Middlebury to vote on $5.7 million ID-4 budget

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury voters will meet Wednesday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary Hogan Elementary School gym to decide a proposed 2010-2011 ID-4 school district spending plan of $5,771,990, representing a 1.52-percent increase compared to this year.
Also at the annual meeting, voters will decide whether to spend up to $191,100 (in already available funds) to finance a major pavement and drainage project on school grounds.
The proposed ID-4 budget reflects no new programs, nor any additional teaching staff. It represents a decrease of $87 in spending per pupil (from $13,539 to $13,452). That’s in large part because the school anticipates welcoming eight additional students next year, for a potential total of 395, according to ID-4 officials.
It should be noted that Middlebury’s overall K-12 homestead education property tax rate is projected to increase by as much as 9.5 percent, due to a potential increase in the statewide education property tax and factors associated with the common level of appraisal provisions of the state’s education funding law, Act 68.
On Town Meeting Day, area residents approved the 2010-2011 UD-3 school budget, which covers expenses for Middlebury Union High School and Middlebury Union Middle School. By school charter, the ID-4 budget must be voted on the “second Wednesday in April,” which this year falls during a school vacation week.
ID-4 board Chairwoman Lucy Schumer said she is hoping people don’t take a vacation from the annual meeting.
“It’s unfortunate,” Schumer said of the timing of the meeting, “but I hope people who are still in town decide to show up.”
Schumer called the ID-4 proposal “a status quo budget” that maintains the level of educational services currently being delivered at the school.
Mary Hogan Elementary Principal Bonnie Bourne said administrators worked hard to keep expenses at a minimum.
“We scrutinized every line item (of the budget) and there are no increases in many of the line items,” Bourne said. “We’ve made every attempt to bring forward the smallest possible increase we could, while maintaining the quality of programs that Middlebury has come to expect for its youngsters.”
Also at the meeting, school directors will ask for permission to go ahead with a drainage, grading and resurfacing project for the asphalt-based playground areas and emergency vehicle route on the Mary Hogan Elementary School grounds.
Work will include repairs to the asphalt surface on the playground areas east and north of the school buildings, as well as the emergency vehicle access route leading to the back of the building.
Officials explained the surface in question has been deteriorating for the past several years.
Cost of the repairs is being placed at around $191,100, a price tag that will not add to Middlebury’s education property tax rate. That’s because the school has adequate reserves in three separate accounts to cover the project; voters must give their permission to release the money. Specifically, the money would come from the fiscal year 2009 unreserved fund balance ($105,811); the building reserve fund ($1,769); and the education reserve fund ($83,519).
An engineer will be on hand at the meeting to explain the project.
In other Mary Hogan Elementary news, the school is still looking for a Middlebury resident interested in serving on the ID-4 board. The three-year vacancy in question was not filled on Town Meeting Day. Anyone interested in serving should write a letter of interest to the ID-4 board, c/o Addison Central Supervisory Union, 49 Charles Ave., Middlebury, VT 05753, and/or declare their interest to Bourne.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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