Pelham - Windham News | December 16, 2011 - 5 Ballot - continued from page 2
for PES for 2012-2013 is expected to remain flat, at about 900 students. “We’re seeing some enrollment stabilization right now in Pelham,” says Business Administrator Adam Steel. Interestingly, the enrollment in
Windham is expected to grow 6 percent, or 153 students, next year. Windham is proceeding with its plan to build a kindergarten, despite the fact that state aid was pulled from the budget this past. The state is required to reimburse a town for 75 percent of the construction costs for kindergarten classroom space. It will not pay for site work, hallways or other common spaces. However, this past year, the state chose not to appropriate any money for that purpose. For Windham, that was a loss of $1.8 million. Windham decided to pursue the kindergarten, and should see a reimbursement of about $1 million. If Pelham were to build a kindergarten
now, the town would have to pay all costs up front and seek reimbursement from the state when funds were appropriated for that purpose. It is expected that the money would be in the budget by July 2013, but there are no guarantees. Steel says that any warrant article for the kindergarten would be contingent on state funding. However, the issue appears to be off the table for another year. “It was a tough decision,” says Carton. “I am not comfortable having just one year lease on the portables remaining. The leasing company that owns the unit is within their right to liquidate its holdings.”
In other words, they could ask for the unit to be returned. The current payment for the lease of the kindergarten portable is $128,000 per year. Pelham will now be responsible for that payment as of July 1, 2012.
“It just does not make financial sense,”
says Carton. “After two years of lease payments, we could have already paid for half of the unit.” Yet, Carton is aware of the impact on the
voters. “We need a lot of things at once, I get that. But we have to tackle things one at a time.”
Board member Deb Ryan had originally supported putting the kindergarten addition on the 2012 ballot, but switched her vote at the most recent meeting. “I had a change of heart after reading the Building Systems Survey,” said Ryan. The survey regarding Pelham High School which was prepared by Fitzmeyer and Tocci, was not available at the time of the original vote. “I changed my mind for two reasons:
First, the cost of the HVAC system was greater than expected so I felt the two (K addition and HVAC) articles would compete against each other, possibly canceling each other out. I want us to continue to chip away at the NEASC list and with another year left on the kindergarten building aid I felt we should focus on the HVAC and Sprinkler Systems first. Second, from the report, I understand that the quality of the air in that school is probably extremely poor.” The report states, “At 18 years old without regular cleaning of coils, with the
School Budget Increase - continued from front page
impact fees and building aid that were no longer available when the bond on Pelham Elementary School was paid off. Over $300,000 in state aid and $854,747 in impact fees are no longer coming in as revenue. “We had $1.15 million in building aid go away,” Steel clarified. “Previously, this was revenue that offset taxes and reduced the burden on our taxpayers.” “The School District is continuing to budget conservatively,” said
Steele. “We are merely keeping up with contractual obligations. The change is that we are not getting the money from the state to offset these costs. What had previously been spent for the $1 million bond payment is now going toward paying for large increases in health and dental insurance. The rates from the health care providers went up, and we had no control over this $490,000 obligation. New Hampshire retirement costs increased by $135,000.” Originally, there was great concern among the School Board because
the extra costs passed down from the state had not been included in the budget. The initial figures for the unfunded retirement were initially around $474,000. This forced the board to make a number of potential budget cuts, such
as delaying fiber optic cable, the purchase of social studies and math books, and cuts to some of the instructional assistant positions. The athletic supply budget had also been cut, some technology upgrades delayed, and the replacement of the doors at Pelham High was put off until a future date. The number was eventually reduced to about $195,000, and some items in the budget were able to be restored. Steel expects that the retirement amount will stabilize around this figure, and it has been included in the FY 2013 budget. “The 2012 budget is the first time we are accounting for this change in budget process. It looks like an increase in the budget, but it is really not an increase from the amount spent in 2011. (Under the state’s biannual budget, the amount is locked in for two years.) Overall, the state is contributing less and less to the costs that are now left to the individual towns. These include funds for schools, police and fire and retirement costs. Catastrophic aid has also been cut, as well as support for students with special needs. School Board member Brian Carton spoke about the budget process, including the hearings with the Budget Committee. “I thought we put together a really responsible budget and I think the BudCom has done a good job supporting it.” Carton asks that voters become more aware of the changes going on at the state level, and how it will continue to affect the budgets for each town. In 2012, due to redistricting, Pelham will be separated from Hudson and Litchfield as a voting district. Four state representatives from Pelham will be elected. “Residents need to be mindful of who they send to the state, and make sure they represent the interests of our town,” says Carton.
Bass Announces Service Academy
Nominees for Class of 2016 Congressman Charles F. Bass (NH-02) has announced that 24 students from New Hampshire’s Second District received Congressional nominations to the U.S. Service Academies. Bass said: “Nominating outstanding New Hampshire students to the U.S. Service Academies is one of the highlights of my job. The 24 students who received nominations this year have top-notch academic, athletic, and extracurricular records, and I know the citizens of the Second District join me on congratulating these exceptional young men
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present dusty environment associated with insulation blankets on top of the (ceiling) tiles and the difficult accessibility, AHUs (air handling units) ... are not likely to be providing the International- Mechanical- Code-required amounts of fresh air to provide acceptable indoor air quality levels.”
Carton and the other board members are
very cognizant of how the project would affect Pelham’s standing with NEASC. The association has been critical of the community for failing to support the school district through funding. “There are practical reasons to upgrade
the HVAC, but it is a also one of most significant things that we can do, short of building or completely renovating the school. NEASC will recognize that as support on behalf of taxpayers,” says Carton.
“Nothing is easy and nothing is free,” reminds Hardy. “Kindergarten is going to be on the ballot next year, and I am afraid if the sprinklers don’t pass on this year, they will bump it again next year because of the Kindergarten.” The Budget Committee recently voted not to recommend a School Board warrant article for installing a sprinkler system at the high school. Business Administrator Adam Steele says that he will recommend that the School Board amend its warrant article to seek only the piping of the water from PES to the high school, with the actual sprinkler installation occurring the following year.
Outdoors Charlie Chalk with
Anti-Fishing Groups Bypass Lawsuit in Attempt to Ban Lead Fishing Tackle
On November 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) was yet again petitioned, requesting that the agency regulate the manufacture and sale of lead fishing tackle of certain sizes and uses under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). If approved, such regulation could result in a de facto ban of lead sinkers, jigs and other popular types of fishing equipment. This comes on the heels of a similar petition that the EPA dismissed in November 2010. “Despite the EPA’s clear ruling, the petitioners continue to attempt to push the ban,” said Robertson. “This further demonstrates the need for a legislative solution to this growing threat to recreational fishing. In response, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Rep. Charlie Bass, Rep. Frank Guinta are members) has introduced the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act, which would prevent an overreaching ban of lead fishing tackle. With anti-fishing organizations trying to over-regulate fishing using whatever means they can, legislation is needed to protect traditional fishing tackle and ammunition from unjustified bans that will harm the economy and reduce participation in outdoor activities.” I encourage you to contact our members of Congress to support the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act.
Charlie Chalk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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