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February 05. 2014 9:20PM

Proposed $13.5m budget for New Boston headed to voters

NEW BOSTON — About 25 people attended the school district’s deliberative session on Tuesday, with little comment on the $13,584,226 operating budget. The 2014-15 budget will go before voters on the March 11 ballot.

The proposed $13.5 million operating budget is $9,775, or .7 percent more than the default budget of $13,574,451; and is $828,703, or 6.5 percent more than the 2013 budget. The budget also includes an increase of $70,156 resulting from the loss of Dunbarton students, and New Boston’s share of repair costs to the SAU building; and a food service fund increase of $13,134.

In addition, the budget includes a new special education teacher at Central School to ease management of the increase in case loads for students with special needs. Special education costs total about 9 percent of the budget. The cost of sending students to Goffstown High School is 32.2 percent, and 17 percent for students attending Mountain View Middle School.

A motion by a resident to reduce a $30,000 addition to a special education reserve fund to zero was defeated by voters at the meeting. The reserve fund contains about $120,000 to provide financing for unforeseen and catastrophic costs, said Brian Balke, interim superintendent.

“The school board feels strongly that continuing to grow that fund is important,” Balke said after the meeting.

This year, for example, the district has incurred $42,000 in unanticipated therapy costs associated with special education. In Article 4, the board’s request to add $30,000 to the special education reserve fund will be funded from unencumbered reserves and will not increase the tax rate.

The 2014-15 operating budget also includes an increase of $723,820, which is the district’s portion of tuition payment to Goffstown.

In March, voters will be asked to approve Article 3 — a new 10-year AREA agreement with Goffstown, which was recommended by the Goffstown and New Boston school boards and was approved by the state Department of Education. In the agreement, New Boston will receive a reduction in rental space fee from 2.5 percent to 2 percent of the appraised value of Mountain View Middle School and Goffstown High School. The reduction has been factored into the tuition costs in the agreement.

“The new agreement is mutually beneficial to both New Boston and Goffstown residents and students,” said Balke.

New Boston’s cost for 2014-15 to send students to MVMS is $12,323 per student, and $12,904 per high school student. In 2013-14, 144 students attended the middle school, and projected enrollments for 2014-15 are 161 students. In 2013-14, 279 New Boston students attended the high school, and projected enrollments for 2014-15 are 303 students.

New Boston is also being asked to pay 25 percent of the costs to repair the cupola at the SAU 19 building. However, Balke and the school board are expected to meet with Goffstown selectmen to discuss some options. The estimated cost to restore the cupola is about $75,000.

“What we’re recommending is removing it. We feel removing it and patching the roof is less expensive.” said Balke. “We want the building to be safe. We don’t want pigeons coming in or more water damage, but we want to spend money on the kids and not a roof.”

During the deliberative session, board Chairman Wendy Lambert also thanked two retiring school board members, Betsy Holmes and Paul Ryder, for their service to the district.

Voting for all warrant articles and elected positions takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, at New Boston Central School.

sclark@newstote.com


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