Little discussion at Weare’s school district deliberative session
Around 50 people turned out for the deliberative session, held at Weare Middle School, and there wasn’t a great deal of discussion about the proposed operating budget or collective bargaining agreements.
The proposed budget of $14,421,694 marks an increase over last year’s budget of $113,000 over the 2013/2014 actual budget, according to school board chairman Matthew Thomas. Included in that increase is a new roof for Center Woods Elementary, pay for long-term substitutes, increased maintenance at the middle school and Center Woods Elementary, books and library furniture.
In the budget, the board has also included salary and benefits for a full-time Spanish teacher to give students at the middle school a leg up when they move on to John Stark Regional High School. Currently, students from the middle school have no exposure to foreign languages and must take introductory courses instead of jumping right in to more advanced courses like their peers at other school districts.
The budget also includes $80,000 for technology infrastructure at Center Woods Elementary, which was built long before computers and the internet were everyday features in the classroom, said Thomas.
“It’s time for us to step up and make these changes,” he said.
The district’s finance committee does not support the proposed budget and has argued that with declining enrollment and a sharp reduction in state education funding, the board should reduce the proposed budget by $185,000.
Two union contracts will go before the voters in March as well, including one for teachers and the other for support staff.
A two-year collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Weare Education Association calls for a 3 percent increase to the base salary scale along with pay increases for some teachers. The agreement also includes changes to the health care plans requiring teachers to pay more for things like co-pays and deductibles.
The board and the finance committee agreed that the teachers in Weare are the lowest paid in the area, and new teachers aren’t staying very long before moving down the road where they can make thousands of dollars more each year, said board member Donny Guillemette.
The contract would cost the taxpayers $120,805 in the first year, and $163,983 in the second, however health care savings of $113,131 in the first year and $63,603 in the second year are predicted.
The support staff contract includes raises for the staff but won’t go into effect until the 2014-2015 school year. Thus the first year of the contract will have no cost to the taxpayers, but in 2014 it will cost $34,098 and in 2015 it will be $57,411.
There is also an article to place $25,000 in the district’s building maintenance fund. If all of the warrant articles are approved, the impact will be 57 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or a $114 increase on the property tax bill for a $200,000 home.
Voters go to the polls on March 11.