Ferrisburgh eyes school spending hike of about 4.9%

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh Central School board on Thursday could make final a 2013-2014 budget proposal that if approved by residents in March would increase school spending by about 4.9 percent.
The draft that board members will be working with on Thursday would add almost $152,000 to current spending and request approval of spending a little more than $3.26 million.
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union superintendent Tom O’Brien said the proposal would maintain existing programs, and that spending is largely being driven higher by contracted raises for teachers and support staff and an increase in health insurance costs. O’Brien budgeted that hike at 13.5 percent after insurance officials said the increase would come in at between 10 and 15 percent.
“Those are the big items,” he said.
The budget does not include two separate spending votes, one to add $20,000 to the school’s capital improvement fund, and another to devote $10,000 to create a new fund to buy technology for FCS.
Another small spending increase comes from the addition of a 20 percent information technology position. Current Vergennes Union Elementary IT employee Will Hatch next year will work for all the ANwSU district schools, and the expense will be shared.
FCS will also be in year one of a two-year upgrade of its wireless technology, while one speech para-educator will be cut from the budget.
FCS will also save some money because teacher Alana Lilly announced she would accept an early retirement package after three decades at the school. The combination of the salary of a less-experienced teacher and the cost of Lilly’s buyout, which will be spread out over several years, will still be less than Lilly’s salary, according to O’Brien.
“It gives us a little bit of wiggle room,” he said.
O’Brien said the budget meets the twin target of meeting students’ needs and being fiscally responsible.
“All the boards felt 5 percent or less would be good given we’ve been so frugal in prior years,” O’Brien said. “Right now the only thing we’re working on is the high school to get to that point.”
The Vergennes Union High School board will meet on Jan. 14 to make its budget proposal final. 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 the 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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