Dispelling fact from fiction come voting time

The objective of the School Board is to design a budget that supports our students and communities by offering a quality, educationally focused, fiscally responsible budget.

The Board spends many hours working on the budget. The process can always improve and as each new Board is seated, new ideas are surfaced and new approaches discussed and implemented. Many issues are discussed and debated by the citizens of the ConVal District, but it would help to sort out fact from fiction as we move forward.

Budget fiction: We need to cut more staff and administrators because enrollment is down and we have a bloated administration.

Budget fact: Since 2010 student enrollment is down 16 percent and staffing is down 13 percent. Administration is hardly ballooning; in 1986 we had 26 administrators and 2,195 students, and in 2013 we had 24 administrators and 2,397 students.

Budget fiction: The board controls all of the expenses and revenues that make up the school tax portion of your property tax, which is over 70 percent of your tax bill.

Budget fact: We do control many costs for the operation of the district, and that portion, the operating budget, is up on average of only 1.07 percent over the last six years.

Budget fact: NH Dept. of Revenue data shows that the local education rate for ConVal towns was an average of 54 percent. State education tax rates are controlled by the state.

Budget fact: Revenues are down. The state of NH has pushed the cost of pensions to the towns and schools, and these funding gaps must be made up at the local level. This is what contributes to the portion of the budget that has increased, but is out of any local control. If you are mad as hell, and you should be, call your state rep. and state senator.

Budget fact: The state developed the funding formula used to set the tax rate. It factors in the average daily membership, (ADM) the amount of students from a given town, as well as the equalized value of property in a given town. The Board has no way of mitigating low or high property values or low or high ADM for the towns. Let’s try and discuss the budget facts and leave the fiction at the door. We look forward to engaging our fellow district residents at our deliberative session on Feb. 5, and thank you for your continued support.

Stewart Brock of Francestown is Vice Chair of the ConVal School Board. This piece was also written on behalf of School Board Chair Butch Estey of Peterborough, Budget and Property Committee Chair Matthew Craig of Sharon and Education Chair Crista Salamy of Antrim.

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