DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Derry

January 10, 2013

School officials face tough choices

Officials pore over every spending item

School officials in Derry and Londonderry hope to save money next year without hurting the quality of education in the classroom.

Both towns presented budgets this week showing reductions in staff, supplies and services to help offset major funding shortfalls.

Those shortfalls are a result of the state pushing higher retirement and health-care costs onto communities.

In Londonderry, some budget cuts already have been restored.

Last week, Londonderry School Board members spent hours trying to decide what to do about 32 teaching assistant jobs that were cut from superintendent Nate Greenberg’s original $65.8 million budget. The board eventually voted, 4-1, to restore 14 of those positions.

“If the state had not downshifted funds (to us), we would be returning money to the taxpayers,” board member Steve Young said. “That’s no fault of our own. The revenue from the state is just not there.”

Greenberg’s budget also showed about $1 million in other personnel cuts, plus another $904,000 in non-personnel reductions.

“I think we have been very aggressive in some of the things we asked Mr. Greenberg to do,” School Board Chairman John Laferriere said.

Greenberg said he prioritized cuts that could be made with the least impact to students and their education.

Even if the aides had remained out of the budget, Greenberg said, the district’s schools would have functioned well.

Restoring funding for some aides was a good compromise, he said.

“To achieve the proposed budget recommendations, we worked diligently with the administrative staff to address all the factors impacting our budget,” Greenberg said, “as well as addressing our strategic plan and being mindful of the necessity to be strategic forward thinking regarding future issues.”

Londonderry’s revised budget is now $66 million, well under the $67.1 million default budget, Young said.

Derry’s district also had to find cost savings in its proposed $81 million budget for next year.

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