Inter-Lakes budget proposes fractional increase


January 19, 2011
MEREDITH — A fractional increase is proposed for this coming year's budget as officials weigh enrollment and the aftereffects of last year's budget process.

On Monday, the Inter-Lakes School Board took advantage of the school holiday to meet with administrators and discuss this year's proposed budget in a nearly six-hour workshop.

The proposed budget for the 2011/2012 school year is $20,165,691, an increase of $1,652, or about .08 percent, over this year's voted budget. The initially proposed budget was $20,202,691, an increase of $38,652 or .19 percent, but an additional $37,000 in cuts was made during the meeting.

One year ago, board members and administration proposed deep cuts to keep to a proposed 1.25 percent increase. Nearly $800,000 was then added by voters from the floor to reinstate all of the cuts. This year board members did not propose a particular percentage, but aimed to provide a level of education for the students at a minimal cost.

Superintendent Phil McCormack said the budget reflects that, addressing changes in enrollment and the known needs of students.

McCormack said at last Tuesday's School Board meeting that he is "very, very pleased" with the work by administrators to get such numbers.

This year's budget factors in a 14 percent maximum guaranteed increase in the health plan and a 14 percent increase in the New Hampshire Retirement System.

McCormack said the changes in the retirement system are one area where the board needs to get more politically involved. Another roundtable discussion between the Boards of Selectmen from all three towns and school officials is being scheduled, the focus of which will be on legislation and state impacts.

"The more they hear the fact that municipalities and school districts cannot accept that scenario, they've got to hear that time and time again," McCormack said.

There is a 2 percent increase for non-bargaining and administrative personnel. It does not include funding for the collective bargaining agreement with the Inter-Lakes Education Association, which will be a separate warrant article.

The district was also asked by the town of Meredith to increase its contribution for the school resource officer, an amount to increase by 10 percent.

The budget is phasing in items that were cut last year including a $2,500 allocation for library books, which is being funded at 50 percent this year.

Inter-Lakes Elementary School Principal Steve Kelley said enrollment has been stable at his school, but there is expected to be a drop in the number of kindergarteners. Kelley recommended cutting one first grade teacher position and merging a section of the kindergarten class into first grade.

Kelley also recommended that one paraeducator position be cut as well.

The vote from the floor that reinstated funds last year also called for the return of two paraeducator positions at the Middle Tier. Assistant Superintendent Patricia Temperino said those two positions were determined to not be needed and no one was hired for them. Those positions will remain out of the budget this year.

In this budget, the drug and alcohol counselor will no longer be a contracted position and will be taken by someone already working in the guidance office. Temperino said a person recently hired to fill a guidance position has taken that role, working as a drug and alcohol counselor for three days a week and a guidance counselor for two days.

The athletic director position will be its own full time position. Current Athletic Director Anne Galligan has had the position at .67 and the remaining .33 as a social studies teacher. Galligan is retiring in June and the Athletic Director position will go to one full time, non-bargaining position. A remaining .67 of a position will go to that teaching position combined with another advanced placement class.

The board took an additional $35,000 out of the budget during the workshop to reinstate the furlough day that was put in place last year during budget discussions. This $35,000 will not be appropriated by the district but will come from its share of federal Education Jobs funding. Another $2,000 that had been budgeted for caps and gowns was also cut. The amount was cut last year and Temperino said the decision was made not to include that figure this year.

Any further discussion on the budget will take place at the Jan. 25 school board meeting, where the board will vote on the budget that will go to the public hearing scheduled for Feb. 7.

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