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AREA agreement could cost Goffstown

GOFFSTOWN - Voters will decide the fate of an Authorized Enrollment Area (AREA) Agreement with Dunbarton and New Boston when they head to the polls today.

The current agreement among the three towns expires in June of 2014, and while New Boston has no plans to leave the agreement, Dunbarton has provided its voters with a choice for which school district will educate their middle and high school students - Goffstown and Bow.

While the school district has not specified what the tax impact would be, officials have said that losing Dunbarton students could result in $2 million loss of revenue for Goffstown.

Budget Committee member Ivan Beliveau said the tax impact could be significant.

"It's going to raise property taxes, if there isn't something done on the expense side," he said.

Beliveau said a yes vote in Dunbarton could be an opportunity for the district to reduce expenditures by $2 million, namely by reducing compensation.

"That does not mean cutting staff," Beliveau said, but added that it could include staff furloughs, or a reduction in benefits.

Beliveau said if an employee in the school district gets health insurance through a spouse, they receive compensation.

"I would eliminate the cash out, that's over the top," Beliveau said. Budget Committee member John Burt said cutting $2 million from the school budget shouldn't be hard.

"There is a tremendous amount we could tighten up on," he said. "If we can afford $35,000 for studies that don't tell us anything, 20 Smart boards and a pickup, we can absorb this if we do it right."

School Board member Dian McCarthy said the goal has always been to have Dunbarton remain with the Goffstown school district.

"First and foremost, our purpose and has been to craft an AREA agreement that would benefit all three communities," she said. "Goffstown absolutely wishes to maintain the agreement with Dunbarton and New Boston, and that's been our course of action."

McCarthy said representatives from Hooksett have toured facilities in Goffstown after expressing dissatisfaction with class sizes in Manchester.

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