School committee set to approve budget

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MANCHESTER, NH – The Board of Mayor and School Committee (BOSC) will hold a special meeting and public hearing regarding the budget June 19 at 7 p.m. at the Aldermanic Chamber in City Hall.

The purpose of the special meeting is to approve the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget of $169,431,905 and allocate additional funds of $1.25 million. The budget and additional funding was appropriated by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on June 12.  Dr. Bolgen Vargas “laid out a plan for those additional funds, largely for social workers,” according to school board member David Scannell. Residents of Manchester will be able to address the board about the budget for up to three minutes each.

Negotiators for BOSC and the teachers union, Manchester Education Association (MEA), have not yet set a date to resume stalled contract talks; The teachers’ contract expires July 1.

Rich Girard, lead negotiator said, “The MEA has not requested resumption of negotiations. If the MEA really wants to come back to the table, then all they have to do is ask.” Sue Hannon, president of the MEA, who previously suggested a cooling-off period, said, “We are still hopeful to get back to the table, with give and take on both sides.”

The proposed budget’s line items for salaries and employee benefits total $124,846,568, a 1 percent increase of $805,585 over the current year.

Hannon said the budget, “does not allow for funding the steps of the contract.”  Girard said, “The steps would cost in excess of $1.8 million,” and added, “The question [if funds from the Aldermen are sufficient for a contract] assumes that a contract can only be had if the teachers get a pay raise in the coming fiscal year.  We do not believe that to be the case, but the MEA may disagree.  If it does, then a contract is very unlikely in the coming fiscal or school year.”

The BOSC and MEA also have yet to agree on details about the calendar and employee policies such as sick days.

In addition to Girard, members of the negotiation committee are Sarah Ambrogi (Ward 1), Katie Desrochers (Ward 11), Jimmy Lehoux (Ward 8), and Ross Terrio (Ward 7).

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