Laconia School Board adopts 2013-12 tax cap friendly budget of $34.8 million

LACONIA – The Laconia School Board Tuesday approved a $34.8 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year.
The bottom line, which the board approved unanimously with little discussion, is $264,018 higher than the district's current budget.
When school officials met with the City Council on April 22, they told councilors they still needed to trim $234,333 from their spending plan to make it conform to the limitations called for under the city's property tax cap.
On Tuesday Superintendent Bob Champlin told the board that the School District plans to turn back to the city $100,000 from the district's current budget, which the council could then add to the district's 2013-14 budget the reduce the new amount that will need to be collected in taxes. The other $134,000 would come from cutting six staff positions.
Champlin said he hoped that all cuts would come through attrition and he said the decision of exactly which positions would be eliminated would be determined after his office knew which teachers would be retiring or leaving the district at the end of the school year.
Key items in the budget are: $7.4 million for regular education, $3.9 million for special education, $1.67 million for school administration, $1.9 million for building operations and maintenance, and $2.58 million for debt service.
School District Business Administrator Ed Emond said the spending package was essentially a level-funded budget. He said one new item was $245,000 first year payment on the bond for the city's share of $16 million renovation and building project at Laconia High School and the Huot Regional Technical Education Center.
Champlin said that the budget maintains all the district's educational programs. He said that the savings would come through changes in employee health insurance and increased energy efficiency.
Commenting on the $100,000 the district plans to return to the city, board member Mike Persson said, "This $100,000 is not money we don't need. We do need this money. It's a sacrifice, but it's necessary."
School officials are scheduled to meet with the City Council next Monday to discuss the budget.
In other business, the board approved a five-year school bus contract with the First Student company.
The contract calls for increases of 10.4 percent a year over the life of the contract, although there will be no increase the first year. The district currently pays $536,706 a year to transport students.
The new contract will make First Student responsible for paying that portion of fuel costs above $3 a gallon. In addition the company will install GPS devices on all buses so dispatchers will know where the vehicles are at all times and will replace the entire fleet of eight buses within the next two years.