By Chea Waters Evans
The Champlain Valley School District budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 passed in all five voting towns at Town Meeting Day on March 5. The budget, which totals $78,901,170, covers all six schools in the district. The district will spend approximately $16, 071 per pupil for this fiscal year.
Town meeting votes added up to 3,390 voters in favor of the budget, with 1,526 opposed. This second year of a consolidated school district shows a marked difference from other years in Charlotte, in which the budget was routinely voted down at town meeting and sent back to the CCS school board for further reductions.
In a presentation prior to the voting day, CVSD Superintendent Elaine Pinckney said that the budgeting process happens throughout the year. “It’s important for the public to realize that we don’t seclude ourselves for a couple months then come to them and say, ‘Please give us this money.”
The CVSD school board, along with budget buddy and former Charlotte Central School principal Rick Detweiler, starts a dialogue with taxpayers in Septmber, and has open meetings in each town to educate voters about the impact in their individual towns as well as the district as a whole. The district has 3,800 students, six schools, around 1,000 employees, and 450 teachers.
Specific changes at CCS regarding staffing and programming for the upcoming school year fall under the management of Co-Principals Stephanie Sumner and Jennifer Roth. Responding to an email earlier in the year regarding the guidance department at CCS and the re-configuration of the school’s two part-time counselors, Pinckney said, “How CCS admin will organize the learning experiences with the total number of classroom teachers they have is also still being discussed.” The budget calls for a reduction of one full-time educator, and during a school board meeting in January, Pinckney said the administrators have the opportunity to “use some creativity” while they make that change.
Town Meeting Day also showed voters across all districts approving borrowing $485,000 to purchase five school buses that will be used district-wide. Voters also found in favor of using up to $500,000 of the district’s current fund balance as revenue for the upcoming fiscal year’s fund balance, and up to $1,000,000 of that fund balance for repairs and maintenance projects. The same ballot measure allocated the remaining amount in the fund balance, which is just over $1,800,000, for future operating budgets.