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Board nixes budget committee

  • The Mascenic Regional School Board held a public hearing Monday night seeking input on its proposed budget. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) —STAFF PHOTO BY BRANDON LATHAM

  • School Board Chair Jeff Salmonson at the public hearing Monday night, Jan. 9. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) — STAFF PHOTO BY BRANDON LATHAM

  • Jeff Salmonson and  Ruthann Goguen at the public hearing Monday night. STAFF PHOTO BY BRANDON LATHAM

  • School Board member Earl Somero at the public hearing Monday night, Jan. 9. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) —STAFF PHOTO BY BRANDON LATHAM

  • School Board Chair Jeff Salmonson, Superintedent Ruthann Goguen and district business administrator Beth Baker at the public hearing Monday night, Jan. 9. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) —STAFF PHOTO BY BRANDON LATHAM



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Mascenic Regional School District’s 2017-18 budget process entered a crucial phase with its first public hearing Monday night.

The hearing featured presentations by district administrators and the school board regarding the proposed budget, default budget and various warrant articles that residents of Greenville and New Ipswich will vote on later this spring.

“We service a lot of children in this school district and the most important thing we do is try to serve them,” Superintendent Ruthann Goguen said. “The budget is one of the most important things in our school district and it’s a collaborative effort between the schools, the school board and myself.”

At the public hearing, the district presented its proposed budget of $18,719,703.29. It is $314,292.40 (1.7 percent) greater than 2016-17’s. Fifty-one percent of district costs will be covered by local taxes; the rest is from grants, the state and federal governments. The superintendent said that last year, over $1 million was returned to the taxpayers.

The largest portion of proposed spending, according to district business administrator Beth Baker, is salaries and benefits, accounting for 65 percent of the budget. Only one teaching position is proposed to be cut, a high school art teacher. Goguen said that is because of “very low enrollment numbers.”

Salaries and benefits also account for the increase in the budget from last year because of contractual pay-raises.

Two-hundred-twenty-eight-thousand dollars are being allocated for a special education contingency, in case need increases, which it has been over the past few years.

“We’re seeing an increase in needs for special education costs in our district,” according to Goguen.

No members of the public rose to address the board on the budget, but budget talk was followed by discussions of warrant articles. The board voted on whether to recommend nine items.

The first eight passed unanimously.

Article 1 is to choose new school board members and moderator. Article 2 is to raise the budget, separate from other warrants. Articles 3 and 4 are to approve and backup the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by board members Tara Sousa and Steve Spratt. Articles 5 and 6 plan for future salary increases. Articles 7 and 8 add to existing reserve funds for special education and school maintenance.

All articles are available in full at www.mascenic.org/
budget-information.

The ninth article is the only one the board voted not to recommend, doing so unanimously.

It would create a budget committee independent of the school board and school administrative unit to craft and propose a budget in future years. After submitting it, William Coffey of New Ipswich said, “Where is our money going – we’re just looking out for the taxpayer.”

School board members Steve Spratt and Earl Somero spoke in opposition to the warrant.

“We have a saying and it’s ‘Don’t create legislation where there isn’t a problem,’ ” said Spratt.

“I would not want to be in competition with another committee trying to do the same thing,” he said.

Somero supported Spratt’s statements.

“Basically, I’d just like to say that I think we would oppose the budget committee,” he said. “If you look at the [state statutes], one of the main things the school board does is recommend the budget.”

Here, a community member, Richard Eaton of Greenville, took the microphone to address his concern with the warrant article, namely that the towns would not be able to find enough interested candidates to run for the committee.

“I would recommend people who are interesting in the budget run for school board to control the budget,” he said.