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Bristol-area schools will miss Challenges mark

BRISTOL — Superintendent Evelyn Howard announced at a Monday school board meeting that as a whole, the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANeSU) will fail to meet spending reduction mark set by the Challenges for Change law passed in the last legislative session.
The law, formally known as Act 146, aims for every school in the state to reduce spending in 2011-2012 by 2 percent from what is budgeted in the current school year.
Though the Mount Abraham Union High School Board declared its intention to meet the 2-percent mark, other schools in the district have had a more difficult time trimming their spending. According to Howard, Monkton Central School has made $148,000 in cuts in its proposed budget for next year and Bristol Elementary has shaved off $170,000, but neither have even come close to the 2-percent reduction.
Lanny Smith, chair of the Mount Abe board, said that because schools in the ANeSU have been doing “level spending” in recent years rather than over spending, it has been especially difficult to make additional cuts to budgets.
Though proposed reductions are still in flux, all schools are required to submit proposed budgets to the state by Dec. 15. While no one is sure at this point what the consequences will be for not meeting the target, Howard made it clear that if the Legislature does not fully fund the budgets, each school “will make additional cuts in staff.”
“We have looked at what we would have to reduce if that’s the case,” she said. “But we’re holding the lines as best we can.”
The ANeSU boards will meet once more in early December to finalize the proposed budgets before submitting them to the state.
“As they say, ‘Nobody’s safe when the Legislature is in session,’” Smith said. “And that’s where we’re at.”
Tamara Hilmes is at tamarah@addisonindependent.com.

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