In Claremont, Schools Seek Budget Bump

Retirement, Special Ed Costs Drive 1.85 Percent Increase

— The city’s school superintendent is proposing to increase spending in the general fund budget by 1.85 percent to $29 million next year, an increase driven largely by higher contributions to the state retirement system and more money required for special education.

The spending plan, which was presented to the School Board this week, is about $530,000 higher than the current year’s general fund budget of $28.53 million.

SAU 6 Business Manager Tim Ball said that about half of the budget bump, or $300,000, is attributable to an increase in the money that the district must pay into the state retirement system on behalf of district employees.

“The contribution for teachers went up from 11 percent to 14 percent,” Ball explained about the district’s portion of payments on behalf of teachers into the state’s retirement system.

Spending for special education programs is projected to go up districtwide by $365,000, or 5 percent above current year levels.

The district is also looking to spend $132,000 more for technology services, $139,800 more for SAU administration services, and $56,000 for guidance counseling. Cornish and Unity make up the other two schools in SAU 6 and each district pays a portion of the SAU budget based on student enrollment.

But the district also plans to spend less in other areas, including a $108,000 drop for technical and vocational education, $85,000 less for health services, $70,000 less for media services, and $101,000 less for principal services.

The total proposed spending budget is $31.92 million, which includes expense items such as food services that are offset by corresponding matching revenue from the state or other sources, and therefore would have no impact on the local tax rate. That is a half percent below the current year’s total spending budget of $32.14 million.

Though the proposed budget is likely to undergo several revisions and debate before the board formally adopts it in early January, the current projected tax rate impact is 44.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The local rate would rise about 23 cents to $16.31 and the rest would fall on the state education rate, which would increase to $2.58 for a total school tax rate of $18.89, according to figures presented by the administration.

That means that city homeowners with a property assessed at $150,00 would pay $67 more in annual property taxes. The amount to be raised by taxes is estimated to increase $181,000 while revenue from state sources is projected to rise $487,000 from the current year. Overall, non-tax revenues are up about $413,000.

The tax rate estimate does not include any special warrant articles that may appear when the budget is submitted to voters for approval in March.

Last year voters passed the school budget and a separate warrant article of $150,000 to spend new technology for student instruction. Voters also approved contracts for paraprofessionals and secretaries and $140,000 toward capital improvements at the middle school and Stevens High School.