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Newport School District Voters Reject Teacher Pay Raises

Newport — Voters emphatically rejected every proposed pay increase for teachers and support staff on Tuesday’s Town Meeting ballot while also electing Shannon Howe as a write-in candidate to the Newport School Board.

The proposed budget of $17.5 million, only $15,000 more than the default budget, passed easily, 640-110. With no candidates on the ballot to replace outgoing board member Leo Paquin, Howe was elected with 260 votes.

Article 5, a two-year contract for teachers with the first-year pay increases costing $95,000, was defeated 455-302. A half-step increase for teachers at a cost of $60,420, which would have been in addition to the proposed salary increases, lost 426-336. Voters approved a half-step increase last year, and School Board members argued at this year’s deliberative session that there was an understanding that a second half-step would be forthcoming.

Article 4, for $98,183, lost, 442-315. School officials said the money was needed because some new teachers were hired at a higher pay scale than teachers already on staff with the same years of service and education, and that violated the collective bargaining agreement.

A three-year agreement for support staff was defeated, 427-328, and voters handily defeated — by votes of 480-271 and 487-270 — two articles calling for a special meeting if either of the contract articles failed.

Voters did approve placing $10,000 in the field purchase capital reserve fund, 577-179, and withdrawing $130,000 from a capital reserve fund to help pay for repairs to the high school football field and track, 594-165.

Article 12, to utilize $150,000 from a facilities reserve fund and another $50,000 from a Homeland Security grant for telecommunications and security enhancements at the district’s three schools, was approved 491-266.

Withdrawal of $60,000 from the transportation capital reserve fund for a new bus failed by 54 votes to gain the required 60 percent majority, 404-358.

Voters also defeated Article 14, 456-293, and Article 15, 450-301, both of which would have granted the School Board authority to withdraw money from two reserve funds without first obtaining voter approval at the annual school meeting. Had all spending been approved, the estimated increase in the school tax rate was $1.09. Instead, the approved budget is expected to add 34 cents to the tax rate, bringing it to $15.71 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Voter turnout was about 21 percent or 766 of the towns 3,602 registered voters.

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