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District prepares for potential shortfall


May 11, 2011
Gilford School District is still considering ways to offset a potential shortfall of funds, if proposed state budget cuts are in fact passed this June.

The Gilford school system alone could face a $500,000 deficit if the state budget cuts are passed forcing the local government to contribute a larger portion of funds to the New Hampshire Retirement System.

Because of this potential shortfall in a budget that has already been approved for the coming school year, several staff positions, among other line items, are at risk to make up for the deficit.

Positions in danger of being cut next school year include the Gilford Elementary School PT clerical position ($22,900), one custodian position ($46,000), two paraprofessional positions ($86,600), and 20 percent of the technology integrator position at Gilford High School ($13,500).

In April, Assistant Superintendent of Business Scott Isabelle presented a plan to the School Board in regards to cuts in order to offset this shortfall.

At a School Board meeting this past May, Isabelle presented another plan to the board. If approved, he said the plan would allow for all four positions to be added back into the 2011-2012 budget.

The total cost to restore all five positions is $169,300. With an anticipated leftover balance in this year's district budget, Isabelle explained that certain attainable funds could be used to help save cuts approved in next year's budget.

"At this point in time, it looks like we'll have half a million left over in this year's budget. We are asking to use $169,000 to offset cuts for next year if the state's funding is reduced," said Isabelle.

He explained that the district is looking to purchase a tractor for $35,000 and a Z-Turn mower for $10,000. If the purchase is made this year, he believes the district will receive more bang for their buck.

"We are looking to purchase a tractor now instead of next school year. The sooner we trade in the old tractor, the more potential to get a better value on the trade-in," said Isabelle.

For this year, Isabelle has also proposed replacing district computers in the current school year for $95,000 also approved for next year's budget. These funds are currently located in the heating oil account, and can be transferred over for computer replacement use.

By collaboratively bidding with other local schools and towns, Isabelle explained that the district was able to save and obtain a lower cost per fall rate for oil than previously budgeted.

Funds avaliable in the fuel oil account can also be used to complete the annual gymnasium floor refinishing project in the current school year, for $9,700.

Because the district was able to negotiate a new school bus contract that eliminated the fuel surcharge included in the prior contract, an additional $31,659 has been saved under transportation costs.

Funds also available in the worker compensation account could also be used to purchase the middle school booster replacement pumps in the current school year. The district was able to negotiate a multi-year agreement with their insurance carrier. This negotiation resulted in a $10,000, which can go towards the pumps.

In addition to the items listed above, the replacement of an SAU office boiler for $7,600 and SAU ceiling replacement for $2,000 can also be finished in the current school year, using the available $9,600 in funds currently in the fuel oil account.

"So basically, you are asking to spend half of the projected surplus," said Chairman of the School Board Kurt Webber at the end of the presentation.

While the district is looking to avoid layoffs if cuts must be made, School Board member Paul Blandford said he would be more comfortable with the proposal if items were not directly tied to actual positions within the school system.

In addition to the seven main items discussed during the presentation, Isabelle also informed the board that by the end of 2012, T-12 florescent lights, currently used in the elementary school, will no longer be manufactured. All light fixtures at GES will have to be replaced and upgraded to Super T-8 lights. This upgrade would cost $77,000, and is not included in the 2011-2012 budget.

Garnet Hill
Martin Lord Osman
Penny Pitou
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