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Senator says school finances not so dire for Derry

Union Leader Correspondent

February 03. 2013 9:19PM

DERRY - According to state Sen. James Rausch, the financial outlook for the Derry school district may not be as dire as the one school administrators have prepared for.

At a recent joint meeting with the town council, school board, Pinkerton Academy trustees and officials, and local legislators, Rausch stated that school officials are dramatically underestimating the amount of money the district will receive in state adequacy for 2013-14.

However, school officials stated they were told to use a figure at 95 percent of the anticipated adequacy figure for budgeting purposes.

The difference with the 95 percent calculation boils down to about $1 million, according to Superintendent Laura Nelson.

Rausch said figures from the state budget office show the adequacy amount for 2013-14 falling from $27.1 million to $26.09 million, but said he did not understand why the school department was working with an adequacy figure $1 million below even that.

Nelson said the state's department of education advised districts to budget at 95 percent of the potential adequacy numbers because of possible adjustments in April.

"The adjustment in April is based on the number of students (in the district)," said Rausch. "You are losing $1 million for only one reason and that is the number of children."

Rausch said he has scrutinized the numbers to the state adequacy funding formula and that there is no change coming to the formula. He said the district should be able to calculate the number of students in the district to come up with the adequacy figure.

"I don't see how that could fluctuate by $1 million," said Rausch, adding the number should be near $26.1 million.

"And I have a promise for 95 percent of that," said Nelson

To responsibly develop a budget for the 2013-14 school year, Nelson said the district used that 95 percent number.

Rausch said he was troubled with the numbers given to the district by the department of education, adding that the state legislative budget office typically has a better handle on the adequacy numbers.

"You would have to lose almost 300 kids for this to occur," he said. "There is some kind of disconnect with them telling you how to budget."

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