By Alex Malm
During the Londonderry School District Deliberative Session on Feb. 11, nearly 240 residents moved all articles forward with a change made to just the mask article.
The first articles that was sent to the ballot asks voters to approve raising and appropriating the sum of $4,800,000 (gross budget) for the final design, construction, fit up and other costs related to a new School District administrative office and authorize the issuance of not more than $4,500,000 of bonds or notes under and in compliance with the provisions of the Municipal Finance Act (RSA 33); accept $300,000 to offset construction costs; to authorize the School Board to issue, negotiate, sell, and deliver such bonds or notes and determine the rate of interest thereon, and the maturity and other terms thereof; to authorize the School Board to apply for, obtain, accept and expend any federal, state, or other, if any, funds which may be available for said project, to use such funds to reduce the amount of bonds or notes issued for the project and to comply with all laws applicable to said project.
If approved it would also authorize the School Board to enter into a multi-year lease with the Town of Londonderry.
Because it’s a bond the article requires a 3/5 vote to pass.
Superintendent Scott Laliberte explained that in his role as Superintendent he isn’t allowed to take sides when it comes to warrant articles.
“However it is my responsibility as superintendent to present to the voters to present to the School Board more specifically solutions to problems in the operational realm,” said Laliberte.
He explained that when they moved out of the original District Office location there weren’t options that were feasible long-term. When they entered into a lease agreement for the Kitty Hawk location they knew that it would only be short-term.
“We knew there would need to be another step,” said Laliberte.
He said that the option of building a new office on Town owned land is a solution to the problem and the voters will have final say.
School Board member Bob Slater who served on the committee that examined the building of a new District Office said that they researched different properties and spaces the District currently owns and they determined that they didn’t have the adequate space to house the District Office.
Slater and Board member Greg DePasse were the two people on the Board who voted in favor of the project.
School Board Chair Amy Finamore said that she thought that they should’ve looked at other possibilities more closely including if some employees could work at home for part of the week.
She also said that she thought the process felt rushed.
School Board Vice Chair Sara Loughlin said that while she feels that they need to get out of their current lease situation, she said that she didn’t think they examined all the spaces they have to see if they can fit it within the schools.
During a previous meeting Business Administrator Peter Curro said that the School District is currently paying $206,130 a year for their lease payment for their current district office. If the bond is approved for the new office the payments will average $274,500 a year for 20 years, Curro said.
Slater said during the deliberative session that he did a lot of research on it and feels that it is the best move for the District.
“I wouldn’t be presenting this or wasting anybody’s time if I didn’t think this was the right thing to do,” said Slater.
This year voters will be voting on a warrant article to either approve the proposed operating budget or the default budget for next year.
The School Board budget is $83,016,365, while the default budget is a total of $82,855,538.
This year’s budget is $81,497,456.
A proposed amendment was made on the floor during the deliberative session to eliminate $6,000 from the budget. While the amendment was originally to take out the funds for dues it was explained that since it is a bottom line budget specific line items can’t be amended.
The amendment ultimately failed.
One concern that was brought up during the meeting by Christine Perez was how many students they are bringing in from Hooksett and the cost it is for the District.
The School District receives $12,250 per student from Hooksett.
While the average cost per student by the Department of Education is calculated at over $16,000 per student in Londonderry Curro said that it doesn’t tell the whole story.
He explained that the cost per student by the State includes things like salaries that are paid by the federal government, for special education students, and doesn’t account for other revenues that the School District receives.
Ultimately Curro said that the taxpayers aren’t paying over $16,000 per student.
“You do not pay $16,000 and change for the average cost of a high school student,” said Curo.
Curro said that the School District is projected to bring in about $1.5 million in revenue from Hooksett students which helps to offset the tax base.
He said that because they bring in students when they have enough space in their classes it means they have essentially no overhead for bringing in the students.
Londonderry Education Association [LEA] Bargaining Agreement
Londonderry voters will be asked to vote on a warrant article to approve the cost items included in the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Londonderry School District and the Londonderry Education Association (LEA), and further to raise and appropriate the sum of $1,061,168 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
In the first year the salaries and increases would cost $1,061,168 $0.21 $1,271,040 in the second year and $1,319,798 in the third year.
Londonderry Association of Allied Health Professionals [LAAHP] Bargaining Agreement
The Londonderry voters will also be asked to vote on a warrant article that would approve the cost items included in the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Londonderry School District and the Londonderry Association of Allied Health Professionals (LAAHP),
The fiscal impact for salaries and benefits in year one would be $83,764, $96,502 in year two and $97,314 in year three.
School Lunch Program and Federal Fund Projects
Voters will be asked to approve the District accepting and receiving federal grants and other such funds to support the school lunch program and federal projects; further to raise and appropriate such funds in a special revenue fund as follows: school lunch program, $1,795,000; and federal projects, $1,625,641; for an estimated total appropriation of $3,420,641 such funds to be self-supporting through local, state or federal revenue sources?
Improvements to Building Security
A warrant will be on the ballot that will ask voters to vote to raise and appropriate up to the sum of $350,000 for the purpose of improving School Wide security systems district wide, with this sum to come from the June 30, 2022, fund balance available for transfer on July 1, 2022.
Special Article – Equipment Capital Reserve Fund
A warrant article that voters will be voting on would approve raising and appropriating up to the sum of $50,000 to be placed in the School District Equipment Capital Reserve Fund established in 2013 with this sum to come from the June 30, 2022 fund balance available for transfer on July 1, 2022.
Special Article – District Technology Network Infrastructure Capital Reserve Fund
Voters will be asked to approve the raising and appropriating up to the sum of $125,000 to be placed in the School District Technology Network Infrastructure Fund established in March 2019 School District meeting to provide funds for equipment and services for the school district network infrastructure such as, but not limited to, routers, wiring, switches, access points, wireless network improvements or any other equipment software or service that is necessary for the maintenance, improvement, performance or management of the district’s network with this sum to come from the June 30, 2022 fund balance available for transfer on July 1, 2022.
Special Article – Vehicle and Machinery Capital Reserve Fund
The voters will be asked to approve raising and appropriating up to the sum of $75,000 to be placed in the Vehicle and Machinery Fund established in March 2020 School District meeting to provide funds for the acquisition of vehicles and machinery with this sum to come from the June 30, 2022, fund balance available for transfer on July 1, 2022.
Special Article –
Buildings and Grounds Capital Reserve Fund
One of the warrant articles that will be on the ballot will ask voters to approve raising and appropriating the sum of $620,000 to be placed in the District Wide Buildings and Grounds Capital Reserve Fund established in March 2021 School District meeting for the purpose of the maintenance, construction, renovations, improvements and related professional services to all buildings, grounds, fields, substructures, and infrastructure to the overall property of the Londonderry School District. The fund shall provide the funding source for all equipment, structures, professional services, machinery, and materials, necessary to sustain efficiency, safety, of the Districts buildings, grounds, and infrastructure and subsurface that meet the needs of the School District.
A proposed amendment to decrease the warrant article to $320,000 ultimately failed.
Voting on the articles will take place on March 8 at the Londonderry High School Gym from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Note: See page 6 for article concerning Mask wearing in the schools.