GILFORD —The School Board has approved a $26,030,568 budget for school year 2016-2017, up 2.5 percent from this year's budget of $24,264,335 or $643,848.
The board is asking taxpayers to support a $2 million bond that will be used for mechanical, electrical and HVAC upgrades to the Gilford Elementary School. It will appear as a warrant article on the annual ballot
Superintendent Kent Hemingway said the board had talked initially about spending about $400,000 a year over the next five years for the upgrades but decided that taking one bond would be preferable because all of the systems could be interconnected and contractors wouldn't have to go back each year to reconnect and upgrade the newest projects. Hemingway said the borrowing rates are also very favorable.
Hemingway also noted the original engineering called for a wood-chip plant, but once the district performed an emergency replacement of the boiler about three years ago the board eliminated it from further consideration.
"The final project will be under $2 million," Hemingway said, noting the school was built in 1939 and this is a 30- to 50-year project.
The proposed budget included the first year's bond payment that could be $35,167 for a 10-year bond at 3 percent or $41,028 for a 15-year bond at 3.5 percent.
In other budget items, Hemingway said there is a maximum increase of 3 percent or $142,000 in health insurance factored into the proposed budget. The maximum increase is used for compiling the budget but the actual increase rate won't be available until after the budget is well into the SB2 budget process.
The district is in its third year of a three-year contract with the Gilford Education Association and the budget includes a 2.5 percent increase in salaries or $87,585. Hemingway said there are no mandatory statutory increases in the contribution to the state retirement system, keeping it at $54,000.
Even though enrollments increased slightly this year and are predicted to stay level or slightly increase over the next few years said Hemingway, the district lost one language arts teaching position for the middle school. The purchase of the K-through-8 math program is completed, meaning the district will not be spending $69,780 in the next budget year.
Maintenance projects are projected to cost $216,700 and include $165,000 for paving of the Gilford Elementary School parking lot, $24,000 for carpet computer labs at the high school, $7,200 for circulation pumps, $6,500 for stairwell cameras, and $14,000 to replace the 2005 lawn mower for the district.
The Budget Committee has been working in subcommittees on each individual school budget and a budget hearing is scheduled for Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at Gilford High School.
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