Apportionment, budget big topics for Jaffrey-Rindge deliberative session

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, January 29, 2018 5:27PM

The Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District will hold its deliberative session at Rindge Memorial School on Wednesday, Feb. 7 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Much focus this year will be on a warrant article asking voters to change the district’s apportionment formula by eliminating equalized property value from the district’s apportionment formula.

The district’s current formula is a 50/50 mix of each towns’ property value and average student count. The article would need a two-thirds majority to pass. 

If passed, the change would be phased in over a five-year period, starting with fiscal year 2020. Rindge is estimated to see a tax rate reduction of $1.70 per thousand, while Jaffrey is estimated to see an increase of $2.20 by the end of the phase-in. 

The call for an apportionment change began during last year’s budget cycle, when a petition article was put on the ballot to do the same thing currently being proposed.

The petition article was amended at last year’s deliberative session to establish  study committee to look at the fairness of the current formula.

The committee met throughout the summer and recommended to keep the original formula in place and credit all state aid to the district prior to apportionment, as the committee determined that the district’s apportionment formula combined with the state aid calculations were what was making apportionment unfair. 

The school board voted 5-2 in favor of moving forward with the 100-percent student count formula after hearing from legal counsel that the committee’s recommendation was not feasible. 

The proposed operating budget on this year’s warrant is $25,385,854, a .05-percent decrease over last year’s approved total of $25,397,600. This year’s default budget is $25,851,720. 

One of the most notable changes in this year’s proposed budget is the elimination of a principal position at the district’s middle/high school.

The change would reduce the number of principals at the middle and high school to three: an overarching principal for both schools and two assistant principals, one in charge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment and the other in charge of safety and culture.

Other changes include the elimination of two custodian positions, the reduction of a librarian at the middle/high school and a special education/court liaison, the replacement of a guidance counselor at the middle/high school with a social worker/family therapist, increasing a half-time music teacher at the middle/high school to full-time, and eliminating a .5 FTE nurse position at the middle/high school. 

One petition article has made its way onto the warrant this year which if passed, will change the districts super majority from a two-thirds vote to three-fifths. 

The following warrant articles will also appear on the ballot this year: electing school district officers, approving cost-related items for the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Jaffrey-Rindge Support Staff Association, authorizing a special meeting to address cost-related items if the CBA article fails; an article that makes “house keeping” changes to the district’s articles of agreement, using any surplus funds to add $250,000 to the district’s building maintenence capital reserve account, and using any surplus funds to add $100,000 to the district’s special education contingency fund. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.