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Letter: Yes to Budget, No to Ray School Renovation

To the Editor:

During a public meeting Jan. 24, the Hanover Finance Committee voted unanimously to support the proposed Hanover School District Budget of $12,077,235 (Warrant Article 7). Although the proposed budget reflects an increase in pre-K through 5 operating expenses of 6.63 percent, and an increase in total district expenditures of 4.23 percent, the HFC determined that mandated special education costs and the cost of providing full-day kindergarten prevented administrators and the Hanover School Board from remaining within their guideline of 3.5 percent, despite their best efforts. The HFC recommends that Hanover taxpayers support Warrant Article 7.

During the same meeting, the HFC voted 5 to 1 against the proposed construction budget of $5,798,000 for improvements to the Bernice A. Ray School (Warrant Article 2), with one member abstaining. During early planning of the project last spring, the Hanover School Board indicated it would develop a renovation budget resulting in a bond repayment schedule that would fall within parameters of the Hanover School District’s retiring bond. The current construction project exceeds those guidelines by approximately 16 percent. Given the 6.63 percent increase in the proposed school budget, the HFC expected moderation in the renovation budget in order to prevent another sharp increase next year when repayment begins, and to avoid excessive strain on taxpayers. Warrant Article 2 would raise funds for a range of essential improvements; however, several aspects of this project could be safely and prudently delayed, modified or scaled down. Therefore, the HFC recommends that Hanover taxpayers reject Warrant Article 2.

For more information, interested parties may read the Hanover Finance Committee position statement in the 2014 Hanover/Dresden Annual Report, found on the SAU 70 website home page at sau70.hanovernorwichschools.org.

Heidi Postupack

Chairman, Hanover Finance Committee

Hanover