School District Proposes Cutting Two Teaching Positions

The Derry Coooperative School District administration is suggesting a reduction in force of two net teacher positions as a response to declining enrollment.

Business Manager Jane Simard made the announcement and walked the board and Fiscal Advisory Committee through the proposed 2015-16 budget during the first Board/Advisory Committee meeting Monday night.

Simard and Superintendent Laura Nelson presented a working budget of $79,027,113.00, an increase of $987,217.10 over this year’s $78,039,895.90. However, they said, the bottom line is subject to change and could go up or down depending on upcoming meetings, staff input, board and Advisory Committee suggestions, and other variables.

Board vice-chair Ken Linehan conducted the meeting in the absence of Chairman Neal Ochs.

Highlights of the proposed budget include:

• Employee salaries. Educational assistant salaries will see a 15 cent per hour raise as a result of their negotiated contract. A wage pool increase for all non-union staff, including custodians, secretaries, principals and administration, is included in the budget. Two elementary teaching positions, estimated at $80,000 each, are proposed for elimination. The salary line does not include teacher raises, Simard said, because those are in negotiations and will be addressed in a separate warrant article.

• Benefits. The district’s contribution to the New Hampshire Retirement System is increasing, from 10.77 percent to 11.17 percent for employees and from 14.16 percent to 15.67 percent for teachers, for a total increase of $317,344.67. Health insurance has a guaranteed maximum rate increase of 1.9 percent and is going down by $23,834.34; and dental has a zero percent increase, for a decrease of $2,806.30, leaving a health benefit increase of $306,115.90.

• Contracted services, including speech, tutoring and others contracted out. Temporary tutoring has decreased by $20,000, Adult Education by $300, District Professional Development by $11,249 and NWEA testing by $1,875. The staff is asking for a new I-Ready instructional license, at $7,200, and the line’s total decrease is $26,224.

• Repairs and maintenance. Middle school equipment repair decreased by $664, Adult Education equipment by $1,000, and copier and equipment leases by $15,500. The staff is asking for a new lease of 300 MacBook Air devices for teachers for $84,846,36. The total increase to this line item is $50,425.43.

• Tuition rates. After consulting with Pinkerton Academy Finance Director Glenn Neagle, and after Nelson’s talking with Headmaster Griffin Morse, Simard said the administration is recommending a “placeholder” 4 percent increase for Pinkerton tuition. That would mean an increase of $426.25 per student, she said. Derry tuitions its high school students to Pinkerton.

She is also using a 4 percent placeholder for the Pinkerton Special Education rate, she said, and is estimating an increased cost of $888,449.31.

Out-of-district tuition has decreased by $115,000. The district expects to add 15 students to the Next Charter School for a net cost of $132,938.85. The New England Center for Children (NECC) autism program at Derry Village Elementary School is expected to increase by $5,000 and adding the NECC program to Gilbert H. Hood Middle School is expected to be an increase of $132,938.85.

• Transportation. Simard eliminated one bus route and reduced transportation by $21,765.60. But special education busing contractual increases are $33,641 and homeless and 504 transportation are up by $486, resulting in a net increase of $12,361.40.

• Supplies and texts. Proposed math pilot program for K-5, $7,500 increase; proposed math curriculum for middle school, $110,377 proposed increase.

• Furniture and equipment. Decrease of $19,868.00.

• Debt service. Down $61,821.88.

Because of enrollment changes, the administration is recommending cutting one first-grade teacher and one fourth-grade teacher from East Derry Memorial Elementary School, but adding one third-grade teacher, for a net reduction of one position. They are recommending eliminating one full-day kindergarten teacher from Derry Village School but adding one fourth-grade teacher, for no net impact. They are recommending eliminating one fifth-grade position at Ernest P. Barka Elementary School for a net loss of one, and recommending no staffing changes at South Range and Grinnell elementary schools or the two middle schools. Using an average of $80,000 as a working figure, Simard said reducing the two positions is a net savings of $160,000.

Linehan asked Special Services Director Chris Kellan if there were more students with special needs at Pinkerton, and Kellan said while the amount of coded students has remained stable, their needs are more significant and require more services.

The cost for sending students out of district is down by $115,000, which Kellan attributes to School Administrative Unit 10’s efforts to provide more services in-district. He used the NECC program as an example, saying, “If we had to send those children out of town, you would not see a $115,000 reduction.”

Simard said numbers that are not firm yet include Pinkerton tuition and utility costs.

The Fiscal Advisory Committee meets Monday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hood library. Technology Director Ray Larose is expected to present his requests for 2015, along with PACE/ESOL/Library director Serena Levine.