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Goffstown school board presents slightly increased budget to budget committee

GOFFSTOWN — The Goffstown School Board presented its $36.5 million budget for the 2014-15 school year to the Budget Committee, which included adding teachers, library staff and late buses for the after-school program.

In two sessions on Nov. 14 and Nov. 21, the Budget Committee heard from board and administration members and school principals, each reiterating that the proposed budget development focused on safety, teaching and learning, special education and facilities. The committee will continue its review of the proposed budgets for Bartlett Elementary and Glen Lake schools on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. at town hall.

The total default budget of $36.1 million is 2.57 percent higher than the 2013-14 budget, and the school board’s proposed budget is $36.5 million, a difference of $293,739, or about 1 percent higher than the default budget. The last school district budget passed by voters was in 2008, forcing the district to work within a default budget.

Interim Superintendent Brian Balke said while current negotiations are ongoing, the town has not voted on a teachers contract in eight years, and the support staff association is also negotiating for two failed years.

The principals’ recommended budgets reflected $1.7 million increase above the default budget, but the board made adjustments while looking at priorities such as security cameras, panic devices, interior door locks and exterior doors. The board hopes to fund these items through the 2013-14 budget at a cost of about $100,000 to promote safety. Special locks will allow teachers to lock classrooms from the inside in case of emergencies or violence.

“The board felt so strongly about some of these safety items that they didn’t want to wait. They wanted to prioritize budget money this year and are going to budget these items this year,” said Balke.

At Mountain View Middle School, Principal Wendy Hastings told the committee there is a dire need for an eighth-grade teacher, and she is also requesting two part-time library paraprofessionals, which would allow the library to be open before and after school.

Providing late buses at Mountain View and the high school also garnered discussion. Chairman Dian McCarthy said the buses are needed for after-school programs. The hours from 3 to 6 p.m. are times when students are more at risk.

“The more engaged a child is in school, the better their grades will be and the better the likelihood they will graduate,” McCarthy said. “This is not about convenience for the parents, it’s about catching the kids at risk. It’s about getting these kids plugged in, supervised, engaged and safe, and increasing their odds.”

There are about 15 percent of special education students in the district, and providing special education to all eligible children is required, Balke said.

There is need for an additional teacher at Bartlett Elementary School, Balke said, and an increased need for teacher of the deaf. English language learners has increased.

Maple Avenue Elementary School Principal Jessica Milligan is requesting additional reading materials and reinstated field trips. The school’s budget also includes moving an autism teacher from Bartlett Elementary School to Maple Avenue next year.

The deadline for all budget submissions including the operating budget, separate warrant articles, petition articles and collective bargaining agreements is Jan. 14. The Budget Committee public hearings will be held in mid-January.

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