Roundtable discusses school district, state budgets
November 17, 2010
MEREDITH — A roundtable of boards of selectmen is turning its attention to working with the state legislature as well as discussing issues with the Inter-Lakes School District.
Selectmen from Meredith, Center Harbor, and Sandwich met at the Meredith community center on Wednesday with officials from the Inter-Lakes School District, their second meeting on school district issues.
Assistant Superintendent Patricia Temperino gave a presentation of the apportionment formula. The formula follows state law, though Temperino said aspects can be changed after a vote at school district meeting and approval from the Department of Education.
The apportionment formula combines Average Daily Membership by students from each town with Department of Revenue Administration equalized values for each town to create a combined percentage. Center Harbor and Sandwich each account for around 14 percent of the apportionment with Meredith accounting for around 71 percent.
The combined percentage is calculated with the district's yearly apportionment, or appropriations less revenues, to calculate apportionment for each community.
Temperino said numbers fluctuated based on the increase in assessed value for Sandwich and Center Harbor and a decreased assessed value for Meredith.
Other factors were calculated for each town, such as a Forest Land Grant for Sandwich and an Adequacy Grant for Meredith.
Meredith Board Chair Chuck Palm asked if towns could adjust numbers reflecting new expenses, using the example of if Meredith wanted to put in a swimming pool. Temperino said those kinds of cost adjustments could not be done given the nature of the school and town budgets.
When asked about the budget process, Temperino said it was too early to give any concrete predictions. Superintendent Phil McCormack said the district is facing a loss in revenue from the state. One of the hardest hit areas is the state picking up 80 percent of tuition for programs at the Huot Technical Center, resulting in a shortfall of $35,000 to the Inter-Lakes District.
McCormack urged selectmen to speak with their representatives about this issue.
"This isn't the way business ought to be done," McCormack said.
Temeprino also said the district was told its maximum increase in health insurance for this year would be 14.1 percent.
"We are constantly reevaluating how we can get better healthcare premium rates," Temperino said.
Mark Flanders of Meredith said the School Board did come to the voters with a much lower budget and the increase was the result of the voters.
"Show up at the meeting and vote for a more reasonable budget," Flanders said.
McCormack said the School Board did not ask that a specific percentage be maintained or reduced.
"Be cognizant of economic times, provide the program that is necessary to maintain the quality that we have in the Inter-Lakes schools," McCormack said of the direction given.
Flanders said there are services the district provides that it is not obligated to that the towns could provide. One example would be transportation for the high school students, which is not required by state law, and he asked if it would be feasible for a town like Meredith to pick up the cost.
Temperino said such decisions needed to be voted on by the district as a collective. She said it would be feasible if public transportation were available, but that expense could not be counted otherwise as the school and town budgets are separate.
Members of each board said their respective towns have been having many of the same issues with regards to the economy and the loss of state revenue.
Another discussion was where the work of the roundtable ended and the work of the school board began and what matters should have been left for the school board.
"I think there is a lot to be gained by the three communities and the school board getting together," said Meredith selectman Colette Worsman.
Sandwich Selectman Bud Martin said, while he feels the jurisdiction of the roundtable over the district is limited, he would be in favor of joint meetings between the towns whether about the school district or other municipal topics.
"It's a meaningful opportunity," Martin said.
Palm suggested possibly having a meeting with legislators to address issues, a suggestion McCormack said would be "more than appropriate."
The group discussed meeting again in January when budget season is in full swing, but Worsman, who was recently elected as a state representative, said most bills would just have a name by then and would not have been discussed. Martin said titles of interest could be identified and the discussion could take place early.
The form and purpose of the group itself will be discussed as discussions continue.