As I See It
By GUY CARON
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Newspaper article on $2.7M school giveback a bit misleading
School district's press release speaks for itself

Last week, both the Goffstown News and the New Hampshire Union Leader published an article by Greg Kwasnik about the school board's recent announcement of giving $2.7 million back to taxpayers.

But after reading the article, one might easily be led into believing that the school district has reduced their next budget (2011-2012) by $2.7 million.  This is not the case, as our school folks have just started developing that budget.  What the school district is actually doing is simply passing along $2.7 million dollars to the taxpayers as required by law.

So where did this money come from?  

To begin with, it is important to note that the bulk of the $2.7 million return is not a "refund", nor is it money being "returned" to taxpayers.  It is also not coming from the school district's $34,660,647 budget for fiscal 2009-2010 that just ended June 30th.  For the money to be refunded or returned, taxpayers would have had to give it to the school district in the first place.  We didn't.

Rather, the majority of it ($2.3 million) is coming from federal ARRA stimulus funding and additional, unexpected tuition revenue from New Boston and Dunbarton that the district is passing along to taxpayers, again, as required by law.  Combined with encumbered funds from '08-09 and savings in energy costs, the $2.7 million total will be applied against the school tax rate that will be calculated later this fall and appear in our tax bills beginning in December.  But this does NOT mean next year's (fiscal 2011-2012) school budget will be reduced by $2.7 million.

Here is a quick breakdown of the $2.7 million, as detailed in the school district's press release (numbers are approximate):

ARRA stimulus funding (special education and other), Medicaid payments: $1.6 million
Unanticipated tuition revenue from New Boston and Dunbarton: $0.7 million
Encumbered from the 2008-2009 school fiscal year: $0.2 million
Savings in general energy costs: $0.1 million


After reading the school board's press release myself, I couldn't find any indication of a reduction to next year's school budget.  Rather, it provides precise details as to the sources of the money and its effect on setting the upcoming tax rate.  Nevertheless, School Board chairman Keith Allard has mentioned to me recently that he is unfortunately having to correct a lot of confusion in the community about this subject.

I think it's fair to say that no matter how well intentioned, the news media can, and sometimes does, fail to capture all the facts, or can inadvertently skew the spirit or intent of an article, issue or event.  

My suggestion is to get the facts for yourselves.  Click here to read the school district's press release on the $2.7 million giveback to Goffstown taxpayers.  I think it'll quickly become clear that there is no mention of a reduction to the next proposed budget.

Then, if you still have questions, contact Mr. Allard at kallard@goffstown.k12.nh.us.  He'll be happy to answer any further questions you may have.




Guy Caron can be reached via e-mail at: GuyC@GoffstownResidentsAssociation.com

Past Columns by Guy Caron  >>>

 


DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Mr. Caron are not necessarily those of the Goffstown Residents Association or its members.


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