School hearing to weigh $11.3m plan

HOLLIS – The Hollis School District budget hearing will be Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Community Room.

At the hearing, registered voters will be given a presentation on the proposed operating budget, which is virtually unchanged from the current budget, and other warrant articles.

Voters will be asked to provide feedback, and afterward the School Board, the SAU administration and the Budget Committee will finalize the budget that goes before voters at the annual School District Meeting in March

Here is a look at the warrant that will be presented at the public hearing:

The proposed School District budget for fiscal year 2010 is $11,322,202, a decrease of $142 from last year’s budget.

>>Town Meeting ‘09<< Major increases of roughly $494,000 in some line items are: $241,000 for the second year of union contracts for teachers and support staff, plus teacher pay changes based on additional education; $116,000 for benefits and professional development increases; $77,000 for special education increases for out-of-district tuition, transportation, services and salaries; $33,000 for transportation fuel, heating oil and plowing; $27,000 for negotiations, liability insurance and SAU budget contribution. (All school districts in the SAU contribute to the SAU budget.) The increases are offset by $315,000 savings in personnel costs from turnover and by eliminating five positions; $89,000 savings from changes in benefits due to changes in positions; and $90,000 savings due to the reduction of expendables, equipment and maintenance accounts. The cuts are the result of declining enrollment and other factors that reflect efficiencies and investments that will be identified at the public hearing, school officials said. According to what school officials described as "conservative estimates" for revenue, the following reductions in revenue are expected: $30,000 less in local/state aid; $34,000 less in state grant money; and a smaller fund balance at the end of the fiscal year. If approved, the budget will result in a 2.7 percent increase in the school portion of the tax rate, to $6.52 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, or $2,281.23 on a $350,000 home. Hollis School Board Chairman Bill Beauregard said that the budget supports four major initiatives to improve student performance: new math textbooks for grades 1 through 6; math and language arts coaching for teachers; a new student information system; and funding for a new assistant special education director to be shared by the SAU. Beauregard said the 2010 budget will continue to support "new efficiencies" and improved communication with parents through a new software program, AlertNow. Last year's budget was $11,322,344