ConVal board OKs proposed budget increase 

  • ConVal select board members voted on the proposed 2018/ 2019 budget during a regular school board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2017. The proposed budget would increase .62 percent from the one it's currently operating under. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, January 04, 2018 8:31AM

ConVal school board members voted to increase its proposed 2018-2019 budget by .62 percent.

Superintendent Kimberly Saunders presented two options of the proposed budget to the board during a regular meeting on Tuesday night.

The main difference between the two proposed budgets, which are referred to as “Version 7” and “Version 8”, is the amount of money the district would pull from a health-insurance trust fund.

In “Version 7,” which is the version the board approved, administrators didn’t budget to maximum exposure for the guaranteed maximum rate of health insurance. Saunders said instead they took the line down a little knowing that the guaranteed maximum rate may come in lower, which has been the case in the last couple of years. If not, she said, the district would look to other funding sources, most likely a health insurance maintenance trust.

Saunders said, “Version 8” of the budget would have increased the proposed budget by .4 percent. Saunders said if the board had decided to go along with Version 8, it would almost guarantee that the district would need tap into health maintenance funds.

Saunders said the district is facing a decrease in enrollment, which affects the state revenues it receives.

“I can honestly tell you I think this is about as low as we can go,” Saunders said after she presented both versions of the budget to the board. “... We worked really hard to try to bring this in at zero, we just couldn’t without going deeper and cutting programs and additional staff members this is probably about the best we can do.”

School board vice chair Rich Cahoon voiced support for Version 7 of the budget before the board voted.

“I’m not sure that the difference between .62 (percent) and .4 (percent) increase is worth almost certainly having to access the trust fund,” Cahoon said before the board voted.

Saunders said the default budget was drafted using the one the district is currently operating under, plus a few items that were added in. She said if taxpayers vote to implement the proposed default budget, administrators will have to sit down and figure out how to make cuts.

“We’re really going to have to look at ancillary programs,” Saunders said during the meeting.

Partnerships between the district and places like the Cornucopia Project and the Harris Center could be on the chopping block.

“Not to say those programs aren’t important, but we would have to take a really hard look at those programs,” she said.

Public hearing 

The school board will hold a public hearing regarding renovations to the high school’s science labs.

Discussion at the public hearing will revolve around how many labs the district will be able to complete and how it will fund that project. The district is proposing to pay for the project through a combination of dipping into reserves and taking out a bond or loan that it will have to pay back over a number of years.

Taxpayers will have to vote on whether to dip into the district’s reserves and if it can take out a bond or a loan for the project.

The hearing will happen on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. A regular school board meeting will follow at 7:15 p.m.