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Pelham~Windham News Volume 9 Number 6 August 19, 2011 16 Pages
Center School Band and Orchestra Programs Restored
by Barbara O’Brien A much respected and well-
loved music program at Windham Center School will continue into the new school year, due largely to a smaller budget impact than anticipated from the New Hampshire State Retirement System.
Due to changes at the state
level earlier this summer, it was expected that there would be a $700,000 impact on the 2011- 2012 Windham School District operating budget. As a result, local school administrators came up with a priority list of program and staff cuts. Out of those 10 proposed priorities, the one that caused the greatest uproar in the community was the possible loss of the band program at Center School, a program directed by music teacher John Cicchitto. It was announced during
the August 9 school board meeting that the local affect of the increased responsibility in State Retirement obligations is not as bad as was feared. According to SAU 28 Business Administrator Adam Steel the $700,000 anticipated impact had been virtually cut in half by readjustments made at the state level. That impact is now believed to be in the range of $318,000 for the 2011-2012 school year. Some cuts will still need to be made this year. According to Steel, originally, the local contribution to the State Retirement system was to be 9.07 percent of teacher salaries. That is
what local school administrators had planned for when the Windham School District operating budget was formulated late last year and voted upon this past March. Subsequently, the state told local communities that the percentage of their obligations might be raised to 13.95 percent. Steel said that would have been “the worst case scenario.” More recently, however, the State readjusted its calculations and set the local contribution amount at 11.3 percent of teacher salaries. This formula is expected to stay in effect for the next two years, Steel explained.
Due to less of a need for cuts in the budget, the Center School Band Program will be retained in its entirety, Interim Superintendent Henry LaBranche commented. “None of us wanted this program cut” to begin with, School Board Chairman Ed Gallagher said. “We would have gotten the band program returned one way or the other,” LaBranche stated. Nine things are still on the list of things, which might be cut from the school budget for the current school year, LaBranche said, adding that the status of the budget would continue to be monitored for the next couple of months. Steel said he is hopeful that money might also be restored to the current school year budget for technology upgrades, as well as an additional case manager at Windham High School. “We’re taking the conservative approach,” Steel emphasized.
Green Alligators but no Unicorns at Library’s Close of Summer Reading Program
by Robyn Hatch Pelham Public Library ended the Summer Reading Finale with an interactive and educational presentation on reptiles. “Reptiles on the Move” brings several different reptiles for everyone to learn about, hold and touch. This was a world of fun with reptiles where the children experienced live reptiles and learned intriguing facts about them. Some of the topics that were covered during the presentation were to explore the specific characteristics of certain animals, their natural habitats and methods of survival in the wild. More than 24 animals were demonstrated during the fun- filled event. Participants met all sorts of interesting lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs and even an American alligator. Everyone got to meet “Luke,” an 11 foot albino Burmese Python, “DarthGator” and “Rocky and Toby,” huge tortoises. Also mysterious and colorful creatures such as Chinese water dragons, blue tongued skinks and so many more animals from different parts of the world. There was a special time for hands-on feeding of iguanas, bearded dragons, uromastyx monitor lizards, skinks, and tortoises. This show was very fun and informative, even if the child didn’t have his own pet reptile yet. The children really enjoyed this show and librarian Marie was very patient during the event.
Miss Debbie shares the Australian lizard with the children ECRWSS
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Able to touch
Children of many ages awaiting the show
Representative Mary Griffin and Charlie Arlinghaus Visit the SNH 9.12 Project
submitted by Ken Eyring On August 9, the Southern NH
9.12 Project hosted the Honorable Representative Mary Griffin and Charlie Arlinghaus, President of the Josiah Bartlett Center. After the Pledge of Allegiance and a Prayer, the meeting began with the “Did you Know ...?” segment, which included the following items; (i) Did you know the accused Foot Hood Shooter, Major Nidal Hasan is still receiving a pay check?, and (ii) Did you know the Communist Party, USA has endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2012? In keeping with their tradition,
Representative David Bates introduced one of the 9.12 Project’s 12 values, “Charity” - and put it in perspective by comparing forced charity and true charity to relative freedom, and displayed a Scale of Freedom from zero to 100 ... where zero = no freedom, and 100 = total freedom. “When the government takes 25
percent of our earned income …” he explained, “we have a reduction in choices. When 50 percent is taken, we have less choices, less freedom and a lower standard of living. When 75 percent of what we earn is taken, our choices are greatly limited and our standard of living greatly reduced. In the event that all of what we work for is taken away and nothing is left for us - this is the definition of slavery. It is also the reason that if you believe in freedom that you should support a person’s right to the fruits of their labors.” Representative Bates went on
to explain that a large part of this year’s State Budget goals was to not spend more than we had as a state, so the first order of business was to determine how much money the state had coming in. This task was the responsibility of the House Ways and Means Committee. As a member of this committee,
Representative Mary Griffin described the process that was used to determine estimates on revenue for this year. After determining revenues, along with the promise to not raise taxes … it was determined the state budget needed to be cut by almost 11 percent.
