Newton-Kingston Taxpayers Association

   Reasonable Taxes for Best Values
     in Local Government and Schools

Sanborn Regional School District Warrant Articles

#1- To Elect the Following School District Officers:

This authorizes the votes for the available seats on the School Board, the School Budget Committee and the School District Moderator. This year there are a total of 7 seats up for election on the Board and Committee, out of a total of 14 in all who serve on them. The reason for this unusual number is that there have been mid-term resignations that then need to be filled by the voters at the next election. The normal term is 3 years, and the moderator one year.

#2 – General Acceptance of Reports.

This is a standard warrant article that needs to pass for the District operations.

#3 – Operating Budget.

The operating budget is comprised of two numbers: The General Fund and the Special Revenues Fund. The latter is an estimate from the school administration. The General Fund is a number developed by a lot of work by the school administration, the School Board and the Budget Committee. The Budget Committee recommendation was presented to the voters present at the first voting session on February 8, and was increased by $500,500 to the budget proposal that appears on the ballot: $34,196,468. If this warrant passes, the School Board will have this amount of money available to run the School District over the coming fiscal year, July 1 2017 to June 30 2018. If the warrant fails to pass, the default budget of $34,723,540 will go in to effect. This year the default budget is higher than the proposed budget and has a higher tax impact. This year the tax impact of both the proposed and the default budgets appear on the warrant article. NKTA is recommending Passing the Proposed budget. 

#4. Professional Staff Contract.

This warrant covers a 2-year contract for the teachers of the Sanborn School District. The teachers’ contract failed to pass last year, and the teachers have been working without a contract this past year, which means they had no raises. This failure of a contract to pass has occurred in 4 of the past ten years, and, as a result, the teachers of our District currently have a lower starting salary than is average in New Hampshire. Some feel that the reason for failure to pass has been aggressively high budget proposals from the Administration and past budget committees. With NKTA advocacy, both the Superintendent and School Board put forward more conservative spending plans for FY 2018. The Budget Committee delved into current spending patterns and future spending plans, as well as declining enrollments, and recommended a $850,000 lower budget, having found $1.7 million in possible savings from the Superintendent’s request. This proposal was increased at the Deliberative Session, potentially endangering the professional staff contract, in NKTA’s opinion, since the increase was about equal to the additional cost of the professional staff contract. This warrant article is for about $500,000 in addition to the proposed budget for FY 18 and another $500,000 more for FY 19, making a total budget impact of $1.5 Million over the two years. Staffing is currently 71% of the total budget. This raise for staff is about 1.5% of the total budget. Last year after failure of the teacher contract at the polls, the District lost 27 teachers. The cost to replace teachers is almost $10,000 each in training costs.

#5. Special Meeting - Professional Staff

This provides for a re-vote, at the ballot booths, in the event Warrant Article #4 fails to pass. The School Board and Teachers Union could renegotiate and bring a proposed contract back to the voters for a new vote.

#6. Support Staff Agreement

This covers a 2 year contract with the Support Staff Union, the paraprofessionals who support the Special needs in the classrooms. Many of these are local residents. The reason for a 2 year contract is that there is a possibility of a ‘Cadillac tax” on the District in 2 years, for the health insurance we provide for our District employees. Both the Professional Staff and Support Staff have agreed to a higher deductible health plan for the coming year, should this pass. The non-union employees adopted this plan last year, saving the District some money. The District currently pays 90% of all employees ‘ health insurance, with the employee paying the other 10%. NKTA has been troubled over the high contribution rates, compared to both town employees and to most residents. However, the standard in New Hampshire with whom we must compete for our staff is 85-90%. If the “Cadillac Tax” takes place in 2019, this will change. In the meantime, remaining competitive resulted in the proposed contracts as they now are.

#7. Special Meeting- Support Staff.

Please see remarks on #5. This has the same purpose and intent.

#8. Enter into Conversation With the Town of Kingston To Sell Some or All of The Old High School Campus.

This is a non-binding vote to indicate whether voters of the District are interested in pursuing negotiations with Kingston. The property involved is the Seminary Building, the Science Building, the Swasey Gym and the Chase Fields. Some or all of them may be involved in the negotiations. There are multiple possibilities that could result, and any proposal will be brought before the District voters for approval before implemented.

Petition Warrant Articles: By law in New Hampshire any group of 25 or more petitioners can put forward warrant articles for voter consideration at the polls. This is one aspect of the democratic voting process we enjoy in New Hampshire.

#9. ADA Improvements – Swasey Gym and Chase Field House

American Disabilities Act compliance has been mandated for about 40 years, but the District is not in compliance at the Swasey Gym and the Chase Field House. A lawsuit has been promised about the lack of compliance, and these facilities will have to be padlocked and remain unused if this warrant article fails to pass, with a huge impact to the children of the District as well as to the town of Kingston. Many sports take place at this facility, including High School Football practice, youth basketball, youth soccer, Middle School basketball, and cheerleading. The question has to be asked, if the kids cannot pursue these activities, what will they be doing? This warrant covers a portion of the $9.6 Million 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan adopted by the School Board this fiscal year.

