Session to review school warrant

HUDSON – The Hudson School District will hold its annual deliberative session Saturday at the Community Center on Lions Avenue starting at 9 a.m.

At the session, registered voters will be given a presentation of the proposed operating budget and other warrant articles. Voters will be able to discuss each item on the warrant, and then either approve or amend it. The version of the warrant agreed upon at the deliberative session will be voted on at the March 10 general election.

Here is a look at the warrant that will be presented at the deliberative session:

Budget: The proposed operating budget is $41,461,276 – a decrease of $1.05 million, or roughly 2.5 percent, from the 2008-09 budget – but the number doesn’t include various increases in salary and benefits that are contained in separate warrant articles and will be voted on separately.

Those four articles, if passed, will add $1,008,729 to the overall budget proposal, for a total of $42,470,005, which comes $41,397 under the FY2008-09 budget.

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The default budget, which would go into effect by law if the operating budget is rejected by voters, is $40,979,228.

At its public hearing two weeks ago, the budget committee voted to recommend three of those four articles, with the only non-recommendation being a 5-5 vote, with one abstention, on Article 2, which calls for an increase of $742,513 for salary and benefits for members of the Hudson Federation of Teachers union, whose two-year contract runs from 2009-11.

But at this week’s selectmen’s meeting, attended by about three dozen teachers, selectmen voted 4-1 to recommend the increases after hearing a request by school board representatives.

Article 3, meanwhile, calls for an increase of $148,627 for increases in salaries and benefits for the Hudson Leadership Team, whose three-year contract with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union runs from 2009-12.

Article 4 calls for an increase of $99,027 in salaries and benefits for district employees who are members of the Hudson Federation of Paraprofessionals and School Related Personnel, whose two-year contract runs from 2009-11.

Article 5 calls for an $18,562 increase in salaries and benefits for non-union district employees, including central office staff and computer technicians. The figure represents a 2 percent salary pool for the staff.

In Article 6, voters will choose whether to raise and appropriate $100,000 for the school renovation capital reserve fund that was established in 1999.

Much of the discussion at Saturday’s session is expected to center around the ongoing debate over whether to institute public kindergarten as required by state mandate, or have the school board continue pursuing its lawsuit against the state.

The budget committee also voted overwhelmingly to not recommend the two eleventh-hour petitions posted by resident Donna Ohanian, one of which calls for the implementation of public kindergarten in Hudson and the other, for the school board to withdraw its suit against the state Department of Education.