NCU Board Reviews Draft Budget Hikes

NEWPORT CITY – Board members from the North Country Union High School have started the long process of getting the 2012-2013 budget ready for voters. Voters will be asked to approve the budget on Town Meeting Day in March. The proposed high school budget is $11,631,675.37, an increase of $293,287.33 over the 2011-2012 budget. Board Member Peter Moskovites said the plan is to have the members take the proposed budget home, review it and then discuss it at the next full board meeting.One increase in the budget was to the contingency fund in the amount of $45,000. Moskovites explained the board is in contract negotiations with teachers and it’s incumbent to allocate money towards a future resolution. Board Member Richard Nelson suggested allocating half that amount so voters won’t get scared. Board Member Rosemary Mayhew was quick to point out that voters are used to seeing those types of numbers during negotiations. “We have the obligation to budget as accurately as possible,” Mayhew said. “Negotiations are not going to cost us half of that. That’s just putting out false information. We’re trying to be as transparent as we can. It is a negotiation's year. It’s an expense we’re going to have. You have to be honest about it.”North Country is known for being the least cost per student and the board anticipates that will continue, Board Chair Arne Amaliksen said.“By me asking that question, I brought that information and the press can put that down and maybe it will help us,” Nelson said.Another increase was in Special Education, which went up by $88,000.The Business Operations Committee worked on the budget at several different meetings, Moskovites told the board. “We feel it’s a rather just budget,” Moskovites said. He said the student body has increased from 922 to 938. Moskovites said the board has been cutting the budget to the bare bones. “I hope it doesn’t come back and bite us. You can’t cut much more without cutting programs.”The proposed career center budget is $3,274,893.78, an increase of $195,273.32.Richard Hoffman, director of the North Country Career Center, explained one of the factors for the increase is that enrollment continues to rise. In addition, the cost of supplies has gone up. There are also some direct costs.According to Hoffman, part of the increase is because about $530,000 in the budget is tied to loans and the state has not fully paid off its obligations for the addition to the career center.More detailed information on the budget will be forthcoming.