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Ferrisburgh school directors seek 3 percent spending increase

FERRISBURGH — A year after watching a budget defeat for the first time in recent memory, the Ferrisburgh Central School board has adopted a $3.62 million budget proposal for the 2015-2016 school year that would, if approved, increase spending over the current level by 2.97 percent.
Ferrisburgh residents on Town Meeting Day will also be asked to approve two separate spending articles to support Ferrisburgh Central capital funds. One is to add $20,000 to the school’s overall capital improvement fund, and another seeks $16,000 for the school’s technology fund.
Ferrisburgh voters will also be weighing in on a proposed $10.47 million Vergennes Union High School budget and a related $100,000 VUHS capital improvement spending article.
According to Addison Northwest Supervisory  Union estimates, the Ferrisburgh residential school tax rate could increase by about 9.5 cents, or roughly 6 percent, to $1.6535. Ferrisburgh’s school tax rate is currently $1.557.
ANwSU officials are expecting a 2-cent increase in the statewide school tax rate that the Agency of Education recommended to the Legislature. The statewide education tax rate will be incorporated in all ANwSU school tax rates, and the projected rate is used in the estimates.
According to Ferrisburgh town officials, the town portion of the Ferrisburgh tax rate could increase by about 3.5 cents if the residents back three things: the proposed selectboard budget, $30,800 of charitable requests and three other financial articles totaling $80,000.
Thus, town homeowners could be looking at a 13-cent increase in the overall Ferrisburgh property tax rate. That would translate to $130 per $100,000 of assessed value.
About two-thirds of Ferrisburgh households are eligible for property tax relief under the state’s education financing laws and should receive prebates that would lessen the impact of any increase in the school tax rate. Most prebates for households earning under $90,000 are more than $1,000, often much higher.
BUDGET DETAILS
To limit the proposed spending hike to less than 3 percent, ANwSU Superintendent JoAn Canning said the board and Principal JoAnn Taft-Blakely made significant personnel cuts from an earlier budget draft, adjustments totaling about $134,000.
Most notably, Canning said one teacher will be moving out of state and will not be replaced, while the number of aides at the school will be reduced by one.
The school’s enrichment position, now at 30 percent, is proposed to be cut back to 20 percent, while Spanish will no longer be offered. The school nurse will also become a 20 percent job, down from 30 percent.
Canning said a number of smaller cuts were also made to items such as classroom technology, supplies and professional development for the principal.
Despite the changes, Canning said she and board members are confident the budget proposal would meet the school’s and the students’ needs.
“We both believe it does,” she said. “It keeps the school more in line with the class size policy, and continues to offer additional enrichment opportunities for the students, but not at the same level.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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