School District Office Costs Take Up 33 Percent of Budget

Taking up approximately 33 percent of the School District’s proposed budget for FY 15 is the District Office budget, which stands at $2,231,308.
School District Business Administrator Peter Curro told the School Board on Thursday, Dec. 19, that under the District Office, the School Board budget was level funded at $26,600, audit at $18,000, legal at $50,000, office of the superintendent up $10,200 at $299,750, and business support services level funded at $31,000. Curro said he was requesting one and a half more buses in anticipation of development of the northeast corner of town.
Board member John Robinson asked if it would be cheaper to run two half buses instead of a full bus, with each bus going in a different direction, for the cost of a single bus.

Curro said the district is charged by the bus, regardless of size.
Under employee benefits, the budget requests $16,677,840, as follows: health insurance, $8,120,359; dental insurance, $530,493; life/disability insurance, $148,000; Social Security/Medicare, $2,838,490; New Hampshire Retirement – employees, $518,391; New Hampshire Retirement – teachers, $$4,079,507; other retirement, $175,000 Workers Compensation, $201,000; and other health benefits, $38,000.
Budget Committee member Tom Dalton said that on the town side, health plans are described as “Cadillac” plans and asked if that were true on the school side. Curro said it was.
“So that’s going to incur a 40 percent tax in 2018,” Budget Committee Chairman Chris Melcher said, and asked how that would be addressed. Curro said he had “two more years to figure that out.
“We are working on it,” he added. “Our contract on health is with both School Care and LGC (Local Government Center), and I can tell you both are looking at it.”
Robinson asked if the issue were something that should be brought up in negotiations, and Curro said, “Yes. Something will be addressed.”
Melcher said if there were a 40 percent tax, the teachers would have to pay that as well. “The school (district) would have to pay their percentage but the teachers would have to pay theirs,” Melcher said.
Curro said that as he understands it, the employer would pay the tax. “It’s 40 percent of the variance between what the family plan premium is and what the maximum allowable by Affordable Healthcare is. That’s the 40 percent, not the whole premium,” he explained.
Melcher noted the town had been exploring self-insuring or getting with the school district, and he asked if that conversation had taken place.
“We had discussed self insuring,” Curro said. “I can’t speak for the town, but it doesn’t fit us. You need to have a certain amount where self insured plans become viable. Many have tried – I’ve been with LGC since 1996 – and most go back to School Care or LGC. It didn’t work the way they thought.”
Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said he had been involved with a district that went to self-insuring and they returned to an insurance carrier because “ratings change, you have catastrophic illnesses or there’s an increase because you have to meet deductible costs.”
Human Resources Director Suzie Swenson said the Wellness Program has saved the district money because insurance rates are based on claims and the more it’s used, the higher the rates. She said the Wellness Program keeps people healthier so fewer claims are made, thereby saving money.
Dalton said that it looked like the retirement proposal was almost $1 million more than last year’s actual amount. He noted the proposed FY 15 amount on the teacher side is $4 million against last year’s actual of $3.2 million, and under the employee side, last year’s actual was $411,021.49 and FY 15 proposed is $$518,391.
Curro said it is a two-year increase. He said that the column marked “last year” is for FY 13, followed by the current year, which is FY 14, and the proposal for FY 15.
Curro said he anticipates Workers Compensation rates to decline.
Lisa McKinney, School District Manager of Accounting, said the budget on the revenue side anticipates a $649,953 decrease in state revenue. Catastrophic aid is level funded, building aid is level funded, state adequacy is down by $583,884. She said state property tax is up a little; Medicaid is budgeted a little lower at $250,000, based on claims; and vocational transportation is level funded at $17,000.
McKinney said they are budgeted at $100,000 for impact fees, the first time since FY 12 they will be receiving impact fees. Pupil activities are level funded at $20,000 and tuition, Summer School and LEEP (Londonderry Early Education Program) are at $984,300, for a total of $1,154,300. She noted that means local receipts are up by $450,300, if the lease is taken out of the FY 14 number, and “we’re budgeting $715,000 to come from fund balance.”
McKinney said the district currently has 56 tuition students from Hooksett and expects an additional 25 for FY 15.
The budget calls for $44,884,810 to be raised from local taxes, not including warrant articles.

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