GILFORD — The School Board voted unanimously Monday night to submit a $25,441,632-million budget for school year 2015-2016 to the Budget Committee.
The general fund budget — that portion of the budget that excludes food service and federal projects funds — is up 2.95 percent ($696,094), from $23,618,677 in this school year to a proposed $24,314,771.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Superintendent Kent Hemingway explained the main drivers behind the hike are the increase in the school district's contribution to the N.H. retirement system, which is $266,247 and a maximum increase of 8 percent ($288,047) for health insurance.
The district is in the second year of a three-year contract with the Gilford Education Association and salary increases account for $251,451 of the increase. Non-union salaries are budgeted at 2.5 percent, which accounts for $104,275 of the increase.
Hemingway said the total increases in the 2015-16 budget that are being driven by items beyond the district's control amount to $976,616. In response, the district is eliminating six support positions through either retirement or resignation, saving about $300,000.
"This is not going to be a reduction in force and nobody is getting pink-slipped," said Hemingway, in a phone interview yesterday afternoon. He said is is normal for the district to lose an average of five to seven non-teacher, non-custodial positions annually and he is working with building administrators to redefine some job expectation and descriptions for existing support staff to compensate for the loss of the six positions.
Hemingway also noted that the in the past eight years enrollments in the Gilford School District have dropped by about 10 percent and the number of employees has dropped by about nine percent. Projecting into next year, Hemingway expects staff reductions of about 11 percent and similar drops in enrollment.
In school year 2008-09 there were 1,324 students enrolled in Gilford schools. This year there are 1,187. In school year 2008-09 there were 241.2 teaching positions. This school year there are 219.7.
To keep the budget under the 3-percent target increase, the School Board is proposing $48,000 in total maintenance projects, to include $10,000 in parking lot repairs at the middle-high school campus; evaporators at the elementary school and middle school for $7,500, the removal of the Imagination Station playground equipment for $6,500 and a new carpet for the Gilford High School Library for $24,000.
There is one capital project for $100,000 — to replace the playground equipment at Imagination Station. Hemingway said there is an active and ongoing fund raising campaign for additional equipment for the playground being conducted by the Gilford Elementary School PTO and the Gilford Rotary Club, among others.
The School District also deferred until 2016-2017 paving the parking lot at Gilford Elementary School, resurfacing the High School track, and updating the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure at the Elementary School. Those three projects alone are expected to cost the district $490,000 in the future.
Hemingway said the budget approved Monday night will be forwarded to the Budget Committee, which is expected to hold hearings beginning in early December.