LONDONDERRY — Residents attending a recent school budget hearing were able to weigh in on a proposed fiscal year 2021 operating budget number as well as a list of warrant articles dealing with technology, school building maintenance and union contracts.

At the hearing Jan. 16, the school board approved sending a proposed general fund operating number of $78,875,263 to the warrant.

Back in November, Superintendent Scott Laliberte offered his first look at a proposed budget, saying the numbers were fiscally responsible and would meet students' needs in the classroom and keep services and programs intact.

In meetings since, the school board has amended the budget numbers before coming to the final number.

In addition to the operating budget, the school warrant coming before voters could include several articles dealing with technology, maintenance and asbestos removal.

Board members began the hearing and moved past the operating budget discussion and read each warrant article, then asking for input from the public, Budget Committee members and each other.

As the meeting neared the four-hour mark, the board circled back to finalize the operating budget number.

Warrant articles include $3,142,000 for the district's school lunch program and other federal projects that, if approved, would have no tax impact to residents.

Another article, amended by the board, reduced the amount for a special article on the School Buildings Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund from a proposed $650,000 down to $600,000. This fund was approved by voters in March 1995 for major one-time capital costs for district facilities including roof work, paving and boilers.

An article also asks voters to place $150,000 in a Equipment Capital Reserve Fund to use for essential small equipment for classrooms, offices, technology and buildings and grounds.

One article will also deal with a school charter change dealing with how the district's default budget is calculated.

Other articles include:

— $125,000 to be placed in the School District Technology Network Infrastructure Fund, established in 2019 to provide funds for equipment and services for the district's network infrastructure including routers, wiring, switches, etc.

— An easement request to authorize the board to convey an easement to Sanborn Crossing Apartments Limited Partnership consisting of a strip of land 20-feet in width and extending 10 feet near North Elementary School as part of water and sewer work being done in that area.

— $150,000 for an asbestos removal project. Voters approved another article dealing with asbestos back in 2017. The next asbestos project involves office areas at Matthew Thornton Elementary School. District business administrator Peter Curro said the asbestos process is costly.

"It is well worth the district's money to approve this," Curro said.

Two other warrant articles deal with union contracts, one a three-year contract with the Londonderry Custodians AFSCME Local 1801 and another bargaining agreement with Londonderry Support Staff.

Voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed school budget and warrant articles at the annual deliberative session on Friday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Londonderry High School cafeteria.

Voting day is Tuesday, March 10 and polls will be open at the high school gymnasium from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents will not only consider the budget and articles but will also choose two school board members for three-year terms.

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