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Allenstown parents mobilize to stave off $1 million school budget cut

Union Leader Correspondent

March 02. 2014 8:19PM

ALLENSTOWN — More than a dozen Allenstown parents gathered at a small Suncook business, passing out paperwork, gathering yard signs and mapping out territories for each person to cover.

Their goal: educate as many voters as possible to the potentially devastating effects of the modified school district budget, which is represented in Article 1 of this year's warrant. If approved, the budget, which was altered at the school district deliberative session on Feb. 1, will result in a roughly $1 million cut from the default budget.

Parents learned last month that the cuts will come in the form of roughly 14 teachers; music, art and physical education programs and foreign language curriculum; a library media specialist and library assistant; a technology integration teacher and support staff member; reading and math specialists; funds for school field trips, school assemblies and more.

The primary purpose of the recent gathering, which took place on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Dreamsicle Arts and Entertainment, was to concentrate the volunteer efforts and run as efficient a campaign as possible, said Brian Godin.

"We want to get the news out to residents that we need them to come out and vote, and vote 'no' (to the proposed budget), so that we can put this behind us and not let this happen again," he said.

A "no" vote to the $8,780,000 amended budget results in a default budget of $9,756,468, the same number originally proposed to voters when the article was modified by a 35-33 vote at deliberative session.

"We have to win this vote or else it's going to be a downward spiral here," said Godin. "If we cut this money from the schools, no one is going to want to move to Allenstown, and people with children are going to want to move out to go to somewhere with a better school system, and we don't want to see that happen again."

"We just want people to realize this is a very important vote and that our children's education is at stake," said another Allenstown parent, Jody Moore. "If we lose $1 million from the budget, we're not going to be offering what the state mandates for education, so then we lose an extra $565,000 that we have to raise, so taxes will be going up as property values go down."

In addition to passing out informational fliers, Moore and her husband purchased materials to create signs.

Second rally

Organizers have scheduled an additional volunteer rally session for Tuesday at Allenstown Elementary School. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the school's library.

"There are going to be other ideas and ways we can reach voters before (March 11)," said Moore. "We're going to put together one last push the week prior and also on voting day, and we're trying to coordinate to be able to provide transportation for people who don't have the ability to get (to the polls)."

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