Mascenic moves proposed budget forward 

  • The Mascenic school board met for a regular meeting Monday night. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:39PM

The Mascenic school board voted on its Fiscal Year 2019 budget during a regular meeting Monday night.

The proposed budget is set to come in at $19,287,637. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which the district is currently operating under, was voted in as $17,859,303, although the budget, which comprises the general fund, food services, and grant funds, sits at  $19,075,303.

Built into the proposed budget are voter-approved raises for teachers and paraprofessionals, and increases in insurance and energy costs. School Board Chair Jeff Salmonson said those raises are the biggest contributor to the projected budget increase.

The upcoming budget includes adding one additional position and increasing three positions from part-time to full-time.

“The board’s next challenge will be to explain the budget to the taxpayers so that they can continue to support Mascenic education,” Salmonson said.

That might be a hard sell this time around due to increases in tax rates, especially in Greenville, who’s 2017 tax rate is set at $31.08, a 28 percent increase from last year’s rate. The Ledger-Transcript reported the hike is due, in large part, to the town’s portion of the tax rate, which climbed from $8.40 in 2016 to $14.45 this year, or a 72 percent spike.

School board members have agreed to spend somewhere in the range of $17,000 to buy Chromebooks for certain departments within the high school. On Monday, the board voted in a close 3-2 vote to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of an additional $17,000 in order to provide laptops for its third-grade students.

“We are quickly moving into a world where we aren’t using textbooks,” interim superintendent Stephen Russell said during the meeting.

And while all members of the school board agreed that expanding the number of laptops in the district is important, some expressed concern about the burden it places on taxpayers.

“Is it fair to ask taxpayers to pay for two sets of Chromebooks?” school board member Rachel Anderson asked during the meeting. Salmonson said he thought more information needed to be gathered before the board voted to implement laptops in third-grade classrooms.

Despite the two dissenting votes, the motion passed.

The district’s default budget culls about $320,000 from the proposed budget. Salmonson if the default budget were to be implemented, the district wouldn’t be able to hire on additional positions or add hours to a few part-time positions. The district also wouldn’t be able to expand Chromebooks to additional grade levels under the default budget.

Board votes to extend interim superintendent position 

School board members also voted to extend Russell’s interim superintendent position for an additional year.

The district’s previous superintendent Ruthann Goguen informed the board she would be resigning to assume a new position in Massachusetts earlier this year. The district then launched a search that pulled in a dozen of respondents, which were later whittled down to a pool of five. Russell was hired in June.

More recently, Salmonson said the board discussed the possibility of Russell staying on another year. Russell indicated he would be interested.

Russell’s 2018-2019 contract is $127,000.

The benefits of keeping Russell on board include retaining “a very strong candidate” with years of experience and would buy the board more time with its search to find a permanent leader for the district.

“I think this is a great thing, it provides continuity for our staff and our students,” Anderson said.