PETERBOROUGH — Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders would like to inform the public about the ConVal Regional School District’s proposed $52.5 million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
The proposed budget represents a 2.63 percent increase — or $1.3 million — over the current fiscal year. That increase is almost exclusively due to fixed and state-mandated employee and post-employment benefits ($1.16 million), as well as COVID-19 related expenses.
The district’s state-mandated contributions for teacher and non-teacher retirement benefits will total an additional $904,000 in fiscal year 2022. That funding accounts for a 24.4 percent increase over the current year’s budget, and 69.5 percent of the total proposed increase in the district’s budget for the coming year.
The proposed budget was reviewed at the School District Deliberative Meeting on Feb. 3, which was open to voters in all nine ConVal district towns. Voting on the final will take place in each town on Tuesday, March 9.
“The district administration has worked diligently to develop a budget during a very trying period. It goes without saying that the widespread impact of the pandemic was something that none of us could have seen coming, but we’ve worked to address those challenges without undue impact on the budget,” Superintendent Rizzo Saunders said. “We believe our proposed budget is fiscally responsible and provides for the continuation of beneficial programming for all of our students.”
Retirement Costs a Main Driver
A significant portion of the increase is attributed to a sharp rise in the district’s retirement liabilities. The New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) sets employer contribution rates based on rates of return on investments and on life expectancies of members and retirees.
NHRS has set new rates for the coming two-year cycle:
- In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the district’s contribution was 11.17 percent of the total salary for a non-certified employee, such as custodians and other professional staff. That share will rise to 14.06 percent for fiscal year 2022, which begins on July 1.
- In fiscal years 2020 and 2021 the district’s contribution was 17.8 percent of the total salary for a certified employee, which includes teachers. That share will rise to 21.02 percent on July 1.
“This is the largest year-over-year increase in employer contribution requirements in recent memory,” Superintendent Rizzo Saunders said. “This has been a difficult year to develop a budget, even without the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has worked incredibly hard to develop a prudent budget for fiscal year 2022 that sets the stage for student success while ensuring we fulfill our obligations to staff.”
Health and dental insurance costs also are rising, totaling an additional $236,000 in the coming fiscal year.
The district also is incurring significant expenses that will help fulfill its goal of bringing students back for full-time, in-person learning.
Going forward, the district will be working to help further support staff and students in the district, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic. This will include programs to recover lost learning, staffing prioritization, technology utilization, and program recovery.
The budget also allows us to expand and further explore programming throughout the district, including building off the success of the United Remote Learners program and expanding continued remote learning opportunities through eighth grade for those families who believe their students will benefit from this type of learning.
It also includes funding for expanding mental health services to support students in the wake of the pandemic, as well as for continuing toward the goal of preschool for all.
Budget Vote is March 9
The budget and warrant articles will be voted upon by residents in ConVal’s member towns – Antrim, Bennington, Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough, Sharon and Temple – on Tuesday, March 9.