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Addison Central School board backs level budget

ADDISON — Addison residents will on Town Meeting Day be asked to be approve an exactly level-funded school spending plan of $1,543,138.
Addison Central School Board members adopted at their Jan. 16 meeting that spending proposal and a separate article to add $10,000 to the school’s capital improvement fund.
A key element in the budget is the return of a math intervention specialist to the school, at either a halftime or 60 percent level to be determined by Principal Matt DeBlois.
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union Superintendent JoAn Canning said some parents at the Jan. 16 meeting lobbied for the position, which was cut in the current budget, and the board agreed.
“There are students who need additional support, and that can’t always be furnished by the classroom teachers,” Canning said. “It’s a prevention program.”
ANwSU business manager Tonia Mears said a surplus of $5,205 found in a draft audit, plus a series of small budget adjustments, allowed the board to bring back the math specialist without boosting spending.
“They made a lot of little changes in areas of support and funding and equipment,” Mears said.
Mears said if the proposed Vergennes Union High School budget of about $10.47 million, the roughly $1.5 million ACS plan, and the $10,000 capital fund article are all approved, she projects Addison’s school tax rate to rise by about 6 cents.
That estimate assumes, she said, the Legislature adopts the Department of Education’s recommendation for a $1 statewide education rate, which would be a 2-cent increase over the current rate.
A 6-cent increase in the Addison tax rate would mean an additional $60 in taxes for every $100,000 of assessed value. Those in Addison who pay based under income sensitivity provisions of the state’s financing law would not necessarily feel the full weight of the increase. About two-thirds of Addison’s homeowners received prebates in the most recent year for which data is available.
At their Jan. 16 meeting, ACS board members at first considered a 0.74-percent spending decrease of about $11,500.
But Canning said given that the school’s enrollment is expected to remain stable at 71 students, the board decided to maintain spending at the current level.
The board did not dictate to DeBlois how that $11,500 should be spent, Canning said, although moving the math specialist’s hours from halftime to 60 percent is a possibility, as is restoring some of the smaller cuts or a combination of both.
“They left it up to Matt’s discretion where to use those funds,” Canning said.
Although enrollment is stable, still to be determined is how ACS will align its multi-age classrooms in the coming school year. The school in recent years adopted multi-age classrooms as a cost-saving measure.
“Matt is in the process,” Canning said, of making that decision.
The board did at least briefly discuss whether the school should maintain DeBlois’ job at its current 80 percent level — he works fulltime during the school year and takes summers off under his agreement with ACS.
Officials decided DeBlois’ current hours are necessary, Canning said.
“It’s really difficult to have less than that. The problems don’t go away,” she said.
Another area the board is happy with is the facility’s condition and energy costs.
“The school does very well managing the building,” Canning said. “It’s very energy-efficient.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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