XV
EDUCATION

Chapter 197
SCHOOL MEETINGS AND OFFICERS

School Meetings

Section 197:1

    197:1 Annual. – A meeting of every school district shall be held annually between March 1 and March 25, inclusive, or in accordance with RSA 40:13 if that provision is adopted in the district, for raising and appropriating money for the support of schools for the fiscal year beginning the next July 1, for the transaction of other district business and, in those districts not electing their district officers at town meeting, for the choice of district officers.

Source. RS 70:3. CS 74:1. GS 79:3. GL 87:3. PS 90:1. 1921, 85, V:1. PL 120:1. RL 139:1. RSA 197:1. 1961, 134:1. 1981, 250:3. 1997, 318:10, eff. Aug. 22, 1997.

Section 197:1-a

    197:1-a Repealed by 1979, 321:2, V, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:1-b

    197:1-b Repealed by 1979, 321:2, VI, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:1-c

    197:1-c Repealed by 1979, 321:2, VII, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:1-d

    197:1-d Repealed by 1979, 321:2, VIII, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:1-e

    197:1-e Repealed by 1979, 321:2, IX, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:1-f

    197:1-f Repealed by 1979, 321:2, X, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:1-g

    197:1-g Posting Warrants. – If the annual meeting of the school district for other business is to be held at some other time than at the town meeting the school board shall post the warrant for said annual meeting omitting the article relative to election of district officers. The school warrant for the election of district officers shall prescribe the time the polls are to open and also an hour before which the polls may not close. Said prescribed times shall be the same as those set for the opening and closing of polls for the town meeting.

Source. 1963, 195:1. 1979, 321:5, eff. Aug. 21, 1979.

Section 197:2

    197:2 Special. – A special meeting of a school district shall be held whenever, in the opinion of the school board, there is occasion therefor, or whenever 50 or more voters, or 1/4 of the voters of the district, whichever is less, shall have made written application to the school board therefor, setting forth the subject matter upon which action is desired. No special school district meeting shall be held in conjunction with the biennial election, except when a special school district meeting has been approved by the court and a school district has adopted the official ballot referendum form of meeting pursuant to RSA 40:14.

Source. RS 70:4. CS 74:2. GS 79:3. GL 87:3. PS 90:2. 1921, 85, V:2. PL 120:2. RL 139:2. RSA 197:2. 1969, 104:9. 1991, 370:6. 2005, 83:1, eff. Aug. 6, 2005.

