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Raymond voters to work on school warrant on Saturday


RAYMOND - Voters will take up the school warrant this Saturday during a deliberative session at Raymond High School, one week after taking up the town warrant in the same space.

Few people turned out for that meeting and there are even fewer warrant articles on the school ballot.

The proposed operating budget of $21,800,318 represents only a slight increase over last year's approved operating budget despite steep mandatory increases and a decrease in revenues.

Nine staff cuts were made, including a sixth-grade teacher, a school psychologist and various aides.

"We had quite a bit of money that we had to cover," interim superintendent Ellen Small said last week.

The school board requested a minimal increase in the budget before the district found out they would have to cover retirement costs at a much higher rate than in past years as state costs are passed on to municipalities and school districts.

The school district's retirement costs now total $248,264.

The proposed budget is only $96,000 over last year's approved budget despite over $300,000 in mandated increases and $150,000 less in revenue and has been recommended by both the school board and the budget committee.

Small said in addition to the staff cuts, additional cuts were made across the board.

"It's been pretty difficult," Small said. "Now we're at that point where there is nothing left to cut except staff."

She said they stayed away from cutting teaching positions as much as possible because they do not want to increase class sizes, per school board policy.

Warrant Article 3 asks voters to approve a four-year collective bargaining agreement for the Raymond Educational Support Staff which includes a $6,292 decrease in the first year and a $47,069 increase in the fourth year.

Article 5 seeks $195,000 for the capital improvement plan to set aside money for new energy-efficient boilers at the high school and middle school, replacing the carpet in the high school media center, repaving the entrance to the high school and the SAU offices, adding lockers at the high school, storage at the elementary school and saving for an anticipated roof replacement project at the high school.

Article 6 deals with a new state law regarding surplus school district funds.

Surplus funds at the end of the year have always been returned to the town to help offset the tax rate, but a new state law allows school districts to keep up to 2.5 percent of the current year's operating budget to save for emergencies, if approved by voters.

The net tax impact of all the money-related warrant articles would be 17 cents per $1,000 of property valuation.

The school deliberative session begins at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 9, at Raymond High School. Voting will take place on March 12 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School.



gmacalaster@newstote.com

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