Hampstead Hopes to Make Up Pinkerton Tuition Increase in Proposed Budget

HAMPSTEAD – The 2014-15 increase in the Pinkerton Academy tuition rate, previously reported by the Tri-Town Times, has a ripple effect that impacts its sending towns, including Hampstead.
According to Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson, the impact on Hampstead will be felt but won’t add a substantial amount to the proposed budget, and her hope is money can be found within the current proposal to balance out the increase. Hampstead had budgeted for a 3 percent Pinkerton tuition increase and what it received is a 4.9 percent increase.

Hampstead, Chester, Derry and Auburn tuition their high school students to the semi-private Pinkerton Academy.
“I am looking into the budget, which is still in the development stage, to find the money needed for the increase,” she said. “I will be looking at all avenues to cover this increase, and we will either have to add in the increase to account for the students attending or find it within the existing budget proposal. I will be taking a hard look at enrollment numbers, and I think I am going to adjust the enrollment number down by two or three students, which will save us $10,796.83 for each of the fewer students allowed for. It will help if I can narrow down the enrollment figure. (Pinkerton Headmaster) Mary Anderson and I have looked very closely at the projected enrollment figures.”
At this point Wilson is anticipating 425 students sent to Pinkerton, down from her original estimate of 429. Pinkerton is using an estimated enrollment number of 422 but Wilson said that wouldn’t give Hampstead any leeway for students moving into the district.
She pointed out the enrollment number is just an estimate and based on what is known today, but the actual number for the enrollment in the fall is unknown, subject to families moving in or out of the district or students electing to attend a different high school.
“It’s a balancing act,” she said. “But I don’t think the Pinkerton Academy tuition increase is going to result in our having to add a considerable amount more than what we have been talking about.”
In a press release from Pinkerton Academy about the tuition rate, the Pinkerton Board of Trustees announced that they had set the overall Regular Education budget at $32,714,388 for 2014-2015, an increase of 3.53 percent. Tuition, per student, will be $10,796.83, or 4.9 percent over current tuition.
Tuition rates have also been set for the three Special Education programs provided at Pinkerton. In the Resources program, tuition has increased 8.13 percent, with a decrease of enrollment by 10 students. Despite a budget reduction of 18.74 percent for the Pinkerton Academy Special Services for Educational Success (PASSES) program, including two staff positions, tuition has increased 15.9 percent, due to a projected decrease of 17 students. Alternative Comprehensive Training (ACT) tuition has decreased 0.8 percent; three new students are projected.
In explaining the tuition increase, the press release stated that budgeted salaries amount to a large part of the Academy’s budget and have increased 2 percent over 2013-14, driven by merit pay adjustments. Less than one-quarter percent is planned for capital repairs or capital improvements.
The Pinkerton Academy press release pointed to a projected decrease in student enrollment, increases in benefit costs, and anticipation of health care fees still to be understood under the Affordable Care Act, as the primary drivers of the budget changes. Enrollment decreases are expected to show 40 fewer students, lowering the enrollment to 3,030 students and resulting in a loss of $400,000 in revenue, in addition to a 6 percent increase in health benefits, a 2.5 percent increase in dental benefits, and an influx of family members joining the Pinkerton health plan due to changes in spousal employment.
“Enrollment is challenging to predict for 2014-15,” explained James Mulrennen, Pinkerton treasurer. “We are being conservative with this budget since charter schools in the area could add to the projected decrease in enrollment. As always, we will look for ways to reduce costs and maintain our high quality education. Our hope is to again return a surplus to sending districts.”
Accord to Chip Underhill, Pinkerton’s Executive Director of Public Relations and External Affairs, tuition at Pinkerton is set by dividing the budget for an academic year by the projected total number of students for that year. For 2014-15, each town’s enrollment projection is as follows:
• Derry is expected to decrease 89 students from an estimated 1,975 students for 2013-14 to an estimated 1,886 students in 2014-15;
• Hampstead is projected to decrease 36 students from 458 students to an estimated 422 students.
• Chester is expected to increase three students from an estimated 350 students to 353 students.
• Enrollment from Auburn, which became a sending town in 2013-14, is expected to increase 52 students, from 236 students to a projected 288 students.
The balance of enrollment will be made up of students from outside the four sending districts as allowed by contract.

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