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Goffstown voters to discuss school spending

GOFFSTOWN — Teacher and support staff contracts, a new tuition agreement and the school district’s proposed $37,692,224 budget will go before voters at the deliberative session Saturday, Feb. 1.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. in Goffstown High School auditorium. The snow date is Monday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m.

The first session of the Goffstown School District annual meeting, also known as the deliberative session, is a chance for voters to discuss and possibly amend proposed budget and warrant articles. After the meeting, the budget and warrants will be voted on by official ballot on March 11.

During its past few meetings, the Budget Committee cut $54,000 from the budget, including an $18,145 reduction in the administrative salary pool, $6,500 for field-trip transportation for three schools, $13,068 for one late school bus for the high school and $16,287 for a districtwide grounds custodian position.

The district also will see a reduction in revenues, including $241,919 in state adequacy aid; $110,000 in increased SAU costs; and a projected $894,000 loss of tuition revenue from Dunbarton.

The proposed budget, if approved, would mean a tax rate of $14.58 per $1,000 assessed property value, an increase of 88 cents from 2013-14.

The default operating budget for 2015 would be $37,292,833, or a tax rate of $14.28 per $1,000 assessed property value, an increase of 58 cents from 2013.

The proposed budget’s tax impact on a $250,000 home would be about $220; the default budget would mean $144 more in taxes for a $250,000 home.

Voters also will be asked to approve three warrant articles:

• $117,299 for a collective bargaining contract with support staff from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2017. The first year of the contract would cost $95,144, with $22,155 in grant-funded positions.

• A contract agreement with the Goffstown Education Association, which represents teachers, from Sept. 1, 2014, through Aug. 1, 2016.

• The new AREA agreement with New Boston. The committee was made up of three school board members from each district and was approved Jan. 16 by the state Department of Education. The Goffstown and New Boston school boards unanimously recommended bringing the article to their respective districts.

Brian Balke, interim school superintendent, said the Goffstown School Board wanted the first year of the contracts with the support staff and the Goffstown Education Association to be tax neutral.

“They placed about 2½ percent in a contingency fund, and the School Board is able to give some tax relief in 2015 to offset the costs of the contracts,” said Balke, adding the district’s return on investment is “incredibly strong.”

“For New Boston and Goffstown, our cost per student is well below the state average, our teacher salaries are well below state average, and our student achievements are well above state average,” he said.

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