Section 197:3

    197:3 Raising Money at Special Meeting. –
I. (a) No school district at any special meeting shall raise or appropriate money nor reduce or rescind any appropriation made at a previous meeting, unless the vote thereon is by ballot, nor unless the ballots cast at such meeting shall be equal in number to at least 1/2 of the number of voters of such district entitled to vote at the regular meeting next preceding such special meeting; and, if a checklist was used at the last preceding regular meeting, the same shall be used to ascertain the number of legal voters in said district; and such checklist, corrected according to law, may be used at such special meeting upon request of 10 legal voters of the district. In case an emergency arises requiring an immediate expenditure of money, the school board may petition the superior court for permission to hold a special district meeting, which, if granted, shall give said district meeting the same authority as an annual district meeting.
(b) "Emergency" for the purposes of this section shall mean a sudden or unexpected situation or occurrence, or combination of occurrences, of a serious and urgent nature, that demands prompt or immediate action, including an immediate expenditure of money. This definition, however, does not establish a requirement that an emergency involves a crisis in every set of circumstances.
(c) To verify that an emergency exists, a petitioner shall present, and the court shall consider, a number of factors including:
(1) The severity of the harm to be avoided.
(2) The urgency of the petitioner's need.
(3) Whether the claimed emergency was foreseeable or avoidable.
(4) Whether the appropriation could have been made at the annual meeting.
(5) Whether there are alternative remedies not requiring an appropriation.
(d) The court shall not allow a special meeting if the emergency involves a collective bargaining agreement that was voted down at the regular meeting, including a collective bargaining agreement modified after the regular meeting.
II. Ten days prior to petitioning the superior court, the school board shall notify, by certified mail, the commissioner of the department of revenue administration that an emergency exists by providing the commissioner with a copy of the explanation of the emergency, the warrant article or articles and the petition to be submitted to the superior court. The petition to the superior court shall include a certification that the commissioner of the department of revenue administration has been notified pursuant to this paragraph.
III. In the event that the legislative body at an annual meeting amends or rejects the cost items or fact finder's reports as submitted pursuant to RSA 273-A, notwithstanding paragraphs I and II, the school board may call one special meeting for the sole purpose of addressing all negotiated cost items without petitioning the superior court for authorization. Such special meeting may be authorized only by a contingent warrant article inserted on the warrant or official ballot either by petition or by the governing body. The wording of the question shall be as follows: "Shall (the local political subdivision), if article __________ is defeated, authorize the governing body to call one special meeting, at its option, to address article __________ cost items only?" The refusal of the legislative body to authorize a special meeting as provided in this paragraph shall not affect any other provision of law. Any special meeting held under this paragraph shall be combined with the revised operating budget meeting under RSA 40:13, XI, if any, and shall not be counted toward the number of special meetings which may be held in a given calendar or fiscal year.
IV. When the school board votes to petition the superior court for permission to hold a special school district meeting, the school board shall post notice of such vote within 24 hours after taking the vote and a minimum of 10 days prior to filing the petition with the court. The school board shall post notice of the court date for an evidentiary hearing on the petition within 24 hours after receiving notice of the court date from the court. Such notices shall be posted at the office of the school board and at 2 or more other conspicuous places in the school district, and in the next available edition of one or more local newspapers with a wide circulation in the school district. If the district is a multi-town school district, the notices shall be posted at the office of the school board and at 2 or more other conspicuous places in each town of the multi-town school district, and in the next available edition of one or more newspapers with a wide circulation in all towns of the multi-town school district.
V. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no special meeting to raise and appropriate money, or to reduce or rescind any appropriation made at a previous meeting, may be held unless the vote is taken on or before December 31 of any budget cycle. However, the district may bring such items as could not be addressed prior to December 31 before the voters at the next annual school district meeting. Such supplemental appropriations, together with appropriations raised under RSA 197:1, shall be assessed against property as of April 1.

Source. 1907, 121:1. 1921, 85, V:3. PL 120:3. 1927, 56:2. RL 139:3. 1947, 178:1. RSA 197:3. 1989, 172:3. 1997, 317:2; 318:11; 319:1. 1998, 55:2, eff. July 4, 1998; 190:1, eff. Aug. 15, 1998. 2021, 77:1, eff. Aug. 17, 2021.

Section 197:3-a

    197:3-a Special Meeting for Change in Education Funding. –
In response to statutory changes resulting in reductions or increases in distribution of state revenues for education pursuant to RSA 198:41 to school districts which would take effect after the adoption of a new school district budget and would apply in the fiscal year covered by the new budget, the governing body of a school district may, after consultation with the budget committee, call a special meeting of the legislative body to consider a reduction, rescission, or increase of appropriations made at an annual meeting, subject to the following:
I. The governing body of a school district that has adopted the official ballot referendum form of meeting under RSA 40:13 may elect to hold and conduct the meeting in accordance with the provisions of this section in a single session for deliberating and voting, and without regard to the provisions of RSA 40:13.
II. A special meeting under this section shall not be petitioned under RSA 197:2, and no petitioned warrant articles shall be inserted in the warrant.
III. The governing body's warrant shall specify, in one or more articles, the amounts of appropriations proposed for reduction, rescission, or increase from the operating budget or separate warrant articles, or both, adopted at the annual meeting.
IV. The governing body shall hold a public hearing on the proposed reductions, rescissions, or increase at least 14 days prior to the meeting. Notice of the time, place, and subject of such hearing shall be posted in at least 2 public places within the school district, one of which shall be on the school district's website, if such exists, at least 7 days prior to the hearing.
V. The governing body of such school district shall post a notice of the meeting, which shall include the warrant, in at least 2 public places within the school district, one of which shall be on the school district's website, if such exists, at least 7 days prior to the meeting. Additional notice shall be published in a newspaper of local or regional circulation in the school district, provided that if there is no newspaper of local or regional circulation in which notice can be published at least 7 days before the date of the meeting, public notice shall be posted in at least one additional place within the school district.
VI. The meeting shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this section. The most recently updated checklist shall be used.
VII. The legislative body may approve or disapprove any proposed reduction, rescission, or increase of appropriations, or may approve lesser reductions. The legislative body shall not approve greater reductions than what is in the warrant, or reduce or rescind an appropriation not specified in the warrant, or act on any other business at the meeting.
VIII. Except as provided in this section, the provisions of the following chapters, as they apply to special meetings of the legislative body of a school district, shall not be required for special meetings held pursuant to this paragraph: RSA 32, RSA 39, RSA 49-D, RSA 197, RSA 654, RSA 669, RSA 670, and RSA 671.

