NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 13, 2014

WHS budget rises slightly for coming year

BY ANGELJEAN CHIARAMIDA
STAFF WRITER

---- — SEABROOK — When local voters head to the polls on March 11 to address the Winnacunnet School District budget, they may be surprised to see the proposed budget for next school year will rise less than 1 percent.

According to SAU 21 business manager Bill Hickey, after the district’s Deliberative Session on Feb. 7, the initially proposed $22,853,768 budget was trimmed by about $108,000. The cut represented an expected lowering in salary costs due to four retirements, he said. The salaries of those hired to replace retirees are expected to be less than the more experienced professionals they’ll replace, said Hickey.

As a result, the budget for 2014/2015 should rise only about .73 percent, he said. If voters in the towns sending students to Winnacunnet High School fail to approved the proposed budget, a default budget of $22,668,898 will automatically be implemented. Those town’s include Hampton, Hampton Falls, and North Hampton as well as Seabrook.

The relatively short Winnacunnet Cooperative School District Warrant includes only five other warrant questions requesting funds that require voter approval. They include $114,077 to continue the latest phase of the $1.4 million heating, ventilation and air conditioning update to the current system, as well as $166,535 to keep the school’s technology up to date and into the curriculum.

Seventy thousand dollars is requested to renovate two of the school’s athletic fields: $35,000 for the junior varsity softball field and the same amount for the varsity softball field. The district is also asking for $40,000 for the existing Special Educational Expendable Trust Fund.

Aside from the budget, Article 2 on the warrant asks for the largest amount of money, which, if voters agree, would approve the latest two-year contract between the Winnacunnet School Board and the teachers union, or the Seacoast Educational Association. The request for $273,764 for the coming year, and $309,444 for the 2015/16 school year, would go to raise salaries and benefits for high school instructors.

Approving the union contract is a question on all the school districts warrants in all the school districts included in SAU 21, which includes Hampton Falls, North Hampton, South Hampton, as well as Seabrook and Winnacunnet. For teachers to get their contracts ratified and their raises, every town in SAU 21 must approved the new contract, Hickey said.

Winnacunnet candidates

Voters will elect two members of the Winnacunnet School Board in March, one each for Hampton Falls and Seabrook, and voters from all towns sending students to WHS will vote in both races.

Running for a three-year term to represent Seabrook on the board are Clint Allen Felch and Frances Henderson. There is no incumbent in this race; the current Seabrook member of the Winnacunnet board, Maria Brown, is not running for re-election.

The race for the three-year Hampton Falls seat includes David Gandt and Wayne Skoglund, the incumbent.

Three other races are on the ballot, but all three are uncontested. For the Hampton Falls seat on the school budget committee is incumbent Donald Janik, and for Seabrook, incumbent Bruce Casassa.

Robert Cushing is the only candidate running for the position of Winnacunnet School District moderator.

Voters in Seabrook head to the polls on Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to cast their ballots on the town warrant, Seabrook School District Warrant and the Winnacunnet School District Warrant.

Voters are reminded that according to state law, they must present a photo ID at the polls to vote.

Those who are not yet registered to vote may do so at the town clerk’s office or at the polls on election day. To register to vote, a photo ID, proof of age and residency are required.