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Attempt to Delay BudCom School Vote Falls

Stephen Campbell claimed the committee needed more time to review answers to budgetary questions.

The Salem Budget Committee held its preliminary votes on the 2013-2014 SAU 57 Budget Wednesday, but if one member had his way, it would have been put off for a week, or more.

Board of Selectmen Representative Stephen Campbell said the committee had not received answers to budgetary questions posed to school staff until Wednesday morning.

"Some of these answers need to be followed up," Campbell said. He moved to postpone both committee meetings this week to next week as a result.

"You can't vote on $62 million of this stuff just rushing through it," he said.

Chairman Russell Frydryck said the information had been e-mailed to him Tuesday afternoon but he was unable to distribute it to the rest of the committee until Wednesday morning.

Other committee members understood Campbell's concerns but were worried about changing the calendar the committee had agreed upon months ago.

"I can't make a legal opinion on the legality of the calendar," Vice Chairman Paul Huard said.

Frydryck said it has not been unusual, in his experience, for the committee to get information the day of scheduled votes.

"This isn't an unusual occurrence," he said.

Campbell's motion was tabled. Another motion to allow questions to be answered before getting to the preliminary votes failed and the committee proceeded with votes.

Attempts to reduce the budget, which is looking at about a 2 percent increase over the present year, were made in several places, mostly by Campbell and committee member Patrick McDougall. 

One that passed, as moved by Campbell, was reducing a proposed 0.25 percent increase in annuities for district leadership, cutting nearly $6,000 from the budget.

Campbell attempted to cut $150,000 in personnel costs as a reflection in the continued decrease in students. He claimed that even though student population has dropped off over the last 10 years, the number of non-special education personnel has stayed roughly the same.

"The only way to get the school tax rate under control is they have to tighten up on reducing positions," Campbell said.

Campbell's motion failed 6-3, with Campbell, McDougall and committee member Dane Hoover in the minority.

After the vote, School Board representative Michael Carney, Jr. questioned if Campbell was representing himself or the Board of Selectmen with his motions and votes.

"That is for (Board of Selectmen Chairman) Pat Hargreaves to deal with," Frydryck said.

"As far as I know the Board of Selectmen does not give direction to any member that represents it at any board," Campbell said. "I am doing exactly what I'm entitled to do."

Later, Campbell moved to remove $240,000 to be devoted to planning for future work at Salem High School.

Campbell claimed the district had provided "insufficient information" on how the money would be spent and argued later it should be a seperate warrant article.

Carney said that a committee made up of volunteers, building experts, engineers and others have recommended that total as a way to get the process going.

"We didn't just pull this number out ourselves," Carney said.

McDougall and Campbell were the only ones to vote in favor of removing the $240,000.

A public hearing on the school budget will be held tonight at 7 p.m. in the Knightly Meeting Room of Town Hall before the committee takes final votes.

Patrick McDougall December 14, 2012 at 03:31 PM
You do understand that it is not the duties of the Budget Committee to operate staffing levels thatif a cut is approved they can make account adjustment's in, it is the duties of the budget committee to put forward to the taxpayers a responsible bottom line budget based on fact's and not ignore the facts that there are alot less students and more teachers at a larger exspense! my vote was not about operational levels but about trying to be considerate to the facts that salaries and benefits are up at a combined 10 percent increase! When do the taxpayers get a break in this difficult economy that we realistically have to live with?
Love NH December 14, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Do you understand that it is in the duties of the Budget Committee to understand the staffing needs of the school district and fund them appropriately? Education is not a purchase that is bought and consumed. It is an investment that multiplies over time.
F Jackie Marlow December 14, 2012 at 06:24 PM
To Love NH, a quick review of the submitter's spelling and grammar will show that some education was unfortunately consumed.
Patriot December 15, 2012 at 10:16 AM
OK, so we construct a school system so large and all consuming that it devourers all community resources. Instead of the residents spending their time enjoying life and taking care of their family they are working to support this system. When are the burdens so imposing that they become crushing. Many families are so over whelmed with trying to create revenue they have lost their children.
Patriot December 15, 2012 at 10:28 AM
I will not criticize the person who volunteers to serve because he lacks an Ivy League education. But I will criticize the person with the Ivy League education for not walking with the poor. Go on and brow beat and humiliate the poor but the community will not benefit and the children will suffer.

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