New Adventures of Nauset Regional's Artful Dodger

Nauset Regional’s $6.5 million surprise
Superintendent Hoffmann spins the Wheel of Fortune on the struggling taxpayers


If Dr. Hoffmann hopes to become the Lower Cape's new Vanna White, that mustache has to go.

Thursday morning taxpayers in the Nauset region spewed coffee and choked on donuts as they learned of the latest outrage from the Nauset Regional School District, which is seeking $6.5 million in funding to replace the windows at the Nauset Regional High School in North Eastham.

Few would disagree that the school would be more energy efficient with new windows.  The district has an opportunity to receive a 40% savings on the work (we assume $6.5M is the price after the discount) through the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s “Green Repair” program.  The problem is the way in which this “five o’clock surprise” was brought to area town officials. 

In March the voters in Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans and Brewster took a leap of faith and approved Proposition 2 ½ overrides to restore programs the schools had cut back in recent years.

Wiser words were rarely spoken than when Eastham Selectman Martin McDonald said, “I wish we had known about it back in February when you knew about it.  Is there a capital plan for the school?  What else is falling apart?”

Dr. Hoffmann dazzles us with budgetary sleight of hand tricks again

Once again Superintendent Richard Hoffmann has dazzled us with his magic.  First we had the Three Cart Monte game with the teachers' contracts. Then readers were Nauseated by The Grinch that Stole Cupcakes controversy over children’s birthday parties at the school.  Dr. Hoffmann, who started his career as an art teacher, has truly earned the moniker of “Artful Dodger” as he picks the pockets of Nauset taxpayers not once (with the teachers' contracts), not twice (with the Prop 2 ½ Override) and now thrice with Window-Gate. 

Is it the policy of the Nauset Regional School Committee to abet this manipulation of the taxpayers or is this the superintendent acting on his own?  Is this a deliberate plan by the school board to sneak in an override and then come back for $6.5M or is this what happens when you hire a superintendent that’s “not from here”? 

Is Selectman McDonald correct that the school district knew about this project back in February?  If so, how is it that this need for replacement windows wasn’t part of the conversation before the overrides were sent to the voters?  The voting results might have been a lot different had this $6.5 million question been out in plain sight.

Lighthouse Charter School will be getting themselves a whole new campus for somewhere south of $5 million.

$6.5 million for windows?

It seems like the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School will be getting themselves a whole new campus for somewhere south of $5 million. 

 The Town of Eastham recently voted a package worth almost $10 million for a whole new library.  Would the voters have gone along with that tax override if they knew they might have to pitch in towards another $6.5 million for the high school?  Mercifully the library was not funded at the state level and stands dead for the moment.

Spinning "The Wheel" and breaking your butt

Oh yes, there are supposed to be roof improvements included in the $6.5 million, which will include solar panels.  Maybe the school district would contribute the energy cost savings back to the taxpayers – as if that ever would happen with a teachers’ union driving the school bus.

Maybe Doctor Dick Hoffman can get Mary Ellen Johnson to “come on down” and show him how to send out lobbying messages on the school’s parent notification system.

The voters should be relieved that the Artful Dodger is expected to ask the school committee to reimburse the towns’ cost of holding special town meetings and elections, which are reported to total about $7,100.  That’s seven grand worth of taxpayer money that was appropriated to educate kids, not to use for political activity. 

Maybe Doctor Dick can get former Sandwich School Superintendent Mary Ellen Johnson to “come on down” to Nauset, and show him how to send out lobbying messages on the school’s parent notification system as he prepares to spin the Wheel of Fortune on the struggling taxpayers of the Nauset Region.

The Barnstable Town Council is about to learn what happens when the taxpayers have had enough of elected officials’ shenanigans.

The Nauset Regional School Committee is in need of a similar lesson.  They have flunked the transparency test 6.5 million times.

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