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Wakefield School Board gets last-minute budget requests

December 30, 2010
WAKEFIELD — After multiple meetings and careful review the Wakefield School Board has finalized its 10 warrant articles for voter's consideration in March, including a budget totaling $8,818,933.

Despite having held a special meeting to address 2011/12 budget issues, the board was met with some last-minute increase requests and unanticipated maintenance costs resulting in a nearly $20,000 increase in the areas of building maintenance and salary.

At its regularly-scheduled meeting held Dec. 15, member of the public, Steve Brown, took the opportunity to question the board on portions of the proposed budget. He asked about the $2,500 needed for the repair of the two expansion tanks on the boilers of which the Board had recently received notification from the New Hampshire Department of Labor that they were non-compliant and need to be replaced immediately. The estimated cost of $2,500 per tank included materials and labor.

School Board Jan Gagnon clarified that the $2,500 was just an estimate and that bids would be required to make sure the school gets the most competitive price possible.

Additionally Brown asked about the tentative pricing noted for the roof warrant article. His concern was that the school would be a target for inflated pricing because it would be a public project. Board member Judy Nason assured him that the board was aware of the issue and would monitor the pricing and secure bids on each section.

Old business

Gagnon related that after tailing the district's school buses for six days to observe operational behavior, she found no problems. Since problems were observed earlier in the term, District Transportation Coordinator Tim Eldridge has been working with the police who watch and advise him of anything they see, though Eldridge said he believes has a good group of drivers.

A revision of the bus policy is expected to receive final approval at the board's next meeting. The document will be incorporated in a rewritten handbook and letter that will go to students and parents for the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.

New Business

A certified teacher may have been found to provide GED tutoring for Wakefield students at the Gafney Library; however, funding for such a program is questionable. Whether there is any state- or federal-level special funding for Alternative Learning Plans remains a mystery though Scott Reuning, the Special Education Director, said that there might be a reimbursement program, but that requests would need to come from Rochester. The institution providing high school education is responsible for the funding of such programs and in Wakefield's case this would be Rochester. This brought about further confusion as to how Wakefield can make sure Rochester is doing what it needs to do in the interest of Wakefield alternative learners and which institution would receive the reimbursement funds, wanting to make sure that Rochester does not get paid twice for a student, rather than reducing Wakefield's tuition expense.

The school board reviewed an air quality report supplied by the Scott Lawson Group. While the air was found to be a bit dry with a small amount of cat dander present, overall the air quality was found to be good. Gagnon suggested that the Facilities Committee look into increasing the humidity. Nason assured the committee would review the report and make any recommendations it found appropriate.

Superintendent Gail Kushner brought forth a Memorandum of Understanding between the Paul School and Appalachian Mountain Teen Project (AMTP) for signing. While AMTP has been in existence at the school for several years now, the document is new. Kushner explained that AMTP helps develop long-term relationships with Paul School students and their parents, sponsors courses for parents, and raises money to fund their work. She said that since 1984, the project has raised $280,000, and worked with 66 students. The board authorized Kushner to sign the Memorandum.

Wakefield School Board members will meet again after the New Year on Wednesday, Jan. 5 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Paul School library.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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