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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Souhegan board to discuss potential budget cuts Thursday

AMHERST – Potential budget cuts for the coming fiscal year are on the agenda of a Thursday meeting of the Souhegan Cooperative School Board, a discussion that comes after voters rejected an increased budget during town elections in March.

School Board Chairwoman Chris Janson said the board began discussing potential cuts at its last meeting and will likely continue those discussions Thursday. She declined to comment on what areas of the budget could be cut, however, saying there has been no official vote on the cuts and that talks are ongoing.

Voters in Amherst and Mont Vernon rejected a proposed $18.6 million budget for the Souhegan Cooperative School District during town elections, reverting the district’s budget to its default of $18.4 million, a $171,967 decrease. The default budget is based on the budget for the current fiscal year.

Voters also rejected a $2.9 million maintenance plan for Souhegan High School, which gained a majority of votes but failed to receive the 60 percent of votes needed to pass.

A study recently completed by Gale Associates determined that the high school needs an estimated $14 million in repairs and renovations. The $2.9 million bond proposed to voters earlier this year would have funded the school’s most critical needs, including repairs to a leaky roof, HVAC systems and a security feature that would have upgraded the school’s interior locking system.

Much like potential budget cuts, how those projects would be completed, if at all, has not yet been determined. Janson said recently the board probably will come up with a final plan for budget cuts this month.

SAU 39 Superintendent Peter Warburton could not be reached Monday or Tuesday for comment.

In addition to the budget, the School Board also will discuss a number of policies at its meeting Thursday, including one about video surveillance on school property.

The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. with a nonpublic session and will be open to the public at 6 p.m. in the high school’s information center.

Danielle Curtis can be reached at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashuatelegraph.com.