Voters approve enrichment, music positions
Amended budget also approved at Barnstead School District Meeting
March 23, 2011BARNSTEAD — An amended school budget and funding of the enrichment and music programs were among the warrant articles approved at the Barnstead School District meeting on Saturday, March 19, at Barnstead Elementary School.
Article 17 originally included a budget for the school district of $10,798,559.31, which included $3,480,254.43 for Prospect Mountain High School.
School board member Eunice Landry introduced an amendment to reduce the budget by $54,509.41 and reduce the bottom line to $10,744,049.90.
The Evergreen Law, which required teachers to receive the step raises, was recently repealed. The amendment represented the amount that would have been received by the teachers with their step raises.
The Barnstead teachers are currently without a contract. According to a legal opinion that the school board received, they are no longer required to give the teachers the step raises. Landry said the Evergreen Law got in the way during the negotiations for a new teachers' contract.
Judy Chase brought forward a second amendment proposing to take the reduction in the budget from the salary lines of the principal and the superintendent.
School board chairman Keith Couch said that if this amendment passed it would be advisory only.
Chase's amendment failed by a vote of 68 to 67, and the amendment that Landry proposed passed.
Rick Simoneau proposed an amendment to reduce the budget by $84,481, which is the cost of the enrichment and music programs at BES that was approved earlier in the meeting in a pair of warrant articles.
The amendment failed, and the article passed with a bottom line budget totaling $10,744,049.90.
Article 10 raises and appropriates $64,442 for the purpose of funding the math and reading enrichment programs at BES.
Teacher Linda Nelson explained the importance of challenging students through the enrichment programs.
Chase questioned why this program was removed from the budget and addressed as a warrant article.
"We cannot let this go," Chase said.
It was reported there are approximately 30 students in the program. Simoneau stressed the importance of providing the students an education and that the cost per student in the enrichment program is comparable to the normal cost per student.
The article was debated back and forth, but after a motion was made to move the question, it passed.
Article 11 raises and appropriates $22,649 for the purpose of funding a part-time music teacher at BES.
Priscilla Tiede and Shawn White pointed out how removing this position would affect the band and chorus programs.
If the position was unfunded, Greg Neveu may have been taken away from working with the chorus and the band.
School board member Kathy Preston talked passionately about the program, and the article was approved.
"Music fuels the soul of these children," Preston said.
Articles 19 and 20, petition articles focused on funding the enrichment and music programs, were withdrawn later in the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Landry expressed her gratitude to Couch and his six years of service on the board.
"He will sorely be missed," Landry said.
Article 2, fixing the salaries and compensation of officers of the school district, was approved without discussion.
Article 3 raises and appropriates $171,680 for the BES School Lunch Program and was approved.
Chase commended the lunch program and thanked the school for removing ice cream at lunch. She asked the district to look into using the cafeteria at PMHS for support and voiced concerns on using Styrofoam trays.
Article 4 raises and appropriates $50,000 to be added to the Building Maintenance Fund. The monies will come from the fund balance and bring the total in the fund to $94,421, and the article was approved.
Article 5 raises and appropriates $15,000 to be added to the Underground Tank Replacement Fund.
Simoneau spoke against the article and asked people to consider voting on articles supporting education and nothing else. The article was approved, and a motion made to reconsider the article later in the meeting failed.
Article 6 raises and appropriates $28,000 for the purpose of removing asbestos in BES.
George Krause asked what percentage of the project is complete.
Diane Beijer, the vice chair of the school board, said the remaining areas left are the alternative room, the cafegymatorium and three classrooms in the A wing. Couch estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the work is complete.
Beijer explained that this article would be paying for the three classrooms in the A wing this summer, and that the cost of removing asbestos from the cafegymatorium down the line would have considerable cost.
A suggestion to postpone the removal for one year was brought forward, but the article was approved by a vote of 68 to 64.
Article 7 raises and appropriates $33,000 for the purpose of replacing furniture in BES.
Couch explained that the board took it out of the budget to give people the option of considering it. It is the final cycle of a multi-year plan and would allow the school to enter a period of maintenance when it comes to furniture.
