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Passage of School Improvements Will Mean $750K in State Aid

The news came to both the school district and Salem School Board late last week.

Should Salem voters opt to support Phase II school renovations and improvements this March, the district will be eligible for $750,000 in kindergarten state aid, according to sources.

The news was first announced Friday on Salem's "Strengthen Our Schools" Facebook page. The advocacy group, founded in 2010, is currently pushing for the passage of Articles 2 and 3 on the school ballot, which collectively call for fixes to the Mary A. Fisk, Dr. L. F. Soule and Walter F. Haigh Schools.

Peter Morgan, member of the Salem School Board, confirmed that he and the rest of the board found out about the aid on Friday.

"For some time we've been hoping that we would get some money for kindergarten construction on Phase II," Morgan said.

Morgan couldn't confirm whether the money would get paid to the district in a lump total.

He explained that the state runs a couple of different building aid programs, one of which is specifically for kindergarten construction.

"That recently became very much need-based," Morgan said, explaining that Salem isn't as wealthy as a Windham or Bedford but that the town still turns out to be a very wealthy school district.

According to Article 2, a total of $15,835,471 would be allocated to Fisk and Soule Schools. A portion of that money would go toward the creation of classroom space to accommodate kindergarten classrooms, eliminating leased portable units.

"Any time you can get three-quarters of a million for basically not doing anything, that's basically a good deal," Morgan said of the potential state aid.

Morgan and the rest of the school board recommended both Articles 2 and 3, as did the Salem Budget Committee.

The Fisk School Parent Teacher Assocation also sounded off on Facebook:

This is absolutely huge news!! With this additional financial benefit to our community, we have even more reason to educate our families, friends and neighbors over the next two weeks.

Morgan said that state kindergarten aid came to Salem in the Phase I improvements.

He said that three buckets of state aid are available to the district.

A future renovation project to the Salem High School Center for Career and Technical Education is eligible for over 7 million in state aid if a bond is approved in 2014.

The second bucket is for Phase II kindergarten aid, while the third is for general aid for construction, which Morgan doesn't expect the district to get. 

