Voters at the Londonderry School District Deliberative Session moved to the March 8 ballot the fiscal year 2017 Warrant as proposed.
A total of 67 voters attended the District’s Deliberative Session on Friday evening, Feb. 5.
The School Board’s proposed $70.7 million budget, which the voters passed to the ballot under Article 2, is $154,070 below the default budget and has an estimated tax impact of $13.60 per thousand. The proposed budget represents a 2.5 percent increase over last year’s budget, an $.80 increase to the tax rate.
Remaining warrant articles, which were passed to the ballot with little discussion, total $900,000, with a total tax rate impact of $.22 per thousand.
School Board member John Laferriere spoke in favor of Warrant Article 6, to raise and appropriate $300,000 to fund improvements to the School District’s network infrastructure, including wireless capabilities, to address the curriculum and administrative needs of the School District.
The appropriation would be non-lapsing until all necessary infrastructure improvements are completed, or by June 2020.
Having achieved success with iPads in Londonderry classrooms and “bring your own device” programs, it’s necessary to upgrade the District’s network infrastructure to support those ongoing activities, according to Laferriere.
“This article is for $300,000 to basically build out our wireless infrastructure for all the schools and ensure we have adequate coverage so all the classrooms have adequate Wi-Fi and don’t see the gaps we have in some of the classrooms,” he said.
It was originally estimated the improvements would cost $600,000, but a quote for the upgrades came in at $300,000.
Business Administrator Peter Curro said he has confirmed with the provider that costs will not exceed $300,000.
In addition to providing Wi-Fi access in all areas of the District’s schools, the improvements will enable students to use wireless devices in outside areas at the schools.
Laferriere noted the network infrastructure expansion will also support new security cameras and network devices.
The District’s FY17 Warrant as passed to the ballot by the voters is as follows:
- Article 2: To raise and appropriate as an operating budget for the FY2016-2017 school year, not including appropriations by special warrant articles, the School Board’s amended budget of $70,778,003 (estimated tax impact $13.60 per thousand) or the Default Budget of $70,932,073 (estimated tax impact is $13.65). The School Board and Budget Committee recommend Article 2 with a 5-0 vote each.
- Article 3: To accept and receive federal grants and other funds to support the school lunch program and federal projects; further to raise and appropriate such funds in a special revenue fund – school lunch program, $1,546,577; and federal projects, $1,389,000 – for an estimated total appropriation of $2,935,577. The funds are self-supporting through local, state or federal revenue sources. There is no tax impact. The School Board and Budget Committee recommend Article 3 with a 5-0 vote each.
- Article 4 (Special Article): To raise and appropriate $500,000 for the School Buildings Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund, previously established and approved at the March 1995 School District Meeting. The funds would be used for major one-time capital costs for District facilities, including a digital camera upgrade for video security at a cost of $30,000; an emergency generator at a cost of $65,000; field improvements at a cost of $160,000; and LED lighting retrofits at a cost of $40,000. The tax impact is $.14 cents. The School Board and Budget Committee recommend Article 4 with a 5-0 vote each.
- Article 5 (Special Article): To raise and appropriate $100,000 for the School District Equipment Capital Reserve Fund, established in 2013 to provide funds to procure essential small equipment for classrooms, offices, technology and buildings and grounds. The sum is to come from the June 30, 2016 fund balance available for transfer on July 1, 2016. There is no tax impact. The School Board and Budget Committee recommend Article 5 with a 5-0 vote each.
- Article 6: To raise and appropriate $300,000 to fund the necessary costs to improve the School District’s network infrastructure including wireless capabilities to address the curriculum and administrative needs of the School District. The appropriation would be non-lapsing until all necessary infrastructure improvements are completed or by June 2020, whichever is sooner. The estimated tax impact is $.08 cents. The School Board and Budget Committee recommend Article 6 with a 5-0 vote each.
- Article 7: To amend the Londonderry School District Charter to remove the quorum requirement for amendments at the School District Meeting by amending relevant sections of the Charter. The voters were not required to act on Article 1, election of officers, or Article 7.
The amendment proposed under Article 7 is necessary to bring the District’s Charter into compliance with a court ruling that the quorum requirement in the Charter is too restrictive in allowing amendments at Deliberative Session. Article 7 would eliminate portions of the Charter related to a quorum, bringing the Charter up to code, according to Curro.
The total local education tax rate if the entire FY17 Warrant passes is $13.82 per thousand. For a $300,000 home, that means a local education property tax bill of $4,146.
Combined with the State education property tax bill, the total education property tax bill for a home valued at $300,000 would be $4,806.
The Town will vote on the School District and Town Warrants on March 8 at the Londonderry High School gymnasium from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.