Town meeting 2021

Keene voters will get a chance to discuss this year’s school district warrant, including a $69.2 million budget proposal and a pair of staff contracts, at Saturday’s annual deliberative session.

The meeting, when residents can amend articles before voting them up or down at the polls in March, is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the Keene High School auditorium. School officials have said the venue should provide enough room for social distancing.

The district’s $69,155,390 budget proposal for 2021-22 is a 0.005 percent increase over the current year’s operating budget. As it stands currently, the district’s budget would represent a 5.75 percent increase on school-related property taxes in the city, or $212.69 on a house worth $200,000. If voters reject the proposal in March, a default budget of $68,930,190 would take effect.

In addition to the operating budget, voters on Saturday can also discuss four-year contract proposals with two labor unions: the Keene Association of Principals and Supervisors and the Keene Paraprofessionals Association. The Keene Board of Education and bargaining units have already ratified the two contracts on this year’s warrant.

The Keene Association of Principals and Supervisors represents 23 in management and leadership positions within the district. The estimated costs for pay and benefit increases in the first year of the contract are $62,468, with a four-year total estimated increase of $668,521.

The Keene Paraprofessionals Association represents 55 full-time and 31 part-time district employees. The estimated costs for pay and benefit increases in the first year of the contract are $61,415, with a four-year total estimated increase of $634,291.

This year’s warrant also includes two articles asking voters whether to authorize the district to hold a special meeting to approve revised collective-bargaining agreements if they reject either or both of the contracts at the polls.

District residents will vote on the warrant articles at the polls March 9, when six of the nine seats on the Keene Board of Education will also be on the ballot.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.