Marie of Reptiles on the Move Slight
Increase in Hot Lunch Prices
by Barbara O’Brien
In order to remain eligible for federal money through the National School Lunch Program, it was necessary for Windham School Board members to tack on a slight increase to the cost of hot lunches at three of the district’s public schools. The only exception to the price hike
was for lunches served at Windham High School, where the cost ($2.50) was already slightly above the federal allocation. According to SAU 28 Business Administrator Adam Steel, the cost of lunches at Golden Brook School, Center School and Windham Middle School needed to be increased to retain access to the benefits received through the federal Hunger-Free Kids Lunch Program. These incoming federal revenues totaled about $76,000 for the 2010-2011 school year. Last year, hot lunches at Golden Brook and Center School carried a price tag of $1.90, while a similar meal at Windham Middle School cost $2. At the same time, the federal government’s lunch program was paying Windham $2.46 per meal. Steel said that Windham needs to
From left to right: Representative David Bates, Charlie Arlinghaus, Representative Mary Griffin, Representative Rick Okerman and Representative Walter Kolodziej.
In addition to her important
work on the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Griffin read from a long list of accomplishments for this year’s legislature - where one important piece of legislation allows towns to establish spending caps, and another repealed the Evergreen clause. Representative Rick Okerman
spoke briefly about House Bill 2, and the process of compromise between the House and Senate, which focused on tax cuts and reducing spending - some of which (he felt) didn’t go far enough. Arlinghaus, who is on the board of
directors for the nonpartisan Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy (www.jbartlett.org
) then provided his analysis of the State budget - which prior to this year, was last balanced in 2006-2007. Since then, he said that revenues have been flat, but spending rose at
an annual rate of 8 percent a year - which led New Hampshire to a deficit of over $600 million. He explained that this happed because the state received bailout money from the federal government - which was used to prop up spending.
In addition, the
state borrowed money last year for building aid to towns, even though it was illegal to do so. Arlinghaus went on to state that
with the recently passed balanced budget, New Hampshire is now on the right track by truly balancing the budget without raising taxes, and cutting spending by 10.8 percent to meet expected revenues. To put this into perspective, he emphasized that New Hampshire’s budget was previously reduced only one other time in our history … and that was by 1 percent in the 1990s. While this is a great first step,
he emphasized that there are still challenges ahead, and that the state
has rising debt levels … but that they can be addressed over time with fiscal prudence. When compared with other states, New Hampshire’s debt ranks somewhere around 36 of out of 50 states - with 1 being worse. Arlinghaus mentioned the state’s
largest tax source is business taxes, and emphasized that it is important to be a business friendly state, and that we have made strides in that area. He expressed concerns that New Hampshire has 3,800 bridges in the state - and that they are not fixed at an acceptable rate, citing Portsmouth’s Memorial Bridge (which is now closed) as an example of poor planning. At the end of the meeting, it was
announced that future meetings would begin at 7 p.m. (instead of 7:30 p.m.) on the second Tuesday of each month at the Windham Senior Center.
charge an approximate amount as to what is being reimbursed by the federal government for students receiving free and reduced-cost lunches, but that Windham can catch up to the federal reimbursement by incremental price increases. Therefore, this year’s increase was set at 10 cents per hot lunch, bringing the cost of a meal at Golden Brook and Center Schools to $2, while raising the cost at Windham Middle School to $2.10. It is anticipated that further incremental price increases will occur for the next couple of years. In response to a question from school
board members, Steel said the new pricing for hot lunches in Windham is on par with other area school districts. School board members voted 4 to 0 to
raise the hot lunch prices at Windham Middle School, Center School, and Golden Brook by 10 cents for the 2011- 2012 school year. Voting in favor were Chairman Ed Gallagher, Vice Chairman Bruce Anderson and board members Stephanie Wimmer and Jeff Bostic. School board member Michelle Farrell did not attend the August 9 meeting, where the vote was taken.
staff photos by Robyn Hatch
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