Jaffrey-Rindge School District passes budget after default year


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 03-29-2023 11:09 AM

Rindge voters opposed the Jaffrey-Rindge School District budget in a narrow vote on Tuesday, but stronger support in Jaffrey resulted in the budget’s ultimate passing, with 54.5 percent approval rating – the narrowest vote of the day for the district.

The district is currently operating under a default budget this year, after last year’s budget failed at the polls. The now-approved budget for the coming year is a total of $30.4 million.

Voters in Rindge rejected the budget proposal, but narrowly, with 384 no votes, and 366 yes votes. The gap was easily closed by Jaffrey voters,  who supported the budget with 297 yeses to 169 nos.

Rindge resident Jeff Dickler was campaigning in support of both the town and school budgets on Tuesday, saying that quality services can’t be provided on a shoestring.

Chris Ratcliffe, who was elected to the School Board to represent Rindge after Tuesday’s election, also said he was in support of the budget as it was proposed.

“I’m really hoping the budget passes this year. I think it’s fair and reasonable,” Ratcliffe said.

In the only race on the school district ballot this year, for a two-year term on the School Board, Ratcliffe beat out opponent Patrick Romanelli, with Ratcliffe garnering a total of 495 votes to Romanelli’s 217.

Ratcliffe said in his new role, his priorities will be ensuring parent and community involvement, and looking at the district’s capital planning to maintain its buildings.

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In Jaffrey, incumbent John McCarthy ran for re-election unopposed and was voted back onto the board for another three years, with 414 votes. In Rindge, incumbent Charlie Eicher was also unopposed and re-elected with a total of 612 votes.

Moderator Robert Schaumann will be back for another year as school district moderator, after running unopposed, with 396 votes in Jaffrey and 567 in Rindge.

Aside from the budget, all other items passed in both towns, and had overall at least 60 percent support.

Voters in both towns supported a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the district’s support staff union, which includes paraprofessionals, IT workers, administrative staff and janitorial staff. The contract includes estimated increases of $123,972 in 2023, $195,673 in 2024 and $202,113 in 2025.

Voters in Rindge supported the contract 430 to 322, and Jaffrey 338 to 129, for an overall support rate of 63 percent. Voters also supported an article that would have allowed for a special meeting to approve a re-negotiated contract if the previous article failed, but the passing of the agreement renders it null.

Both towns also supported adding funds to the district’s capital reserves – $400,000 for the building maintenance reserve and $150,000 for the Special Education contingency reserve, which is used when children with special needs move into the district mid-year and require additional services. The building fund is expected to be raised by taxation, and the special education reserve is expected to be taken from the current year’s leftover fund balance.

Voters in Rindge supported the building fund in a 466-284 vote, and Jaffrey in a 317-138 vote, a 65 percent passage rate.

The special education fund was approved 471 to 280 in Rindge and 346 to 109 in Jaffrey, or a 67.7 percent approval rating.

Following the district’s deliberative session, the district estimated that estimated tax change per $1,000 is $2.39 for Jaffrey and $2.49 per $1,000 for Rindge. That equates to an increase in taxes on a $250,000 home of about $597.15 in Jaffrey and $622.53 in Rindge. 


Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.