GOFFSTOWN – Warrant articles went unchanged at Saturday's school deliberative session, as fewer than 100 voters moved forward a $37 million operating budget and a $14 million bond request that will be decided by ballot vote on March 12.
School Board member Jennifer Theroux spoke on behalf Article 2, the bond that will pay for expanding and renovating the town's two elementary schools.
"If not now, when are we going to do this?" Theroux asked, noting that the bond, which failed to get voter approval last year, is less than what was asked for in 2012 because both construction costs and bond rates have decreased.
The bond requires a 3/5 majority to pass, and has been recommended by the School Board and Budget Committee.
School Board Vice Chairman Dian McCarthy presented the school district's $37,311,381 operating budget.
"A lot of consideration and work went into this budget," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said that of 162 school districts in New Hampshire, only 8 have a lower per pupil cost than Goffstown, putting it in the bottom 5% of per pupil spending.
The $1.2 million in budget increases includes about $419,000 in retirement costs, $153,000 in health insurance premiums, $85,000 for charter school special education costs, $25,000 for the track at Barnard Park, which is being shared equally with the town, and $200,000 for a new roof at Mountain View Middle School.
Budget Committee member Elizabeth Dubrulle said that with the exception of the roof and the track, all budget increases are those that have been mandated, either by the state or the federal government.
"We have to fund those things even if the budget doesn't pass," she said.
Theroux also urged voters to support the town's Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement with New Boston and Dunbarton, which expires in 2014, reminding them that should Dunbarton seek a partnership with another school district, the resulting loss of revenue could impact Goffstown significantly.
"If in Dunbarton, they choose to go to Bow, it should be noted that there would be a gap in revenue of $2 million, and it should be noted that fixed costs in Goffstown won't change," she said.
With staffing also unlikely to change, Theroux said, "that $2 million will need to be made up somehow."
Voters will head to the polls on March 12 at Goffstown High School.