Source. 2013, 197:1, eff. Sept. 7, 2013.

Section 197:4

    197:4 Meeting Places. – School district meetings, including the first session of meetings in school districts which have adopted official ballot voting procedures under RSA 40:13 and 14, may be held at such suitable places, which have 2-way visual and audio closed circuit capacity, as in the opinion of the officers calling the meeting will best accommodate the voters.

Source. 1879, 57:37. PS 90:3. 1921, 85, V:4. PL 120:4. RL 139:4. 1997, 319:2, eff. Aug. 22, 1997.

Section 197:4-a

    197:4-a Meeting Outside District. –
I. A school district may hold its district meeting outside the geographical boundaries of the district, if the district does not have a facility with a large enough seating capacity to accommodate the meeting.
II. Warrants and other items required to be posted shall be posted for review by qualified voters at the place of the meeting on the day of the meeting.
III. The school district officers shall arrange transportation, for those voters who need it, from the usual polling place in the district to the out-of-district facility and back to the usual polling place.
IV. The out-of-district meeting shall be held in an adjacent town or nearest appropriate facility.

Source. 1993, 120:2, eff. July 16, 1993.

Section 197:5

    197:5 Warning. – School district meetings shall be warned by the school board, or, in cases authorized by law, by a justice of superior court, by a warrant addressed to the voters of the district, stating the time and place of the meeting and the subject matter of the business to be acted upon. In all districts which have not adopted the provisions of this title providing for medical inspection in schools the warrant shall contain an article relating thereto.

Source. RS 70:3. CS 74:1. GS 79:1, 3. GL 87:1, 4. PS 90:4. 1921, 85, V:5. PL 120:5. RL 139:5. RSA 197:5. 1969, 182:1. 2003, 289:20, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Section 197:5-a

    197:5-a Budget. – The school board, if the school district is not controlled by the municipal budget act, shall prepare a budget for the annual or any special meeting upon a form prescribed and provided by the commissioner of revenue administration and shall post the same with and at the same time as the warrant for the meeting is posted.

Source. 1963, 120:7. 1973, 544:8, eff. Sept. 1, 1973.

Section 197:5-b

    197:5-b Budgetary Official Ballot. – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any school district may vote to raise and appropriate money for the support of schools by official ballot as provided for in RSA 49-D:3, II-a by following the procedures set forth in RSA 49-B. The school district may also include within its charter a plan for voting by official ballot, pursuant to RSA 49-B and RSA 49-D, on such other warrant articles as the school district may determine. The membership of any charter commission established in a multi-town school district shall reflect each member town's proportionate membership on the school board. For purposes of this section, all references in RSA 49-B and RSA 49-D to "municipal," "municipality," "city," and "town" shall mean and include "school district," and all references to "elected body" and "governing body" shall mean and include "school board."

Source. 1995, 53:6. 1997, 319:9. 1998, 100:1, eff. July 19, 1998.

