28 May Dover Council Favors Restoring School Funds in Tax Cap Discussion (NH)May 28, 2010
By: Leslie ModicaSource: Foster's Daily Democrat
The School District may receive additional funds in the budget if the City Council formally approves a tax cap override, however that amount will likely be nowhere near the $1.2 million the district requested.
One potential option mentioned by some city councilors during Wednesday’s budget workshop was to restore $350,000 to the school budget — a figure derived from a decision by last year’s City Council to use that amount of sand and gravel funds to replace tax dollars in the school budget.
That decision essentially reduced the School District’s starting point under the tax cap formula this year because the formula only takes into account the previous year’s tax levy, and not special revenue funds.
Because those one-time funds were used to pay for recurring expenses, those costs were also left without a sustainable way to pay for them this year.
"Looking over wha t the School Board and (Superintendent) Dr. (John) O’Connor did for the budget, they did a wonderful job cutting," City Councilor Bob Carrier said. "But there are many things in there that make me nervous for the children in this community. Some of these programs I do not want to see left out."
Mayor Scott Myers said he is also in favor of perhaps returning some additional funds to the School District, however he said he is taking a more comprehensive approach to determining the amount he favors.
"I’m kind of looking at not just one year, but what has happened in two years or three years," Myers said, adding at times the School District received more revenue from the state than the municipality.
Myers said he is supporting an override for the School District of about $250,000.
City Councilors Bill Garrison and Jan Nedelka also said they support providing funds for the School District under an override, and City Councilor Catherine Cheney, who opposes any sort of override, said if an override is approved she believes a proportional increase should be given to the School District.
City Councilor Dot Hooper did not explicitly state her opinion about if funds should be added to the School District budget, however she did kick start the conversation during the workshop and said the City Council owes parents who have supported an override a discussion about if that would include the School District.
During the City Council’s regular meeting, following the workshop, School Board Chair Carolyn Mebert told councilors it was "disheartening" that the school budget had not been mentioned in discussions about a tax cap override.
Janet Perry, a Dover resident and downtown business owner, said she has seen the impact of a lack of school funding first-hand through her grandson, a student at Dover Middle School.
During a recent time when he was sick and away from school, Perry said her family spent extensive time trying to locate a copy of the science book he used so she could photocopy a worksheet from that book. When the book was found, she said, she realized there were not science books for 6th grade science.
"No books," Perry said. "We’re a generation that is giving our children less in our educational system than we had ourselves."
The School District is currently facing about $1.2 million in cuts, which include eliminating nine full-time teaching positions; cutting busing for athletics and reducing facility repairs.