School budget cut ends up costing taxpayers more money

Karen DeFrancis on June 24, 2024. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) voted to accept their Fiscal Year 2025 budget on Monday, although the inability to receive an amount they had originally requested appears that it will impact the Manchester School District for years to come.

The final figure, $227,982,610  was $4,244,920 less than the tax cap proposed budget brought to the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this year. Some of final Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, specifically $1,444,920; will be used toward transportation costs lost in that $4.2 million gap and there will be $500,000 less in retirement benefits to keep in line with an update on retirement data from the city. The rest of the gap, $2.3 million, will come out of the district’s long-term facilities plan.

However, the district will still expend that $2.3 million in FY’ 25, only now that it will be coming out of existing bonded funds rather than tax appropriation.

Manchester School District Chief Financial Officer Karen DeFrancis told the board that $20 million had been spent in the FY’ 24 budget and $20 million more had already been allocated for FY’ 25 for projects already underway in the facilities plan, which is updating and renovating most of the city’s public schools.

DeFrancis also told the board that she was uncertain how much interest costs will be on the $2.3 million debt now being used toward the facilities plan amount, but indicated that it could be approximately $92,000 per year.

BOSC members expressed resigned frustration with this budgetary reality they now faced, noting that they had no choice but to vote for the budget.

“Because we didn’t get our initially requested budget, it cost taxpayers money instead of coming to us at the tax cap amount we requested,” said Ward 4 BOSC Member Leslie Want.

“We have the budget that we have, but I think the message moving forward is that there are consequences to actions,” said At-Large BOSC Member Jim O’Connell.