Section 197:6

    197:6 Warrant and Articles. – Upon the written application of 25 or more voters or 2 percent of the voters of the school district, whichever is less, although in no event shall fewer than 10 registered voters be sufficient, presented to the school board or one of them not later than 30 days before the date prescribed for the school district meeting or the second Tuesday in March, whichever is earlier, the school board shall insert in the school district warrant for such meeting the petitioned article with only such minor textual changes as may be required. No article may be inserted after posting of said warrant. Corrections to petitioned warrant articles shall not in any way change the intended effect of the article as presented in the original petition. The right to have an article inserted in the warrant conferred by this section shall not be invalidated by the provisions of RSA 32.

Source. PS 90:5. 1921, 85, V:6. PL 120:6. RL 139:6. 1949, 284:1. RSA 197:6. 1965, 36:1. 1971, 79:2. 1991, 242:1. 1993, 176:11. 2000, 199:1, eff. July 29, 2000. 2018, 325:2, eff. Aug. 24, 2018.

Section 197:6-a

    197:6-a Penalty. – A school board is guilty of a violation if it refuses to insert an article in the warrant, after being petitioned to do so in accordance with RSA 197:6.

Source. 1971, 79:3. 1977, 588:25, eff. Sept. 16, 1977.

Section 197:7

    197:7 Posting Warrant. – The school board or justice issuing a warrant shall cause an attested copy of it to be posted at the place of meeting, and a like copy at one other place in the district, 14 days before the day of meeting, not counting the day of posting nor the day of the meeting, but including any Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays within said period.

Source. PS 90:6. 1921, 85, V:7. PL 120:7. RL 139:7. RSA 197:7. 1967, 90:2. 1975, 11:4, eff. April 25, 1975.

Section 197:8

    197:8 Special Meetings. – The school board when calling a special meeting shall, within one week after posting the warrant therefor, cause a copy of said warrant to be published once in a newspaper of general circulation in said district.

Source. 1945, 39:3, eff. March 6, 1945.

Section 197:9

    197:9 By a Justice of Superior Court. – If the school board unreasonably neglect or refuse to warn an annual meeting, or to call a special meeting after a sufficient application therefor is made to them, a justice of superior court, upon petition of 10 or more voters, or 1/6 of the voters of the district, may issue such warrant and cause it to be posted, and, if for a special meeting, to be published as required by law. The members of the school board shall be made parties defendant to such petition.

Source. RS 70:5. CS 74:3. GS 79:4. GL 87:4. PS 90:7. 1921, 85, V:8. PL 120:8. RL 139:8. RSA 197:9. 1969, 182:2, eff. May 28, 1969.

Section 197:10

    197:10 Return; Record. – The warrant, with a certificate thereon, verified by oath, stating the time and places when and where copies of it were posted, shall be given to the clerk of the district at or before the time of the meeting, and shall be recorded by the clerk in the records of the district.

Source. 1845, 222:4. CS 74:4. GS 79:5. GL 87:5. PS 90:8. 1921, 85, V:9. PL 120:9. RL 139:9. 1997, 319:3, eff. Aug. 22, 1997.

Section 197:11

    197:11 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XI, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:12

    197:12 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XII, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:12-a

    197:12-a Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XIII, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:13

    197:13 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XIV, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

District Officers

Section 197:14

    197:14 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XV, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:15

    197:15 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XVI, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:16

    197:16 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XVII, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:17

    197:17 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XVIII, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:18

    197:18 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XIX, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:19

    197:19 Moderator. – The moderator shall have the like power and duty as a moderator of a town meeting to conduct the business and to preserve order, and in the conduct of a school district meeting, all the statutory duties, powers and authority granted to town moderators, and may administer oaths to district officers and in the district business.

Source. 1852, 1301. CS 74:8. GS 79:11. GL 87:11. PS 90:17. 1921, 85, V:18. PL 120:18. RL 139:18. RSA 197:19. 1971, 524:5. 1979, 321:6, eff. Aug. 21, 1979.

