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District votes for one principal to lead Wilton, Lyndeborough elementary schools

  • Interim Superintendent Donald LaPlante, left, spoke to voters Friday about how a single principal might administer to the two area elementary schools, as School Board Chair Geoff Brock and Vice Chair Harry Dailey listen. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Interim Superintendent Donald LaPlante, left, spoke to voters Friday about how a single principal might administer to the two area elementary schools, as School Board Chair Geoff Brock and Vice Chair Harry Dailey listen.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Interim Superintendent Donald LaPlante, left, spoke to voters Friday about how a single principal might administer to the two area elementary schools, as School Board Chair Geoff Brock and Vice Chair Harry Dailey listen. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Voters failed a proposed amendment to the district articles of agreement and voted down funds for a second principal at the elementary school level during the district meeting Friday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

WILTON — Lyndeborough Central School and Florence Rideout Elementary School will have a new form of administration next year, after an article to raise funds to continue to employ two elementary school principals failed at the District Meeting on Friday.

The district passed the proposed district budget of $11,588,978. One resident, however, offered an amendment, which failed to garner support, to add funds to pay for a school resource officer.

The district failed to approve a change to the district’s articles of agreement, which would have given the School Board the authority to move any grade level of students between the two town’s elementary schools.

Leadership in the district’s elementary schools will be changing next year. The district voted against Article 8, which would have raised $71,971 for a second elementary principal or assistant principal position, so both Florence Rideout Elementary School and Lyndeborough Central School will be served by a single principal. The article was decided by ballot vote, and fell far short of the majority needed to pass, with 73 voters against, and only 23 in favor.

Now that the article has failed, members of the School Board explained that it is their intent to eliminate both principal positions at the elementary schools, and create a single principal position that will be split between both schools. The School Board will have to decide in the coming months on a final administrative model for when the principal is not on-site. During previous discussions, the board has spoken about designating a head teacher, or increasing administrative or nurse hours to help compensate for the lack of a full-time principal .

Budget Committee Chair Don Davidson pointed out that the Budget Committee had recommended this move as a cost-saving measure last year, and had cut $71,000 from the operating budget with the intent of eliminating a principal position. He pointed out that the ConVal School District operates with one principal for three of its schools , and that it was not an uncommon administrative situation. The schools have continued to operate with two principals, however, and the School Board decided the voters should have a say in such a large administrative change in the district.

School Board member Jim Button explained to about 100 Wilton and Lyndeborough residents gathered in the WLC Middle and High School Gym on Friday that the shrinking student population and consolidation were factors in the decision to look at making a single principal position.

Resident Jessica Cloutier spoke in favor of the article, saying, “I think our teachers go above and beyond. I’m pretty confident one strong leader could run both schools.”

Tom Schultz of Wilton proposed to add $75,000 to the budget in order to add a school resource officer in the schools. Resident Virginia Day of Wilton asked if there was any data to support a need for a resource officer, and if there were any specific instances within the district that warranted adding one. Schultz replied that the desire for a resource officer wasn’t out of any specific instance within the district, but in response to a growing trend both nationally and in New Hampshire. He also pointed out that Rance DeWare, the officer in charge in Lyndeborough, is in communication with the Lyndeborough Central School, which is the smallest of the three area schools.

Kevin Boette, a Lyndeborough Select Board member, pointed out that DeWare does spend time at the school, but is paid by the town of Lyndeborough.

Don Davidson, the chair of the district’s Budget Committee, told the crowd that adding funds to the budget wouldn’t guarantee that the funds would be used for a specific purpose, and suggested Schultz offer a petition amendment for the funds next year. The assembly failed to pass the amendment, and the budget was approved unchanged.

The district did not approve Article 5, which would have allowed the School Board to move grades between the district’s three schools at will. School Board member Dion Lewis told the crowd that the intent of the article was to allow the district to take another step in consolidation, and to allow the district to save resources and additional hires by combining small grades at the elementary school level.

While several residents spoke in favor of the article and approved of what they saw as a step towards true consolidation of the district, others expressed concerns about bussing, before and after school care and, in particular, giving the School Board the right to move classes without first getting voter approval.

Burton Reynolds of Lyndeborough said to the board, “I’m against this. I think something as important as that, you should have to come to us for permission.”

The article, which was decided by ballot vote, did get a majority vote, with 56 residents voting yes, and 45 no, but failed to obtain the two-thirds vote required to amend the articles of agreement.

Two articles proposing to use the year-end fund balance to fund capital reserve accounts passed, while a third fell short. Article 9, which asked to use $220,000 of the fund balance for the district’s building and roadway construction/reconstruction and building equipment replacement capital reserve. School Board member Harry Daily informed the crowd the fund currently has $65,000 in it.

Davidson explained that with the aging school buildings, there is a need to put significant funds away for repairs.

Boette said he would prefer to see the money returned to the taxpayers, stating that the School Board did not seem to have a designated use for the funds yet. However, the majority of voters disagreed, and the article passed in a voice vote .

The district also passed another article: $20,000 is to be added to the capital reserve for district technology advancement, and is also to be funded by the unreserved fund balance at the end of the school year. School Board member Matt Ballou explained that the School Board recommends this capital reserve hover around $20,000, and is currently at only $1,500. Voters approved the article.

A third article funding a capital reserve account did not gather enough momentum to pass, however. Article 11, which requested $50,000 from the unreserved fund balance to add to the capital reserve for special education, did not gain approval from the voters.

School Board member Fran Bujak told voters that the district can’t know how the number of students in the special education program will fluctuate in any given year, and that educating one child in the program can cost as much as a year in an ivy league college.

Dave Roemer, a member of the Budget Committee, spoke against the article, pointing out that although the Budget Committee had approved the article, he had voted against it. The fund currently has $211,000, he said, which he felt was enough padding to protect the district. “If we are looking to reduce the tax rate, this is a good place to do it,” he said.

The district approved a two-year collective bargaining agreement between the School Board and the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Support Staff Association for increases in salaries and benefits for paraprofessionals, custodial and administrative staff. The agreement allows for an increase of $15,888 for the upcoming year and $11,999 for the 2014-2015 school year.

Elections for a moderator, three members for the School Board and three members for the Budget Committee takes place today at the Wilton Town Hall at 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and at the Lyndeborough Old Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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