GILFORD — School Board members voted 4-to-1 not to support the proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year that will eliminate half of the raises recommended for the non-union staff.
The meeting was held after Tuesday night's Budget Committee's public hearing for their version of the budget, which is the one which will appear on the ballot in March. The total budget recommended by the Budget Committee was reduced by $115,508 largely by reducing the amount of raises for non-union staff from the 3 percent requested by the School Board to 1.5 percent.
The vote represents the board's unwillingness to support the cuts to support staff raises made by the budget committee but is not an endorsement of the default budget that has no raises.
"What I was hearing loudly, over and over, was concern for the support staff," said member Sue Allen.
"Personally, I think the purpose of a public hearing is to listen," she continued, referring to the continued back-and-forth between members of the public and some members of the Budget Committee during the hearing.
Member Chris McDonough was the lone dissenting vote for supporting the Budget Committee budget and said he feared not recommending it could lead voters to think they support the default budget.
Member Jack Landeau said his concern is the "arbitrary" cut because Social Security didn't go up. He said he does not support the cuts but sided with the majority and voted not to support budget. He said that if the board votes not to support, it is their "responsibility" to get the word to people as to why the board voted the way it did.
"Our job," said member Rae Mello Andrews, "is to make sure the people understand clearly where the school board stands and that's that they don't support the cuts made to the support staff raises by the committee."
She encouraged members to use social media sites to explain their position.
Chairman Karen Thurston, who is the school board representative to the budget committee, wanted people to know that the ongoing differences between the two boards and the administration was not personal.
"It's not us against them," she said. "We're going to talk about numbers."
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