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Pelham - Windham News October 29, 2010 - 9


Pelham/Windham Student Percentages Change


by Barbara O’Brien Until recently, the student populations of Windham and Pelham


were very similar. All of that changed, however, when Windham built its own high school and classes that previously attended Salem High School were brought “back home.” According to the State formula, students who are educated outside of a home school district are not counted in the total student enrollment. Windham High School opened its doors to students in August 2009. This rise in the student population means that the Windham


School District is now responsible for more of the cost of operating the school administrative unit that services both Pelham and Windham. And as more classes come back to Windham, the discrepancy is likely to only grow larger. “During the next two years, this will happen again,” Clairmont cautioned. “You need to understand that now.” Last year, Windham High School included only freshmen and sophomores. This year, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are in attendance. The 2011-2012 school year will be the first year that all four grade levels will be housed at Windham High School. SAU #28 Business Administrator Donna Clairmont told members of both School Boards that while Pelham’s percentage of the SAU assessment will go down by about $10,000 next year, Windham’s will likely increase by about $50,000. Based on projected enrollment, Pelham will have 46 percent of the students, while Windham will have the remaining 54 percent.


In addition to student enrollment numbers, the percentage of assessment to each school district in the SAU is also based on the equalized valuation of property in each of the two towns. Currently, the property assessment for Windham is 58 percent of the total valuation, while Pelham has 42 percent of the valuation. Windham School Board Chairman Bruce Anderson acknowledged that the change in assessment percentages is “good news” for Pelham, but not so for the Windham School District. Even if the SAU budget is level-funded for next year, Anderson said, “Windham still has to come up with an additional $50,000.” “Where’s the fluff [in the budget]?” Anderson asked. Clairmont replied that there is “no fluff” in the proposed budget. “We’re already, pretty much, on the dime,” she said. Superintendent Frank Bass said he would be willing to reduce funding for the out-of-district conferences he’s scheduled to attend by $2,000. Another suggestion was that the amount allocated for heating oil be reduced by $2,000, as the full amount proposed was not needed last year. “Well, that’s $4,000,” School Board member Michelle Farrell said. “Only $46,000 to go!” Clairmont will be going back to the drawing board with the proposed budget, looking for areas where cuts could possibly be made. SAU Board members are expected to take up the issue again on Tuesday, November 2, at 7 p.m. in the Town’s Planning and Development Building.


 School Board Wants More Budget Info


by Barbara O’Brien Even though the proposed 2011-2012 SAU #28 budget is less than the approved budget for the current school year, School Board members from both Pelham and Windham want more details before voting whether or not to approve the proposal. Business Administrator Donna Clairmont presented the SAU #28 budget proposal during the semi-annual SAU board meeting on October 26. SAU #28 represents both the Windham and Pelham School Districts. Clairmont explained to School Board members that the SAU budget is composed mostly of salaries and related benefits. The ultimate goal in developing next year’s SAU budget was to have a zero-percent increase, she said. Clairmont said those working on the proposed budget had done better than that, however, coming in with an overall 2.27 percent decrease from the current year’s SAU budget. The proposed decrease amounts to approximately $32,000 from the 2010-2011 SAU budget. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room,” Clairmont said, emphasizing that Board members should be paying more attention to “the bottom line of the proposed budget, rather than focusing too much on individual line items.” Pelham School Board member Linda Mahoney disagreed with Clairmont’s assertion. “We need to go line by line,” Mahoney said. “That’s how we get to the bottom line.” “The Board needs to understand how you got to the bottom line,” Mahoney added. For the current year, the approved SAU budget totals $1,429,737. The proposed budget for next year amounts to $1,397,219. Last year (2009-2010), the approved SAU budget was $1,265,161, while $1,236,210 was actually spent. The majority of the increase in the SAU budget for the current school year was due to the hiring of a second assistant superintendent. Amanda Lecaroz was hired to fill that slot this past July 1. The school district budgets run on a fiscal calendar, from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. The proposed SAU budget does not give administrators any salary increase for the 2011-2012 school year, due to the continuing poor state of the economy. The only exception is for the new business administrator who works for the Pelham School District. That cost will be paid fully by the Pelham School District. Other


employees of the SAU are proposed to receive a 2.5 percent pay increase. There are also expected to be increases in


the school district’s contributions to the State retirement system, an issue that is determined at the State level of government. Although no specifics were given on the cost of health insurance for SAU staff, Clairmont did say that it will be less than originally anticipated for next year.


Mahoney, questioning whether the proposed budget is still too high, even if it is level-funded, suggested that the line item for heating fuel be reduced by $1,500. Last year, a total of $4,763 was allocated for heating the SAU building, while only $1,418 was actually spent. This year, $3,809 was approved for heating fuel for the SAU building. An identical amount is being proposed for next year. Mahoney said she feels that even if a $1,500 decrease were made in next year’s proposed budget, there would still be enough money to pay the expense. Clairmont again cautioned School Board members to pay attention to the bottom line, not individual line items. “We don’t have any contingency to fall back on,” Clairmont said. Windham resident Bob Coole, the only citizen


who attended the meeting, said, “I feel overall the proposed budget is good as it is. It feels pretty lean already.”


Instead of adopting the proposed 2011-2012


SAU budget on October 26, as was anticipated, SAU Board members told administrators to come back with more detail at their next meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, November 2, at 7 p.m. in the town’s planning and development building on North Lowell Road. The proposed SAU budget must be adopted by the end of December.


Andrew Christie


• Register of Probate 2001-2009 • Non-partisan Clerk of Court • Creator of 1st Customer Service position in NH Probate Courts • Law Enforcement Agent in Rockingham County for 36 years • Broad experience with local, county and state budgets


• State Representative 1990-2000 -General Court


• Vietnam Veteran Register of Probate Please Vote November 2nd


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Experienced: Practicing law for over 25 years, 15 years working in the New Hampshire criminal courts, over 21 years litigation experience, 4 years in government serving as Assistant Director of Corporations, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (50 employee agency). Fair, Honest and Independent: I stand by my record of integrity and professionalism. I am an Independent with my first and only obligation being to the people, and I am not beholden to any individual or party. I Pledge: to establish a strong partnership between law enforcement and the County Attorney, to only condone plea agreements which are just, to set an example for lean budgeting in government, and to fight crime with vigor.


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