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Dresden Teachers Contracts, Budgets Pass

Hanover — After going two years without a contract, Dresden and Hanover teachers yesterday won voter approval for new contracts as residents also approved the Hanover and Dresden school budgets and all accompanying warrant articles.

The Dresden contract passed by a ratio of 2-to-1 with 1,221 in favor and 574 against, and the Hanover contract passed 584-198.

Hanover School Board Chairman Robin Carpenter said he wasn’t surprised by the overwhelming support for the Hanover and Dresden districts, but the margins were larger than he had guessed.

“When an article is in trouble there is a buzz about it, letters to the editor and phone calls. I didn’t get any of that,” Carpenter said.

All was quiet at Hanover High School yesterday as residents made their way to the polls. Last year, when the teachers contract was defeated, there were residents standing outside the polls urging voters to turn down the contract. But yesterday there were no protesters.

Turnout in Hanover was low with only 810 people casting votes out of the 9,821 on the checklist, which is pretty low for Hanover, Dresden Clerk Deborah Carter said, but it wasn’t an all-time low. There were lower turnouts in 2004 and 2007. Carter attributed the low turnout to the lack of public outcry that was in the newspaper and seen at district meetings.

Last year, residents filled the editorial pages of the Valley News with dissenting opinions of the teachers contract and some residents even took out ads encouraging voters to turn down the contract.

But this year, no such letters appeared and even the Hanover and Dresden finance committees recommended the teachers contracts.

“People aren’t all up in arms,” Carter said. “It creates a smaller turnout because there’s less controversy.”

The three-year contract includes 2 percent base pay raises for each year of the contract. Annual step increases will also be awarded to teachers with up to 13 years of experience.

Kathleen Whitmore has two children at the Ray Elementary School and said she supported both the budget and the teachers contract based on recommendations by the finance committee.

“I hear, I see, I read that it may be higher than other districts, but I think we get what we pay for,” Whitmore said.

Dresden teachers earn an average of $69,833, more than $15,000 over New Hampshire’s statewide average.

Rich Howart voted in favor of the teachers contract, but voted against the Hanover school budget. The $11.5 million budget is a 2.2 percent increase, and Howart said he was frustrated that the budget is going up even though there is declining enrollment.

“It’s more of a longstanding concern for the budget,” Howart said. “This is a community, although we often forget it, where there are still old timers pushed out by taxes.”

School Board member Erika Finlayson beat R. Brooks Robey in a contested race for a one-year seat. Finlayson won 417-183.

The Hanover budget passed 636-157. An article for a $50,000 engineering study to examine possible renovations and expansions at the Ray School also passed. The $23.4 million Dresden budget passed, 1,297-468, and contracts for support staff and service employees passed as well.

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