Letter to the Editor, Neighborhood News, Feb, 2019 (last year)

The Hooksett Budget Committee has recommended a 2019-20 school budget of $32,783,491, which is $1,798,464 or 5.8% more than what was actually spent in the most recently completed school year, 2017-18.

In response, the school administration has published an incomplete and misleading “analysis” of this budget.  Their publication redacted actual spending data to show only reductions from the School Board’s request, which was $615,237 higher than the Budget Committee recommends, and asserts many programs would have “insufficient funds” if this budget was adopted.

The Budget Committee carefully scrutinized eight hundred accounting line items in the school budget, and thick binders of backup materials, examining what was actually spent for these lines in past years.  We found many lines were budgeted much higher than actual spending could justify, so we adjusted a portion of those to be in line with actual historic spending and accounted for inflation. Some requests for purchases were reduced because we easily found better prices online, cost-efficiencies our schools hadn’t sought themselves.

The Committee revised eighty-three lines of the school budget, and every one of those lines is still at least 4% larger than what was actually spent last year.  In its entirety, our recommended school budget provides total school funding 5.8% above what was actually spent last year.  Because the school budget is a “bottom-line budget”, school administration can take some money budgeted for one line item and allocate it to others if required.

At our public hearing January 10, a teacher alleged that the Budget Committee had cut a hearing device, occupational therapy, and classroom supplies, and that the new superintendent might be “handcuffed” with just a one million dollar budget buffer.  A school principal alleged that it will “cripple the schools”.  It is difficult to understand how these conclusions are reached for a budget 5.8% larger than last year’s actual spending.

The Hooksett Budget Committee has acted with remarkable transparency, fiscal prudence, and rigor in giving the town a fiscally responsible school budget that has no detriment to a single student.

Would you spend time with us Friday night to lower your taxes?  This prudent budget won’t make it to the ballot in March unless you attend the School Deliberative Session on February 8, [2019] at 7:00 PM at Cawley Middle School.