EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 8, 2013

Budget, teachers' contract up for vote in Hampstead

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAMPSTEAD — Voters will decide whether to accept a $23.7 million budget Tuesday.

The budget, which is slightly less than the default budget, was recommended by the School Board and the Budget Committee.

“That is the most important item on there,” School Board member Jaye Dimando. “It will be a marker as to which way the economy is going in town.”

Dimando said the budget reflects a change in the curriculum throughout the school district.

“Items of vital importance, such as dealing with the common core, is something we are just starting to deal with,” Dimando said. “This budget is starting to show that.”

Another key item is the new four-year contract negotiated with the teachers union. The first year of the contract will cost the town $99,881 before jumping up to $164,773 next year. Year three costs $188,445 and year four costs $143,691.

“This would just show us the support the town has for its teachers and custodial staff,” Dimando said.

Another warrant article asks voters to approve a four-year contract for support personnel.

Resident Jorge Mesa-Tejada filed a citizens petition which would allow the school administrative unit budget to be voted on by the public. The article would have to be passed by a combined majority of votes by the Hampstead and Timberlane school districts.

The district also is asking voters to place $75,000 into a school renovation capital reserve fund and to authorize a fund balance retention program from the previous budget’s surplus. That money could be used in case of emergencies.

There is also a three-year seat up for grabs on the School Board.

Newcomers Robert O’Brien and Jason Cipriano are seeking the seat, which was previously held by chairman Judy Graham.

“This board is all about working as a team, so this person will have to be able to fit right in with us,” Dimando said.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Hampstead Middle School, 28 School St.