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Jaffrey breaks Rindge’s tie budget vote in school district

Jaffrey voter Bill Johnson, left, checks in at the polls and gets his 2013 voting ballot at the VFW on Tuesday morning.

(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

Jaffrey voter Bill Johnson, left, checks in at the polls and gets his 2013 voting ballot at the VFW on Tuesday morning. (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

Jaffrey-Rindge School District voters approved the district’s operating budget by less than 100 votes at the polls on Tuesday. Voters also narrowly approved a two-year collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Jaffrey-Rindge Support Staff Association.

The school district’s budget of $25,228,851, which is $113,748 more than the default budget, was approved by voters 679 to 582. In Rindge, the vote on the budget tied, 466 Yes to 466 No votes, but in Jaffrey voters overwhelmingly approved the budget, 213 Yes to 116 No votes.

Supt. Jim O’Neill said by phone Wednesday that in a year when there are still a lot of financial constraints on area families, the overall vote on the budget was positive. “I want to express my appreciation to all the voters,” he said.

Rindge voters defeated a two-year contract with the district’s Support Staff Association, but Jaffrey pulled in enough votes in favor of the contract for it to pass. The article failed in Rindge by 77 votes, but was approved by Jaffrey voters, 213 Yes to 118 No votes.

The first year of the contract will cost taxpayers $60,901, and $65,209 in the second year.. The contract includes an average wage increase of 2.83 percent for approximately 80 full-time and part-time custodians, secretaries, clerical aids, library associates, information technology technicians and instructional associates.

O’Neill said he was puzzled by the vote on the contract, especially in Rindge where voters defeated it by a visible margin. “I think there was a failure in communication on our part about how critical this contract is to the folks who work so hard for us,” he said.

Voters also approved the elimination of the Building Construction Reserve Fund, and the transfer of $232,212 from that fund into the district’s main Capital Reserve Fund for future oil tank upgrades and general repairs; $50,000 to be added to the Special Education Contingency Fund; and $100,000 to be placed in the Capital Reserve Fund, provided the district has a sufficient budget surplus on June 30.

Voters cast their ballot in favor of retaining a portion or all of a budget’s year-end surplus in a separate fund to pay for unanticipated emergency expenses or to be used as a revenue source to reduce the tax rate. Money expended from the fund would have to be approved by the N.H. State Board of Education.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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