Editorials published by the Goffstown Residents
Association are written by various members and
contributing non-members of the GRA.

January 4, 2008

Please support school petition article
Budget Committee can provide objective determination of default budget

This coming March, the school district ballot will include a petition article which states, “Shall we adopt the provisions of RSA 40:14-b to delegate the determination of the default budget to the municipal budget committee which has been adopted under RSA 32:14?

It is important for Goffstown voters to give this important article careful consideration. 

A default budget is the budget that is adopted when the proposed operating budget fails at town vote. If this article passes, the school district will still have control over calculating its proposed budget each year, just as it does now, and we voters can approve or reject it at town vote. But the school district would no longer be allowed to calculate its own default budget. That responsibility would instead fall on our Budget Committee. 

Why is this important? Because unlike every other department in Goffstown, the school district is the only one that calculates its own default budget. Other departments in Goffstown do not.

This year, selectmen sharpened their pencils, and the result was a town operating budget that will not raise the town portion of our tax rate next year. 

Not so with the school board. The current process that allows them to calculate their own default budgets does not provide for the same checks and balances that affect all other town departments. Effectively, the school district is guarding its own hen house.  The result?  The school portion of our taxes is going up again.


At the December 16th Budget Committee meeting, chairman Dan Cloutier addressed this problem by pointing out that he has long taken issue with how the school board calculates its default budget. Cloutier said, “There’s more money in that calculation, the default budget, than I believe should be there.” 

School Board chairman Keith Allard countered, and has stated publicly, that any reduction in the school board’s proposed budget will result in the elimination of bus service, teacher positions and other school programs.  Really?  Don't be fooled, Goffstown. Those claims are a clever ruse, as bus service CANNOT be eliminated according to state law for children up to 8th grade.  And those teaching positions Allard says will be cut?  They're currently vacant

It's interesting to note that when faced with possible reductions, it's our children's programs the school board takes aim at, and not the administration's spending lines.  An effective scare tactic, to say the least.

Don't take our word for it - check it out for yourself.  And while you do, keep in mind that Allard is up for re-election in March.

Last year, the school department provided all of those services, and more, at a cost of $30.8 million. Mr. Cloutier calculated that the school board’s level budget next year, adjusted for contractual obligations and other cost increases, should be no more than $32.6 million. But the school board came in looking for approval for nearly $2 million more than that. As Cloutier asked during the meeting, “What has changed over the year that just ended…that is going to cost that amount of money?

What has changed?  Well, let's see: For one thing, enrollment has dropped for the second year in a row. Heating costs are dramatically lower and some teaching positions remain vacant. Wait, wouldn’t that mean the proposed school budget should be lower?


Allard also stated outright during that meeting that the school’s proposed budget contained “fluff”. Fluff? With all of us facing rising inflation, lower property values, depleted retirement accounts and growing unemployment, the school board actually padded their budget with fluff?

This is the wrong time to continue with “business as usual.”

There are some who will claim this petition article is “anti-school”. But nothing could be further from the truth. If passed, the school board can continue to propose whatever budgets it wants each year. And we can continue to approve them, as we do each year. Its passage would do nothing detrimental to the operation of our schools, and would only serve to increase the level of trust between the school district and taxpayers. Others will point to the number of signatures on the petition, or claim the budget committee hasn’t officially requested this change.

In fact, many budget committee members have already signed it.

Come to think of it, there's no reason the school board itself shouldn't support this article, is there?

We STRONGLY urge all Goffstown voters to vote YES on this school petition article when entering the voting booth on March 10th.  Keep the fox from guarding the henhouse.



Cloutier calculations expose waste
School budget continues to double every 10 years

Did the School Board look out for your best interests?
Stop School foxes from guarding their own henhouse
Budget Committee caves in amid School tactics
How the $chool Board - and government - is ruining Goffstown


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