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Weare school officials hope to make push for budget personal

Union Leader Correspondent

January 16. 2014 1:18AM

WEARE — Some members of the school district might be coming to a home near you to make people aware of the proposed budget and gain voters’ approval.

The idea of hosting coffee chats in residents’ homes is in the planning stage, and school board Vice Chairman Marjorie Burke hopes it will make a difference.

“We have a small audience at our meetings. We are televised, but we don’t know how many people watch. The bare facts about the budget and the tax rate go out, but we want to get people to understand the budget and what goes into budget, and why it’s important that it passes. It’s not only the school board budget, but also the teachers and paraprofessionals and their contracts,” said Burke. “We want to present a united front to make people aware.”

The district presented coffee chats in 2005, when voters were asked to approve a middle school bond, and it was successful, Burke said.

The coffee chats will be informal and residents may invite their friends and neighbors.

“The PTO is very supportive, and they may do some advertising for us,” she said. “Someone posted on Facebook that they were interested in having (a coffee chat), and someone else said they would, too. I think social media will help us out this year. We need to get the community involved.”

The coffee chats could be attended by one school board member, a teacher and a paraprofessional from their respective unions. “Maybe a school principal or other teachers will be there to give information and answer people’s questions. We’re in a default budget this year, and it’s important we don’t continue,” she said.

The proposed operating budget for 2014-15 is $14,421,694, which is up from the default budget of $14,128,318. The proposed budget and warrant articles represent a 57 cent increase per $1,000 assessed property value, or $142.50 for a $250,000 house. The default budget and warrant articles represent a 22 cent increase per $1,000 assessed property value, or $55 for a $250,000 house.

Warrant articles include the Weare Education Association negotiated agreement of $120,805 in 2014-15 and $163,983 in 2015-16; the Weare Education Support Staff Association negotiated agreement of $34,098 in 2014-15 and $57,411 in 2015-16; $25,000 from surplus to the Building Maintenance Expendable Trust; one to retain 2.5 percent of net assessment from unassigned general funds; and one to rescind SB2, the official ballot law, for the Weare School District.

Burke said she does not expect more than one school board member to attend each coffee chat, which would preclude a quorum and not constitute an official meeting and a posting, which is required of regular board meetings.

“We’ll have to spread ourselves thin, so I doubt three of us will be attending one particular one,” Burke said.

To host a coffee chat, call PTO President Jen Guillemette at 513-1860.

General News Manchester

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