Development of the School District Budget

Development of the 2021 – 2022 School District Budget
Posted on 01/07/2021
Budget Image

The Proposed Budget for the coming School Year was delivered to the Chester Budget Committee prior to the end of December for their review and feedback. ~ On January 4th, representatives of the School District attended the Chester Budget Committee Meeting where Superintendent Lockwood provided an initial overview and summary of the Proposed Budget for the Budget Committee members.

The Administration and School Board have developed a Proposed Budget that supports an educational environment consistent with the values of the community while still conscious of the current sense of financial uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.

The Proposed Budget for 2021 – 2022 as presented to the Budget Committee is $13,503,823 which is an increase over the prior year of $683,906 or 5.33%. The Board was presented with several significant upward pressures when developing the budget. The impact of just two items (increased NHRS contributions and new Special Education Services requirements) total $412,249 or 60% of the increase.

- The impact of COVID-19. ~ After assessing potential continuing costs associated with COVID-19 remediation (approximately $56,000) the Board made the decision to remove those items from the budget. ~ This decision was not taken likely but we are reasonably confident that the 2021 – 2022 School Year will see a resumption of normal classroom and school activities and this Budget reflects

- Scheduling of approved Capital Improvement Plan projects in support of maintenance of the Chester Academy infrastructure. ~ There were five infrastructure projects scheduled for 2021 – 2022 as part of the established CIP, estimated to require approximately $114,000 in funds. ~ After assessing the projects scheduled in the plan the Board made the decision to adjust the plan by addressing two projects this year and deferring the other projects into subsequent years, and removing those costs from the Budget.

- The New Hampshire Retirement System mandated increased contributions (contributions are made by both parties) to ensure the long-term ability of the system to meet its obligations. ~ The impact of this increase is quite significant. ~ Across all Function / Lines in the Proposed Budget, the total impact of the change in the NHRS contribution is estimated to be an increased contribution by the School District of $125,707. Note: that amount represents the impact of just the mandated increase, not the actual total contribution to NHRS.

- A significantly increased demand for Special Education Services for our students, including necessary placement in Out-of-District programs. ~ Over the years we have discussed how the requirement for complex services of even a single student could result in a significant impact on the District Budget: this is one of those years. ~ This year requires a 23.85% increase in the Special Education Services budget over the prior year in the amount of $387,925: this is primarily due to new requirements for Out Of District placement of students amounting to an estimated $286,542.

- Scheduled increases in salary and benefits for staff members as per terms of existing Collective Bargaining Agreements. ~ The District will be operating under the final year of current Collective Bargaining Agreements with both the Chester Education Association and the Chester Education Support Professionals Association. These agreements, and the corresponding increases, were previously approved by the Legislative Body.

We believe that the Chester School District has consistently delivered a budget appropriate to the needs of the community while still reducing the overall tax impact year-over-year to the community of Chester.

We look forward to working with the Chester Budget Committee in the coming month to balance the needs of the school District, the Town and the taxpayers.