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Voters to take up teachers contract, modular classrooms

Some teachers have rolling carts for their supplies instead of their own classrooms. Part of the library has been converted to class space. The art teacher and the Spanish teacher share one room.

“We are really cramped for space at the Gilmanton School,” Superintendent John Fauci said.

That could improve after Gilmanton’s district warrant goes to voters Tuesday, when the town’s residents will decide whether to buy a modular building that would hold two more classrooms for the school. The lease-purchase agreement would cost taxpayers more than $133,000 over five years, with the first year’s payment coming in at more than $26,000.

This year, the school has slightly more than 400 students. The two classrooms could accommodate about 25 desks each, Fauci said, and would help the school respond to a growing number of students in younger grades.

“In anticipation of a possible kindergarten enrollment increase, we would like the space to create classrooms and restore and regain some of the space that we’ve given up,” Fauci said.

∎ The budget: Approximately $9.7 million, up $1,763 – or 0.02 percent – from last year.

“That’s pretty much what I would call a flat budget,” Fauci said.

∎  Other warrant articles: a new teachers’ contract. The school board and the teachers have agreed on a three-year collective bargaining agreement that will raise both salaries and health insurance premiums for teachers, fourth-grade teacher Nancy Tothill said. Tothill was the chief negotiator on the contract for the Gilmanton Education Association.

If voters approve the contract Tuesday, the district will increase its payments to teachers by 6 percent during the next three years. That will cover not only salaries but also longevity and other costs.

The teachers’ trade-off is a significant change to health insurance – a new provider, fewer plans and an adjustment to the portion of the cost paid by teachers. For the first time, for example, teachers with single coverage would pay part of the premium, as would couples and families.

“Our body of 35 teachers voted unanimously to ratify this contract,” Tothill said. “And we are very much looking forward to having a contract so that we can get down to the business of teaching and not negotiating.”

Renee Kordas, vice chairwoman of the Gilmanton School Board, said the contract will mean “significant savings” to the district on health care costs.

“I think it’s fair and equitable,” Kordas said. “I think over the years, we’ve had some really great negotiation with the teachers, and I feel it’s keeping in line with where the economy is today. It’s not an astronomical amount of money, and it’s bringing the teachers in line with . . . other districts.”

∎ Contested elections: Michael Hatch, David Strang and Frank Weeks Jr. are running for two three-year terms on the school board.

∎ Voting: Tuesday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Gilmanton Academy, 503 Province Road.

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