LACONIA — Members of the Laconia School Board expressed concern over the impact of the $100,000 cut in the school district's budget approved by the City Council Monday night when they met at the Harvard Street School on Tuesday night.
''Next year's budget will be challenging,'' said board member Scott Vachon, who said that the allowable increase will be very small given the cut and the low rate of increase in the consumer price index, to which the city's property tax cap is pegged.
''It's negative growth right now and might not even be a half of a percent before the year is over.'' said Vachon, pointing out that the allowable increase might not even fully cover increases in health insurance and teacher pay to which the district is obligated.
School Board Chairman Joe Cormier, reacting to statements by Interim Superintendent Phil McCormack praising the school district's summer learning programs, said that the board will have to do a better job getting out word about its accomplishments in order to build the kind of community support which will prevent future cuts by the council.
Board member Mike Persson, who attended Monday night's council meeting where he pointed out that the savings on the average property tax bill would amount to only $14, said that in light of the cut the district should take a close look at its fund-raising policies as there may be a need for fund-raising in the near future.
Vachon said that Budget and Personnel Committee has been looking at the areas which will be cut in response to the council's action and is working with Business Administrator Ed Emond to come up with a list of areas to be cut which will be presented to the board at it's next meeting on August 11.
Emond said that building improvement work was proceeding well at the high school, where eight classrooms are being renovated and that some of the new fields at the high school where grass growth had been minimal were now irrigated and doing much better.
He said that bids of $160,000 and $200,000 had been received for a new heating system at the SAU office at Harvard Street and that the low bid had been accepted and the district was taking advantage of allowable energy credits. An October 15 completion date is anticipated for the project.
A number of summer learning experiences have been provided, including a Project Extra program involving 192 elementary school students, 48 Middle School students and seven at Laconia High School. Teachers are also taking part in a math-science summer institute which involved 40 teachers, a mental health first aid training for 10 teachers and a K-5 Report Card Committee involving 12 teachers has been meeting.
McCormack said he had had a productive two-day administrative meeting with staff members and was very impressed with the skills and mindset of the staffers, as well as their candor.
He said that he was developing an action plan for the school district's improvement efforts.
The board approved 21 nominations he made to fill teaching positions in the district, five at Woodland Heights, two at Pleasant Street, three at Elm Street, four at the Middle School, six at the High School and one at the Huot Center.
He said that three positions remain unfilled and that he expects more vacancies will soon take place as he has received several calls for references from other school districts.
The board also approved a five-year, $271,503.79 contract with MST Government Leasing LLC which will see 90 percent of the 104 printers used by the school district replaced.
CAPTION: cut slugged McCormack
Laconia's Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Phil McCormack says he is impressed with the summer learning programs underway in the city. (Roger Amsden photo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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