The Contoocook Valley (Con Val) School Board approved a $48,128,007 proposed operating budget for the 2019-2020 school year. This will be put forth for voter approval in March.
We are recommending adoption of this budget by the public. This budget represents a “maintenance of efforts” approach in order to meet obligations to our students and staff; no significant new programs have been added. The 1.8% increase in this proposed budget (compared to the current year) is primarily due to contracted services; health care, retirement and transportation.
Unfortunately, if the proposed budget is not accepted by simple taxpayer majority then the District and School Board must cut almost $1.25 million from it to implement the $46,878,781 default budget. This default budget will result in significant cuts in student programming, a loss of 6.5 positions from the high school and middle school as well as a freeze to important facility improvements.
The Con Val School Board has already approved the following programmatic cuts in order to help meet the default budget:
- Cornucopia program-teaches our first and second grade students about gardening, nutrition and cycles in nature; an engaging and hands-on approach to science.
- New Hampshire Dance Institute (NHDI)- a week of creative movement, music and dance for all of our elementary students culminating in an all school dance performance; and participation by our middle schools in a dance program that culminates in a program at Keene State College. This is a unique program with enthusiastic participation.
- Fresh fruits and vegetable program at the elementary schools-originally provided by federal grant, the District now pays to continue this program which supplies fresh produce as snacks throughout the week. This is successful with high participation and very low waste. And, we are nutritionally supporting the youngest pupils in our district.
- Fees for both Advanced Placement (AP) testing and Running Start classes-both programs offer incredible opportunity to our high school students.
- Girls and boys ice hockey, golf, spirit team and freshman boys basketball
- Summer programming at both middle schools and the high school-these programs offer both academic as well as enrichment opportunities to our students.
- Quest-a week-long summer adventure camp supporting and challenging our middle school students.
- 5th block at the high school- an important time for high school students to receive additional supports.
- District arts integration and enrichment-special art opportunities on top of traditional programming.
These losses will undoubtedly be unpopular throughout the Con Val community, as they are at both the SAU and Board level. They come as a result of new statutory requirements limiting the development of the default budget as well as a lack of places in the budget to trim. Everything that could be cut, that would not significantly affect the education our district children, has already happened in previous years. Currently, there are no items that can be cut without creating a deficit in our schools. As a result, the Con Val School Board highly recommends adoption of the proposed operating budget.
For further understanding of school budget development and taxpayer contributions, please visit our website http://schoolboard.convalsd.net/. We are in the process of posting detailed articles which further explain this process and how our budget is where it is today.
As always, we welcome public attendance at all of our meetings. And, we invite taxpayers to attend District Meeting Part I, Deliberative Session on February 6th, 2019 in the high school gymnasium.