#10. Middle School Window and Blind Replacement.

This is a warrant article that reflects a portion of the $1.2 Million in spending that the School Board-adopted 5 year Capital Improvement Plan for FY 2018. The School Board declined to ask for funding of its plan, so a group of citizens put the warrants forward for voter approval or disapproval. NKTA believes that 1- capital improvement should be made on our aging infrastructure, 2- a plan including funding should be made and presented to the voters, and 3- capital improvements should be treated as separate warrant articles and not included in the operating budget. The School Board had originally proposed this warrant’s spending in a separate warrant article, as they did #9. The petitioners were aware that the School Board had the option of withdrawing their warrant proposals prior to the March 14 elections, so they put forward warrants that could not be withdrawn. The petitioners were not all members of NKTA, nor was this a NKTA-sanctioned move on their part. However, the action is in alignment with NKTA beliefs as outlined above. The School Board did, in fact, withdraw their two Capital Improvement Warrant articles.

The middle school is a 40-year-old building with almost no science labs, leaky windows, a warming kitchen instead of a full kitchen, a half-size gym that requires kids to be transported to the Swasey Gym and Chase Fields in Kingston for sports activities, dark office space, and elementary-sized classrooms and hallways for kids that are larger than that. With declining enrollments, NKTA believes that a viable long-term plan for our middle school children needs to be developed, along with a viable funding plan, and brought to the voters.

NKTA is not making a recommendation on this or any non-budgetary warrants. NKTA wants voters to be aware of the limitations of the facility, and of other possible options that could be brought before the voters for approval in the future when deciding whether to approve this funding.

11. Sanborn Ice Hockey Team.

Ice Hockey was begun as a club sport, then a JV and now a Varsity sport. There are 20 males and females who play. Ice Hockey is a very expensive sport. This warrant proposes that a portion of the cost of Ice Hockey be funded by the District taxpayers, with the balance being funded by efforts of the Boosters. At the start of Ice Hockey, the organizers promised the School Board that they would never seek funding from the taxpayers. Now that it has become a Varsity sport, the costs have risen sharply and they now seek funding and feel that, now that the team is Varsity, the situation is different than when they began. It is possible that most or the entire cost of Ice Hockey will become taxpayer-funded if this warrant passes. It is also possible that other sports may follow similar patterns, with Lacrosse coming soon. Athletics are an important part of student life and success, and a relatively small portion of the total School District Budget.

12. Capital Improvements- Swasey Gym and Chase Fields

This warrant is to fund the remainder of the Capital Improvement Plan adopted by the School Board for FY 2018. It was originally for $573,200 of proposed and, according to the Plan, critically needed improvements to this facility. With the proposal to negotiate selling the property to Kingston, and with the staff contracts, ADA compliance and Middle School Windows, the School Board elected to defer this part of their Plan. The petitioners felt that the adopted Plan should be brought before the voters for approval or disapproval. Many of our buildings have deferred maintenance. NKTA believes that asset maintenance is important, before we end up with more buildings that are in disrepair as the Old High School became.

At the Deliberative Session on Feb 8, voters changed the amount of funding to $1. If this warrant passes, the School Board will be able to spend that $1 plus any amount they choose from District funds on the items in this portion of the CIP. If it fails, the School Board will be unable to spend any money at all on these items, because ‘No Means No” in NH law.

13. Capital Improvements- Memorial, Bakie and Middle Schools

The original total for these improvements from the Capital Improvement Plan was $369,730. This too was reduced to $1 at the Deliberative Session by voters present on February 8. . If this warrant passes, the School Board will be able to spend that $1 plus any amount they choose from District funds on the items in this portion of the CIP. If it fails, the School Board will be unable to spend any money at all on these items, because ‘No Means No” in NH law.

14. Default Budget

The current procedure is to have the default budget, every year the alternative to the proposed budget before the voters, determined by the School Board. The School Board effectively abdicates its responsibility for this determination to the School Administration. They do not have the time or the inclination to determine the default budget. The law states that it is the citizens responsibility to develop the default budget.

There is a provision in law, that the determination of the default budget can be shifted to the Budget Committee whose sole responsibility is the budget recommendation. This warrant has to be passed by a super- or 3/5 majority.

Some are concerned that passage will place both the proposed and the default budgets in the hands of the Budget committee. In fact, the default only would be, instead of being in the hands of the Administration as it effectively now is. The proposed budget is recommended but not determined by the budget Committee. It is the voters present at the Deliberative Session who determine what it will be, for the March vote. With the default budget in the hands of the Budget Committee, the Administration would remain involved in an advisory capacity, and the Department of Revenue would still review it for accuracy.

For the complete wording of the Warrants, please see Sanborn District Warrants