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Pembroke school officials in agreement - this year - as contract goes to voters

Things are different this year in Pembroke.

The teachers’ contract going before voters Saturday is endorsed by the school board and the budget committee, which last year opposed a two-year agreement. The new contract is for three years, not two, spreading the increased spending out over a longer period and slowing down tax increases.

Do those differences mean officials are confident they’ll win public support?

Not even close.

School board member Dave Doherty, a former Pembroke school teacher, said he likes to gamble, but he won’t put a single dollar on the outcome of the district meeting.

“I know what I wish for, but I have no clue what the sentiment of the meeting will be. It all depends on who shows up, and there’s no way to predict that,” he said.

Budget committee Vice Chairman Gerry Fleury echoed Doherty: “There’s a number of ways this could play out, and it really depends (on) who shows up.”

The proposed contract this year would add $394,099 to the 2014-15 budget, $257,974 in 2015-16 and $264,164 to the budget in 2016-17.

“It’s more reasonable from a financial point of view,” said budget committee member Brian Seaworth. “The message last year was simply one of the ability of the taxpayers to absorb large tax increases. It wasn’t anything about the contract that people didn’t think the teachers deserved, but it was adding up the cost of the bottom line.”

The vote last year came down to 15 votes: 90 voters opposed the contract, and 75 supported it. The 165 voters represent about 3 percent of the registered voters in town.

Not having the budget committee’s support made the loss less than surprising, but still, losing such a close vote was “disappointing, definitely,” said Rebecca Butler, president of the Education Association of Pembroke.

“We took some time to just sit back for a minute and take a break for a while after” the vote, Butler said.

“I think the school board and the association took what the town had to say and tried to come up with something that would work.”

What to know: Pembroke School District

∎ Budget: The budget committee recommended a $24,528,230 budget, while the school board recommended a $24,602,163 budget. The budget for the 2013-14 school year is $24.9 million. The budget committee’s recommendation is a 1.7 percent reduction. The school board’s recommendation is a 1.4 percent reduction.

∎ Other warrant articles: One article seeks to withdraw $113,400 from a capital reserve fund to replace flooring, install electronic safety access controls and door replacements, replace the Pembroke Academy field bleachers and reglaze the windows.

Another would create a new expendable trust fund for purchasing, repairing or replacing technology and funding it with $10,000 from any surplus left over in June.

Another article would add $100,000 of surplus to the capital reserve building fund, and an article would add $50,000 of surplus to the special education expendable trust.

The budget committee and school board both recommend those articles. However, the groups disagree on an article to move $10,000 of surplus to the instructional materials expendable trust fund, a move the school board recommends but the budget committee does not.

∎ School district meeting: Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Pembroke Academy auditorium.

∎ Voting: Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Three Rivers School, 243 Academy Road.

The budget committee recommended an amount which is not logical. The school committee seems right here.

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