School Budget, Contracts Face Voters March 8

Voters in the Derry Cooperative School District will be asked on March 8 to approve an FY 16-17 budget of $81,787,588, an increase of $1,655,475 over FY 15-16.

The budget is less than the default budget of $81,970,492, which under the Official Ballot Law goes into effect if the operating budget is rejected at the polls.

The budget was passed on to voters with no changes, after several challenges to the bottom line in the Feb. 1 School District Meeting.

Drivers of the budget increase include tuition to Pinkerton Academy, the district’s high school of record, up 4.7 percent or $513.03 per student; Special Education, up due to the addition of a classroom to the New England Center for Children, the district’s program for children on the autism spectrum, $241,033; a new Kindergarten – Grade 5 math program, the first payment due at $95,383; and a 5.6 percent increase in health insurance, translated to $96,000 on the budget.

In addition, voters will be asked to approve contracts for both the Derry Education Association (teachers) and the district’s paraprofessionals. The teachers’ contract if approved is an increase of $403,888 for one year; the two-year “para” contract includes an increase of $69,771 in the first year and $75,572 for the second. The teacher contract if approved will add 17 cents to the tax rate and the aides’ contract will add 3 cents.

The district will also be asked to approve a new lease with the Next Charter School for its space in the former Tech Education area at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School. The lease would bring an estimated $237,000 in revenue to the district over 10 years from the charter school.

The Town of Derry is under a Town Council form of government and the residents do not vote on the town budget at the polls. The Council will be deciding the FY 17 budget in May.

Voting is Tuesday, March 8, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Districts 1 and 4 vote at the Gilbert H Hood Middle School; District 2, Calvary Christian School; and District 3, West Running Brook Middle School.