February 14, 2011

Lawmakers urged to make budget cuts

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- School officials and legislators urged residents Saturday to support a $76.6 million budget that would cut 46 teaching positions in anticipation of reductions in state aid. Unless changes are made to the state’s education funding formula, Derry is set to lose about $6.8 million next year in state adequacy aid. 
State Sen. Jim Rausch of Derry assured voters at Saturday’s deliberative session that he and other lawmakers are working to keep the funding levels consistent but asked voters to support the budget reductions just in case. 
“I caution voters that the proposals out there are just that. They have to go through the entire legislative process in the Senate, the House and to the governor. There is no guarantee that these bills will be successful,” he told the audience Saturday. Removing self-funded programs and federal funding, the district’s budget sits at $73.4 million, down $4.5 million over the current year. The budget cuts 46 teaching positions and 14 other jobs to save $2.9 million in salary and benefi ts costs. 
School Board member Ken Linehan said the budget would increase that tax rate by about 79 cents. 
“We would like to offer you something less, but I think it’s a very responsible budget for the situation we’re in,” Linehan told the audience Saturday. 
Meg Morse-Barry, a Derry resident, teacher and president of the Derry Education Association, spoke in favor of the budget Saturday. 
“The Derry Education Association reluctantly supports this budget because there is nothing else we can do,” Morse-Barry said. “This isn’t our issue. It’s a bigger issue — and Concord, please wake up.” 
The default budget is $81.5 million, which is the same as last year with contractual increases. 
The two-year collective bargaining agreement, which would cover about 100 educational assistants, drew little comment Saturday. 
In its first year, the contract would increase costs by $21,800 to cover step increases but no other changes to the wage schedule. In the second year, the contract would cost $78,000 to include step increases and a 25-cent pay raise. 
School Board Chairman Kevin Gordon recognized board member Mark Grabowski for his years of service on the board. Grabowski is not running for re-election. 

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