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Exeter Regional Cooperative School District: Budget Advisory Information Session

Updated: Jan 11

Acronyms

BAC: Budget Advisory Committee

CMS: Cooperative Middle School

EHS: Exeter High School

ERSCD: Exeter Regional School Cooperative District

GBCS: Great Bay Charter School

Joint Board: School Board members from each district including: ERSCD, Brentwood, East Kingston, Exeter, Kensington, Newfields and Stratham

SST: Seacoast School of Technology

TLC: Tuck Learning Center

What is the scope of the ERSCD BAC?

BAC collaborates with budget and finance on the annual operating budget for EHS, CMS, SST and Adult Ed. We review and make budget recommendations and provide community input on budget priorities. The BAC is non-binding, which means the viewpoints expressed are taken into consideration, but are not final. BAC votes to support or reject the budget as presented and those results are on the warrant article voted on in March.

How is the ERSCD BAC formed?

Members are elected in March by their respective towns and include: one from Brentwood, East Kingston, Kensington and Newfields; two from Stratham, and three from Exeter. The number of representatives mirrors the number from each town on the school board, which is determined by the population in each town. Each member serves a term of three years.

The BAC members can be found here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nAo09l1ccVMzpbJLDUt8xX7NQ6jg3z0U/view

Purpose of this Meeting

To allow the community/voters to have input at the beginning of the budget process and understand how the budget process works for the ERSCD.

How Many Budgets are in the SAU?

Three: SAU16 & ERSCD are approved or rejected by all registered voters in the SAU16 towns. And each elementary school presents their own budget for the voters to approve or reject within their respective town.


  • SAU16 Budget

Administration budget for offices located on Linden Street including, Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, Finance, HR, and other Administrative professionals located at the SAU16 offices. This budget is separate and has its own BAC comprised of members from the Joint Board.

  • ERSCD Budget

This budget is for CMS, EHS, GBCS, Adult Ed, SST and Facilities. It includes all of the operating expenses, including the bond for the CMS expansion. However, increases for teachers and paraprofessionals are approved or rejected by all registered voters in a separate warrant article.






How is my tax rate determined?

Cost of Total Budget / Total Number of Students * Students per town = Tax Impact

Effect on one town might be higher than another based on each individual town’s tax rate. These tax rates are set by the individual town, not the school.


What portion of the ERSCD budget is allocated to each school?


What are the major expense categories within the ERSCD budget?


Are ERSCD teacher salary increases included in the proposed ERSCD budget?

No. This is a negotiation year and any salary increase will be included in a warrant article for the election in March. That number will be in addition to the salaries presented on the proposed budget.

How are the ERCSD Teachers, ERCSD Paraprofessionals and ERCSD Administrators compensated when there is no contract?

Salaries for the unions listed above will remain at FY22 levels in this proposed operating budget.

How are the ERSCD contracts negotiated?

Negotiations occur amongst: ERSCD school board members, ERSCD union representatives, and SAU16 administration. Legal representation for the SAU and the unions also consults during the discussions. Once completed, these multi-year contracts can be found on the SAU16 website.


Student enrollment is declining, why does the budget continue to increase?

Many costs in the ERSCD budget are fixed, such as building operating expenses. These costs are constant and are not dependent upon the number of students enrolled.

How can community members provide input about particular spending?

The best way to provide feedback is to attend ERSCD BAC meetings, then provide feedback during public input (if available) or through contacting your ERSCD BAC and ERSCD school board members.


Can voters reduce or increase spending on individual line items?

No. Voters can accept or reject the total budget number as presented on the ballot. During the Deliberative Session, those in attendance can make a motion to alter the budget number presented, which would then be accepted or rejected at that time. The ERSCD school board is legally required to meet all budget obligations and not exceed the total budget number approved. Ultimately individual line item expenses are at the discretion of the ERSCD school board.

What effect can the voters have on a warrant article?

Voters can effect the total dollar amount, but cannot effect any individual line items. However, the voters could have recourse to introduce an independent warrant article. There is a deadline for introducing a warrant article; however, the BAC is not well versed on that process. It would be advisable to contact one of the town offices within the SAU for further information.

There are topics that parents are interested in discussing; however, it is not clear how to provide input. How can the public be heard?

The BAC adds another layer to the review process and the voters have a say on the final number. While the BAC is open to hearing input from the community, ultimately the decisions rest with the ERSCD school board.


Additional Concerns Expressed from the Audience

Transportation: Currently EHS and CMS start classes at 7:25am, which means students are on buses by 6:30am. This schedule does not follow American Academy of Pediatrics or CDC guidelines. How can we implement later start times for our CMS and EHS students? At one point there was an exploratory committee, what was the outcome? How can we start this conversation

  • Health/Lunch: The meals provided free of charge to all students are unhealthy and not conducive to a productive day. How can we change the food offerings at ERSCD?

  • Transparency: The information surrounding curriculum, budget and other decisions lack transparency. Why do the ERSBD school board not offer public Q&A sessions like this one?

  • Communication: The website is very difficult to navigate and it is hard to know when meetings take place. Can meeting notices be included with school newsletters or each month from SAU16 offices?

  • Voter Recourse: If the voters do not like the direction of the school board and administration, what recourse is available?

  • Accountability: How can the community hold the school board and administration accountable for their decisions?

  • Number of counselors at CMS: Is this number above or below recommended guidelines?

  • What is driving up the cost of salaries: Health care and pension/retirement—which is an unfunded mandate from the state

  • During meetings there seems to be very few questions asked by the school board members? Why is that?

  • Our school rankings are plummeting - who is accountable?

  • Participation and inclusion: Why were two BAC meetings scheduled on the same date at the same time, but at different venues? Additionally, neither meeting was well-publicized. We need better communication from our school board and administration. How can we make that happen?

  • Where to learn about curriculum concerns? Subcommittee meetings for ERSCD are the best place to hear about the curriculum being discussed

  • We want change. What is the mechanism to effect change? Attending meetings, providing input and ultimately voting.

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