The budget work for the Champlain Valley School District Board continued Tuesday at Shelburne Community School as school directors combed through the proposed budget.
Voters in the five towns that comprise the new school district-Charlotte, Shelburne, Hinesburg, Williston and St. George-will head to the polls in March for the Town Meeting to cast ballots for the first time on the proposed unified spending plan. Six, separate schools make up the novice district under the guidance of a 12-member board. Lynne Jaunich and Erik Beal represent Charlotte on the panel. Beal sat on the Charlotte Central School Board, while Jaunich served as a former chairman of the CCS Board.
In June 2016, voters in the towns that made up the former Chittenden South Supervisory Union approved the formation of a unified school district. The new governance structure fully took over last July 1.
The current $76, 838,041 million budget proposal the board is studying is a 2.3 percent increase from this year’s $75,144,760 spending plan.
The proposed debt service for fiscal year 2018-19 is projected to rise 1.1 percent, leaving a forecasted 1.2 percent increase in spending, according to Champlain Valley School District Director of Communications Barbara Anne Komons-Montroll and CVSD Chief Operating Officer Jeanne Jensen, who called the growth “responsible.” Jensen is a former Champlain Valley Union High School Board member.
Also, teacher salary increases of 3 percent mandated by contracts are projected to be partially offset by retirements, according to budget documents on the school district’s web site.
If the board opted to keep the budget flat at $75.1 million, over $2 million in cuts would have had to be found. That could potentially put at risk the educational quality the district is committed to providing, while keeping in mind what the community can financially support.
This year, the Vermont Agency of Education pointed out that schools boards should be ready for a statewide state education property tax increase of about 8 cents per $100 assessed value. During Gov. Phil Scott’s State of the State address in Montpelier a week ago, the state’s top executive made note of a startling education funding proposal. Scott indicated he is ready to block a 7-cent jump in property taxes.
Also, Scott also set a goal for districts statewide that per pupil spending not exceed 2.5 percent. Last year, the moderate Republican pushed for voting in May on level funding school budgets rather than during the traditional March Town Meeting Day. The measure didn’t gain traction.
Property taxes are one avenue the state used to help fund education statewide. Vermont Lottery also is a revenue source.
A public budget forum is slated to be held Jan. 23 at Williston Central School, where the board is expected to give vote on the proposed spending plan and then if it’s accepted, warn it for the March Town Meeting ballot.