Newport Town Raises School Budget In Light of Teacher Negotiations

NEWPORT TOWN – Most articles passed with little to no discussion in Newport Town Tuesday night. This includes the $2.5 million school budget. Prior to the vote, school board member Glenn Foster did a Power Point presentation that explained the revenues and expenses that showed a surplus. Ernest Choquette asked why the board is asking for an increase when the school has a surplus. The answer came from School Board Chair Wilma Therrien.“We’re in negotiations this year for one thing,” she said. “We were told by the supervisory union we had to plan on a five percent increase. Whether the teachers get that or not, I don’t know.”There are a lot of students who came into the school who are on Individual Education Plans, said Therrien. One student goes to a school in Burke, which, according to Therrien, is “very, very expensive.” She said the town gets 93 percent reimbursement, but it still needs to show in the budget. That cost for that school is $8,000 a month. Several items have also increased. Therrien said the school board has been told to either level fund or decrease the budget.“After awhile, that’s going to catch up with you,” said Therrien, who called the money the board asks for “a guessing game.”Discussion briefly turned to the possibility of having a junior high school on the west side of the district. It’s been discussed to bring forward to see how people think about it. Enrollment is down, which means it cost more to educate each student, Therrien said. The west side junior high school means all the towns need to be involved. So far, all of the towns, with the exception of Troy, approve of the idea.Voters briefly changed their tune when it came to using unreserved funds, $168,211, to reduce the construction loan. Barbara Leach suggested using some of the money to replace windows and ceiling insulation as requested in the next article. That article requested $62,000. That’s possible with voter approval, Therrien said.In the end, voters decided to use not more than $62,000 of the reserved funds to replace windows and ceiling insulation. The remaining funds will pay off the loan.Residents will continue to hold their annual town meeting in the evening. At town meeting last year, some residents thought there would be more attendance if the town held the meeting in the morning. However, the issue had to wait until this year to formally be discussed.David Ghelli was one several residents who opposed the idea. He said that he appreciates the town considering the change, but an evening meeting is better for him. Steve Roberts said the town switched to an evening meeting several years ago to increase to participation and that worked for a number of years. There are exceptions, but most people who care will attend the meeting, no matter when it is, he said.