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ID-4 board eyes $235K budget "Challenge"

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Posted on November 1, 2010 |
By John Flowers



MIDDLEBURY — The Mary Hogan Elementary School board wants the public to weigh in on approximately $235,000 in 2011-2012 budget cuts that would be necessary for the school to comply with the state’s “Challenges for Change” request.

The Vermont Legislature and Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca have asked the state’s school districts to prepare 2011-2012 budgets that reflect a 2-percent decrease in spending compared to this year. This Challenges for Change directive is designed to save around $23 million in overall education spending next year.

The UD-3 school board has already begun soliciting taxpayers’ feedback on the roughly $600,000 hit a 2-percent cut would exact upon the combined Middlebury Union Middle School and High School budget. The board for Mary Hogan, technically known as the ID-4 district, has agreed to at least consider what a 2-percent cut in spending would mean at the K-6 school, and has asked its finance subcommittee to crunch some numbers. Some of those numbers are slated to be available for public comment at the ID-4 board’s next meeting, slated for Monday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Mary Hogan Elementary School music room.

Bonnie Bourne, co-principal of the Mary Hogan school, said a 2-percent cut would require spending roughly $235,000 less than what is being spent this year. Voters in April approved a 2010-2011 budget of $5,771,990. That budget was up 1.52 percent compared to the prior year.

Bourne noted the ID-4 budget has hovered at, or below, 2-percent increases during the past three or four years. That’s part of the reason it will be a particularly tough challenge for Mary Hogan to comply with the Challenges for Change request without making some deep cuts, according to Bourne.

“We couldn’t meet (a 2-percent decrease) by just making efficiencies,” Bourne said.

Two other factors offer little prospect for financial flexibility, Bourne noted: Special education costs are expected to rise, and ID-4 enrollment is actually on the upswing — an anomaly in what is currently a climate of declining enrollment in most parts of the state. There are now 407 students at the Mary Hogan School, up from 384 this past June.

Mary Hogan Elementary has 38.5 full-time equivalent teaching positions, according to Bourne. ID-4 teachers and their colleagues throughout the Addison Central Supervisory Union continue to negotiate a new contract. The absence of a new contract is another wild card in planning the 2011-2012 budget, school officials said.

John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

MIDDLEBURY — A new Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) committee is forming to study the governance structure of schools in ACSU with a recommendation from the committee due in October 2012 to the Vermont State Education Commissioner.

The committee structure is based on the number of K-12 pupils residing in each ACSU town and will consist of 11 people, five from Middlebury and one each from the other six towns — Weybridge, Shoreham, Salisbury, Ripton, Cornwall and Bridport. Meetings will likely be on Wednesday evenings once or twice a month.

The ID-4 school board representing Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary School, is charged with appointing the five Middlebury representatives to this committee. Residents who are interested, available on Wednesday evenings and willing to sign up for a two-year commitment, are asked to contact ID-4 Board Chair Lucy Schumer at lschumer@acsu.k12.vt.us or leave a message at Mary Hogan School at 388-4421, by Friday, Nov. 5.

To learn more about the current governance structure in ACSU, go online to www.acsu.k12.vt.us, click on “Public Resources” in the top and center of the page, and open the link at the bottom of the paged labeled “Gov Study FINAL 3-31-2010.” For further information about the structure of the study committee search the Vermont statutes online and go to “Title 16, Chapter 11, Sec. 706.”

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