Career center budget plan reflects spending decrease

MIDDLEBURY — Patricia Hannaford Career Center directors are proposing a 2017-2018 spending plan of $3,482,549 to deliver vocational and technical education to students in 17 Addison County towns.
That is a spending level that essentially preserves existing programs and represents a 1.39-percent decrease in spending compared to this year.
Career Center Superintendent Lynn Coale cited an already-implemented reduction of one full-time-equivalent position in the agriculture program and $30,000 to $40,000 in anticipated savings in health care expenses as two driving forces behind the proposed spending decrease.
The health care savings are expected to result from a change in insurance plans offered through the Vermont Education Health Initiative program.
“The dynamics of health care are changing dramatically,” said Coale, who will be stepping down from his position this June.
It should also be noted that new teacher contracts are being negotiated in districts throughout Vermont, to take effect for the 2017-2018 academic year. So the career center, like other schools, is having to estimate potential salary and benefits costs.
“Putting together budgets this year is a challenge,” Coale said.
Career center officials are also proposing to apply $40,000 in surplus from the fiscal year 2016 budget to the soften the property tax impact of the 2017-2018 spending plan.
The aforementioned savings are expected to result in a 2-percent decrease in tuition assessments for the students the center serves from the Addison Central, Addison Northeast and Addison Northwest supervisory unions. Directors are anticipating an enrollment of around 135 full-time-equivalent students, down from this year’s number of 136.6.
The proposed 2017-2018 tuition rate has been set at $20,268, down from this year’s rate of $20,304.
“I think it’s a reasonable budget, given all the unknowns,” Coale said. “There are a fair number of moving parts.”
Residents will vote on the Hannaford Career Center budget on Town Meeting Day this March.
Meanwhile, career center officials are enlisting help from the Vermont School Boards Association in their search for a new center manager. The career center conducted a community survey — through SurveyMonkey — and held a Jan. 14 meeting to get public feedback on future center priorities and the qualities they expect to see in the new Hannaford superintendent.
Plans call for a new superintendent to start by July 1.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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