Lebanon elects three to School Board; approves school budget

Lebanon Ward 3 Moderator Matthew Fay arrives at Lebanon City Hall with lunch for poll workers on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Voters cast ballots to elect three of four candidates to the School Board and to decide on a proposed school operating budget of $55.06 million. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon Ward 3 Moderator Matthew Fay arrives at Lebanon City Hall with lunch for poll workers on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Voters cast ballots to elect three of four candidates to the School Board and to decide on a proposed school operating budget of $55.06 million. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — James M. Patterson

Ballot Clerk John Pomeroy scans the bar code on a drivers license to verify the identity of a voter checking in at the Ward 3 polls in Lebanon, N.H., City Hall on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. The city first implemented the system during the Presidential Primary in January. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Ballot Clerk John Pomeroy scans the bar code on a drivers license to verify the identity of a voter checking in at the Ward 3 polls in Lebanon, N.H., City Hall on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. The city first implemented the system during the Presidential Primary in January. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — James M. Patterson

Nicole Shipman, right, fills out her ballot as her daughter Winnie, 3, watches Ward Clerk Shaina

Nicole Shipman, right, fills out her ballot as her daughter Winnie, 3, watches Ward Clerk Shaina "Sid" Schwartz and Moderator Roxanne Benzel, at the ballot box at the Ward 1 polls in Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-13-2024 6:01 PM

LEBANON — City voters approved all articles on the warrant on Tuesday, including a $55 million school operating budget for the academic year.

Lillian Maughan, John D’Entremont and Richard Ford Burley were elected to three-year terms on the School Board, beating out a fourth candidate Lochrane Gary in a race for three vacant seats.

In a ballot vote, Maughan received 717 votes; D’Entremont, 662, Ford Burley, 617; and Gary, 305.

Less than 10% of total registered voters cast ballots in Lebanon to decide warrant articles and to elect school and city officials.

Voters approved a $55 million operating budget for the 2024-2025 school year, by a 655-212 margin.

The budget increases spending by 7% from the current year, due in part to contractual compensation and benefits for faculty and staff, rising health insurance costs and tuition and transportation increases for special education.

“The spending is out of control,” said Ward I voter Tom McGonis, 76, after voting at Kilton Library on Tuesday. “I hate to be negative but the budget keeps going up and it’s difficult on our older residents.”

Lebanon’s $25,000 per-pupil spending is well above the state average of $20,000 per student. The state’s contribution to local district’s is a base rate of $3,786 per student enrollment, plus additional funds for students who may require additional learning resources due to a learning disability or economic barriers.

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The state’s low contribution amount to local districts “is not going to be solved anytime soon,” McGonis said.

Budget supporters said at the polls that education needs to be a priority, regardless of rising costs.

“Our school district reflects the quality of our community and education is one of the most important opportunities that a person has,” said Ward I voter Sandra Besas, 84.

Voters also approved, 665-203, raising and appropriating $800,000 to the district’s capital reserve fund for constructing and renovating school buildings, with $200,000 to be raised by taxes.

The remaining $600,000 will be allocated from the unassigned fund balance at the end of the fiscal year.

The tax increas of the combined articles is expected to be $1.44 per $1,000 assessed value. This would equal $576 annually on a $400,000 home.

The newly elected School Board members will participate in the board’s next meeting on Wednesday, March 20 at Lebanon Middle School.

Maughan, who chaired the School Board last term, was the only incumbent in the race. Board member Lisa Vallejo Sorensen, whose seat was open, decided not to seek reelection. Another seat was recently vacated when former board member Stephen Kantor relocated to Enfield.

“I’m pleased to be able to serve the city and the school district for another term, am grateful to all the folks who voted for me and look forward to three more productive years on the board,” Maughan said in an email.

Ford Burley, a writer and editor, currently serves on the city’s Planning Board and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission.

“I’m grateful to the Lebanon voters for giving me the opportunity to serve the community in such an important way and I look forward to working with Lilian and John and the other school board members,” Ford Burley said in an email.

D’Entremont, the former principal of Lebanon Middle School, lost election to the School Board last year after drawing a tie-vote with board member Jessica Saturley-Hall, at 560 votes apiece, for the final open seat.

A drawing of names was held at City Hall to break the tie and Saturley-Hall’s name was selected.

D’Entremont, the current principal of the Lyme School, couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday.

On the city ballot, voters reelected Tim McNamara, Chris Simon and Erling Heistad to two-year terms on the City Council. All three councilors were running unopposed.

Voters also approved a charter amendment that eliminates the Personnel Advisory Board and Grievance Board,two boards that were created in 1957 but never put into use.

Procedures for addressing employee grievances are detailed in city personnel policies and in collective bargaining contracts, making these boards dispensable.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.