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February 04. 2013 8:27PM

Proposed school budget up 2 percent in Nashua

NASHUA - The superintendent's 2014 school budget proposes a spending increase of nearly $2 million, 2 percent over the current year's $95,564,737 budget.

Presented to school board members at a meeting Saturday morning, the $97,638,300 budget was drafted by Superintendent Mark Conrad's budget management team.

Next year's budget represents an increase of more than $1.9 million, or 2.01 percent, over the budget for the 2012-2013 school year.

At a cost of $40,000, the substitute teacher per diem rate is raised by $3 in the proposed budget, a move toward closing the gap between Nashua and its peer districts. The city currently ranks at the bottom of the barrel for substitute teacher pay. The increase would raise the per diem pay to $65.

"Yay!" said Isabel Hennessy, a Nashua substitute teacher who recently addressed the school board to push for better pay.

"That's a first step," Hennessy said. "I wish they would have increased it to $70 . but hopefully there will be an increase keeping it up with inflation next year."

"It's great that they're going in the right direction," she said, adding she will continue to advocate for better pay.

The superintendent listed several areas with significant spending increases. Those include severance costs for $250,000, transportation for $293,000, computer hardware for $100,000, software for $62,000 and special education out-of-district tuition for $80,000.

Other significant increases include two Title II teachers for $89,000, and $68,000 in curriculum-related expenditures.

A total of $48,212 was added to the budget for personnel changes.

Five secondary teaching positions have been eliminated from the 2014 budget. Five positions were added, however, including special-education psychologists, a behavioral paraprofessional, a technology integration teacher and a high school technology integration assistant.

To reduce class sizes, $223,000 was allocated for the addition of two full-time elementary positions and two kindergarten teachers.

Increases in salaries and benefits account for a $1.1 million increase.

The 2 percent budget increase comes in spite of a net reduction of $635,000, attributed to savings in electricity, telephone, heating fuel, attrition and building rental costs.

The proposed budget represents the recommendations of the superintendent to the board of education. Following the school board's vote, a budget will go to the mayor and then to the board of aldermen for final approval.

srios@newstote.com


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