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Grantham's Modestly Higher School Budget Wins Overwhelming Approval

Grantham — A higher budget, raises for teachers and consideration for a new world language program — whatever the School Board was pitching last night, the voters at Grantham’s school meeting were all for it.

About 150 voters, 6 percent of the town’s 2,434 registered voters, showed up to weigh in on this year’s warrant.

Among the items up for vote was this year’s $7,883,568 budget, which was 1.4 percent higher than the 2013-14 budget.

“This is the lowest increase I’ve seen in god knows how long,” said School Board Chairman Jeff Walla. “It’s great.”

Voters unanimously OK’d the budget without question or comment.

A new teacher’s contract won unanimous consent by the voters. The contract increased total salaries by about $50,000 this year and represents a 2 percent increase over last year’s budget. Next year, total salaries for teachers will increase by $74,535 over the current rate and by $73,935 in 2015-16. This means a raise of between 2.25 and 2.5 percent over the next three years, which does not include “step and track” increases teachers receive as they gain experience and graduate degrees.

Since all of the budget and warrant articles were approved, the current school tax rate will go from $14.68 per $1,000 of assessed value to $14.75. That would give the owner of a $250,000 home a $3,688 tax bill, up $18.

An article on whether the district should look into adding a world language program to the elementary curriculum also passed. School Board member Carolyn Simon said the program would cost roughly $89,000 and wouldn’t be put before voters until the March 2014 meeting.

There were no contested school or town elections this year. Walla is not seeking re-election and John Eylander is running unopposed for that three-year seat. Selectwoman Connie Jones is unopposed in her re-election bid, also for a three-year seat.

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