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The Right Number: $60,206,506

December 14, 2010


As another budget season winds down, Mr. La Salle once again stands triumphant over the community.  His ‘flat’ budget includes across the board raises for administrators and unrepresented employees.  This year, teachers get ‘double step’ increases.  Taxpayers continue to subsidize tuition for nonresidents.  We even send teachers to shelters in Massachusetts to provide services for the community’s homeless.  And we are buying lift tickets and providing transportation for a new ski team.  Belt tightening is on teaching materials, facilities maintenance, and utilities.  Again.  If you are fed up, you can always vote for the bare bones default budget — which is, once again, higher than the proposed budget.

The fact is that the only hope of fiscal restraint comes via the Deliberative Session.  At that meeting, any resident can propose an amendment to the budget.  It happened last year, and it should happen again in 2011.  (click Read More and scroll to the bottom for administrative positions and salaries) 

So what would be a ‘good’ number for the TRSD budget?  I think a good first step would be to look at nonteaching staff.  Administrators are the highest paid members of the faculty.  Their impact on the budget includes salary, benefits, pensions, and perks (Vegas, Hawaii, etc.)  We need administrators, but the TRSD staff is top heavy and many positions could be cut without adversely impacting our children’s education.

SAU 55 employs THREE Directors of Education.  Timberlane pays two of them.  Ignoring finances, it strikes me that complaints about freshmen not being ready for high school are likely the outcome of too many cooks.  TRSD needs only one DoE and that person should be shared across the SAU.  The Director of Elementary Education makes $96,970 and the Director of Secondary Education makes $98,000.  This position is currently held by an interim DoSE who makes $87,208.  The position should be eliminated altogether to save the taxpayers money and improve cohesion.

Sandown Elementary has 453 students — between Atkinson and Plaistow — and two principals.  There is no business or academic justification for having a principal in each building.  Each Sandown principal makes $91,266.  Eliminating one of these would save the taxpayers $91,266 plus benefits and perks.

At each elementary school, the Assistant Principal serves as Curriculum Coordinator.  Except for Pollard.  Pollard has a Principal ($89,937), an Assistant Principal ($75,894), a Curriculum Coordinator ($74,109), and a Preschool Coordinator ($72,517).  Eliminating the two coordinators would save $146,626 plus perks and benefits. 

TRSD employs a Director of Pupil Personal Services ($96,408) and an Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services ($81,731).  These are SAU positions.  I think we could replace the assistant with an administrator saving $50,000 per year.

The high school has a principal ($100,940), an associate principal ($83,909), and three assistant principals ($81,331, $81,331, and $80,326).  In discussions of staffing, the SAU has never justified any of these positions.  I would eliminate one of the positions and distribute the responsibilities.

The middle school has a principal ($100,157), three assistant principals ($81,331, $81,331.00, and $81,331), and two curriculum coordinators ($73,975, $73,975).  In discussions of staffing, the SAU has never justified any of these positions.  I would eliminate one of the assistant principals and one of the curriculum coordinators and distribute the responsibilities.

I’m no fan of ‘across the board’ raises.  Across the board raises underpay top performers and/or overpay everyone else.  Before long the stars will move on to positions where performance is rewarded.  The 2% raises for nonaffiliated staff should not be funded.  The 2% raises for SAU staff should not be funded either.  Total cost of these raises to TRSD taxpayers is $160,000.

TRSD has twelve nurses and a physician on staff.  That is nearly two per building (counting the the HS and MS as two buildings).  There is no need for more than one nurse per building.  Nurses salaries are $600,000; potential savings to taxpayers is $250,000 plus benefits and perks.

On June 21, 2010 Superintentent La Salle told the school board that there was $1.2mm in the 2010 budget for studies and permitting of a new high school.  If this money was available in 2010 and was part of the ‘flat’ 2011 budget AND building a new high school is not a priority, then there is $1.2mm of padding in the flat budget.

These recommendations total $2,230,494 (ignoring benefits and perks).  Subtracting this number from Mr. La Salle’s request for $62,437,000 results and a Right Number of  $60,206,506.  The savings for benefits and perks can be used to offset the optimistic energy and benefits predictions.

Position Location Salary Vacancy
Elementary Assistant Principal/Curriculum Coordinator Atkinson $75,394.00  
Elementary Principal Atkinson $90,766.00  
Elementary Assistant Principal/Curriculum Coordinator Danville $75,894.00  
Elementary Principal Danville $91,266.00  
Director of Music PAC $85,984.00
Elementary Assistant Principal Pollard $75,894.00  
Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Pollard $74,109.00  
Elementary Principal Pollard $89,937.00  
Preschool Coordinator Pollard $72,517.00  
Elementary Principal Sandown $91,266.00  
Elementary Assistant Principal/Curriculum Coordinator Sandown $75,894.00  
Elementary Principal Sandown $91,266.00  
Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services SAU $81,731.00  
Director of Elementary Education SAU $96,970.00  
Director of Pupil Personnel Services SAU $96,408.00  
Director of Secondary Education SAU $0.00 $98,000.00
Director of Secondary Education – interim SAU $87,208.34  
Director of Technology SAU $90,125.00  
Associate Principal TRHS $83,909.00  
Director of Athletics TRHS $88,065.00  
Director of Facilities TRHS $71,997.00  
Guidance Counselor Department Head TRHS $74,850.00  
School Improvement Facilitator – Humanities TRHS $0.00 $77,374.00
School Improvement Facilitator – Math/Science/Tech TRHS $77,374.00  
Secondary Assistant Principal TRHS $81,331.00  
Secondary Assistant Principal TRHS $81,331.00  
Secondary Assistant Principal – Director of Alternative TRHS $80,326.00  
Secondary Principal TRHS $100,940.00  
Special Education Department Head TRHS $73,645.00  
Technology Coordinator TRHS $57,500.00  
Secondary Assistant Principal TRMS $81,331.00  
Secondary Assistant Principal TRMS $81,331.00  
Secondary Assistant Principal TRMS $81,331.00  
Secondary Curriculum Coordinator TRMS $73,975.00  
Secondary Curriculum Coordinator TRMS $73,975.00  
Secondary Principal TRMS $100,157.00  
Special Education Department Head TRMS $72,645.00  
    $2,878,642.34 $175,374.00

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