LONDONDERRY — Only about 85 of the town's more than 19,000 registered voters came out Friday night to hear the business of the school district.
But those who came approved sending a proposed $78,875,263 operating budget to the ballot in March.
The school board and district officials presented the proposed fiscal 2021 budget number during Friday night's deliberative session — an operating plan that, if approved by voters at the polls, would address not only general education needs in the district, but would also include money to support technology, buildings and grounds and asbestos removal.
Superintendent Scott Laliberte told the crowd the district was facing many challenges moving forward. But making sure students succeed is a top priority.
He added the district is working hard to adapt to those challenges including enrollment numbers, facility studies and maintaining the best possible instruction for the district's students.
"We want our students to experience a broad variety of opportunities," Laliberte said.
Enrollment numbers have been fluctuating for several years, the superintendent added, but focus must remain on the many development projects now underway in town and what that might mean for future student numbers.
He credited the work of the facilities study group and the support of outside consultants to keep the process moving forward to plan and study what's to come.
"We know (enrollment) is not going to decline forever," he said. "We know the town is growing quickly. We are trying to prepare as far ahead as we can."
The school warrant not only includes the general operating budget, but also several warrant articles including one for $600,000 to be placed in the School Buildings Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund, established at the March 1995 school district meeting for major one-time capital costs for district facilities including paving, roof repairs, boilers and other small renovation projects.
Voters will also be asked to approve $150,000 to be placed in the School District Capital Reserve Fund to be used for small equipment purchases for classrooms, offices, technology and buildings and grounds.
One article asks votes to approve spending $125,000 for a technology infrastructure fund, and another article is an amendment to the school charter to update language dealing with the definition of what a default budget is and what money items can be included in that number.
Voters will also be asked to approve money to remove asbestos in district buildings at a cost of $150,000.
The warrant also includes two collective bargaining agreements between the school district and the Londonderry Custodians and Londonderry Support Staff.
Voters will cast ballots on the budget on March 10. In addition, residents will also choose two school board members. Both incumbent board members, Nancy Hendricks and Dan Lekas, will not seek another term and were honored for their time spent on the board.
Polls will be open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Londonderry High School gymnasium.