Committee approves administrative and maintenance school budgets


December 16, 2009
With little hesitation the Budget Committee approved the school board's administrative budget and operations and maintenance of facilities budget at $8,270,526 and $1,882,464 and commended board members for "doing their homework" before the meeting.

Although there were a few bumps in the road for the Gilford School District budget in terms of health insurance spikes and numbers they didn't presume as much control over, the administrative and operating budget remain tight.

The $8,270,526 number for the overall administrative budget excludes figures for the technology portion of the budget, and the operations and maintenance of facilities. Although district wide the budget is up $652,499, mainly because of insurance costs, the remainder of the budget has decreased by $531,639. Wages and benefits are at $5,908,586 with an 8.1 percent increase over last year, but a total $204,758 reduction to make it 3.8 percent without insurance costs.

Budget Committee members asked why exactly the salary line was down and Margo Weeks, chair of the School Board and Budget Committee representative, explained that the GMS and GES costs are down because there are fewer students, and that Gilford shares the costs with Gilmanton. Early retirement incentive was also another reason for the reduction.

Committee member Mark Corry noted that other costs could go down thanks to new virtual servers being used, which will take on the job of many servers.

"In the last four years it looks like you have done what you need to. It makes sense now," said Budget Committee Chairman Dick Hickock referring to the classroom and technology needs the School Board gradually introduced over the last few years.

Assistant Superintendent Scott Isabelle said the building project has been a big help in keeping the budget at a decent level, by offsetting computer lab costs at up to 40 percent. Without much of a fight, the technology portion of the budget was approved at $354,372.

In terms of the administrative budget, along with the big health insurance increases, discretionary budget stands at about $6 million said committee member Fred Butler.

"The total is reduced by $204,000 if you don't include insurance. Administration is increased by 0-2 percent rather than 3 percent, but there are no issues with wages or benefits. We didn't have any issues with the budget," said Butler.

"We talked a lot about 3 percent or 2 percent. That's a big bulk compared to the town," added Hickock. "There was some concession made there. We as a sub-committee had no problem."

Committee member Dale Dormody inquired how the flood last year did not affect insurance, and Isabelle explained that the school district is involved in a pool which has some disadvantages, but advantages in this case since their insurer picked up the cost.

Isabelle added that the new SAU office location at the vacant library and maintenance would cost about $13,000 a year with oil, water, and electricity, although they are hoping for some building aid in this case as well. The town has also agreed to replace the roof on the vacant library and remove an underground oil tank.

Hickock said it seemed that the School Board had gotten lucky when budgeting for 2010-2011 and commended them for scrutinizing the budget a year ahead of time, and approved the administrative budget portion of the budget over $8 million.

Costs under the operations and maintenance budget included utilities and fuel at $200,000 which Butler deemed as a "good thing" since costs were down $95,438 despite the 4 percent increase by PSNH. Butler added that fuel costs might also be reduced by $106,800 due to lower market prices.

Although special projects and other items under the budget ran smoothly past the committee, Dormody wanted to know why the wire prices for the LED projectors in the classrooms were so high.

Tim Bartlett, supervisor of Buildings and Grounds, explained that two different contractors are needed for this type of wiring, and that only a specific brand of copper wiring can be used to meet building standards.

Overall, the Budget Committee agreed they saw "characteristics of a tighter budget," and approved the final OMF budget slightly under $2 million.

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