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Meeting Recap: Final BAC Meeting for Proposed Budget for Central Office

Thursday, September 22 the second and final SAU16 Budget Advisory Meeting (BAC) was held to discuss the proposed budget for the School Administrative SAU16. This budget provides the salaries of the Superintendents, support staff and business offices. During this meeting the proposed budget for FY23 was presented by Mollie O’Keefe, Executive Director for Finance and Operations. Also attending from the central office were Superintendent Ryan and Michelle Larsen.

BAC members in attendance: Dawn Bullens (Exeter), Leddy Bedard (Brentwood), Jonathan Lavelle (Kensington), Jennifer Ranz (East Kingston)

BAC members absent: Helen Joyce (ERSCD), Tom Hayward (Newfields), Erin Garcia de Paredes (Stratham)

Over the past week, BAC members had an opportunity to solicit feedback from their respective board members regarding the proposed 8% budget increase. O’Keefe opened the meeting by sharing highlights from the central office including: three new employees, creation of the Portrait of an Educator and a silent auction that raised $1,000 for student scholarships.

O’Keefe then reviewed the summary of the proposed $2,756,960 budget.

  • $153,379.67 of this budget is allotted to the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) position, which is currently in the Cooperative School Budget.

  • $78,589.69 is earmarked for increases salaries, retirement, GMR increase of 6%, equity adjustment for the HR director.

  • $8,115.00 is for a phone upgrade, including equipment

O'Keefe explained that outside of the addition of the DEIJ position, the overall budget is less than a 2% increase. “Moving the DEIJ position from the Coop Budget into the SAU budget, is like paying out of the left pocket or the right pocket—we are just shifting pockets.” The DEIJ director position was included into last year’s Exeter Regional Cooperative School District (ERCSD) budget for a one year contract. Moving this position into the SAU budget would allow for Andres Mejia, Exeter Region Cooperative School District (ERSCD) Director of DEIJ to work in all the SAU16 school districts. Next year Ryan plans to have him work in all the elementary schools, in addition to CMS, EHS, SST, and Adult Education, which is where he is currently working.

The meeting was then opened for questions from the attending BAC members which were answered by O’Keefe. Bedard asked about the $4M grants to which O’Keefe responded were administrative requirements to allocate and ultimately spend the funds, which are not raised by the taxpayers. O’Keefe did not expand on what these allocations will include.

Looking beyond the summary and into the actual proposed budget, Bedard asked for clarification about administrative salaries, since multiple personnel may be included into one line item. Using the headcount summary provided by the central office, along with the proposed line item budget detail, the salaries are outlined below.

The transition of the DEIJ director was the main focus of the discussion, with Bedard seeking clarification on how many board members would have to approve the proposed change. Ryan explained it would require four out of the seven boards to approve during the Joint Board Meeting, which will take place on Monday, October 18.

Lavelle asked Ryan to share the public opinion from the DEIJ Information Session held in August, as he was unable to attend. Bedard replied the public is mixed, while Bullens and Ranz said it was positive. A video of that meeting can be found here.

Concluding the discussion on specific expense categories, Ranz asked for clarification for the Travel line item, which has a proposed 19% increase, bringing the total line item expense $35,280. O’Keefe explained this category included local travel for the administration to attend all local board meetings. Ryan added this line item included vehicle allowances. This exchange can be viewed around the eighth minute of the video.

This budget will be presented to the Joint Board during on Monday, September 27. Following this meeting, public input will be welcomed on Monday, October 18 and the members of the Joint Board will be voting to accept or reject this proposed budget. At this time meeting postings containing start times and location are not available on the SAU website.

A video recording of the September 22 meeting in its entirety can be found here.

Click here for presentation from the meeting.

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