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Officials consider tweaks for Salem school budget process

SALEM — The 2014-15 school budget process is barely in the books, but officials are already looking at ways to smooth the path for the 2015-16 budget.

Superintendent Michael Delahanty recently presented a preliminary timeline for the budget process to the school board.

Several board members said they would like to see the town budget committee hold its public hearing and vote on school district warrant articles on a different night next year than the town articles.

As an SB2 district, there is a limited window as to when those hearings can be held, but Delahanty said he would contact the budget committee with that recommendation.

Board member Michael Carney said January’s joint hearing with the town before the budget committee was a little chaotic.

“It was a difficult night and it got a little bit confusing, but all things considered, it went smoothly,” said Delahanty.

Delahanty said the major issue with holding separate hearings and votes is that limited window under SB 2 when citizen petitions are due and when the hearings are required to be held. The citizen petition deadline is the second Tuesday of January and the final votes by the budget committee must be taken by the third Tuesday of the month.

“Hearings on the articles can’t happen prior to the citizen petition deadline,” said Delahanty. “Certainly, I prefer we go on a separate night, but again, that’s not a hill that I would die on. Certainly, if it is necessary to have them on the same night for the benefit of efficiency or convenience, I’m amenable.”

School board member Bernard Campbell noted that the board could offer up its traditional Tuesday meeting date on Tuesday, Jan. 20, as a date to hold a separate hearing.

Campbell said that date would fall just within the legal guidelines established under SB 2.Delahanty said he would contact the budget committee with the possibility of holding the hearing on that date.Delahanty also noted that the deliberative session on the school articles is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 5 of next year.

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