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Hooksett School Board race, budget go to voters

There is a tight race for a new Hooksett School Board member to be decided March 12, as well as a budget decision that affects how many teachers Hooksett children will have.

School Board Chairman Dana Argo is not running for re-election. Three candidates will appear on the ballot: John Lyscars, Jen Leger and David Ryan. There are no other contested races in Hooksett.

A decision on the operating budget will determine whether two teacher positions will be filled.

The Hooksett School District’s proposed 2013-14 operating budget comes to $27,514,673, with a default budget coming in higher, at $27,934,852.

One of the major points of dispute on the budget was the question of teaching allocations. There were three retirements at the Hooksett Memorial School in the last year, a situation which Superintendent Dr. Charles P. Littlefield stated that he hoped to use for the reallocation of resources, keeping only one position at Memorial, and moving the other two to Cawley Middle School. One would go to the sixth grade to ease an “enrollment bubble.” The other would go to the seventh grade to allow teachers to remain “subject matter pure,” or teaching only within their area of expertise.

The Budget Committee’s budget includes funding for only one of these three positions. The default budget, by virtue of containing within it the allocations for the previous year when the teachers remained in the district, contains funding for all three. Should the Budget Committee’s budget pass, which means approving the warrant article for the operating budget, the administration will replace one teacher at Memorial and leave the remaining two unfilled.

The Budget Committee has argued that these retirements could be effectively absorbed by the district without diminishing the quality of education, saving the taxpayers money through attrition.

The proposed operating budget will have an estimated tax impact of $11.09 per $1,000 of property value, a 7 cent increase from last year on the tax rate. That translates to $17.50 more for the owner of a home valued at $250,000.

Also appearing on the school ballot will be two collective bargaining agreements (one for teachers with a 14 cents per $1,000 tax impact, another for support staff at 2 cents per $1,000), a $316,000 warrant for the School Building Construction/Reconstruction Capital Reserve Fund (estimated 19 cents per $1,000 tax impact, and a warrant to increase the School Board from five to seven members.

Should all warrants pass, residents will see a 42 cent per $1,000 tax increase, meaning residents with a home value of $250,000 would see their property tax increase by $105. Should all warrants fail, taxes will increase by 33 cents per $1,000, producing an $82.50 increase for a $250,000 home.

The Hooksett School District vote will take place Tuesday, March 12, at Cawley Middle School, with the polls remaining open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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