The Derry cost per pupil from 2002 to 2012 has increased 116 percent from $5,720 to $12,400. However, during this same period, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased only 30 percent. This means the Derry School Board out spent the cost of living by 86 percent. Furthermore, the school population has decreased from 6,882 children in 2002 to 5,651 in 2012 | a loss of 1,231 students or almost 18 percent. During that same time period, the funding we received from the state has increased from $27.6 million to $33.3 million or 20 percent. Every other adjacent community has seen a decrease in funding, except Manchester, and they received only 8 percent more.
I find it irrational that the Derry School Board has increased spending by 116 percent while losing 18 percent of its students and receiving 20 percent more in state funding. Yet in the deliberative session, three School Board members voted with approximately 40 teachers to add an additional $800,000 dollars to the proposed budget.
The total school appropriation for the current year is $79.8 million. The proposed recommended total budget appropriation is $81.1 million for an increase of $1.3 million. Following the vote on Feb. 2, add an additional $800,000 dollars for an increase over last year of $2.1 million and we are left with a total operating budget of $81.9 million if Warrant Articles 2 and 3 pass. To make matters worse, the default budget that also passed is almost identical to the proposed budget which gives voters no real option to stop this increased spending.
The estimated local taxes to be raised this current school year were $38.1 million. The estimate for the ensuing year is $44.2 million. Now add another $800,000. The potential impact on the Derry taxes to be raised is an increase of $6.9 million. Based on the town assessed value from 2012, the school portion of next year’s tax bill will potentially increase by $2.97 dollars per $1,000. Our current tax rate is $30.48 per $1,000. With this school budget for the 2013- 2014 school year, it will potentially increase to $33.45 which could give Derry the distinction of having the highest tax rate in New Hampshire.