VUHS budget meeting on Monday

VERGENNES — While the boards representing the three Addison Northwest Supervisory Union elementary schools met last week to deal with budget challenges, the Vergennes Union High School board was getting ready for its second meeting to deal with its own tough budget problems.
Issues include a 30-student drop in its equalized student count and a drop in state funding support that are combining to drive per-pupil costs — and projected tax rates — higher.
On Monday, Jan. 4, the VUHS board was considering asking ANwSU residents to support a $10.3 million, level-funded budget that might trigger Act 46 penalties and a tax increase of up to about 20 percent on the VUHS portion of ANwSU school tax bills.
The board was presented, but did not seriously consider, a proposal that would make $1.2 million of cuts, including all sports programs, clubs and school plays, among many other items. This spending proposal would avoid Act 46 penalties.
The board also requested a third budget proposal that would split the difference between the level-funded and the threshold-friendly budgets administrators presented last week.
The VUHS board is set to meet again on Monday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. in the VUHS library.
The VUHS board is also looking into the feasibility and legality of delaying the VUHS budget vote until after Town Meeting Day, when board members will know if the Legislature has acted to revise or delay the Act 46 penalty and if ANwSU voters have supported unification.
If ANwSU unifies under one-board governance, the state will cut 10 cents off the district towns’ tax rates, starting in the 2017-2018 school year.
Board members said having that carrot available might help them sell a level-funded VUHS budget, which they describe as already the minimum necessary to deliver an adequate education to students.

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