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Proposed School Budget Up Over 2 Percent

Salem School Board presents budget to Budget Committee up with $58.8 million in general fund costs.

The Salem Municipal Budget Committee was presented Wednesday with a 2013-2014 Salem School District budget up 2.68 percent over the current year.

The increase for the budget, as reviewed by the Salem School Board, will likely be reduced to a 2.06 percent after more anticipated state adequacy funds are factored into the budget.

Overall, the general fund budget presented for 2013-2014 is now $58.8 million, up from the present year total of $57.1 million.

The majority of the increases in the budget presented Wednesday night come from salaries, benefits and maintenance. 

SAU 57 Superintendent Dr. Michael Delahanty explained that over $1.4 million of that increase includes an astronomical hike in state retirement costs to the tune of $785,620.

The district also hopes to spend an additional $477,225 on construction services this year. That includes planning for possible renovations at Salem High School as well as capital projects recommended by a recent audit, according to Delahanty.

Another additional $179,000 is proposed for new software and technology replacements.

The budget is seeing about $631,000 in savings over the present year, including a $32,137 decrease in health insurance, $122,703 less for electricity costs and an estimate of nearly $448,200 less for special education tuition.

Delahanty explained Salem's cost-per-pupil is $10,427, which is less than the state average of $12,775.

"We provide a good product at a very reasonable cost," Delahanty said.

Among the new proposed positions and items supported by the School Board includes: a new K-8 math director (to be paid with federal Title II program funding); an elementary school reading specialist; a supervisor at the high school to oversee the chemicals stored at the school; a new program for athletics concussion testing (the state has mandated districts to come up with plans to address concussions for student-athletes); an after-school homework program; and costs to be part of a children's dental network that provides dental services to students in need.

Currently, the budget includes state adequacy funding in the amount of $5.3 million. Delahanty said State Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem has "assured" him the district will in fact receive an additional $300,000, which will lower the overall increase in the budget pending School Board endorsement.

With the Budget Committee expected to take their final votes on the budget next Thursday, Dec. 13, the committee spent nearly four hours Wednesday night discussing the budget.

Committee members expressed concerns over the additional programs, such as the dental network, as well as capital improvements and future renovations planning costs.

Delahanty said there are still no finalized plans for a proposed renovation bond for the 2013 ballot. Such a plan will likely involve a combination of work on the three elementary schools yet to be renovated (Fisk, Soule and Haigh). 

While the future of Haigh remains a topic of discussion, School Board member Michael Carney, Jr., reiterated to the committee there are no plans to close Haigh.

The committee will meet again tonight to continue discussing the budget.

Ugh December 06, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Democrat Governor stickin it to Salem again. Maybe Democrats should concern themselves with taxpayers instead of Unions. Too much to ask?
Riley Reid December 06, 2012 at 08:38 PM
blah, blah, blah,,,,,,,,,,,keep bashing the unions if it makes you feel better. Our teachers here in Salem are not making the money that some of the towns around us are paying. I just read somewhere that the average teacher retirement is less than 30 thousand a year state wide, and they don't get that until they are like 60 yrs old. I'm not surprised at that 2.68 number and i'm not floored by it either.
Bob Elliott December 06, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Riley, you are almost correct. The State Retirement Board told our Finance Committee last year that; the average retirement pay for teachers was $28,000 plus medical, policemen was $49,000 plus medical, and firemen were paid $59,000 plus medical, per year. Not bad considering the average Salem retiree, like myself, receives $14,000 per year in Social Security benefits. That's one of the major reasons EVERY town has an increase EVERY year in it's Municipal budget which is out of control and will only go higher EVERY year. Previous State House representatives, and Senators made this deal with the devil, without having the resources to pay for it, and have now increased the State workers contributions and additional 2.5%. It still isn't enough. So we have a major problem that has not, and will not be resolved unless radical changes are made for all State and Municipal newcomers who will be hired in the future. The State made the contracts and now must live with the consequences. Expect the State to try to raise the percentage that newcomers will have to pay in coming sessions. The Unions of course will fight to keep what they have been promised, even though the present revenues cannot continue to support the old plan. It's going to be a difficult budget year for the new Majority Party.
Ugh December 06, 2012 at 10:38 PM
DUH, it aint the averages that are killing the taxpayers. On the teachers side it the % of staff that ARE NOT TEACHERS. It is their BENEFITS that taxpayers can only dream about. It is the higher quartile pensions going to people who are not even close to deserving it. This issue will not go away folks and will get worse and worse every year until resolved. When the Taxpayers are truly fed up, I don't know. They will be sooner or latter.
Riley Reid December 07, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Bob, I spoke to a union person who told me that during the last legislative session the unions were NOT opposed to changes to new hires in the retirement system. Also, medical coverage is NOT fully funded to retirees, and they have not had a COLA in years. The retirement system was fine until O'Brien, Hawkins, and Kirk decided to attack it. I am sorry you only collect 14 thousand a year from SS, but you did chose to work in the private sector and make the financial decisions you did for your senior years. For where i'm sitting it looks like you are doing ok, two new cars in the driveway and probably no mortgage on a home that is worth 4 times what you paid for it back in the 60's. PS: I think you have the Police and Fire salaries backwards
Riley Reid December 07, 2012 at 12:06 AM
UC, when the private sector was soaring and everyone was moving into their MC Mansions, no one cared what the public sector was getting. Benefits come with these positions, we can't have an entire "part time work force", who would take those jobs ? It comes down to you get what you pay for
Bob Elliott December 07, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Riley, call the State Retirement Board to see who's right. Firemen's jobs are considered more hazardous, so they do get better pensions. And yes, the Benefits are NOT fully funded, I never said they were. ( 65% is funded ) Yes, the Unions DID agree to the 2.5% increase last session for the new hires. Never said they didn't. But the problem is still not settled. The rate of increases each year are just not sustainable. The State employees will have to pay even higher percentages, just as the private sector must and does. Other wise future state employees will get nothing, except increased layoffs, and frustrated town Managers who struggle every year to plan adequate budgets. I'm glad you like my new Honda. I bought it at Rockingham Honda in Salem. It's a high class dealership, from the Sales Manager, to the Sales staff , and it's excellent service Manager and staff. I paid $6200 for it plus my 2008 Honda which I owned outright, ( and I bought there 4 and a half years ago.) I can afford that price, so don't worry about me, even though it's none of your business. It is nice though to know you watch over me so closely. It's nice having you in the neighborhood.
Bob Elliott December 07, 2012 at 02:01 AM
P.S. my house is worth 17 times what I paid for it. ( In cash, by the way.)
Riley Reid December 07, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Rep Elliott, how much money is owed to the NH Retirement system from cities and towns that have not contributed what they should have over the last few years ? I'm not in your neighborhood, but it is a nice shortcut to the Woodbury
Jake O'Donnell December 07, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Let's try to stay on topic here.
Soujourner Truth December 13, 2012 at 11:24 PM
If you're referring to the retirement system, the sticking it to us decision (to shift the cost of retirement system from state to towns and school districts) happened in 2009. Where you been? And if it's a problem, why didn't Republicans fix it when they had the chance?

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