Preliminary SAD 44 budget down about 6 percent

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BETHEL — The SAD 44 board on Monday took a first look at a proposed operating budget of more than $9 million, an amount that means cutting about 20 positions in fiscal year 2001-11.

The proposed budget is about 6 percent less than this year’s $9.67 million.

The district is looking at eliminating about 20 positions to make up for $766,000 less from the state because of higher property values in the district’s five towns. 

If the proposed budget is approved by voters, residents of Andover would pay about $46,000 more in school taxes in the coming year; Bethel nearly $200,000 more; Greenwood $111,500 more; Newry $298,000 more; and Woodstock almost $64,000 more.

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Superintendent David Murphy said the board and administration are trying to develop a budget that maintains the current educational program while dealing with the loss of state funding and higher property taxes.

He said all those whose positions will be eliminated will be notified before the next board meeting April 26, when a final budget may be adopted by the board.

The board approved a $15,000 early retirement offer for each of the approximately six teachers who have a minimum of 10 years in the district and are between the ages 60 and 62. Murphy said the offer is being made to save some positions on the cutting board.

The board approved a proposed adult education budget of $151,181, down about 20 percent from this year.

Residents will vote on the budget June 8 after public hearings in late May.

In other matters at the meeting, the Class of 2010 was granted permission to travel to Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., on June 9. One SAD 44 school bus and six chaperones will accompany the 50 students expected to go on the class trip.

eadams@sunjournal.com

BETHEL — A six-month study of all school buildings and other facilities in SAD 44 was accepted by the board Monday night. And although the district would like to tackle many of the projects, an extremely tight budget for 2001-11 will likely severely curtail any projects.

The Ad Hoc Facilities Review Study Committee began its work more than six months ago with members of the board, community and administration.

Superintendent David Murphy said of all the buildings in the district, the bus garage on Main Street in Bethel was the worst.

The Ad Hoc Committee said both the location and condition of the garage was poor, but because of budget constraints, future plans will be put on hold. The report suggested that at some time in the future, a new location should be found.

Changes to the Telstar Middle/High School complex may occur sooner, however. Murphy said the roof needs insulation and the windows need replacement.

“It’s all brick and glass, built in the late 1960s,” he said.

Snow doesn’t accumulate on the roof because of escaping heat, he said.

The committee advised that an energy plan for the Telstar complex be initiated as soon as possible. The Facilities Committee will be charged with developing a plan.

The other schools, Andover elementary, Woodstock elementary and Crescent Park elementary in Bethel are in generally good condition, although a water issue continues at Woodstock, and fire alarm or sprinkler systems or upgrades are needed in several of the school buildings. The former Ethel Bisbee school is believed to be underutilized.

Currently, three central office workers use the building, which was closed as an elementary school in 1991. One suggestion for the former school was to close the main part of the building and use it for storage, while maintaining the addition as office space.

However, the Bisbee school, along with Andover and Woodstock elementary schools, have been suggested for closure at some point.

Murphy said Tuesday that the board decided Monday night to hold off on taking any steps to close any of the buildings, at least until after the district budget vote June 8.

A decision to take action on the three buildings won’t come up again until the development of the 2011-12 school budget. However, if the proposed budget for 2010-11 is defeated, then everything will be reconsidered, Murphy said.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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