Londonderry sets proposed $73m school budgetBy CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent
January 14. 2018 8:41PM
LONDONDERRY — Londonderry school Superintendent Scott Laliberte said the 2018-2019 operating budget, coming in at $73.4 million, was designed to meet the district’s growing needs, including the classroom size at Moose Hill School.
The Londonderry School Board on Thursday night recommended the $73,473,218 budget, a $1.2 million increase, by a 3-1 margin after roughly an hour of discussion during a public hearing. Voters will have the next say during the deliberative session, set to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, in the Londonderry High School cafeteria.
Laliberte defended his budget by noting the population trends show an “upturn in enrollment” at the town’s elementary schools while the district is seeing a “fluctuating pattern” at the higher grades.
“One of our goals is to develop the capacity to adapt to any changes that come our way in the next few years,” he said.
Londonderry’s school budget includes a temporary solution for the capacity issues at Moose Hill.
The superintendent’s budget recognizes any permanent modifications to the school should come as a result of public feedback and planning, but in the short-term the district has supported the use of modular units. The school board has also approved the use of funding to relocate the central offices for the SAU staff to Kitty Hawk Landing while the district looks to address the air quality within the current headquarters/
With the projected spike in elementary students, the budget adds a full-time teacher for the Londonderry Early Education Program (LEEP) and another educator who will be assigned a grade based on the district’s need. One high school full-time teaching position is eliminated.
While the budget has jumped more than $1 million, the district made $383,015 worth of reductions, some of which include more than $35,000 in replacing equipment and supplies at the high school, roughly $20,000 in health insurance benefits and $62,550 in construction services.
The estimated tax impact of the operating budget is $13.57, or an increase of 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The default budget, also available for voters to review during the deliberative session, is $72,903,347 with an estimated tax impact of $13.42.
A warrant article that would enter into a five-year lease purchase agreement for new spectator bleachers at the high school sparked the most discussion during the hearing.
The article, which over the life of the agreement would cost $300,000, would raise and appropriate $65,000 for the first-year payment.
The board voted 4-0 to recommend the article, with several members fully anticipating support from Londonderry voters.
There were no citizen petitions added to the school district portion for discussion during the deliberative session or on Town Meeting Day, scheduled for March 13.
School board member Leitha Reilly asked if the bleachers could go in the operating budget instead of as a separate article.
“I cant imagine the bleacher warrant article failing, I really can’t,” said board member Steve Young.
Other warrant articles include $625,000 to go into the School Buildings Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund for major, one-time capital costs – items such as roofs, boilers, paving and other renovation projects – and $150,000 for the Equipment Capital Reserve Fund to provide funding for essential equipment within the district.