Proposed school budget heads to the Aldermen

Robert Baines on Feb. 12, 2024. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) approved a Fiscal Year 2025 requested Manchester School District tax-cap compliant budget during Monday night’s meeting, sending final confirmation of the budget forward to the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA).

The requested bottom line of that budget is $232,227,530. That figure is a significant jump over the final FY’24 figure due to the impact of COVID-19 and lower consumer input over the past three years on the city’s tax cap calculations.

BOSC Vice Chair Jim O’Connell noted that unlike in recent years, the BMA will not receive a “needs” budget, or a budget that the BOSC and Manchester School District believes represents the full needs of Manchester’s public-school students. He hopes that move will be recognized by the BMA during their budget deliberations.

“I can’t emphasize enough that in only submitting a tax cap budget, we are showing great restraint on behalf of the needs of our students,” he said.

Ward 9 BOSC Member Robert Baines reiterated a request to his fellow members to advocate for budget that is being presented to the BMA, noting effort that has been made in recent years regarding curriculum standardization and effort yet to be accomplished in making up for learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While it’s a high tax cap number, it’s still the tax cap,” he said. “I know there will be difficult conversations, but we need to be armed with the facts that we are a school district moving in the right direction.”

Although under the city charter, the mayor is required to present a budget to the BMA that complies with the city’s tax cap regulations, the BMA may exceed that amount with approval from 10 of the board’s 14 members.

Manchester Mayor Jay Ruais indicated that he has concerns with the amount proposed in this budget, but noted that he seeks to collaborate with members of the BMA and BOSC in upcoming weeks as the budget process unfolds.

A special hearing for members of the public to provide their input on the proposed budget received no public comment.

Jay Ruais on Feb. 12, 2024. Photo/Andrew Sylvia