School Budget to Hit $10.4 Million Next Year
At the December 14, 2016 Budget Committee meeting, the School Board presented what they called "an optimum budget" for 2017-2018. The estimated cost of this budget is about $10.4 million, an increase of almost $600,000 more than the 2016 school budget. The tax impact is estimated to be an increase of $3.74/thousand. This will have a negative impact on the 576 residents over 65 (and probably on Social Security) and the 8.8% below poverty level (NH Employment Security town profile).
The default budget is not much better: $10,128,068.
Take a Close Look at the Budget
To see what this budget contains line by line, go to the following location on the town web site. Within the account numbers column, ".101" refers to AES (the Elementary School) and ".102" refers to ARD (the Dupont School). Account number 001.1100.561.102.000 is primarily for Pembroke Academy.
What You Might Do
If this strikes you, the taxpayer, as more than you can afford or more than you can accept, then the next step is to contact the members of the school board and voice your concerns. Go to the School Board web site for a list of the board members. If you have sufficient finances or believe that $10.4 million is an acceptable amount, then you can relax and vote for it in March 2017.
Another step is to contact Allenstown's state senator and two representatives. The state has decided to cut state aid to school districts by 4% each year, sticking local taxpayers with the cost of making up the difference.
For those of you who want a lower school budget, there is still time to voice your concern. The Budget Committee meets on January 12, 2017 to vote to recommend or not recommend the school budget, or take any other action.
More Facts to Consider
Some interesting facts were presented at the meeting about the school population.
Total student enrollment: 570
Cost to run AES and ARD = $10,392,853.00 - $2,200,716.00 = $8,192,137.00 (best estimate using published figures)
Dividing the cost for AES and ARD ($8,192,137.00) by the school population (210 + 157 = 367) results in a cost of
$22,322.00 per student.
Compare this to the average cost of NH private elementary schools: $10,474.00.
A better outcome for taxpayers might be to give vouchers to parents for a local private school or subcontract with a private school to teach all of our students. Private schools do not take state or federal money Think about it. But of course, that is just one opinion.
Problems with the Student Population
The school board presentation showed quite clearly that the school system is dealing with several ongoing difficulties.
When school officials were asked what caused these poor results and how they were going to resolve all of these difficulties, there was no clear answer. It is possible that school officials hope that spending $600,000 more will solve them.
Problems with the Town PopulationAdding to financial difficulties is the dwindling population. Allenstown has lost about 550 people in the last 14 years. (See the NH Employment Security town profile.) By comparison, surrounding towns have gained population, as shown in the following table.
A Few More Expenses to Watch for
The 2017 school warrant is expected to have three spending articles: