, Derry, New Hampshire

January 2, 2014

Schools finalize budget details for next year

Derry, Londonderry officials prepare for public hearings

By Julie Huss

---- — School officials in Derry and Londonderry are putting the finishing touches on proposed budgets for next year.

Both towns are well into the budget season, hosting workshops and getting ready for public hearings this month.

In Derry, the proposed school budget for 2014-2015 is $80.8 million, a 1.37 percent cut in spending over last year, according to officials. The total includes the district’s $2.5 million self-funded food service program and other federal programs.

That number was finalized on Dec. 16. A public hearing is set for Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m., with the deliberative session to follow Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. Both meetings will be held at West Running Brook Middle School.

Next year’s number shows approximately $1 million less than last year’s approved $81.9 million budget. Some of the savings for next year will come through lower enrollment numbers, translating into fewer staff members. Most of the positions will be lost through attrition.

Derry, like many communities, also faces state shortfalls in aid and will pay more in retirement and health-care costs.

Business administrator Jane Simard said the district will see a savings of $495,000 as the West Running Brook Middle School bond will be paid off going into next year.

Two remaining bonds, a combination Derry Village School/South Range Elementary bond and a Barka Elementary/Gilbert H. Hood Middle School bond, won’t be paid off until 2020 and 2034, respectively.

Derry will get less adequacy aid from the state. That’s something Londonderry also faces, along with lower enrollment totals.

Londonderry’s Budget Committee and School Board members are hosting workshops to go over department requests that are part of a proposed $66.5 million school budget, up less than 1 percent from last year.

Last week, the group tackled buildings and grounds finances, IT and food service.

The district has lost money on the food service program for several years, including a loss of $17,000 last year, according to business administrator Peter Curro.

Two new ovens were purchased for the middle school at a cost of $30,000. That purchase took another bite out of the budget a year earlier than expected, Curro said.

Londonderry officials hope to get some much-needed school renovations done.

In addition to the general fund budget, there are several articles headed to the warrant, including a $4 million 10-year bond request to pay for renovations and construction of buildings if and when they are needed.

Projects deemed most important if that bond should pass include major roof work and replacement at the middle school and high school, paving projects at Matthew Thornton Elementary and Moose Hill School, and field improvements around the district.

Voters rejected a similar proposal last year.

Londonderry’s school budget public hearing is set for Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the town offices.