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January 17, 2014

posted Jan 22, 2014, 5:09 AM by jmarcotte@sau4.org
Dear Parents and Guardians,

 It was great to see many of you at our winter concert Wednesday night! With Deliberative Session coming up in a few weeks, I thought I would take some time to inform you of where things stand after our annual budget process. Since September, the School Board and Budget Committee have been diligently working on reviewing our 2013-2014 district’s budget and preparing a 2014-2015 school budget to bring forward to our district’s taxpayers.

Over the course of the fall and winter, the School Board and Teacher’s Union have been meeting to put together a proposed teacher contract. Warrant Article #2 will speak to the teacher contract agreement. The agreement proposes a 3-year collective bargaining agreement between the Newfound Area School Board and the Newfound Area Teachers Association. Along with some language changes, especially within the teacher leave section, the majority of the breakdown of the contract includes:

• Year 1—step increase + 2% Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for an estimated cost of $277,225
• Year 2—step increase + 2% COLA for an estimated cost of $271,747
• Year 3—step increase + 2.5% COLA for an estimated cost of $312,479
• Overall average increase is 7.72% over the three year contract

After working with the building administration and superintendent’s office, the School Board recommended a budget of $20,310,865 to the Budget Committee.The Budget Committee met over several meetings and reduced the School Board’s budget. Their budget stands at $20,167,997 which is a $142,868 difference. The majority of the cuts made by the Budget 
Committee include:
• One Elementary Guidance Counselor--$50,263
• One High School Guidance Counselor--$78,017 
• District/Board Legal Fees--$9,999

At last Friday night’s Budget Hearing, the committee voted on all of the upcoming warrant articles. By a vote of 7-0 the Budget Committee recommended to submit their final budget to the School Board at $20,167,997. In addition, they voted 7-0 not to support the teacher contract warrant article.

At Monday night’s School Board meeting, the members voted on all of the upcoming warrant articles. By a vote of 6-1 the School Board is recommending the teacher contract warrant article. The School Board voted not to recommend the $20,167,997 budget finalized by the Budget Committee with a 5-2 vote. 

So, what is the process from here?

• On Saturday, February 1st all of the district taxpayers are welcome to come to the Deliberative Session. This meeting is held at the high school auditorium and starts at 10:00 a.m. On average (the last nine I have attended), the meeting lasts three hours. Working within a specific format, taxpayers will discuss all of the warrant articles that will be placed on the School District’s ballot for voting on Tuesday, March 11th or raise the bottom number. By law, it is the Budget Committee’s budget number that is placed on the warrant. When changes take place in articles, there must be a vote by the taxpayers attending 
the meeting on whether or not to support or defeat such changes. Childcare will be provided by the NRHS National Honor Society and Student Council. If you are interested in this opportunity, please call over to Sue Cross at 744-5555 ext. 221.

Again, this is just a quick “snap-shot” of meetings, dialogues and decisions made by both the School Board and Budget Committee. You can go to our district’s website to read meeting minutes and/or listen to the audio tapes of all these meetings. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or email me. I look forward to seeing you at the Deliberative Session and as Larry Sabato states, “Every election is determined by the people who show up.”

Have a great weekend!