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December 12. 2012 10:06PM

Bedford school budget may rise 1.3 percent

BEDFORD - The school board began deliberations of next year's $61 million proposed budget at its meeting Monday and will meet again next week to make final recommendations before a public hearing Jan. 8.

According to Superintendent Timothy Mayes, the total budget is up $815,000, a 1.3 percent increase over last year.

The estimated tax impact of the budget is 58 cents per thousand dollars of assessed home value, or about $232 on a $400,000 home.

The largest portion of the budget increase is a result of the district's employer contribution to the state retirement system, which was about 95 percent of the $644,000 budgeted. The remaining 5 percent was for medical and dental premiums.

For the first time in several years, Mayes said the default budget willl be less than the proposed operating budget, by about $173,000.

New items in the budget include the addition of an assistant principal at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School, as well as the addition of a guidance counselor at Bedford High School.

Other additions include an increase of $114,000 to address parking and drainage issues at McElvie Intermediate School, an $83,000 software upgrade for the SAU office and two new sports teams, freshman lacrosse and middle school boys field hockey.

Additions to the K-Plus program and the food service budget would have no tax impact because they have corresponding revenues.

According to information provided to the board by Mayes, funding is available for the assistant principal position because of other shifts in staffing, including a reduction in staff for the Bedford Early Education Program (BEEP) due to declining enrollment.

In a memo to the school board, Mayes said most middle schools in south-central New Hampshire that have more than 690 students are staffed by one principal and two assistant principals.

The projected enrollment for next year at Lurgio is 762, and Mayes said he expects it to exceed 700 students for the next five years.

School board members approved of the staffing changes at Monday's meeting.

"Tim has never asked for anyone we don't desperately need," said Cindy Chagnon. "He's just been so conservative with administrative-level staff."

Vice Chairman Terry Wolf spoke in favor of the improvements at McElvie, which include a reconfiguration of the pick-up area, additional parking and a new entrance to the school on County Road, as well as electrical system upgrades in the building.

"I feel like we keep pushing off McElvie every year," she said. "We've not spent any money upgrading this building."

Budget discussions will continue at the board's meeting Monday before a final budget is set for the Jan. 8 public hearing.

The annual school district meeting will be held Feb. 5.

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Kathy Remillard may be reached at kremillard@newstote.com.


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