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March 26. 2013 10:18PM

Derry school board discusses controversial $800,000

DERRY - On March 12, voters approved a 2013-14 school budget that was $800,000 more than the one originally approved by the School Board.

At last night's School Board meeting, the first since the election, there was a consensus among board members that the school administration should look at how to handle those additional funds without necessarily spending the entire $800,000.

Early this year, the School Board approved a budget of $81,103,691, but a successful amendment at the February school district deliberative session increased the budget to $81,903,691. The proponents of the budget increase were looking to add 14 positions that had been cut from the district during the budget process.

"Although it is not required, I think it would be appropriate to direct the administration not to spend the entire $800,000 allocated at the deliberative session," said School Board member Ken Linehan. "I don't want to micromanage the administration about how much money is spent, but I think its important to provide direction."

Board Chairman Brenda Willis said she agreed with Linehan and that the administration should continue to look at factors such as enrollment, staffing levels and facilities to determine what is needed for the best education for the district's students.

"We need to allow our administrators to do the job of looking at what we have and what we need and what we maybe need to change," said Willis. "There has been a lot of discussion about the cuts that were made, but I trust the administration to look at what the voters decided and balance that with what is needed."

Board member Neal Ochs agreed that the School Board needs to show trust and respect for the leadership team and administration, but noted that the district needs to meet the needs of the town's taxpayers, as well.

"It's all in your hands," Willis said to Superintendent Laura Nelson. "Keep us posted."

In other School Board business Tuesday night, the board unanimously voted to keep Willis as the board chairman for the coming year.


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