Friday, February 7, 2014

Slight spending increase, teachers contract on tap in Winchester School District deliberative session

WINCHESTER — School board and budget committee members tried to be creative in assigning job responsibilities for staff next year to keep Winchester School’s budget from climbing too much.
The school district’s $11,182,226 budget and two collective bargaining agreements will be up for discussion at Saturday’s deliberative session, where voters can amend articles before the March election.
The budget is up $95,686, or just under 1 percent, from the current $11,086,540 budget. The default budget is $11,296,355.
District officials are trying to delegate more responsibilities to current staff to keep costs down, Superintendent James M. Lewis said.
“We know the town just doesn’t have the money for big increases, there’s no secret about that,” he said.
One of the best examples is restructuring the principal and superintendent positions.
Pamela Bigelow, principal of the kindergarten through 8th-grade Winchester School, has announced her plans to retire at the end of this year. Prior to taking over the superintendent role in fall 2012, Lewis was principal of Winchester School for about three years.
Now, the school board is advertising for a principal for the kindergarten through 5th-grade part of the school for next year, while Lewis will take on the principal duties of the middle school-age students.
They haven’t nailed down the savings associated with that change, and it will partly depend on who the district hires for the elementary principal position, but it will save money, Lewis said.
The district likely also will have to reorganize its teaching staff, because there are two 3rd-grade teachers this year, but the incoming 3rd-grade next year requires three classes. The district can’t afford to hire a new teacher, so adminstrators will probably move one from another grade level.
Lewis said the size of the incoming 3rd-grade class isn’t unusual. Enrollment in Winchester has been strong in recent years, and a couple of years ago, the school had to add a fourth kindergarten class at the last minute when there were 75 kindergartners.
Though the budget increase is slight, the amount of money to be raised by local taxes is up $413,298, or 7.8 percent, because of a drop in revenue from state sources, Lewis said.
Voters will also see a two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Winchester Teachers’ Association that would cost an additional $118,498 for the 2014-15 school year and $63,285 for the 2015-16 school year.
The previous teachers contract was a three-year agreement, but Lewis said the groups negotiated a two-year agreement because of the unpredictability of costs, especially for health insurance and retirement.
Another collective bargaining agreement would cost the town about $21,552 for salary and benefit increases for the Winchester Support Staff Association. A similar one-year contract for the support staff barely passed at district meeting last year, with 54 percent support.
Lewis said he thinks both contracts reflect responsible spending and that school employees gave a number of concessions to keep the increase manageable.
The budget committee and school board, groups that sparred over school spending a couple years ago, support all the articles on the ballot.

The deliberative session is scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m. at Winchester School.


Bloviator said...

Jim Lewis is a good principal. Still: amount to be raised by taxes will increase 400k - not including town and county increases - ouch!
Read the details...enrollment is strong...4 kindergarten teachers needed and now another 3rd grade teacher will be added.
Hasn't anyone in Winchester ever heard of birth control? Do they know it exits? Or with all the section 8 housing and welfare and SNAP/WIC food subsidies are young people encouraged to be careless since they do not have to pay their own way?
No use complaining about teachers - union negotiations will not permit benefit or salary reductions.
Since NH permits homeschooling - teaching by uncertified, unqualified average janes and joes...why do we even need to hire trained union teachers? Why not hire our own average folk since the state of NH has already allowed this?
Why does it costs 11 MILLION to run a small town school?
Because it is run by the school board?
What qualifications do you need to be on this school board? Budget analysis background? Negotiating/mediation skills? No sir! Just have to run and get one more vote than the next guy.
Mentally retarded? No problem as long as you are more popular than most.

Anonymous said...

Bloviator you forgot to mention the paraprofessionals that do the work for our students so that they do not have to learn to read and write. Back in the "old" days paras were there for encouragement and extra help not to do it for them! Check out the number of paras on the payroll against the number of students in the school. Not every one needs 1 on 1 help. After all the students do have parents to help them.

Anonymous said...


What on earth makes you think that state certification and "training" makes someone more qualified to facilitate learning in children?

Those "average janes and joes," for the most part, care a whole helluva lot more about their kids than any "educators" do. Homeschooled kids far surpass public school kids in testing and college preparedness, and success in life.

As far as that "training" goes, it's a circular world that focuses on perpetuating teaching jobs by virtue of creating new "programs" laden with bureaucratic paper pushing, and massaging meaningless jargon to sound intelligent while accomplishing nothing. That world is run by people that have never left "the system" and functioned successfully in the real world. I know, I've been through it and I didn't drink their Kool-aid.

Isn't it amazing how parents love the school when the teachers tell them their kids are smart, while we rank something like 20th in the world when it comes to actual accomplishment? I guess perception is reality in small, closed worlds. Undereducated parents don't realize that their children are being undereducated.

