Wilton-Lyndeborough budget proposed at $13.8 million

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 02-01-2023 2:45 PM

The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Budget Committee voted unanimously to finalize the district’s budget for the upcoming budget hearing next week at $13.8 million, a 5.23 percent increase from the current budget.

The committee began Tuesday’s meeting by confirming cuts to the proposed budget made during a joint School Board and Budget Committee meeting on Jan. 24.

Those cuts included removing $85,000 for reduction of a science teaching position at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School.

The boards also moved $100,000 from the budget for the replacement of two boilers and pressure tanks for the district, but those purchases will still be made, paid for by the district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER grants, rather than through taxation.

Budget Committee member Adam Lavallee said he disagreed with using the ESSER funds to replace the boilers, saying he’d prefer to see the funding used to address learning loss.

Member Lisa Post pointed out that if the boilers fail, children won’t be in school at all.

The committee ultimately did not vote to put the cost of the boiler replacements back in the budget, leaving them to be paid for through grant funding.

After confirming those cuts, the budget that will be presented to the public during the upcoming budget hearing on Feb. 9 will carry a $687,731 increase from the current budget.

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Committee members said they were satisfied with that proposal, and did not move to make any further changes to the budget during Tuesday’s meeting.

“There are not a lot of households that have only gone up 5.23 percent,” said Lavallee.

The committee also reviewed proposed monetary warrant articles, although they decided to wait until after the Feb. 9 budget hearing to vote whether or not to support them.

The district has proposed adding $190,000 to the Building and Roadways Capital Reserve.

The district has traditionally requested funding for the district’s Special Education Capital Reserve, which is used to fund unanticipated expenses related to special education students, such as out-of-district tuition or an additional staff member for a student who moves into the district during the middle of the year. However, School Board representative to the Budget Committee Charlie Post said the district may not request any funding for the reserve this year, as it is already very close to the district’s $300,000 goal for that fund.

Post said he believed the School Board was “aligned” on the matter of the Special Education Capital Reserve, but there have been no votes taken specifically on whether or not to request funding for the account.

The committee also discussed a proposed $75,000 warrant article to repair cracks on the middle/high school tennis courts. Last year, the committee had agreed to put $20,000 into the district budget for removal of the courts, but brought the issue back up for discussion this year, and ultimately decided to leave the decision to the voters whether to continue repairing the courts.

The $75,000 is a placeholder based on previous quotes received by the district for repairing the cracks. Post clarified that if the article fails, the district would have the remainder of the school year to follow the original plan, and use the funds allocated in the current budget to remove the courts and turn them into a practice field for soccer.

The district has reached a three-year agreement with the Cooperative Support Staff Association for increases in salaries and benefits. The estimated increase for the coming year is $56,305, with estimated increases of $21,750 for 2024-2025, and $22,495 for 2025-2026.

The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Budget Hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooeprative Middle/High School. The snow date for the hearing is Feb. 10 at the same place and time.

Petition warrant articles must be submitted to the School Board, one of its members or the superintendent’s office by 4 p.m. on Feb. 9, signed by at least 25 registered voters of either Wilton or Lyndeborough to be included on the warrant.

The district meeting, to vote on all warrant issues except election of officers is scheduled for March 11 at 9 a.m. at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle/High School. The snow date is March 13 at 7 p.m. at the same location.

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

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