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February 05. 2013 8:47PM

School spending up for debate in Northwood

NORTHWOOD - Residents will consider Thursday whether to support a proposed budget, impose a tax cap on the district and approve collective bargaining.

The school district's deliberative session will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Northwood School at 511 1st New Hampshire Turnpike (Route 4).

Residents will vote March 12 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Joseph's Church.

Article 2 would appropriate $11,948,333 for the district's operating budget.

It is $35,528 - or 0.3 percent - larger than last year's budget of $11,912,805.

If denied, a default budget of $12,206,535 would be enacted and the district can hold a special meeting to discuss a revised budget.

The school board proposes a budget of $12,375,341 - which is a 3.7 percent increase over the current default budget - as it includes funding for retirement, health contributions, pre-school programs and tuition for Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, according to School Board Chair Chris Andrews.

"The $12 million is lean," Andrews said, adding the board worked with officials to "get as close to level funding as we could."

Article 9, which must be approved by a three-fifths majority in March, petitions residents to implement a tax cap. This would require the district propose a budget that does not raise taxes by more than 2 percent of the prior year's figure.

Andrews said the school board is opposed to the tax cap petition since it could hinder efforts to make improvements and has secondary effects that must be considered.

"Returning money to the town hurts the district under the tax cap," Andrews said.

Two articles ask residents to approve two separate three-year collective bargaining agreements.

Article 5 would appropriate $228,147 to raise salaries and benefits for teachers in the 2013-14 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

If approved by future voters, it would additionally raise the salaries by $99,657 in 2014-15 and $108,580 in 2015-16.

Article 4 would appropriate $34,261 to raise salaries and benefits for support personnel in the 2013-14 fiscal year. This agreement also proposes to further increase salaries by $38,385 in 2014-15 and $39,202 the following year, but those appropriations would have to be approved by voters in the future.

If approved, Article 6 would purchase new technology equipment for $95,388 while Article 3 would purchase $34,569 worth of equipment to upgrade security at Northwood School.

Based on a change in state law, Article 8 would require the district to include a notation with the estimated tax impact on all applicable warrant articles in the future.

jquinn@newstote.com


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