Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Winchester school warrant survives close vote

by Kaitlin Mulhere
Editor's note: Due to an error, this article did not appear in Wednesday's print edition of The Sentinel. It will be in Thursday.

WINCHESTER — An $11 million budget and one-year staff contract squeaked by in the Winchester School District elections Tuesday.
Roughly 600 people, or 24 percent, of the town's 2,493 registered voters cast ballots.
About 52 percent of voters supported the $11,086,540 budget, which is up 2.3 percent from this year’s $10,835,480 budget.
The budget covers the expenses of the kindergarten through 8th-grade Winchester School, and tuition to send older students to Keene High School.
School board Chairman Trevor S. Croteau said previously that the $251,060 increase includes some new positions in special education at Winchester School and an additional kindergarten teacher.
Unlike last year, when the school board and budget committee butted heads over the budget, both groups supported the $11 million figure this year.
Voters also approved a one-year collective bargaining agreement with the Winchester Support Staff Association that will cost an additional $22,887 in 2013-14.
A similar article failed in last year's elections, and this year only 54 percent of voters gave their support.
Yet the closest vote on the warrant came from an article asking for up to $100,000 of surplus money to be placed in a special education expendable trust fund.
At the deliberative session in February, administrators said the special education fund is empty, which means there’s no contingency money if the district runs into unforeseen special education costs.
That article passed with just over 50 percent support, 279-271.
Voters also approved putting $25,000 of any surplus money in the building improvements reserve fund. The school board plans to use that money for projects such as finishing an upgrade of the school sprinkler system and installing a new lock system for some of the school’s entrances to enhance security, Croteau said.
Elected without opposition: Jason Cardinale to a three-year term on the school board; Bill McGrath to a one-year term on the school board; James Tetreault as district clerk and Henry A.L. Parkhurst as school district moderator.

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