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School spending gets final board OK in Manchester

MANCHESTER — The Board of School committee has approved a final budget for the 2014 school year, appropriating most of an additional $1 million to hire more elementary school teachers.

The total budget is $156.7 million. It makes use of $545,000 in savings from the newly ratified contract with the district’s paraprofessionals and $500,000 in expendable trust money.

Using the additional $1 million, which the aldermen sent to the district, for teachers in the elementary schools was a parting victory for outgoing Superintendent Thomas Brennan.

He has advocated adding teachers in the elementary schools, despite the threats of the two sending towns, Hooksett and Candia, to pull their students from the high schools, largely over large class sizes.

The school board's budget calls for hiring 1.5 additional teachers at the Manchester School of Technology and 8.5 in the elementary schools.

The vote was 11 to 4.

Opponents of the plan argued that it wasn't prudent to use one-time expendable trust money to fund salaries.

“All the years I have been on this board I have argued against using expendable trust money,” Ward 10 board member John Avard said.

Superintendent Thomas Brennan defended the plan. “From a financial standpoint, this may not be prudent but from an educational standpoint, it is. We need to be shoring up our elementary education,” he said.

Union agreements

Agreements have been reached with two more district employee unions.

The Board of School committee on Monday voted to ratify the agreements with two Teamsters locals, one representing principals and the other directors and coordinators.

The contracts were discussed in nonpublic session. Details of the agreements were not available, but they are believed to be similar to the one signed with the district's paraprofessionals.

That contract hiked health care premiums to a 15 to 20 percent employee contribution rate, while giving the employees a 2.17 percent raise, based on the increase in inflation.

The agreement leaves only two unions without contract agreements, the largest of which is the Manchester Education Association, which represents the district's 1,100 teachers.

The agreement is projected to save the district to $45,000 in the first year of the contract, while costing the district $104,000 in the second year of the contract.

The contracts were ratified by the board by 10 votes. Mayor Ted Gatsas voted against the contracts, citing concerns over their cost over two years.

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