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School board approves 0.91% increase in operating budget

January 23, 2014
WOLFEBORO — After a snow storm forced their scheduled Jan. 6 meeting to be postponed, the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board met on Wednesday evening, Jan. 15.

During the meeting a final budget hearing was held and the proposed 2014-15 budget and warrant were adopted.

Following a presentation by School Board Member and Finance Committee Chair Jack Widmer, the proposed operating budget was adopted as presented by the school board.

The proposed $47,584,277 operating budget reflects a 0.91 percent increase in the general fund and includes expanding the district's kindergarten program to a full-day and typical expense increases in areas such employee costs and health services. A significant decrease in cost in electricity costs was due to increased energy efficiency and decreased town rates combined.

"This is a very responsible budget and the lowest increase the district has had for a number of years," said Widmer after explaining that the default budget is $242,896 more than the proposed. "At the same time," he said, "it accomplishes what is needed for our youngsters."

There will be six GWRSD articles on the warrant for voters' consideration in March.

The first is to choose three school district officers; a school board member from Brookfield (three-year term), a school board member from Wolfeboro (three-year term), a school board member at-large (three-year term), and a school board moderator (one-year term).

Article Two asks voters to approve setting aside up to $60,000 in the previously established capital reserve fund for the eventual replacement of the artificial turf athletic field. With a life expectancy of approximately 12 years and a replacement cost of about $700-750,000 the board would like to avoid hitting taxpayers with a huge onetime expense by saving up little by little each year until replacement of the artificial turf field is necessary. The board is proposing again to fund the account with monies from the June 30, 2014 unreserved fund balance.

The third warrant article covers the district's capital improvements. Used to provide a safe and healthy environment for students and to protect the district's assets the board is asking to raise and appropriate $200,000.

In recent years while the Kingswood complex expansion project was occurring the district had lowered this annual article by $50,000; however, with the expansion project completed the board would like to increase the amount raised for needed and often unanticipated repairs throughout the district.

Article Four asks the district to vote to allow the school board to enter a ten-year tuition agreement with the Middleton School District for the education of Middleton students in grades 7 through 12 beginning on July 1, 2015 on such terms and conditions as the school board determines are of the best interest for the school district. (More about this warrant article in next week's paper).

Article Five asks to approve a proposed operating budget of $47,584,277. If defeated the default budget would be $47,827,173.

Article Six is for transacting any other business that legally comes before the Deliberative Session.

The school district Deliberative Session is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. in the Kingswood Arts Center. Childcare for all children no longer in diapers will be provided by the Lakes Region Technology Center Childcare Program (please call the Center at 569-4361 in advance to reserve a space and provide a snack for each child).

This meeting can be viewed in its entirety at wolfeborocommunitytelevision.com.

Martin Lord Osman
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