Derry pushes forward a reduced school budget
DERRY - Voters at the school deliberative session Saturday rejected an amendment that would have cut the proposed budget by more than $700,000 before settling on a less dramatic reduction.
Residents filled the gymnasium of West Running Brook Middle School, and moved forward a proposed budget of $80,539,895.90 for 2014-15, which is approximately $1.4 million less than this year's budget of $81,903,690.
By a secret ballot vote of 165 "no" votes to 68 "yes" votes, they had earlier rejected an amendment by resident Lynn Perkins to set the proposed budget at $79,817,146.18.
Those who supported the amendment said it would provide long overdue tax relief.
They cited figures that showed school enrollment has been declining over the past decade while school taxes have been increasing.
They were outnumbered by other residents, however, who opposed the amendment, saying it would cut vital services to students and decimate the budget.
Rather than blame school officials for the higher taxes, they suggested the town increase economic development and attract new businesses to build a stronger tax base.
At the start of the session, school officials said they had taken the unusual step of reducing the proposed budget by about $277,000 because they had recently learned 106 Hooksett students would be attending Pinkerton Academy next year.
Hooksett has signed a one-year agreement with Pinkerton to send its students to the high school.
Tuition is projected to drop by $140.68 per student from the rate the school announced in December, according to Pinkerton administrators.
School officials just learned of this development and the reduction in tuition. The news came after the School Board had already voted on the proposed budget.
That amendment was overwhelmingly approved by voters.
The election is scheduled for March 11.
- Hunter McGeeSunday News Correspondent