Kindergarten bill creates Dover budget shortfall

From Foster's Daily Democrat

The Dover School District could be facing a budget shortfall after counting on the passage of the original version of a Senate bill, reported Foster’s Daily Democrat:

When the budget was passed in early May, the council relied on $664,000 in state funding for full-day kindergarten adequacy aid. Councilors were unsure that the money would be available at the time, but decided to take the risk to accommodate a school department budget that came in over the tax cap.

On Thursday, lawmakers approved a bill that would provide additional funding to Dover and other schools throughout the state, but would come up hundreds of thousands of dollars short of the $664,000 anticipated by the Council.

It is unclear how the Council will address any budget shortfall as a result of the kindergarten bill, which may be enacted as early as next week.

Should the School Board be required to reduce its budget, Arbour said she will work with incoming superintendent William Harbron to address the adjustment.

“Should the money not come through, I do have some thinking that I, at this point, would not be prepared to share out with the world,” she said. “But I do have some suggestions to share with the incoming superintendent and (Business Administrator Libby Simmons).”

The council relied on the full adequacy funding that would have been provided by the original version of SB 191. But the bill was amended several times, even at one point back to it’s original version. Last week’s Committee of Conference members struck an agreement to provide an additional $1,100 in funding through the newly legalized online lottery game Keno. Both chambers will vote on the bill on Thursday, June 22:

Public schools are currently paid for half-day kindergarten programs, even if they offer full-day programs. Close to 75 percent of New Hampshire communities have full-day kindergarten.

The new bill would increase funding from half, or $1,800 per student, to $2,900 per student. Dover and other communities were hoping for a full funding of $3,600 per student.

Districts could get full funding ($3,600 per student) if Keno generates enough revenue, but all districts would receive at least $1,100 according to the bill. Revenue projections are expected within the next few weeks.

Source: Kindergarten bill creates Dover budget shortfall | Foster’s Daily Democrat