Kristine Jannini pointed to the benches and tables that are fixed with duct tape and asked that this article be approved so repairs can be made.
Furniture in grades two and five would also be replaced with funds from this article. Couch said that school could survive if this article isn't approved and was asked if $10,000 would pay for the tables and benches that need to be replaced.
Couch said $10,000 would pay for that equipment and an amendment was proposed and approved to change the amount from $33,000 to $10,000.
Kathy Grillo, the school nurse, reported that no injuries have come through the use of equipment and asked that money be put towards programs at the school, and the article was defeated.
Article 8 raises and appropriates $27,500 for the purpose of purchasing technology equipment for BES.
Couch said the money raised would pay for 30 computers in the lab, four new Smart Boards and 20 new monitors that would replace the old tube style monitors.
Chase questioned purchasing new equipment when the school doesn't have a full-time technology coordinator, a position that the board eliminated in the recent years, which could teach classes to the students.
Couch said he would like to add to the technology role down the line. The school currently has a half-time network administrator, and he said the school has cut down the hours but has increased the skills brought to the school. The article was approved by a vote of 93 to 55.
Article 9 raised and appropriates $40,000 to establish a contingency fund to meet the cost of unanticipated utility expenses at BES during the fiscal year 2012.
Couch spoke in support of the article and pointed to a similar article that is set up for PMHS. He said if the article isn't approved, money would have to come from elsewhere.
Gordon Preston spoke in support of the article and said energy costs could go through the roof. The article was approved.
Article 12 raises and appropriates $22,649 for the purpose of leasing property located at 96 Maple St.
Couch explained that it would be a lease to purchase option, with the town or school acquiring the property, and it was more than just having the parking lot.
Elaine Swinford suggested that a better option of parking would be near the ball field.
Simoneau spoke against the article, pointing to the town collecting $4,649 in taxes from the church property.
Gordon Preston asked how one-third of an acre of land could be used to improve education, and the article was defeated.
Article 13 raises and appropriates $15,000 to add to the Improvement of Instruction Fund.
The article required passing of a similar article in Alton, with $15,000 being contributed, but the article failed in Alton.
Landry said the purpose of this article is to build up the fund and that no money was spent from the fund last year, and the article was defeated.
Article 14 raises and appropriates $35,283.49 to be added to a contingency fund to meet the cost of unanticipated utility expenses at PMHS during the fiscal year 2012.
The article is contingent upon Alton contributing to the fund, which was approved, and Article 14 was approved.
Article 15 raises and appropriates $20,000 to be added to the PMHS General Maintenance Fund. The article is contingent on Alton contributing $20,000 to the fund, which was approved, and Article 15 was approved, bringing the balance in the fund to $140,000.
Article 16 raises and appropriates $13,800 to fund a Wind Power Feasibility Study at PMHS. The article is contingent upon Alton contributing $13,800 for the study, which was approved.
Chuck Stewart, the business administrator at PMHS, said a temporary tower would be erected to collect data as part of the study.
Bruce Grey suggested that money should be used to help dig a new well at PMHS to help fix issues with the arsenic abatement system.
Beijer said there are plans to fix the water issues using the Building Maintenance Fund.
Nancy Carr asked if the school is zoned for a wind tower, and Beijer said it would be addressed in the study.
Stewart said it would take between nine and 11 years to recoup the costs of erecting a wind tower. He said the tower should have a life of between 20 and 25 years.
The town paid for a pre-feasibility study last year, and it was pointed out that not approving this study would waste money spent on the previous study. The article was approved by a vote of 100 to 56.
Article 18, creating a SAU Services Study Committee, was approved.
Article 21, a petition article, was withdrawn because the plan to spend $391,000 for a new parking lot had already been scrapped by the school board.
Couch was once again thanked for his six years spent on the board, where he didn't take his salary.
Landry pointed out that several members on the board don't accept salaries and donate the money elsewhere. She pointed to the new curtains in the cafegymatorium as an example.
Tim Croes can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126