February 02. 2013 2:16PM

Derry voters will decide on proposed $800k increase in school budget

Union Leader correspondent

DERRY – Voters at Saturday morning's school district deliberative session approved an amendment increasing the proposed 2013-14 budget by $800,000.

During the town election on Tuesday, March 12, residents will be voting on an $81,903,691 budget.

The amended budget was approved by a vote of 49-34.

Derry Education Association president Meg Morse-Barry made the motion to increase the budget, noting the adverse effect she believed the proposed trimming of 14 positions would have on the school district.

Those proposed cuts included 7.5 teaching positions, mainly in the unified arts departments. Superintendent Laura Nelson said those proposed cuts would not impact the services provided by the school district.

"Each of the programs impacted remain in the School Board guidelines for class size," said Nelson.

School Board member Ken Linehan noted that the cuts were not made lightly, and that the school board's goal was to abide by the mission to provide a quality education to all the district's students.

However, Barry said she couldn't believe that the district could continue with more cuts to its staff.

"I'm afraid that with all the cuts in the past we are now going to be turning the highest standards to just adequate standards," she said.

However, some residents against the proposed addition to the budget said they were not against education for children, but against increasing pay and benefits for employees.

"It's time for public employees to bite the bullet like everyone else," said Joseph DiChiaro. "It's not about the children, it's about salaries for the public employees."

The budget as originally presented by the School Board was a $1.3 million, or 1.65 percent, increase over the current school year budget.

Voters also approved the placement of two other articles on the town election warrant, one for a new three-year contract for educational assistants and the other which allows the district to maintain an unreserved fund balance.