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Friday, June 6, 2014

Nashua BOE eyes more budget cuts

NASHUA – Members of the school board reluctantly came up with a list of another $200,000 in cuts from the proposed school budget for next year if they’re forced to cut further.

Last month, Board of Education’s Budget Committee declined to identify further cuts from their proposed $100.2 million budget, but on Wednesday they went to work on the list totaling $198,370 of additional reductions. ...

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NASHUA – Members of the school board reluctantly came up with a list of another $200,000 in cuts from the proposed school budget for next year if they’re forced to cut further.

Last month, Board of Education’s Budget Committee declined to identify further cuts from their proposed $100.2 million budget, but on Wednesday they went to work on the list totaling $198,370 of additional reductions.

“The list is only for informational purposes if the aldermen ask us what additional cuts would be made,” said Budget Committee Chairwoman Kimberly Smith Muise. “There are no good cuts, none that are not extremely painful to our students and schools.”

Among the potential cuts were:

n $22,555 from the $65,000 district-wide furniture budget.

n $50,000 reduction from the $550,000 technology equipment budget.

n $45,815 for the elimination of another high school teaching position, bringing the total reductions to high school teaching positions to four.

n $80,000 for the elimination of an assistant principal position at the high school.

Each item required its own vote and all were approved by a vote of 5-4.

“If it was cuts that people believed in, the (winning vote) number would be high,” Muise said.

Although each reduction item was debated and critiqued, the final reduction of the assistant principal position faced particular scrutiny as well as two separate rounds of voting.

“This to me would be a devastating blow to the high school. I think you’ll see assistant principals looking for other jobs,” Superintendent Mark Conrad said.

Board member president George Farrington agreed.

“Teaching is obviously the first thing we want done in the district, but teaching requires support,” Farrington said. “We have to be careful not to cut too many other areas that give support to teachers.”

The list of reductions would come back to the committee for further review if the Board of Aldermen approve the mayor’s budget next week which would mean the committee must address $160,000 in reductions.

For any reductions to be finalized, the school Budget Committee would need to reconvene to approve each item.

Committee Vice Chairman Robert Hallowell said they will be able to adjust the list to accommodate new information such as final district enrollment numbers.

In their last meeting May 14, the committee voted against creating a list, but they reopened the conversation Wednesday.

Committee member Steven Haas supported creating the list.

“It’s my consideration that the list be carried to the Board of Aldermen’s meeting … so we’re all on the same page, singing the same song.”

Muise said if people want to state their case regarding the education budget, the June 12 Board of Aldermen meeting is the place to do it. The board is set to review the 2015 education budget at 7 p.m. June 12 in City Hall’s Aldermanic Chamber.