Section 197:19-a

    197:19-a Assistant Moderator. – The moderator may appoint an assistant moderator, who shall take the oath of office in the same manner as the moderator and shall hold office at the pleasure of the moderator, and shall have all the powers and duties which the moderator has subject to the control of the moderator.

Source. 1957, 84:2, eff. April 24, 1957.

Section 197:20

    197:20 Clerk. – The clerk shall keep a true record of all the doings of each meeting; shall make an attested copy of any record of the district for any person upon request and tender of legal fees therefor; shall act as moderator of any meeting until a moderator pro tempore shall be chosen, if the moderator is absent or the office has become vacant; and shall have the same power to administer oaths which the moderator has. If the clerk is absent at any meeting a clerk pro tempore shall be chosen.

Source. RS 70:8. CS 74:10. GS 79:12. 1868, 1:28. GL 87:12. PS 90:18. 1921, 85, V:19. PL 120:19. RL 139:19. 1951, 37:2. RSA 197:20. 1963, 120:5, eff. Jan. 1, 1964.

Section 197:20-a

    197:20-a Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XX, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:21

    197:21 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XXI, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –

Section 197:22

    197:22 Treasurer's Bond. – The treasurer shall, before entering upon the duties of such office, give a bond to the district with sufficient sureties, to the acceptance of the school board, for the faithful performance of the treasurer's official duties.

Source. 1887, 105:8. PS 90:20. 1921, 85, V:21. PL 120:21. RL 139:21. 1997, 319:4, eff. Aug. 22, 1997.

Section 197:23

    197:23 Repealed by 1963, 87:2, eff. July 16, 1963. –

Section 197:23-a

    197:23-a Treasurer's Duties. –
I. The treasurer shall have custody of all moneys belonging to the district and shall pay out the same only upon orders of the school board or upon orders of the 2 or more members of the school board empowered by the school board as a whole to authorize payments. The treasurer shall deposit the moneys in participation units in the public deposit investment pool established pursuant to RSA 383:22, or in federally insured banks authorized to accept deposits under RSA 6:8, I and I-a. In addition, funds may be deposited in banks outside the state if such banks pledge and deliver to a third party custodial bank or the regional federal reserve bank collateral security for such deposits of the following types:
(a) United States government obligations,
(b) United States government agency obligations; or
(c) Obligations of the state of New Hampshire in value at least equal to the amount of the deposit in each case.
II. The amount of collected funds on deposit in any one bank shall not at any time exceed the sum of its paid-up capital and surplus.
III. The treasurer shall keep in suitable books provided for the purpose a fair and correct account of all sums received into and paid from the district treasury, and of all notes given by the district, with the particulars thereof. At the close of each fiscal year, the treasurer shall make a report to the district, giving a particular account of all of the treasurer's financial transactions during the year. The treasurer shall furnish to the school board statements from the books, and submit the books and vouchers to them and to the auditors for examination, whenever so requested.
IV. Whenever the treasurer has in custody an excess of funds which are not immediately needed for the purpose of expenditure, the treasurer shall, with the approval of the school board, invest the same in participation units in the public deposit investment pool established pursuant to RSA 383:22, or in deposits, including money market accounts, or certificates of deposit, or repurchase agreements, and all other types of interest bearing accounts, of federally insured banks authorized to accept deposits under RSA 6:8, I and I-a and in obligations fully guaranteed as to principal and interest by the United States government. The obligations may be held directly or in the form of securities of or other interests in any open-end or closed-end management-type investment company or investment trust registered under 15 U.S.C. section 80a-1 et seq., if the portfolio of the investment company or investment trust is limited to such obligations and repurchase agreements fully collateralized by such obligations. Any person who directly or indirectly receives any such funds for deposit or for investment in securities of any kind shall, prior to acceptance of such funds, make available at the time of such deposit or investment an option to have such funds secured by collateral having a value at least equal to the amount of such funds. Such collateral shall be segregated for the exclusive benefit of the district. Only securities defined by the bank commissioner as provided by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 383-B:3-301(e) shall be eligible to be pledged as collateral. At least yearly, the school board shall review and adopt an investment policy for the investment of public funds in conformance with the provisions of applicable statutes.
V. As an alternative to the option of collateralization for excess funds provided in paragraph IV, the treasurer may also invest public funds in interest-bearing deposits which meet all of the following conditions:
(a) The funds are initially invested through a federally insured bank authorized to accept deposits under RSA 6:8, I and I-a selected by the treasurer.
(b) The selected bank arranges for the redeposit of funds which exceed the federal deposit insurance limitation of the selected bank in deposits in one or more federally insured financial institutions located in the United States, for the account of the treasurer.
(c) The full amount of principal and any accrued interest of each such deposit is covered by federal deposit insurance.
(d) The selected bank acts as custodian with respect to each such deposit for the account of the treasurer.
(e) On the same date that the funds are redeposited by the selected bank, the selected bank receives an amount of deposits from customers of other federally insured financial institutions equal to or greater than the amount of the funds initially invested through the selected bank by the treasurer.

