As the time for voting on the 2018-2019 school budget for Derry inches closer, members of the Derry School Board and Superintendent MaryAnn Connors-Krikorian met at Grinnell Elementary School on Feb., 1 to address any questions from residents and Grinnell staff, as well as its PTA.
The bulk of the meeting went into Connors expanding upon the rules of the upcoming deliberative session on February 10 at West Running Brook Middle School, as well as the major factors of the suggested budget that the district has put forth for voters.
Amongst the major changes include a seven hundred and twenty thousand dollar decrease in health and dental insurance, an increase in transportation charges by sixty three thousand dollars and a series of staffing additions and cuts, including the addition of two In-School Suspension Assistants. Connors argued that such positions were needed for the sake of keeping suspended students in school as much as possible unless the law says otherwise for certain infractions.
“The more we can keep them in school…the better off our students and families will be”, Connors noted.
Furthermore, a major technology overhaul that would run the district around five hundred and twenty thousand dollars over the next three years was added to upgrade the district’s Wi-Fi systems, software, phone systems and other elements, all of which have lagged behind more modern standards. On top of that, Connors also argued that these upgrades would not only improve the students’ education, but also improve working conditions for staff and improve security for the schools as well.
However, one resident, Joseph Sager, brought up an ongoing point of concern that has been on the minds of both residents and the school district for the past several months: whether or not one of the elementary schools will be closed down to assist with the budget. Although nothing has been confirmed as of yet and the pros and cons of such a move are still currently being weighed by the district, Sager, like other residents and members of the PTA in attendance that night, worried about what kind of impact this would have on Derry’s community as a whole.
“If that means paying a little more in taxes, then so be it”, Sager noted when suggesting keeping all schools open.
While Connors did try to defend the possible closing, others in attendance were also not so keen on the idea, not only saying that there should be just as much of an emphasis on the future of Derry’s children as with fiscal matters, but also remembering the negative community impact caused by the closing of Charles M Floyd Elementary School in 2006.