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January 08. 2013 10:24PM

Governor Wentworth budget plan up 1.43 percent

WOLFEBORO - Governor Wentworth Regional School District and School Board held a sparsely attended public hearing on Monday to vet its proposed $47,386,610 budget for fiscal year 2014.

Due primarily to $568,973 increase in contribution to the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS), the bottom line represents a 1.43 increase over last fiscal year's budget of $46,195,294. The NHRS costs rose nearly 27 percent over last year.

The school district includes the towns of Brookfield, Effingham, New Durham, Ossipee, Tuftonboro, and Wolfeboro.

The budget amount includes two warrant articles, one for $150,000 to cover building and maintenance, and a second for $60,000 toward the turf field capital reserve account.

School District Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert, who will replace Superintendent Jack Robertson when he retires at the end of the school year, said on Tuesday the district will also receive less state funding due to a change in the adequacy formula it applies based on income levels of different towns. The change in formula will result in a decrease of $88,135 in state adequacy funding.

The district will avert personnel cuts by attrition. Cuddy-Egbert said two elementary-level teaching positions would not be filled once the teachers retire.

Health insurance costs increase slightly this year, with a 2.36 percent increase in health/life insurance costs and a 3.47 percent increase in dental insurance costs district-wide. Disability insurance premiums increased by 6.08 percent.

Employee wages, insurance, retirement and workers compensation costs make up $34,117,135 of the budget, a total $994,615 variance over last year.

Thanks in part to the new, energy-efficient Kingswood Middle and High School campus, the district budget for heating oil is $180,000 for this fiscal year, down nearly $5,000 from the prior year.

Cuddy-Egbert said only one person raised a question about the budget during Monday's session. The woman asked whether the new Kingswood Arts Center could provide revenue for the district.

"While it does bring in some income, there are expenses involved," said Cuddy-Egbert.

She said most of the groups that use the center are nonprofit agencies, and thus are not charged. There is a graduated fee scale for other groups, businesses and organizations that want to use the center.

Warrant articles include $150,000 for repairs and improvements to all of the buildings in the district including the high school, middle school, Lakes Region Technology Center, Kingswood Arts Center, Carpenter School, Crescent Lake School, Effingham Elementary School, New Durham School, Ossipee Central School, Tuftonboro Central School, and the SAU-49/Transportation Building.

The first session of the district's annual meeting - the deliberative session - will be held Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. at the Kingswood Arts Center.

Balloting for open school district and moderator positions will take place on March 12.

lmulkern@newstote.com


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