They are doing more with less. Jason Parent, principal of Londonderry High School and Richard Zacchilli, principal of Londonderry Middle School, presented their FY 2018 budget requests to the School Board and Budget Committee in a Dec. 13 budget session.
Parent’s 2018 working budget is $515,174, an increase of $25,674 from FY 17. The increase is largely due to a request for leasing a digital press, according to Parent.
Some of his lines are level-funded, while others fluctuate between being slightly higher and slightly lower, he said. He has agreed to reduce two staff members, based on enrollment. Parnt said he has reduced 18.4 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) over eight years, or an average of 2.3 each year.
The largest line item for Parent’s budget is $138,000 for Career and Technical Education, paid to Manchester School of Technology and Alvirne High School. The school sends 115 students to the two CTE programs and the cost is 27 percent of Parent’s budget.
He is asking for replacement texts for French IV and one business class, at a total of $12,716.
Parent’s programs include 14 AP classes with 526 enrolled; nine Career Pathways courses; 16 Running Start classes with 197 students enrolled; 11 courses with Southern New Hampshire University and 127 students; and eleven students enrolled in the Senior Project initiative.
LHS is one of the top 11 high schools in New Hampshire, was named a top school in the country by Business Week magazine, is a past New Hampshire High School of the Year, and boasts the highest number of New Hampshire Scholars in the state at 156. It has a 0.31 percent dropout rate, a 94 percent participation in two-or four-year colleges, and a 99 percent graduation rate.
“That figure still blows my mind,” Board Chair Nancy Hendricks said.
Parent saves money by using more online programs, including correspondence with parents, and by buying generic and in bulk.
Revenues include tuition from Hooksett, which is poised to send 30 freshmen to Londonderry this fall. Hooksett brings in $1 million in tuition, he said.
“The opportunities are endless and fabulous,” board member Leitha Reilly said. But she wondered if LHS offered too many classes, and if it was worth it to have a small class.
Guidance Director Maureen O’Dea said students can request a course be added, and through Aspen, the staff will determine how much interest there is. “We won’t run a class with fewer than 10 students,” she said.
Reilly also passed on a question she receives from constituents: “If enrollment is down, why do you have to spend so much?”
Parent said enrollment is flat, not down, and that the cost of supplies and materials has risen disproportionately.
Dr. Kim Lindley-Soucy, one of the curriculum directors, pointed out that a textbook that cost $50 10 years ago is now $150 or more. “We are looking at alternatives and working with vendors,” she told the board.
Lindley-Soucy said she has gone to Amazon for items such as novels for English classes and been successful, though Amazon can’t provide the number of textbooks needed for classes.
“Basic commodities are going up,” Superintendent Nate Greenberg agreed. While the Consumer Price Index is rising by 2 or 3 percent, textbooks and other supplies are going up 25 percent, he said.
Hendricks asked, “Is this budget so tight that if someone has an idea for a new class, we can’t afford it?”
It is not that tight, Business Manager Peter Curro reassured her. “We have never said no to a program that has value.”
Zacchilli is requesting a total budget of $186,543, a decrease of $2,260 from 2017. Most of his supply lines are level-funded, he said, and he is practicing cost-avoidance with e-mail, online progress reports and Twitter. He is printing the school’s quarterly newspaper in house, and the Recycling Club is working with the town to keep the school green and avoid waste.
He has 300 sixth-graders, 332 seventh-graders and 342 eighth-graders, he said, with nine teaching teams, three for each grade level.
Hendricks asked, “Should you see a spike in enrollment, are you comfortable with the staffing you have?”
He is comfortable with his current staffing level, Zacchilli said, though he would have to go to higher class sizes if any grade went over 350.