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One change made to Alton school Warrant

February 09, 2011
ALTON — Only a handful of residents made it to the Prospect Mountain High School auditorium for the Alton School District Deliberative Session on Saturday, Feb. 5.

In addition to the members of the Alton School Board, the administration at Alton Central School and Alton Budget Committee, 37 people signed in.

There was only one amendment to a warrant article passed during the deliberative session.

This amendment was brought forward by Dave St. Cyr. He suggested that the bottom line budget be increased by $30,000 to $12,979,663. The reason for this is to make up for the money that the budget committee eliminated from the snow plowing budget at Alton Central School.

"They [the budget committee] can't tell the school board how to spend their money," St. Cyr said.

Steve Miller, the chairman of the budget committee, defended the actions, saying it was done to send a message to the school board on paying for an architecture project.

The Alton School Board approved paying Chip Krause of CMK Architects $30,000 for architectural services without putting the contract out of for bid.

Miller claimed that this payment violated school board policy.

Barbara Lowman, the attorney for the school board, spoke to public and claimed that the board did nothing unlawful by not putting the contract out for bid.

The motion was moved for a vote and received the necessary two-thirds vote to pass.

Chairman Jeff St. Cyr gave his state of the school address and highlighted improvements at ACS, including new windows, lighting and improvements to the bathrooms.

Miller addressed the public as the chairman of the budget committee.

"I feel the budget committee's feelings represent the taxpayers' best interests," Miller said.

Article 2, fixes the salaries of the school board and compensation for school officers, and there was no discussion on the article.

Article 4, which raises and appropriates $150,000 to be added to the Buildings and Ground Expendable Trust and requires a public hearing whenever the funds are expended, garnered no objections.

Article 5 establishes a contingency fund of $60,000 for unanticipated utilities and makes the school board agents to expend the funds. Dave St. Cyr asked if Alton was in a co-op to buy oil.

School board member Lynda Goosens said that the district is already a member of a co-op.

Article 6 establishes $36,015 to pay for increased salaries and benefits for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Jeff St. Cyr explained that the article establishes a contract between the Alton School District and the Alton Teachers' Association that will run from July 1, 2011, and expire on June 30, 2012.

Miller noted that he is disappointed by the recent NECAP scores at ACS but the committee approves the one-year contract that won't be affected by "Evergreen Law."

Article 7 authorizes the school board to hold a meeting to address cost items if Article 6 fails, and no objection to the article was raised.

Article 8 raises and appropriates up to $50,000 to be placed in the Building and Grounds Expendable Trust and received no objections.

Article 9 places $135,000 in a Roof Expendable Trust. Dave St. Cyr questioned if the majority of the funds would be used for renovation at the school and that was confirmed.

Article 10 establishes $10,000 for the Parking Lot Paving Expendable Trust.

Miller questioned the article and called it premature, claiming putting in a parking lot and then ripping it up two years later would be pointless.

Jeff St. Cyr said the funds would be used for repairs to the current parking lot and the possible expansion in the near future.

Barbara Howard, a member of the budget committee, questioned a previous window project where leaks were found in the windows.

Jeff St. Cyr replied, saying the leaks were quickly fixed and on projects like the windows, sometimes it takes time to get something right.

Howard then claimed that the school not getting things right the first time is displayed in the recent NECAP scores.

Article 11 establishes $10,000 to be put in a Facilities Truck Expendable Trust. The plan is to add $10,000 for the next three years and then an additional $5,000 in the fourth year to buy a new truck that will replace the 2001 Chevrolet Silverado that the school currently has. There were no objections to the article.

Article 12 establishes $30,000 to be added to the Bathroom Refurbishment Fund and received no objections.

Article 13 establishes $40,000 to be added to the Windows Replacement Fund. School member Sandy Wyatt spoke on the article and said that the monies will be used to replace old windows throughout the school.

Miller said the budget committee objects to the article based on the type of windows and the cost.

Jeff St. Cyr pointed out that the Capital Improvement Plan approved the funds for the project.

Article 14 establishes $20,000 for the Alton Professional Development Fund, and Article 15 establishes $15,000 for the Improvement of Instruction Fund at Prospect Mountain High School.

Neither article received objection from the public.

Article 16 establishes $33,656.50 to be put in a contingency fund for unanticipated utility expenses at PMHS. Barnstead will also contribute (if voters approve) to bring the total fund to $68,940. The article received no objections from the public.

Article 17 adds $20,000 to a non-lapsing capital reserve fund to be known as the PMHS General Maintenance Fund. Barnstead will also contribute $20,000 (if approved by voters) to the fund, and there were no objections from the public.

Article 18 is to raise and appropriate $13,800 for a Wind Power Feasibility Study. Barnstead voters will vote on contributing an additional $13,800 to bring the fund total to $27,600.

Raymond Howard claimed that he has seen these towers in person and claimed that they are very noisy.

Bob Longabaugh asked Miller why he objected to the study.

Miller voiced his personal objection to the study, staying the price is too much and returns aren't enough.

Chuck Stewart, the business administrator at PMHS, talked about the project. Stewart explained that a tower will be raised and data will be collected to determine if the project would return the investment.

If the winds are high enough, according to Stewart, the tower could pay for itself in 10 or 11 years, and then the district could start earning tax credits, starting to turn the meter in reverse.

Jeff St. Cyr addressed the claim by Miller that Alton had only a verbal contract with Krause. St. Cyr pointed out that the school board and Krause signed a contract in June of 2005.

Dave St. Cyr questioned what happens with surplus that the school board has at the end of a fiscal year.

Jeff St. Cyr explained that the funds aren't returned directly to the town, but that the school tax rate is reduced by the surplus.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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