EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 13, 2012

Pelham's proposed $27.4M school budget advances

By John Toole jtoole@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — PELHAM — The Budget Committee is recommending changes in the School Board’s proposed $27.4 million budget.

Voters will have their say at Town Meeting in March.

“The biggest impact was they didn’t approve a reading specialist for Pelham Elementary School,” School Board chairman Brian Carton said. “Overall, however, I thought our budget came through the process very well.”

School officials still have a long way to go in the budget process.

“We still have warrant articles to present them, then reconsideration, then the deliberative session and finally the March vote,” Carton said. “So, there is quite a bit of process yet to come.”

A school warrant article discussion with the Budget Committee is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Pelham Elementary School.

The Budget Committee also called for trimming the SAU 28 budget by $100,000, Superintendent-elect Amanda Lecaroz said.

“They did approve our athletic director and technology expenditures,” Lecaroz said. “The two major cuts I mentioned will mean the inability to provide direct reading instruction to many of our non-special education struggling readers at Pelham Elementary School. The $100,000 from the SAU budget significantly compromises our ability to provide a comprehensive SAU staff to support the schools and community of Pelham.”

This is a big year of change for the district.

Windham has voted to split from SAU 28 and become its own standalone SAU 95.

That has set up a Pelham focused budget process this year.

School officials separately are pursuing, with the help of selectmen, renovation of Town Hall for SAU offices. The combined Windham-Pelham SAU has offices in Windham.

Details of that proposal are still being firmed up for Town Meeting consideration. While officials are looking at a $600,000 figure, they expect the actual renovation will cost less. Selectmen have unanimously backed putting the SAU offices at Town Hall.

Lecaroz, meanwhile, is slated to take over from retiring Superintendent Henry LaBranche when the SAU split becomes official July 1.

A key starting point for Lecaroz is school technology; the budget package included $170,000 to get a technology plan launched.

The plan aims to give every student and teacher access to a computer within a couple of years.