School District Presents First Draft of Budget at $79.3 Million

The Derry Cooperative School District is looking at a proposed budget of $79,323,038 for 2014-15, but administrators warn that it is subject to change.
The administration presented the first draft of its 2014-15 budget to the School Board and the Fiscal Advisory Committee in a budget meeting held this past Monday at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.

After a welcome by Superintendent Laura Nelson, Business Administrator Jane Simard presented a PowerPoint of the proposed budget.
Simard noted that this year’s budget requests tie into the goals of the School Board and Strategic Planning Committee: to have all students, Kindergarten-Grade 12, learning at a high level; to provide a safe, positive school environment that promotes learning and well-being; and to increase community involvement.
Simard said part of the process in crafting the budget was looking at charts of projected enrollment, not only on the district level, but on the school level. To that end, the administration wants to move a teacher from first to third grade at Grinnell Elementary School, and to hire one new fifth-grade teacher based on projected enrollment. The district hired a fifth-grade teacher for Grinnell this year, but with a one-year contract, Simard and Nelson explained.
East Derry Memorial Elementary School’s projected enrollment will allow that school to reduce its workforce by one teacher, Simard said. Derry Village Elementary School requires no changes in personnel. Ernest P. Barka Elementary School’s enrollment will require moving teachers from grades 1 and 4 to grades 3 and 5, and eliminating the first-and fourth-grade positions. But reassigning the teachers will eliminate the need to hire new ones, Simard explained. South Range Elementary School’s enrollment will require one fewer classroom teacher, she said.
Nelson noted, “We will move teachers around the district to meet these needs – there will be no monetary impact.”
The administration is also looking to reduce a part-time elementary band teacher position from .6 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) to .4 FTE, she said.
Simard said the district hopes to add a reading specialist to Grinnell, but will use the funds saved by eliminating the teacher position at South Range.
As for the two middle schools, West Running Brook and Gilbert H. Hood, there will be no new positions and no positions eliminated, she said.
Revenues for the district are expected to be down, Simard said, with Catastrophic Aid, the federal funding for special education, expected at $1.1 million. “Last year we spent over $3 million on student services,” Simard said.
State adequacy funds are also down, with the district expecting $1,514,777 less than in 2012-13, Simard said. She put it in perspective: “That’s approximately equal to staffing one elementary school, or 25 teacher positions.”
Teacher salaries, by contract, are expected to rise by 2 percent and step increases of 3.5 percent. Teachers on the top “step” will receive only the 2.5 percent raise. Educational assistants are by contract expected to have a 15 cent per hour raise. Non-union employees, including custodians, secretaries, principals and administrators, will not receive raises this year, she said.
While the administration has not requested any new classroom teaching positions, they are seeking to add back in the Assistant Director of Student Services, at $115,000 per year, including salary, benefits, FICA and retirement. They are also requesting three additional work days for computer assistants and library assistants, so they can attend team meetings and professional development. This would total $5,111. They are requesting a middle-school library assistant at $20,947.32, and are requesting additional funds for curriculum design, which would be an additional $9,880.
The salary line’s total increase over last year’s budget would be $84,544.03.