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Goffstown will vote on $37.7 million school budget

GOFFSTOWN - The school board's proposed $37,692,224 budget, along with three articles relating to two contracts and the tuition agreement with New Boston, will go before voters in March.

About 80 people attended the school district deliberative session on Saturday, and despite a failed motion to reinstate a late school bus for Goffstown High School, voters did not voice any objections to the proposed budget.

A motion to include the words "no tax impact" because of added contingencies to the professional and support staff contracts was approved after the board contacted the district's lawyer for approval.

Resident Kristie Curtis, executive director of Crispin's House, made a motion to re-allocate $13,068 for a late bus to Goffstown High School, an item that was removed during the budgeting process.

Although she quoted letters from students extolling the benefits of providing transportation so they could participate in after-school activities, clubs and tutoring, the motion failed by a voice vote. Members of the budget committee also voiced objections to reinstating an after-school bus to the high school because of the added cost, the savings on gas and the hope that the proposed budget will pass this year.

Dian McCarthy, chairman of the school board, presented the nearly $37.7 million budget, which creates a tax increase of 88 cents per $1,000 property valuation, or a projected tax impact of about $220 on a $250,000 home.

McCarthy expressed the importance of voters' support of the budget over the default operating budget of $37,292,833, which would increase taxes by 58 cents per $1,000 property valuation over last year's default budget, or $144 for a $250,000 home.

The proposed budget reflects the board's $1.8 million reduction from the original school principals' requests and other expenses, and the budget committee's reduction of $54,000.

Highlighted items in the budget include a secretary position, increasing the library media specialist from part-time to full-time, one special education teacher and increasing summer hours for the custodian at Bartlett Elementary School; hiring an eighth-grade teacher, adding two part-time library assistants and providing a late school bus at Mountain View Middle School; and increasing summer hours for an educational assistant and installing new exterior locks at Maple Avenue School. McCarthy also said the cost per student in Goffstown is $11,476, in contrast to Bedford's cost at $11,539 and Bow's costs at $15,973; and the average annual teacher salary of $52,406 is below the state average of $54,314.

In Warrant 3, the district is seeking the approval of a two-year agreement with Goffstown Education Association at a cost of $528,091 for the first year, and $471,065 for the second year. A teachers' contract has not been approved in seven years, and they have not had a raise since 2011, said School Board member Ben Hampton, who presented the article.

Warrant 4 relates to the three-year collective bargaining contract with support staff. The first year's cost is $117,299, $214,176 for the second year, and $246,687 for the third year. The support staff has not had raises since 2010, said School Board Vice Chairman Phil Pancoast, who presented the article.

Voters will be asked to approve all the warrants and to elect candidates to open seats on Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Goffstown High School.

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