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Claremont to Hold Public Hearing on $32.3 Million School Budget

Claremont — The School Board will hold a public hearing tomorrow night on the proposed $32.3 million Claremont school budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The spending plan, as it now stands, would add 76 cents to the overall school tax rate in Claremont, bringing it to $19.21 per $1,000 of assessed valuation and adding $115 in annual school taxes to a property assessed at $150,000.

The $29.5 million general fund budget — which excludes grants, food service and the adult education portion of the budget and which is the amount that impacts the tax rate — is up $938,000 or 3.3 percent. The amount to be raised by taxes is up $434,000.

The figure is roughly $400,000 more than the $527,000 increase in the first budget proposal presented in early December.

The new figure adds $200,000 recommended by the administration last month for personnel to address behavioral problems among a small group of students at the elementary schools and middle school as well as increased funding for crisis intervention programs at the high school.

There is also $83,000 more for a technology coordinator and $50,000 for a Special Education case manager.

Also part of the overall increase is $300,000 more in the district’s cost for teacher retirement and $365,000 for special education district-wide.

Among the line item decreases are technical and vocational education, worth $108,000; health services, $85,000; media services, $70,000; and principal services, $101,101.

The public hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Sugar River Valley Technical Center. After the hearing the board could adopt the budget along with a default budget and may also have proposed articles for collective bargaining agreements, including one with teachers,

On Jan. 9, the School Board will hold a public hearing on a bond article to renovate Stevens High School. At a forum last month, Banwell Architects estimated the total project cost at around $13 million.

The proposed work would include enlarging classrooms, building a new front entrance, putting in a wood pellet system for heating, upgrading all electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems, putting in many new windows and doors and new insulation, expanding the cafeteria and renovating the lunchroom.

Upon completion of the proposed renovations, which would happen before school starts in 2014, the building would meet the standards of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Currently, Stevens High, a portion of which dates back to the 1860s, is on probabtion with NEASC because of the condition of the building.

No state building aid is available for the project but at a roundtable discussion last week, state Rep. John Cloutier, D-Claremont, told Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan that he will introduce legislation this session that would provide some level of state aid if voters approve the bond in March.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.