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Weare voters amend article to cover insurance penalty

WEARE - Voters amended one warrant article at Tuesday's school deliberative session, concerning a collective bargaining agreement for support staff.

Article 5 was amended by School Board Chairman Matthew Thomas, increasing the dollar amount from $4,958 to $150,958, to accurately reflect the total dollar amount of the agreement.

Of the total amount, $146,000 remains in the operating budget as an anticipated penalty under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for not providing health insurance to all employees.

According to SAU 24 Business Administrator Kathleen Sargent, the penalty will be incurred if Article 5 does not pass, and funds must be budgeted to cover the penalty fees.

Article 4 addressed the district's $14,118,941 operating budget, which is a 3.44 percent increase over last year.

If voters approve the operating budget and all special articles, they can expect a tax increase of $1.13 per thousand dollars of assessed home valuation, or about $248 on a $220,000 home.

The budget includes $550,000 in mandated costs, and $221,000 in other increases, including building maintenance, equipment replacement and hiring a physical education teacher at Weare Middle School.

School board member Donny Guillemette said the board looked in all areas for possible cuts.

"We're a lean, mean education machine," Guillemette said. "There is not a lot of fat in our budget."

Article 1 asks voters to appropriate $300,000 for the replacement of the roof at Center Woods Elementary School. The total cost is estimated at $450,000, and $150,000 will be taken from the district's Building Maintenance Expendable Trust to offset the cost.

Article 7 will add $25,000 to the district's Special Education Expendable Trust Fund, which will address any unanticipated special education costs. The fund was established in 2008.

Finance Committee member Jill Dagenais made a motion to amend the article to limit its dollar amount to 25 percent of any surplus, up to a maximum of $25,000.

Chairman Matt Thomas said the school board did not agree with the motion. The amendment failed, and the original article will appear on the ballot.

Article 8 will ask voters to spend $59,750 on new technology equipment for the district, including a one-time purchase of computers for both Center Woods Elementary and Weare Middle School.

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