WLC budget similar to proposal voters trimmed last year

  • Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle/High School Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/6/2021 5:20:06 PM

The Wilton-Lyndeborough Budget-Committee is closing in on a final number for its 2021-22 budget, expected to be a similar number to the district’s proposed number for last year – a budget which was cut by more than $400,000 by voters.

The current budget is being finalized, and the current draft is about $13.04 million.

Budget Committee member Adam Lavallee said the district is still finalizing some items, including the possible extension of hours for a middle school counselor, but said the budget is “very close” to its final number.

The budget is similar to the proposal made by the district last year, a number which didn’t get traction among voters, who eventually passed a budget of $12.64 million, after voting 135-90 to reduce the district’s proposed number by $411,444.

In the same year, in a separate warrant article, voters also agreed to a $114,834 increase in salaries and benefits for teachers.

Lavallee said budget growth in the district has been very modest in recent years, particularly considering some of the expansions such as full-day kindergarten and the consolidation of the district’s elementary schools.

“We’re at about an average of 1 percent per year,” Lavallee said. “Which is very low spending growth.”

Lavallee said the proposed budget is conservative, and perhaps too conservative when considering the potential lingering impacts of remote learning on students that elected for that option this year. He said its likely some students will need more support next year.

One of the issues still outstanding in the budget is a middle school counselor, which the district is considering increasing from part-time to full time. The cost of increasing the position to full time would increase the budget by about $46,583, mostly attributed to the addition of benefits.

Contracted serves for counseling or the cost to hire a social worker for the district are estimated at about $59,160.

Lavallee said he personally would support additional funding for more social service supports or paraprofessionals to assist children who were behind due to the circumstances of the 2020-21 school year.

“I believe it’s a little short if we’re going to be giving thorough, quality education, but I know our teachers always do the best with what they are given, and I don’t know if the community would support an increase,” Lavallee said.

The School Board and Budget Committee are preparing for the district budget hearing, scheduled for Feb. 4, which will include new collective bargaining agreements for both teachers and the district’s support staff.

Negotiations are still ongoing for a new collective bargaining agreement between the School Board and Teacher’s Association, and the district has yet to settle on either a length of the contract or salary increases.

A two-year agreement has been reached for the school’s support staff. If approved by voters, support staff salaries and benefits would increase by a total of $24,148 in 2021, and $19,546 in 2022. The increase would represent an estimated 4 cent tax impact in Lyndeborough and a 5 cent impact in Wilton.

The district is currently only proposing two other monetary warrant articles, both of which would add funds to capital reserve accounts. The first would raise $160,000 to be added to the building/equipment and roadway capital reserve. The other is for $100,000 for the educating educationally disabled children capital reserve, which is used when a child with special needs moves into the district and requires services the district did not budget for.

The final warrant is scheduled to be presented to voters during a budget hearing on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle/High School.

In other district news, the School Board has begun its process to search for a replacement for Superintendent Bryan Lane, who is retiring at the end of the year.

The Wilton-Lyndeborough School Board has appointed three School Board members to establish a search committee. The members appointed are Charlie Post, Tiffany Cloutier-Cabral and James Kofalt. The sub-committee plans to begin meeting next week to establish a full search committee including other district stake-holders, and set a meeting schedule.

 

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




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