Letter: What’s in the Weare school budget, contracts
To Weare community members: We strive to offer a 21st-century education that provides our students with the tools needed to succeed in a global community while being mindful of the local tax impact. Despite a slight reduction in enrollment over the past few years, mandatory costs have increased tremendously. Over the past five years special education costs have risen 43 percent, speech services have increased 28 percent, and heating costs are up 37 percent.
The proposed budget represents an $113,384 or 0.79 percent increase. We have worked diligently to absorb $280,359 in fixed increases in special education, dental insurance, retirement and transportation.
Required testing from the Department of Education will be administered online by 2015. Our schools do not have the capacity to implement this requirement without an infrastructure upgrade.
Our current budget is lean and efficient; there are not a lot of places to cut without drastically affecting the quality of education. If the budget does not pass, our schools will face a shortfall. They will be forced to go without technology upgrades and such necessary resources as current textbooks. This would hurt our ability to meet the progress standards set for us by the Department of Education.
The teachers’ contract on the ballot includes compensation linked to educational performance of all students and important evaluation and reduction in force language. As part of the agreement, teachers have also agreed to assume more of the costs associated with health care. Concessions include a higher employee cost-share for premiums, higher copays for medical care and increased co-pays for prescriptions which have reduced the district cost.
The proposed two-year contract for education support staff offers an increase of $1.30 per hour over two years.
(The writer is chairman of the Weare School Board. The letter was also signed by Vice Chairwoman Marjorie Burke and members Jessica Brown, Bernadette Douzanis and Donny Guillemette.)