WHITEFIELD, N.H. -- Some North Country residents are receiving a Christmas present from White Mountains Regional School District SAU 36.

The proposed and default budgets for the 2012-2013 school year are projected to be lower than the previous year's budget, and the default budget is lower than the school district's proposed budget.

"One of the main reasons is we didn't get any increase in health insurance," said SAU 36 Superintendent Harry Fensom. "That's a biggie for us and was most of the savings for us."

The current budget figures show a proposed budget of $18.934 million, which is a $165,306, or .87-percent, decrease from the 2011-2012 budget of $19.09 million.

The 2012-2013 default budget is projected at $18.979 million, which represents a $120,423, or .63-percent, decrease from the 2011-2013 budget.

"We budgeted very carefully at the building levels," said Fensom. "Special education is down $100,000 and technology is down a bit as well. We saved some money and got some laptop computers for free. We got a couple of real breaks and we capitalized on them."

The warrant is not out yet because the teacher contracts and support staff contracts have to first be ratified. Fensom expects they will be ratified on Jan. 9, when cost estimates of the contracts will be available.

In March, the support staff contract was approved by voters but not the teacher contracts. Both contracts called for one-year contract extensions.

While a few staff positions were added to last year's budget, none were added for the 2012-2013 school year, which translates to a further savings.

"We're really pleased with what we've been able to do," said Fensom. "Last year, we had a $300,000-odd increase and the voters supported us. Hopefully, this year we will be able to reciprocate with a lower budget."

SAU 36 consists of White Mountains Regional High School, the Jefferson Elementary School, Whitefield Elementary School, Lancaster Elementary School and North Country Class. It serves the towns of Carroll, Dalton, Jefferson, Lancaster and Whitefield.

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