EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 7, 2013

Rausch blasts School Board

Senator says school budget 'irresponsible'

DERRY — A state senator is publicly attacking his local School Board over what he calls “irresponsible” budgeting.

Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry, yesterday distributed to newspapers a letter addressed “To the Citizens of Derry” in which he blasted the School Board.

Rausch didn’t spare the citizens either, faulting “voter inattention” for a nearly $82 million budget bound for a Town Meeting vote on March 12.

“I find it irrational that the Derry School Board has increased spending by 116 percent while losing 18 percent of its students and receiving 20 percent more in state funding,” Rausch wrote.

He also criticized School Board members and teachers for voting at the deliberative session Saturday to add another $800,000 to the budget proposal.

“Here’s the bottom line: Less than 100 citizens of Derry attended the deliberative session on Feb. 2 to vote on an almost $82 million budget,” Rausch said. “Voter inattention, and a process that is often poorly understood, will now result in our citizens paying for a significant tax increase this fall.”

Rausch said taxpayers potentially would see a $2.97 increase in the $30.48 per $1,000 property valuation tax rate that could give Derry the highest tax rate in New Hampshire.

Derry is a great community with wonderful citizens, he said, but can’t survive if the tax burden drives people from town.

“We must restore the balance between wants and needs, and be mindful of the affordability of our actions,” Rausch wrote, “that begins and ends with responsible budgeting.”

Rausch said when it comes to supporting children and education he is, “all in,” and cited his decision as a father to send his children to Derry schools, as well as past support for school budgets and school construction.

School Board member Wendy Smith, who supported adding $800,000 to the budget Saturday, said she would not respond to Rausch’s letter. But she acknowledged she knew the senator was upset at the deliberative session.

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