Source. 1887, 105:8. PS 90:21. 1921, 85, V:22. PL 120:20. RL 139:22. RSA 197:23. 1963, 87:1. 1973, 490:4. 1979, 161:1. 1991, 268:12; 383:7. 1996, 209:12. 1997, 208:13; 319:10. 1998, 40:4. 2007, 347:4, eff. Sept. 14, 2007. 2008, 120:21, eff. Aug. 2, 2008. 2010, 7:5, eff. July 3, 2010. 2013, 97:5, eff. Aug. 19, 2013. 2015, 272:45, eff. Oct. 1, 2015. 2021, 65:20-22, eff. Aug. 3, 2021.

Section 197:24

    197:24 Acting Treasurer. – If any person holding the office of treasurer shall, by reason of illness, accident, absence from the state, or other cause, become temporarily incapacitated and unable to perform the duties of such office, the school board may, unless the district has a deputy treasurer appointed in accordance with RSA 197:24-a who is not similarly unavailable to perform the requisite duties, declare a temporary vacancy and appoint an acting district treasurer to perform the duties of the office for a limited period of time and fix the appointee's compensation and the amount of bond. The appointee shall be subject to the requirements and liabilities of such office during the appointee's term.

Source. 1939, 160:2. RL 130:23. RSA 197:24. 1979, 136:1. 1997, 319:6, eff. Aug. 22, 1997.

Section 197:24-a

    197:24-a Deputy Treasurer. – The school district treasurer may appoint a deputy treasurer, subject to approval by the school board, who shall be qualified in the same manner as the treasurer and who shall perform the duties of the treasurer in the case of the treasurer's absence by sickness, resignation, or otherwise. The deputy shall be sworn, shall have the powers of the treasurer, may be removed at the pleasure of the treasurer and shall, before entering upon the duties of such office, give bond as provided in RSA 197:22.

Source. 1979, 136:2. 1997, 319:7, eff. Aug. 22, 1997. 2010, 23:1, eff. July 6, 2010.

Section 197:25

    197:25 Auditors. – If a district has not hired an auditor under RSA 21-J:19, the locally elected auditors shall carefully examine the accounts of the treasurer and school board at the close of each fiscal year by following the procedures in RSA 41:31-a through 41:31-d.

Source. PS 90:22. 1921, 85, V:23. PL 120:23. RL 139:24. 2010, 262:4, eff. Sept. 4, 2010.

Section 197:26

    197:26 Vacancies. – The school board shall fill vacancies occurring on the board, and in other district offices, except that of moderator, until the next annual meeting of the district. In case of vacancy of the entire membership of the board, or the remaining members are unable to agree upon an appointment, the selectmen, upon application of one or more voters in the district, shall fill the vacancies so existing until the next annual meeting of the district.

Source. RS 70:9. CS 74:11. GS 79:13. GL 87:13. PS 90:23. 1921, 85, V:24. PL 120:24. RL 139:25.

Section 197:27

    197:27 Repealed by 1979, 321:2, XXII, eff. Aug. 21, 1979. –