It costs $11 million to run a small town school because of all the government intervention and the power of the unions that are focused on improving the lots of teachers, not students, and because students are thought of as socially-engineered products to be prepared for "markets," not as consumers purchasing products (knowledge and skills) in a free and competitive market, so they can go on to pursue a productive life of their own choosing. Guidance counselors are useless, sometimes destructive, cogs in the machine.

No one should take a small child, or even a teenager, and pretend to tell them what future they are "suited" for, while their whole lives lie ahead of them, and the world is changing more rapidly than any bureaucracy can adapt.

Schools should focus on teaching real and tangible skills that can be applied to any successful career and the pursuit of self education. It sounds trite, but students who can read, write and speak effectively, can do basic math and have even a rudimentary understanding of history and geography, can do anything they choose to do if they apply what they learned.

What do schools do now? Terrify kids with the myth of global warming and environmental destruction, focus on social equity, force association with violent and nasty kids, and spy on parents with surveys to identify "at risk" children. It's all feel-good hogwash. But most of the teachers have been so indoctrinated, never having left the system, as to believe, with almost religious zealotry, that they are doing the right thing.

Support the separation of school and state movement.

I am sick & tired of being sick and tired! said...

Ref: What qualifications do you need to be on this school (board)?

Winchester voters has a mysterious at the same time kind of quacky way that makes one tremble with fear of the thought of selecting people on the ballot to vote for.

Do they use a Ouija Board, or do they put the names in a hat, maybe they put their names on dart board and shoot a darts to decide. No! Maybe but most it’s believed they use name recognition! If your name made the Keene Sentinel for bankruptcy on a federal small business loan, you’re a nephew of a selectmen (no other qualification) your elected as a school board member or you made a name for yourself around town for being behind for 4 years in your property taxes, or you made the Keene Sentinel for a past car thief arrest, or a Winchester Police Officer that did nothing to prove themselves, (couldn’t have been fighting crime because crime has been up), or you’re a person who owns a 4 acre beaver dam that breaks then causes hundreds of thousand of dollars in damage to town property?

As you say mentally retarded? Maybe someone should at least test the drinking water for lead first before you decide.
We report…..You decide……

Anonymous said...

Yes the budget is up. I totally agree that 11 million to run a small school is ridiculous. Our hands are tied until 2 things happen: 1: the federal government pays for their full share of special education costs, and 2 we find a different way than property taxes to pay for education in NH.
A few things about this budget:1- they aren't adding any teachers- they are shifting them to where the higher amount of students are. 2: If the town doesn't pass the teachers contract than teachers will continue to pay a small amount for their insurance. I heard their insurance costs are doubling with the passage of this contract.
It's a hard choice, I certainly don't want my taxes to go up any more after this years-yikes! But we are stuck- educate for the future or continue to have what we have now!

Anonymous said...

There are 37 paras in the school which has over 480 children. I would say that is not outrageous considering some of the needs of the children in special education. That is one para for about every 13 students. And there is more that one sped child in each classroom. Try visiting the school and seeing what the paras do and what kind of students they are working with. There are severely disabled, autistic, blind, deaf, and extremely aggressive children.
See if with your own eyes before you comment on here and sound like a fool.

Anonymous said...

There's actually 449 enrolled in the school right now. So, if the school budget is over 11 million right now, we're spending roughly $24,500 per student to educate them. Trouble is the school itself has a failing grade from the state, parents are pulling their kids in favor of homeschooling or private schools because classrooms have become very disruptive with all of the paras and spec ed students, and teachers and their unions keep raising the costs year after year, not to benefit the students but themselves. Like the town government, the school system has become another never ending bloat on taxpayers. Neither knows what the word frugal means, perhaps because they are the end result of a failing system.

Anonymous said...

FYI you are not accounting for 180 Highschool students. The transportation and tuition is in that budget.

Bloviator said...

Disruptive and aggressive students are NOT special ed. If they are disruptive they should be expelled. They should NOT be promoted and should NOT graduate. 37 "paras"????? When I was in school their were teachers and students - no "paras". Disruptive kids are BAD kids and should be sent home. Socialization is an integral part of the education process ... which coddled home schooled never get. Why don't the home schooling parents also perform dental and medical procedures on their children since they don't want trained professionals from the UN new world order invading their backwoods bunkers and taking away their god given right to be isolated and ignorant. This blog is a good place to vent and a good place to keep informed but, regardless of views or visits, it is only a small number who agree with these opinions. The proof is in the elections. The MAJORITY of people who vote do not vote in accordance with the opinions expressed here. Watch the March election. There is only one solution to every issued debated....VOTE and change things.

Anonymous said...

There are actually 469 students plus the 200 at the high school that are all part of the 11 million. So 669! Let's not forget the students that are in out of district placement that cost us a fortune! We cannot control who moves in to our town and some of these kids have hefty price tags.

Anonymous said...

