Sachems knocked from playoff picture by Kearsarge

LACONIA — The Sachems' 2014 football campaign ended on a sour note at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium as visiting Kearsarge (N. Sutton) eliminated Laconia from the NHIAA Division II playoff picture with a come-from-behind 33-30 victory. The Cougars claimed the second and final playoff spot in the North Conference and will play undefeated Kennett (N. Conway) next weekend.

Laconia finished the season at 4-4. Kearsarge improved to 5-5. Kennett is 8-0.

The Sachems earned a 14-7 halftime lead but for the third game in a row could not make it stand up.

Quarterback Matt Swormstedt tossed three touchdown passes to lead Laconia's offensive effort. Onee of those scoring passes was caught by Keith Schultz, who also rushed for a touchdown.

Three North Conference teams entered last last's play in a three way tie for the final playoff spot. The Sachems controlled their own destiny with a win. Lebanon was the other school involved. The Sachems and Cougars have an advantage over Lebanon because of strength of schedule.

Laconia's season has been a roller coaster ride week in and week out, with the exception of the 58-19 victory against Manchester West. The Sachems fell in week one to Lebanon on a failed two-point attempt after scoring the potential game tying touchdown. The Sachems then rolled off four straight wins that included an overtime victory against Plymouth and handing St Thomas Aquinas its only blemish of the season. The Sachems beat Plymouth in overtime for a 28-27 win a week after a fourth quarter goal line stand held off the Saints 35-28. The four game streak ended at Merrimack Valley when the Pride downed the Sachems 20-17 before a 3-20 loss to Kennett a week ago.

Water main break shuts down upper Weirs Boulevard

LACONIA — A water main break on tWeir Boulevard forced police to reroute traffic over White Oaks Road last night. The break was reported around 5:30 p.m.

Public Works Director Paul Moynihan said crews from Laconia Water Department, including Superintendent Seth Nuttleman, were working on the break.

He said the person who was from his department told him that there appears to be a significant depression in the south-bound lane near Pier 3 condominiums.

AT 7 p.m., Moynihan said he expected it could take crews as much as three of four hours to repair the break.




Newfound board wants all-day kindergarten, will look for savings to pay for it elsewhere in budget

By Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — Facing an initial 2015-2016 budget that is $837,218 beyond the amount allowed under the property tax cap, the Newfound Area School Board nevertheless directed the superintendent to come up with a cost range for adding full-day kindergarten throughout the school district. Asked for a rough estimate of how much it would add to the budget, Superintendent Stacy Buckley put the figure at $250,000 to $300,000.
Buckley came to the Oct. 29 school board meeting with a list of $1,076,809 in possible cuts the board could make to bring the budget she had presented a month earlier in line with the tax cap, designed to limit the increase in the school district's assessment to the member towns to no more than two percent annually. Reviewing the items that might be cut, the board discussed trimming about $400,000 of the new expenditures — less than half of what is needed to meet the tax cap.
Many board members, however, wanted to make room in the budget for full-time kindergarten, regardless of how much more challenging it would make the task of staying within the tax cap. "This will go a long way toward improving student outcomes," said Vice-Chair Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater. "If we have to add the $200,000 to $300,000 it will take to do that, then we will have to go through however many meetings are necessary to get it right, including the problem with the tax cap."
The proposed budget for 2015-2016 stands at $20,734,377 which Buckley said she presented so the board would know what was "appropriate" to address school district needs in addition to basic costs. "I don't think the tax cap budget is appropriate," she said, conceding that she nevertheless had to adhere to it.
The recently agreed to teachers' contract would add another $305,620 to that figure, bringing the budget to $21,039,997. Business Administrator Michael Limanni said all that is allowed under the tax cap is $20,202,779 which is less than the current-year budget of $20,310,865.
Limanni explained his tax cap calculation which uses the current-year assessment to the towns as a basis for next year's figure. The local tax assessment for 2014-2015, after accounting for anticipated revenue, is $11,964,445 which means next year's assessment cannot exceed $12,203,734. Total estimated revenue for next year is $7,999,045, bringing the total allowed by the tax cap to $20,202,779.
Buckley said the school district attorney clarified the tax cap override provision: Neither the school board nor the budget committee can vote to override the cap; only the legislative body — the voters — can do so by amending the budget at the school district's deliberative session. Even then, under the municipal budget law, the voters can increase the budget committee's figure by no more than 10 percent.
Interestingly, she said, if the voters defeat the proposed budget and the default budget kicks in, the tax cap would not apply. Even if the default budget calculation works out to be higher than the tax cap budget, it still would take effect.
The other variable is that the school board could ask the budget committee to approve using some of the retained fund balance. Those additional revenues would increase the amount of spending allowed because it would not affect the local tax assessment.
The school board spent nearly an hour and a half going through the budget as proposed to understand the changes, many of them relating to properly allocating expenditures which, in the past, had appeared in the wrong categories, or were not broken out into enough detail. Limanni has been working to better account for spending and provide more safeguards to prevent misappropriation of funds.
A recurring subject during the meeting was the implementation of full-day kindergarten, with Chair Ruby Hill of Danbury saying, "My goal is to pass the teacher contract and add full-day kindergarten."
Sue Cheney of Alexandria was the lone dissenter, saying that, while she supports full-day kindergarten, she does not believe it can be properly implemented on such a short schedule. Buckley had said that it normally takes two years of planning to put in place a kindergarten program.
Part of the problem, Buckley said, is predicting how many students will participate in the program. Parents have said they send their preschoolers elsewhere because the district does not offer a full-day program. How many parents would choose to send their children to Newfound with a full-day program in place is unknown and Buckley said they should do a family poll to get some factual information to base their planning on. Higher enrollments could mean hiring additional teachers and, perhaps, create space problems.
Migliore, in his formal motion to add full-day kindergarten while also keeping half-day kindergarten as an option for parents, asked Buckley to provide a best-case, worst-case cost scenario for the board to consider at its next meeting. He said that, in order to fund the additional kindergarten hours, the board might have to look at closing one of the district's schools.
The school board had considered closing Newfound Memorial Middle School but, faced with opposition from voters at two public hearings on the matter, the board settled for addressing only the elementary schools, asking the superintendent to develop a plan for moving the sixth graders back into the elementary schools, which leaves only the seventh and eighth grades at the middle school.
Benjamin LaRoche of Bristol requested that time be set aside at the Nov. 10 school board meeting to discuss the possible need for a committee to look into how the seventh and eighth grades might be incorporated into Newfound Regional High School. "It's important to look into that prior to our discussion of K-6," he said.
In other business, the board had a brief discussion of the Bridgewater-Hebron Village District withdrawal study which had concluded that, while feasible, it was not desirable to withdraw from the Newfound Area School District at this point. Migliore pointed out that the board's decision to return the sixth grade students to the elementary schools was a major reason for the committee's decision not to withdraw.
Hill noted that the Bridgewater-Hebron discussion had resulted in the town selectmen deciding to get together to discuss common issues. The selectmen of the Newfound Area towns will be meeting in Bristol on Nov. 19.
During the public comment period, Heather Gosson of Bristol said she agreed with Cheney that next year would be too soon to implement full-day kindergarten, and she said, "I'm also dismayed that, after hearing from the voters, you keep trying to shut down the middle school."
John Sellers of Bristol complained at the beginning of the meeting that he had received no acknowledgement from the school board of his e-mail concerning school buses. He wanted the board to comment on why several of the buses had been taken off the road after not passing an unannounced state inspection. Because his email went out after the agenda had been set, the school board could not take the matter up, but the superintendent was preparing a response, according to Hill.

Stolen Belmont pick-up recovered in Mass.

BELMONT — Police in Burlington, Mass. have recovered the pickup truck stolen from Muller Landscaping earlier this week.

Belmont Police said it was found in a residential neighborhood and the identifying decals on both doors had been removed.

The 2000 red Ford truck and a number of landscaping tools were stolen during a burglary at 242 Union Road sometime Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

The vehicle was intact and not damaged however there was no sign of the tools.

A Belmont detective is working with the Burlington police to try and gather any evidence from the recovered truck and to interview potential witnesses.

In an unrelated case, Belmont police also recovered an EZ Go Golf Cart that has been reported stolen from Mallard's Landing on Union Road in November of 2013.

Acting on a tip, police said they spoke with Wayne Barrett, 74, of 67 First Street and said he admitted knowing the golf cart was stolen.

Barrett was charged with felony receiving stolen property and released on personal recognizance bail. He has a court date on December 4.