LONDONDERRY — School officials presented a proposed spending plan that includes not only the general operating budget, but also a list of warrant articles that deal with technology updates, security and the future of the former administration space adjoining the town offices.
The school board and district officials presented the proposed fiscal 2020 budget number during a public hearing Jan. 10 — a $74,316,200 general fund operating plan that, if approved by voters at the polls, would address not only general education needs in the district, but also has money to support special education and building and grounds.
In his statement last fall when first presenting his budget to the board last fall, Superintendent Scott Laliberte said the budget is set up to address specific challenges while building on what works for Londonderry as a school district.
“It’s an opportunity to do that within our current structure,” the superintendent said, “coming forward with ideas of different ways of doing things, to use resources we have.”
Through many weeks of budget workshops and changes, the board eventually approved an amended operating budget number at the recent hearing, shaving about $133,000 off a previous total of $74,449,700.
The school warrant not only includes the general operating budget, but also several warrant articles including an article proposed for $150,000 for a equipment capital reserve fund, and a request to set up a capital reserve fund for the district’s technology infrastructure.
An original warrant article request for $500,000 to be placed in a new technology network infrastructure capital reserve fund, was amended down to $275,000 at the hearing.
Technology upgrades are sorely needed, Business Administrator Peter Curro said.
"The wiring of our network is old and outdated," Curro said. "We strongly believe any further delay would affect the district."
Curro said there are instances where students are not able to sign on to the system quickly, and a pilot plan to bring SAT tests to an online format could be affected.
"Delaying this would just add to the frustration users are currently receiving," he said.
Another article that will come before voters is to ask for $92,000 to fund a new security systems technician position. Curro said at an earlier meeting that money has been approved in past years to support school security with cameras, video surveillance and door security, but now it’s time to have someone to take on the responsibility of managing that security.
The title of this job was changed from the original "security manager" position, Curro said, adding there had been some public confusion as to what this job would entail.
Building and grounds director Chuck Zappala said the position is not a school resource officer, or any armed personnel that would be on school grounds. It's a job to manage the district's security systems and supervise upgrades when needed.
Zappala said the district has invested much in the past several years to keep students and staff safe in the buildings. This position, if approved, would be part of the building and grounds department and would be responsible for training, overseeing equipment and testing operations and safety devices.
Another article will ask voters to approve the transfer of the former school administration office back to the town of Londonderry.
In March 1984, voters approved a warrant article to spend $235,000 or any other amount, for the construction and equipping of a new SAU office, adjacent to the town offices on town-owned property.
The administration offices are now located on Kitty Hawk Landing. The new article will ask voters to rescind that agreement.
The warrant also includes two collective bargaining agreements between the school district and the Londonderry Education Association and another article dealing with a contract with the Londonderry Association of Allied Health Professionals.
Residents will be able to discuss and make amendments to the budget and warrant articles during the annual school district Deliberative Session on Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Londonderry High cafeteria.
Voters will cast ballots on the budget at the polls March 12. In addition, residents will also choose a school board member, school district clerk, school district moderator and school district treasurer, all for three-year terms.