NASHUA — With a pair of painless accounting adjustments, Superintendent Mark Conrad has been able to cut nearly $1 million from the school district’s 2015 proposed budget.
At a Board of Education budget workshop Wednesday night, Conrad presented a new bottom line for the school budget that was originally $102 million, or 5.22 percent more than last year’s $97 million budget. The new proposal is for a 4.19 percent increase to $101 million.
Due to a coding error, $661,000 was mistakenly added into next year’s payroll costs. Administrators discovered that funding from different grants covered the salaries of some staff members, and those were cut from the budget.
School transportation costs have also played a role in driving up this year’s budget, and the administration originally thought the district would need to increase its transportation budget by $1 million. Dan Donovan, the school district’s chief operating officer, has been negotiating a new busing contract, however, and he believes the increase in transportation costs can be limited to about $540,000. That’s adjustment allowed another $460,000 to be deducted from the budget proposal.
On the flip side, Conrad did present two additions to next year’s spending plan. The first, for $95,371, is to cover the costs of a 2 percent raise for custodians, which was not accounted for in the original budget recommendation. The revised figures also reflect the addition of $20,250 to pay for a Saturday program.
Although the revised figures represent a significant decrease, the district is still roughly $2 million over what Mayor Donnalee Lozeau told the board the city could afford. At a budget workshop at the end of January, Lozeau asked the board to keep this year’s increase to 2.1 percent, or about $2 million.