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Savings for sending towns in Pembroke district not a sure thing

Union Leader Correspondent

December 14. 2017 1:00AM

PEMBROKE — Cuts to the proposed Pembroke School District budget may or may not mean savings for the towns who send their high school students to Pembroke Academy.

Pembroke school officials are proposing more than $1 million in cuts, which include six teaching positions and 10 non-certified positions.

The tuition rate for the sending towns is based on expenses, so if that is down then the rate is lowered.

But if there are fewer students in those sending towns, it might actually make the cost higher, officials said.

Students from Allenstown, Chichester and Epsom attend Pembroke Academy.

Co-Superintendent Patty Sherman said enrollment is down across the entire district.

The budget for Pembroke has not been finalized, so just how the sending towns will be affected remains unknown.

The school district budget was presented to the school board last week and will go before Pembroke’s Budget Committee on Dec. 21.

The goal of the budget cuts is to make up for a projected shortfall currently being grappled with by town officials.

The Pembroke district is expecting a shortfall of about $977,000, which was raised through this upcoming tax bill to cover the deficit.

This deficit was caused by overestimating how much revenue the district was expected to bring in at the end of the fiscal year.

The bulk of the shortfall comes from tuition revenue, which turned out to be $737,000 less than what was estimated. Other factors included decreases in state aid and federal funding.

Business Manager Amber Wheeler met with the full SAU 53 Executive Board on Wednesday to brief them on the issue and let them know what happened.

Wheeler and Sherman have been working on trying to figure out what went wrong.

“I can’t give you a quick answer...,” Wheeler said. “I want to give you an accurate answer. We’re in the process of figuring out that information.”

One of the changes that Wheeler has undertaken as a result of the situation is tracking the number of students in each district herself. Though she was regularly given the number of students in the district, Wheeler said the business administrator doesn’t usually track the increases or decreases to these numbers over time.

On Tuesday, the Pembroke School Board voted to go forward with an independent audit of the school district. A spending freeze is currently in place in Pembroke schools as a response to the budget shortfall.

Education Pembroke Local and County Government

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