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Manchester school board sends $168m budget request to mayor

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 12. 2018 10:17PM

MANCHESTER — The school board voted Monday night to send a tax cap budget request of $168.2 million for Fiscal Year 2019 to Mayor Joyce Craig.

The vote was 12-1-1, with school board members Sarah Ambrogi, David Scannell, Mary George, Leslie Want, Dan Bergeron, Rich Girard, Ross Terrio, Jimmy Lehoux, John Avard, Katie Desrochers, Nancy Tessier, and Craig in favor. Opposed was School Board Vice Chair Art Beaudry, with member Lisa Freeman abstaining. Kelly Thomas left the room before the vote.

Finance committee members heard details on two versions of Dr. Bolgen Vargas’ FY 2019 budget proposal — a $168.2 million tax cap version, and a “needs” version that came in at $170.2 million.

Committee members were provided with a chart showing savings achieved under the proposed tax cap budget including:

• Utilizing grant dollars more effectively and efficiently, saving $170,000

• Reducing the number of of buses purchased from 10 to 5, saving $80,000

• Consider bell time changes for in-district, charter and private schools, saving $20,500

• Reallocation of special education positions through attrition, saving $22,000

• Reducing the work force by 12 positions through attrition — saving an estimated $630,000 — with the exact positions targeted for reduction to be identified based on student enrollment.

The proposed tax cap budget also includes $344,191 toward redistricting efforts.

The chart can be viewed below:

Committee members voted unanimously to recommend adopting a budget request for FY 2019 of $168,181,905 to move forward to the full board for approval. Committee members also directed school administrators to work on developing line item changes necessary to meet the tax cap number and present those changes for further review.

“I believe that it’s irresponsible for us to send a budget to the aldermen that doesn’t meet the needs of the district,” said Beaudry. “That number doesn’t include redistricting in it.”

“A portion of redistricting is included,” said Craig.

“I think we should at least send them a needs budget and work down to the tax cap budget, instead of sending them a budget that is inadequate for meeting our needs,” said Beaudry. “The $168 million doesn’t get us there. I just want to start from the top and work our way down, instead of starting and the bottom and working our way to the top.”

“My priority through this process is to make it obvious what the real cost of education in Manchester is,” said Scannell.

“I think it’s safer to go with a tax cap budget and a needs budget,” said Terrio. “I think doing it this way would strategically be better when going before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.”

Education Local and County Government Manchester

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