Poor Bloviator: what a traumatic educational experience you must have had. What is your contribution to this town and society. You sure have some strrong opinions. Did you go to the deliberative today. Doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Your math is way off 7:29, you are forgetting about all the kids at the high school plus all the kids in placements because their behaviors are so extreme that cannot be in a public school. Some of those kids cost us over 100,000 just for one kid. It is insane. It was a valiant effort though.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at the behavior data since Jim Lewis has arrived? It is 100 times better! There are 37 paras because most of them work with the kids that would be costing all of us $100,000 per kid if we didn't have these programs at our school. So you decide $3,700,000 for out of district or what we pay the paras which is nearly nothing. Special education isn't what it was when we all went to school.

knowing parent said...

WHAT A CROCK !! You must be either one of them or related to one of them, stop spewing your lies.

another pissed off parent said...

February 8, 2014 at 10:29 PM

YOU are so full of it. NOT one kid is costing us $100,000. You school people will say anything in your attempt to defend your contemptuous incompetence. It has become all about the teachers and staff and their efforts to unburden themselves of their responsibilities and cut their workloads, instead of the students they are charged with teaching. Look at all the extras we are required to pay for to make their jobs so much easier and still our kids fail.

Anonymous said...

To another pissed off parent I might have a solution to the problem. Fact-we all want these children to learn to read, write and cipher. Frankly, I do not care how it is done but perhaps what this district should do is keep the regular ed teachers for grades 1-8. Keep the sped teachers that they have and then hire enough other sped teachers to be assigned to work with the "grade" teachers. They can team teach, practice differentiated instruction and make certain that if your students need extra help they get it. Now, that means that we do not need all of the "para's". It also means that "little Jonnie's" Mom has to be willing to give this approach a try. Yes, if we need additional help then by all means hire no more than 8 paras.

The big issue that none of you are addressing is our high school students. We have students that get on the bus at 5:50 am to go to Keene High. Keene High does not start until after 7:30. That means that some of our students put in a longer day at school then some of the working parents.
I suggest that each board member follow a student for a day. Your pick should come from students who live on South Parrish Road or Bolton Road. It will be an eye opener.

Frankly, I am sick of our students getting a bum rap and the people with the power in this town not looking at ways to save money. People, the war with Hinsdale should be over.

Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Do some research pissed off parent. You are wrong. I did not believe it either at first until I asked. There are kids going to school all the way in Vermont and up north near concord that cost the school close to 100,000. This includes transportation etc. There are also Sped students that we are required to pay got until they are 21.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like there are are salesmen people on here low that actually now some facts! Keene high $29000 a year for a special ed student. That's without transportation. The original plan for us going to Keene was save money.....

As for all those great programs they offer. First and foremost.... They are cutting courses and teachers for next year. I guess we will get less for our dollar! And that wonderful career center everyone thinks is Keene high. Nope that is state run and is free to us. I guess it's not such pretty picture anymore. Add in the violence and drug issues and it seems there must be a better option.

Anonymous said...

Our kids are going to Keene because no one wanted to spend a couple million on repairing our High school and bringing it up to code. Seems most of you forget that fact.

Anonymous said...

Your post about one child costing the tax payers $100,000. Maybe you should ask EX School Board Member Colleen Douquette about the foster child she place with a child's grandmother in town that cost us $229,000 a year..(I am sure someone will correct the amount if it's wrong)

Did we just pi$$ 3.7 million dollars away a few years ago on the old high school, then voted to send the kids to Keene. So are you suggesting we pi$$ some more money away?

Anonymous said...

Lets get the facts straight.
We did vote to fix the old high school. Sue Newell filed a lawsuit to stop it, saying the vote was illegal because of the percentage of votes it won by.
The courts said the vote was legal, Sue then appealed that decision. She lost the appeal, however by then a few years had passed. The project price had risen considerably and was no longer affordable.
The town had already voted to spend the money ($5 million) on the school, so the school board decided to use a large portion of the money ($3.7 million)to build an elaborate new entrance to the Middle School.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! How time makes one's minds fade. All can be forgotten and forgiven with time, then we pay the piper.

Anonymous said...

Blaze engulfs barn in Winchester. Article Feb 17, 2014 Keene Sentinel . Question have arises to the facts. Why was Danny black hand cuffed placed in the back of the town cruiser while the firemen stood by while his barn burnt? black plastic bag s is still wrapping the hydrant today. Is anyone going to fix it before another fire happens.

A question which was brought to my attention...Why was Danny black placed in county jail after his garage burns on the Warwick Road Feb 17. The fire dept under Barry Kellom Fire Chief shows up only to have the firemen standby while his garage burns? Keene Sentinel reports it was under control after a few hours. HUH! (NOTHING LEFT TO BURN)Because the fire hydrant was not operational. As one person that witnessed it suggested it was not maintained properly! Was it frozen as the town states? Some say it was not functional because of poor workmanship. For two hours Danny black was handcuffed by Officer Sharra in the back of the town cruiser made to watch as his garage burns.

It sounds like another incident with the one person in charge of the Winchester Fire and Rescue Barry Kellom has dropped the ball who’s incompetence lacking the skills, qualities, or ability to do thing proper in operating these depts. Now he wants us to buy another fire truck we do not need.