Ugh February 25, 2013 at 01:28 PM
750K on 15 mill is chump change. We could have saved that if teachers were laid off like we all thought years ago (remember that?)
Love NH February 25, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Who thought what teachers were going to be laid off when? By the way, 750K is 5% - not chump change.. I'm sure you would be happy if you got a 5% raise or your house appreciated by 5%.
Dr. NO February 25, 2013 at 03:32 PM
I cannot vote for and will not recommend friends and neighbor vote for these articles because of the weak minded decision to not close the Haigh School. Enrollment does not support keeping that school on line and spending money on it only kicks the can down the road.
Love NH February 25, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Actually, future projected enrollments do not support keeping the Haigh open. Current enrollments require the Haigh. That is why Article 2 is essentially only for Soule and Fisk, while article 3 is for the Haigh school. Article 2 spends very very little on the Haigh school so you should vote for that one as a minimum.
Ugh February 25, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Why do all the people who recommend Salem spend more money ignore facts. Actual School Enrollments K-12 04-05 5,302 05-06 5,296 06-07 5,217 07-08 5,132 08-09 4,959 09-10 4,794 10-11 4,574 School Enrollment Projections 11-12 4281 (current) 12-13 4,164-4,065 13-14 4,091-3,901 14-15 3,980-3,707 15-16 3,899-3,555 16-17 3,764-3,402 Source http://www.sau57.org/2012Documents/demographics-enrollment-projections.pdf
salem mom February 25, 2013 at 04:36 PM
A couple of items jumped out at me on this article. Mr. Morgan described our district as a "wealthy school district." I'd be intersted in his actual quote, but our school budget has jumped a ridiculous amount over the last 10 years so it is nice to acknowledge that our budget is high for our school. It would be nice if they remembered this each year when they are demanding more $ from our pockets and crying "poor school." Next was worrisome to me. "Any time you can get three-quarters of a million for basically not doing anything, that's basically a good deal," Morgan said of the potential state aid. We are not doing nothing. Our school board is hoping that their citizens will reach into our pockets and give them money to do this renovation. If Mr. Morgan says this nothing, then hopefully he will pay my share. If only he were running for reelection soon. Wait, maybe i'll need to take a closer look at Mr. Manning. Maybe I'll flip that lever instead of my prior plan to not flip any levers in that election.
Love NH February 25, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Actually, it is the State of NH that describes Salem as a "wealthy" school district, not Mr. Morgan. That is why it was not certain that we could get the $750,000 from the state. The article could have made this more clear. If you have a problem with that you might want to talk to your state rep.
Peter Morgan February 25, 2013 at 06:38 PM
My statement was that as far as the State is concerned, Salem is a wealthy town and district compared to most other school districts. For example, we have the 4th highest property valuation and the 94th lowest tax rate of 224 other communities. The context of "doing nothing" is more accurately... "doing nothing more than we intented to do anyway... renovate the schools." In that sense the Kindergarten aid is "found money".
salem mom February 25, 2013 at 06:40 PM
i think that our school district is a wealthy district. My mom is a school teacher in a solid middle class town and many of the things our teachers/children have here in salem she considers luxuries. thanks for the clarification.
Deborah February 25, 2013 at 07:12 PM
What teachers? In which grades? 750k would be the equivalent of approx 15 teacher....don't remember that discussion.
Ugh February 25, 2013 at 07:33 PM
In 2005 enrollment was 5,302. In 2112 it is 4,281. That is 1,021 less enrollment or 19% less. Have staffing levels gone done by the same percentage in those seven years?
Ugh February 25, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Mr. Morgan: A formal request. Supply the below data and publish this on Patch. Number of FTE’s (Full Time Equivalent) Teachers and the number of Non Teachers (Overhead) by year, each year from 2005 through 2013. Separate numbers if you will. I consider this a key piece of data that any School Board Member, Chairman or Superintendent should have readily available. This would be a pretty basic managerial statistic for any well run organization. Taxpayers would need this as well, considering the constant requests for ten of millions if not hundred of millions of dollars Thank You
Bob Gibbs March 08, 2013 at 01:00 PM
I had a tour of the Fisk yesterday. I saw teaching space under a stairway, plastic covering books cases to protect the books from leaking roofs, overflowing storage, overflowing classrooms, highly overheated rooms due to poor heating system. Teachers having to dress the kids to get them to the 'temporary classroom'. This turns a 30 minute learning experience to about 20 minutes. For those worried about safety, I was able to walk right in and have access to 15 kids in the gym without any security features that would have stopped a bad guy. I also didn't know that the schools had 3 year olds and the need for so much special ed including PT and OT. I'm now learning towards voting for the school renovations. I sense that the article would have a better chance of passing if each school would have been on a separate article and only one each year.
Rumor Has It March 08, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Rumor has it that when Teachers Unions take a disproportionate share of the pie you end with problems.
salem mom March 08, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Bob, I'm voting for the article to remodel the Fisk and Soule (with small repairs to Haigh). I'll be voting the big NO on the Haigh renovations and the supersize gym for the Soule. The leaking roofs should have been repaired from the existing funds, and the temporary classrooms will go away as the student population continues to decline. I will take the better security with the renovations, but do not agree that any tragedy would be prevented with a more open office/entrance area with a glass door and a buzzer system.
Love NH March 08, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Hey Rumor. Just so we all know, what % of the pie do the teachers in Salem take up and what is the average or ideal %?
Riley Reid March 08, 2013 at 03:26 PM
What a bunch of cheap losers Salem is made up of. Right now Windham is looking at 80 mil for their schools and Salem is sitting here crying over 17 mil. Seriously, this town is never going to move forward. It's amazing we have paved roads and traffic signals. And as always the simple minded Salem voters blame the teachers or whatever public employees may be involved ! Teachers in Salem are really the dumb one's, if they were smart they'd leave and go to higher paying positions in our surrounding towns!
Love NH March 08, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Riley, many of the good ones do leave. People say that education all comes down to the quality of the teaching staff. But if you are a great teacher and you have the opportunity to teach in a nice new school with all the current tools at your disposal would you choose to stay in a dump that is too crowded, roof leaks, old resources and townspeople who complain that they are giving you too much already. So it may be all about teacher quality but you need to have the capability to acquire and retain the good teachers.
salemvoter March 08, 2013 at 03:50 PM
The teachers are constrained by the union from leaving. Sure, they are free to leave, but they lose tenure or seniority when going to the new district. Young teachers without tenure are more free to move around. Now, if there was no union, every district could compete for the best teachers with proven track records. With declining enrollments in many districts, a tenured teacher, moving now, risks being laid off.
Rumor Has It March 08, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Rumor has it that the School Super has refused to lay off teachers costing the Town Millions.
Riley Reid March 08, 2013 at 05:41 PM
From looking at the school report, it doesn't look like he has to lay off anyone as there are lots of retirements announced.

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