Rindge could pull out of SAU47

  • Residents discuss the warrant at Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative's deliberative session on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • School Board member Jeff Clark-Kevan discusses the plan to reconstruct the parking lot at the grade schools during the Jaffrey-Rindge deliberative session on Wednesday night.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • David Drouin of Rindge reminds voters that Rindge is only proposing to study withdrawal from the district during the school’s deliberative session Wednesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Dan Whitney of Rindge questions adding an administrative position at the grade schools during Jaffrey-Rindge’s deliberative session on Wednesday.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/7/2019 12:23:01 PM

A proposal put forth by Rindge to study withdrawing from the Jaffrey-Rindge School District could have an impact on whether parking lot reconstruction at the grade schools goes through this year.

Seventy-six residents of Jaffrey and Rindge attended the district’s Deliberative Session on Wednesday, asking questions about the articles, but no amendments to the warrant were offered.

The School Board presented its plans for a $2.1 million bond to pay for parking lot renovations for both Jaffrey Grade School and Rindge Memorial School. If the bond passes, the work would begin this year – depending on the outcome of a separate vote in Rindge.

Rindge, on its town warrant, has an article requesting a study on the impacts of withdrawing from the cooperative district. If it were to pass, School Board Chair Laurel McKenzie said, whether the district will move forward with the parking lot bond would come into question. 

By law, a town that is studying withdrawing from the district is not liable for any debt contracted after the school district has been notified that a withdrawal study has been requested. That means, McKenzie said, if Rindge does decide to move forward with the withdrawal, Rindge would not be liable for the parking lot bond.

If Rindge does not pass the article requesting the withdrawal study and the district approves the bond, McKenzie said, the parking lot improvements would move forward this year. If Rindge does pass the study request, the district may hold off on the improvements, or it may decide to only take out a portion of the bond for the work on the parking lot at Jaffrey Grade School.

The article requests $52,500 for the coming year to make the first payment on the bond. If the plan moves forward as planned, it would have a 6 cent impact on the tax rate in Jaffrey and a 5 cent impact in Rindge. Because it is a request for a bond, the measure must pass by a 3/5 majority at the polls in March. 

In a separate article related to school maintenance, the district is requesting $190,000 for the repair of the roofs at the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School and the Rindge Memorial School.

School Board member Daniel Aho said the roof is leaking and causing water damage inside the schools and the work can’t be put off any longer. 

“This isn’t really an option,” Aho said. “We’re desperate.”

The budget this year is proposed at $25.4 million, almost exactly $100,000 less than the default budget of $25.5 million.

Several residents questioned staffing changes in the budget, specifically adding an assistant principal to be shared between Jaffrey Grade School and Rindge Middle School, and replacing the athletic director position with an activities director, who would administer both sports and extracurricular activities, and increasing those hours. 

Jason Boyle, a former Conant High School teacher, said the activity director was set to make more than some teachers and felt the cost was high.

Rindge resident Dan Whitney reminded the school of the recent elimination of an administrator at the middle/high school, and said it felt “like you’re putting back what you took out last year.”

Despite these objections, there was no amendment offered and the budget was moved forward to the warrant unchanged.

The district is also asking for a three-year contract agreement with Jaffrey-Rindge teaching staff. The agreement includes a salary increase of about 2.6 percent each year for the next three years. 

The increases would be $308,509 in 2019-20, $311,070 in 2020-21 and $325,123 in 2021-22.

The final article on the warrant would use undesignated funds to put aside $200,000 for acquiring property adjacent to the schools.

When asked if the district was targeting any particular plot of land, McKenzie said “targeting” was too strong a word, but the district did hope to at some point expand its playing fields. 

All articles will be voted on at the polls on March 12 at each town’s respective polling place. 


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