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An amount that didn’t begin to cover what they needed. What made matters worse is the New Hampshire Retirement Fund, which the schools pay into, increased what it charges the district, to $391,184. “That’s 100,000 more than the tax cap,” says Couture. “We have increases in health insurance next year of 5.8%, ($190,220) for all employees. Also, we’re in second year of a teachers’ con- tract which requires $183,665 for raises (not including taxes). Then there were some other smaller increases, but what it all came down to was we had $858,083 of required increases” – over $600,000 short.
That was only the initial bud- get shortfall. More bad news came.
In the third week of Novem- ber, the district found out it was going to have a decrease of just over $694,446 in state adequacy aid for next year.
“In New Hampshire, we get about $3,800 per student for ad-
equacy aid, and we get an addi- tional $1,800 if a child has free or reduced lunch or if a student has an IEP,” says Couture. “The federal government has made lunch free all year for students regardless of if they’d normally qualify, which is wonderful, but what happened is, families that normally apply for free lunch didn’t bother applying,” says Couture.
“So that put us into a com- plete tailspin, upwards of $1.2 million dollars we have to cut, so we went through the budget and just eliminated everything we could find,” says Couture. “We eliminated field trips, took 20% off all supplies, we took out just about everything for new technology, we took out many maintenance items that needed to be funded, and then we’re still faced with having to cut many positions.”
The district was recently able to increase that adequacy aid thanks to some reach out it did to families. “We picked up 128 qualifying applications in the last two weeks,” says Cou- ture, which brought a portion
Newfound Lake Life
($242,344) of the reduced ade- quacy aid back.
The question remains how to get to the tax cap number. “We’ve been presenting options to our budget committee, in- cluding eliminating as many as 10 positions in the district, the possibility of eliminating mid- dle school and JV sports, and we also put it out there to elim- inate high school sports. That got people’s attention.”
Couture says there is some hope.
“We are an SB2 district, so we have a deliberative session, and that will occur on January 30th at 10 a.m. at (Newfound High School). The modera- tor will read the warrant arti- cle with the budget figure, and there’s an opportunity for vot- ers, to amend the dollar value up or down. For an SB2 town, it can be amended as much as 10%. If enough people came out and wanted to support the schools, someone could amend that budget up to 10%, and they could restore the cuts.”
If the budget doesn’t pass, a default budget will be imple-
“I definitely plan on being
there at the deliberative session on January 30th, says April Nguyen, whose three children graduated from the Newfound Public Schools, as she did. I’m going to be speaking and voting to put funds back into the bud- get, so we can maintain sports and several other things they want to cut.” Nguyen says her youngest learned important life lessons from sports at New- found.
Newfound area Babe Ruth and Cal Ripkin Baseball and Softball President Jeff Kane created the We Are Newfound group, on Facebook, when he received overwhelming concern from many parents he knows. The group’s first Zoom meet- ing of seven people grew to 40 the next week, he says. Parents, like himself, are worried about their children losing the basic educational experience they had themselves.
“My oldest son becomes a different child on a baseball diamond or basketball court. He is a very quiet and shy little
January 2021
boy, but you put him onto any kind of sports field or court, and he comes out of his shell,” says Kane. He insists that while some students might get by with the “bare minimum of read- ing, writing and arithmetic,” many others thrive in setting with arts, music, technology, or sports. “These programs help develop kids and get them not only ready to go into high school, but into college and the working culture,” says Kane. “It’s very important that peo- ple who don’t want to see these programs taken away from stu- dents, whether they have kids in the program or not, make it to the deliberative session and make it so they can run a school basically the way it needs to be run. You take them away now, they’re gone for good.”
Kane says We are Newfound will likely meet somewhere from the middle to the third week of January, in advance of the Jan- uary 30th deliberative session. For more information, look for the group on Facebook, or email wearenewfound@gmail. com.

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