Board of Education passes $109 million budget for fiscal year 2019

NASHUA – Board of Education members unanimously voted to shave nearly $1 million off their original fiscal 2019 budget plan on Wednesday to comply with the city’s guidelines, which suggest the school only increase spending from FY2018 by 2.5 percent.

The final approved budget is slightly more than $109 million. Initially, the board put forward a robust budget of more than $110 million for the new fiscal year, reflecting a 3.4 percent hike in spending from fiscal year 2018.

Mayor Jim Donchess originally suggested allowing a 2.1 percent jump in spending, then increased it to 2.4 percent, before finally settling on 2.5 percent. This is an amount which allows the district to maintain its current staffing levels.

Due to the $975,403 in reductions, the district had to forego the proposed hiring of three custodians, a communications director, a grant writer and an assistant director of human resources.

The curriculum budget was reduced by $20,000 and the heating fuel and retirement pay were also reduced. The latter two, Chief Operating Officer Daniel Donovan said, have reserves on the balance sheets that can be used.

The biggest perceived losses to the district came from having to give up two new English Language Learner (ELL) teachers, a school psychologist and several kindergarten paraeducator, all of which Superintendent Jahmal Mosley emphasized during his initial budget presentations were vital to the district. The paraeducators, two ELL teachers and psychologist would have cost the district $274,000.

“It’s painful to be up here and say we can’t have all of these things,” board member Susan Porter said.

However, she added, being able to keep the current level of staffing, provide the teachers with new contracts and add some stability to the district seems like the “lesser of two evils.”

Gary Hoffman, who spoke during the public comment period, said that after speaking with the Aldermen, he knew that after the revaluation, there could be the potential for some additional funds coming later this summer.

If that were to happen, he said, the district should focus on adding those ELL teachers back into the budget, as the number of ELL students in Nashua has doubled in the last 10 years.

Dotty Oden, board president agreed.

“Should we get more money, my priorities will be to see what we can provide as direct support for our students in our classrooms,” she said, noting specifically the ELL teachers and the paraeducators.

The reductions and eliminations brought the district down to the recommended 2.5 percent spending increase.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.