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February 2, 2013

N.H. towns could lose thousands in state aid

NH towns could lose thousands in state aid unless bill passes

Three Southern New Hampshire school districts could lose thousands of dollars in state aid due to a miscalculation by the state Department of Education.

But a bill before lawmakers seeks to restore the money to the Londonderry, Hampstead and Sanborn Regional school districts, in addition to approximately 70 others across the state.

Londonderry could lose $307,286 in state aid for this year. Hampstead’s aid would drop by $77,372 and Sanborn’s by $56,230, according to Judith Fillion of the state Department of Education.

Aid to other local districts would not decrease. No additional funding will have to be raised through taxes because the state already has the money to pay the affected districts, she said.

”The money is the budget, so we don’t have to add money,” Fillion said.

The error involved a misinterpretation of how much aid some districts would receive under the state’s education funding formula, Fillion said.

District officials were told they would receive the same aid in 2013 as they did in 2011 and 2012, even though that wasn’t necessarily the case, she said. The Department of Education detected the error in December and immediately notified superintendents, Fillion said.

For Londonderry School Superintendent Nathan Greenberg, the news was devastating.

”It’s really critical for us, considering the size of the error,” Greenberg said yesterday. “It’s critically important that we get this money put back. We would have to curtail some services.”

Greenberg said his district already has made small reductions in spending in case the bill does not pass.

”We’re, basically, already slowing things down,” he said. “We’re also hoping for a mild winter.”

A mild winter means the district would have to spend less money on snow removal and heating costs.

The $307,286 Londonderry could lose is the third largest amount in the state behind Nashua at $342,606 and Lebanon at $316,175.

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