Merrimack voters say yes to all-day kindergartenBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
April 10. 2018 9:44PM
MERRIMACK — By a vote of 1,792 to 1,192, voters Tuesday approved funding for full-day kindergarten.
“We wanted the voters to speak out on full-day kindergarten and I think they did,” Andy Schneider, school board member, said after the results were announced. “We wanted the people to be clear. We didn’t want this buried in the operating budget.”
Nearly $880,000 was approved for the initiative, with the majority of the money being used to hire teaching staff and about $69,500 for the purchase of equipment for kindergarten classrooms.
Schneider stressed that the district will be reimbursed $1,100 per student for the first year of all-day kindergarten, with possibly more money being reimbursed in subsequent years — depending on Keno revenue.
“We are very optimistic. We know the opportunities that full-day kindergarten will bring to our students,” Shannon Barnes, school board chairman, said just prior to the results being tallied.
Voters also approved a school district operating budget of nearly $75 million, and a new bargaining agreement with the Merrimack Educational Support Staff that will provide $245,594 in salary and benefit increases for 2018-2019, followed by additional pay raises the next two years.
Incumbents Schneider and Cinda Guagliumi were reelected to the school board with 1,552 and 1,483 votes, respectively; opponent Jason Brodsky lost with 1,175 votes.
On the town ballot, voters supported a town operating budget of $34.5 million with a vote of 1,695 to 1,088.
Since the budget was approved, the Merrimack Police Department now has $304,000 in funding to establish a new special investigation drug unit, and $21,000 to form a deputy police chief position, which would require the elimination of one lieutenant position.
Incumbents Peter Albert, Nancy Harrington and Tom Koenig were reelected to the town council for three-year terms with 1,639, 1,844 and 1,600 votes, respectively; Opponent Jason Kimball lost with 1,116 votes.
Tom Thornton secured a one-year seat on the town council with 1,176 votes, beating out Bruce Moreau, who garnered 641 votes, and Brian Stisser, with 444 votes.
Overall, 3,010 ballots were cast during Tuesday’s local municipal election, according to Lynn Christensen, town moderator.