ConVal hammers out proposed 2018-19 budget 

  • Gail Cromwell, a Temple select board member, questioned ConVal’s default budget calculations during a public hearing on Tuesday night. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 6:1PM

One person made comment during a public hearing on ConVal’s proposed 2018-19 budget on Tuesday night. 

Gail Cromwell, a select board member in Temple, handed out a sheet of paper to school board members and administrators before she spoke. Cromwell asked the group to revisit the district’s proposed default budget, the one it will have to fall back on if the budget it wants is struck down by taxpayers in March. 

The default budget is set at about $44.9 million, or about a $725,000 reduction from the district’s proposed budget. Cromwell said administrators should be able to shave off another $198,000 from its default budget. She pointed to a paraprofessional line item that was about $140,000 higher in the default budget than in the proposed budget.  

Cromwell said she is particularly interested in the school district’s budget because it continues to rise despite a steady decline in student enrollment. 

“The school board and administrators need a constant wake up call that people can’t afford everything that you want to do,” Cromwell said.

The district’s proposed budget is expected to climb about .6 percent over the one its currently operating under. The district’s assessment, which is the amount of money that needs to be raised through taxation, is projected to spike about 5.5 percent or a difference of about $1.8 million. That’s a result of a decrease in estimated revenues across the district.

The board also held a public hearing regarding a bond/ loan it hopes to take out with the intent to revamp four science labs in the high school on Tuesday night. The project would be completed in two phases, the first would cost about $950,000, and the second that would cost about $795,000.

The borrowing impact of a bond or a loan differs depending on what town residents reside in and if taxpayers decide to select a five-year payment schedule or a ten year one. If it takes out a five-year payment, most towns would see a .10 or .11 cent increase on their taxes and a 10-year payment plan would affect taxes by .05 or .06 cents in most towns.

The labs are currently 47 years old and aren’t ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, compliant. 

A student in the audience said they heard the school could lose accreditation if the science labs weren’t renovated and asked the board if that was correct. 

Superintendent Kimberly Saunders said if the school chose to forgo redoing the labs it would be at risk of losing New England Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation. 

“If the labs weren’t completed by our next NEASC visit our accreditation would be considered … we might have some problems with that,” she said. 

Saunders said the district is not at a point to lose accreditation presently, but that “it is something to consider.”

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.