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ANeSU elementary schools set their budgets

ADDISON COUNTY — While all proposed spending plans for Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANeSU) elementary schools next fiscal year are slated to increase more than 4 percent, school officials are estimating that many towns’ kindergarten through sixth grade tax rates would go down.
Take Bristol Elementary School’s budget with a 4.4 percent increase in spending in the year beginning July 1. Based on a state education tax rate of 89 cents (as recommended by Gov. Shumlin but yet to be finalized by the Legislature), Bristol’s K-6 tax rate is projected to drop 2 cents.
That’s because revenues are projected to increase across the board next year, and the tax rate is only a reflection of a school’s education spending, not all of its expenditures, explained Superintendent Evelyn Howard.
“The total expense will take into consideration any expense there is,” she said. “If you take into account grant money, it inflates the total spending amount, but the expenses are completely covered … It’s the education spending that’s raised in taxes … That’s what we monitor most closely.”
School boards in each of the supervisory union’s five towns — Bristol, Monkton, New Haven, Starksboro and Lincoln — this month approved 2012-2013 spending plans that will be put before voters at March town meetings.
In each of the five elementary schools’ proposed budgets, there’s an increase in the spending line labeled “Reserve for Negotiations.” That line accounts for projected salary and benefit increases, which were previously bundled with salaries. Therefore, the proposed amount spent on salaries is down across the board. The money set aside in this reserve is meant to separate the projected changes in salaries and benefits from what’s already known.
“We’re still in the process of negotiation with all of the professional staff and we are in negotiation with some of the support staff, and the decision about exactly how much will be put into salary and benefits won’t be decided until April or May,” said Howard.
Another area of the budget that’s up across all schools, except for Lincoln, is the “Purchased Services” line. Howard explained that many professional staff members, like music teachers and a school psychologist, work across school districts. Instead of signing multiple contracts, these educators are employed by the supervisory union, which contracts out to the schools. That’s where many of these purchased services’ dollars go.
The line labeled “Dues, Interest, Principal and Transfers” was also up across the board, except for in Lincoln. Many of those dollars are just passing through to the supervisory union, explained Howard. For grant funds that help early learners and students with disabilities, “they aren’t actually an expense to the individual school,” she said. “The state sends (the money) to the town and then it’s forwarded to the supervisory union. So the supervisory union is the one that runs (those) programs.”
BRISTOL ELEMENTARY
Last week, the Bristol Elementary School board approved a proposed 2012-2013 spending plan of $4,559,439, up $190,285, or 4.4 percent, from this year. The total revenues are up $145,998, or 3.3 percent, from this year.
The largest spending increases are a $97,001 line for the negotiations reserve and a  $60,000  rise in purchased services.
Education spending increases $96,554, or a 2.63 percent in what needs to be raised by taxes. The elementary portion of the education tax rate in Bristol is expected to drop 2 cents.
The per pupil spending is proposed to go up 6.57 percent to $12,914 because the school lost 11 students. Bristol Elementary has the largest number of “equalized pupils” in the ANeSU — a state formula used to calculate per pupil spending based on a range of criteria —  at 291.25, said Howard.
MONKTON CENTRAL
For next fiscal year, the Monkton Central School board approved a proposed spending plan of $2,521,277, up $192,275, or 8.2 percent, from this year. The total revenues and are up $192,281, or 7.6 percent, from this year.
Monkton’s largest increases in spending are the $44,885 put in the negotiations reserve and the roughly $57,000 rise in purchased services.
Education spending increases $89,537, or 4.32 percent, and the tax rate is projected to rise about one-tenth of a cent.
Per pupil spending is up 2.63 percent to $13,738. Monkton has the third-largest number of equalized pupils in the ANeSU at 157.46.
BEEMAN ELEMENTARY
New Haven’s Beeman Elementary School board last week approved a proposed spending plan of $1,820,499, up $106,486, or 6.2 percent, from this year. Beeman’s total revenues are up $80,035, or 4.4 percent.
Beeman’s largest spending increases are $32,606 for the negotiations reserve, a $35,000 rise in purchased services and a $110,000 line for tuition to schools outside Vermont, which is for special needs students.
Education spending for Beeman decreases $11,097, or 0.78 percent, and the tax rate looks like it’ll drop half a cent.
The school’s per pupil spending is up 3.5 percent to $14,478, and New Haven has the lowest number of equalized pupils in the ANeSU at 97.24.
ROBINSON ELEMENTARY
Last week, Starksboro’s Robinson Elementary School board approved a $2,492,138 spending plan, up $159,462, or 6.4 percent from this year. Robinson’s total revenues are up $159,459, or 6.4 percent.
Robinson’s largest increases are $45,113 for the negotiations reserve, a $65,000 rise in purchased services and a $27,000 rise in dues and interest.
Education spending for Robinson increases by 5.49 percent, up $109,533 from this year, and the town will see a project 4-cent increase in taxes.
Starksboro’s per pupil spending is also slated to rise 0.91 percent to $12,759, and the town has the second-largest number of equalized pupils at 164.89.
LINCOLN SCHOOL
On Monday, the Lincoln Community School board approved a proposed spending plan of $1,812,638, up $79,095, or 4.6 percent, from this year. The school’s total revenues are up $6,318, or 0.3 percent.
The major increases in Lincoln’s spending plan are $34,460 for the negotiation reserve, a $38,000 rise across all salaries and about $27,500 more for a food service subsidy, which is to offset a previous deficit in the school’s food service budget.
Education spending is proposed to drop 1.1 percent, or $18,241, and the tax rate is expected to decrease by 1.5 cents.
The per pupil spending is down 2.79 percent to $13,631, and Lincoln has the second-smallest number of equalized pupils at 111.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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