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Addison school board considering budget with 4% drop

ADDISON — The Addison Central School board will meet on Tuesday and could then adopt a budget proposal for the 2013-2014 school year that would drop spending over current levels by almost 4 percent.
If board members adopt the draft now before them, they would be cutting about $66,600 from the current $1.68 million budget to arrive at spending of roughly $1.61 million. The final budget proposal will need to be approved by voters.
The proposed spending plan would continue to avoid the state penalties for high per-pupil spending that had added to some ACS budgets before the current academic year, Addison Northwest Supervisory Union officials said.
ANwSU Superintendent Tom O’Brien and business manager Kathy Cannon last week said two personnel changes account for most of the savings: Principal Wayne Howe’s expected move to become ANwSU’s part-time assistant superintendent, and a cutback in the hours of the ACS math interventionist.
The ANwSU board is expected this month to make final Howe’s appointment as the ANwSU assistant superintendent, effective this summer. That job will have the equivalent of two days a week of responsibility and reduce Howe’s role at ACS to a three-day-a-week responsibility — with resulting savings to the school’s budget.
O’Brien and Cannon said the school only reluctantly made the other move, cutting the hours of math specialist Tara Trudo, who they said has helped ACS achieve some impressive test scores.
But O’Brien said ACS, which in the 1990s had up to 140 students, will have an enrollment of less than half that next year. The post had to be reduced from five days a week to two, he said.
“We couldn’t afford to have a full-time math interventionist for 65 students,” O’Brien said.
ANwSU officials hope to retain Trudo in the district, noting there are needs at Vergennes Union Elementary School, for example.
“She’s an outstanding teacher, and we hope we can keep her,” Cannon said.
There are some factors driving spending higher, but not enough to offset the savings from those two personnel moves. O’Brien has budgeted health insurance costs to rise by 13.5 percent after being told by insurance officials to expect an increase of between 10 and 15 percent, and the board is budgeting a $7,000 raise for administrative assistant Susie Hodsden, who will assume greater responsibilities when Howe is not in the building.
Contracted raises for teachers and support staff are also driving spending higher, O’Brien said, but not enough that Addison has to consider more multi-age classrooms — at least for the time being.
“I think that it will put us in good standing for next year anyway, and perhaps the following year. If the trend continues in terms of enrollment, we’ll have more work to do,” he said.
The Vergennes Union High School board will meet on Jan. 14 to make its budget final. O’Brien said that board is the only one in ANwSU that is struggling to keep an increase under 5 percent.
Once the VUHS spending plan is in place, officials said more accurate assessments of the impact of ANwSU school spending on individual district towns can be made.
Officials said a proposed VUHS bond, if approved at either the $4.2 million or $6.2 million level in early February, would have no impact on either the 2013-2014 VUHS budget or ANwSU tax rates.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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