Trustees: Proposed FMRSD Budget Reflects Cost Increases | News
LANGDON — The Fall Mountain School District’s proposed budget for the 2022-2023 school year targets a significant increase in district-wide spending, which administrators attributed primarily to an approximately 5-6% increase in costs educational and support services.
Superintendent Lori Landry presented a proposed operating budget of $34,939,602 for the next school year during a public hearing at Fall Mountain Regional High School on Wednesday. The proposal represents an increase of $1,825,020 or 5.5% over the current fiscal year.
For Charlestown, the largest community in the Co-operative District, the proposed budget would have an additional tax impact of $3.06 per $1,000 of estimated property value, or the equivalent of an additional $459 in taxes on a 150 home. $000.
According to Landry, the expense drivers include more than $591,000 in additional teaching compensation, primarily attributed to contract teacher compensation; an increase of more than $600,000 in out-of-district tuition for students with special needs and other related services; and an increase of $274,000 in the budget for heating oil and similar operational needs.
“We all know that the cost of gasoline and fuel oil has increased tremendously,” Landry said. “All our supplies have increased. We want to make sure we have enough money that our district will need for next year.
This year’s presentation was significantly different in terms of available documents and budget details, which can largely be attributed to the departure of former CFO James Fenn, who now serves as CFO at Windsor Central Supervisory. Union in Woodstock, Vermont.
The district’s slide presentation is currently the only publicly available budget document. While this presentation provides a broad overview of the proposal, the lack of many details – from the individual costs of identified “budget factors” such as the teachers’ contract to changes in city assessments and the decrease in the school tax of State – are notably absent. .
A representative from the supervisory union said Thursday that administrators are in the process of uploading additional budget documents to the district’s website, which should be available next week.
School board member Shelly Andrus, Charlestown, said the lack of budget detail factored into her vote not to recommend the budget as presented.
“We have as much responsibility to voters as we have to student success and moving this budget forward,” Andrus told the Eagle Times. “Without having all the information and having complete confidence in all the numbers, approving it seemed rushed. And at the end of the day, it wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing.
Andrus also said she has questions about the accuracy of the district’s state revenue reports, in part based on concerns raised Wednesday by state Rep. Terry Spilsbury (R-Charlestown), who questioned whether the school district was correctly interpreting state changes last year. education funding formula
Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature approved a total reduction of $100 million in what New Hampshire communities must collect through the statewide education property tax ( SWEPT), a locally levied tax that goes directly to local schools in the respective community.
SWEPT is essentially a community’s local contribution to the statewide school funding system, commonly referred to as Adequate Education Aid.
The state deducts what a community collects in SWEPT money from what the state provides in adequate education grants.
According to Fall Mountain’s presentation, Charlestown is expected to see a full net reduction in state aid next year. While Charlestown’s Adequate Education Aid is projected to increase by $159,359, Charlestown’s SWEPT contribution is projected to decrease by $164,467, resulting in a net reduction of $5,801.
But Spilsbury told trustees that may be an incorrect interpretation, saying the state intended to fund that $100 million from other sources.
“They substitute that $100 million from other state sources to make up that difference,” Spilsbury said. “But the amount of revenue that will be available to the school district and each participating city is unchanged.”
District administrators said they would investigate the state’s funding intent.
It is also important that a reduction in SWEPT revenue correlates with a reduction in local taxes. A school district seeking to recoup this lost revenue would likely have to increase the amount of taxes. For this reason, many school business administrators say they don’t factor SWEPT as heavily into their revenue impacts, because changes in the amount of SWEPT are usually offset.
School board member Alissa Bascom, also from Charlestown, said she voted to recommend the budget despite her concerns about general spending trends in the district. For Bascom, these concerns require much longer conversations and strategic planning than can be addressed within the current budget at this point.
“That’s the budget we need right now to fund what we have,” Bascom said. “Cutting further would require cutting positions and cutting positions without thoughtful and adequate plans for the children and parents concerned is not the right way forward. I say this while recognizing that the continued increase in the bottom line must be addressed and that the work needs to start earlier in the budget season.
The district budget deliberation session is scheduled for Wednesday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Fall Mountain Regional High School.