Five-town school spending proposals could raise taxes

BRISTOL — School boards around the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union are ready to warn spending plans for the district’s five elementary schools.
When five-town voters cast ballots on Town Meeting Day they will be considering budgets that lower proposed spending at each of the schools but see small increases in the amount to be raised by taxes.
“Elementary principals, school board members and central office leaders worked diligently this budget season to produce budgets that addressed both the educational needs of students as well as the needs of the physical plants at a cost believed to be acceptable to voters,” said ANeSU Superintendent Patrick Reen. “Our process included community forums in early December in an attempt to engage community members early on in the conversation as budgets were just beginning to take shape.”
Bristol voters will be asked to approve a 2017-2018 Bristol Elementary School spending plan of $4,719,558, which represents a decrease of $301,435, or 6 percent, from the amount budgeted for the current school year.
The amount to be raised by taxes for 2017-2018 is set at $4,308,920, a 1.96 percent increase over the sum raised for 2016-2017.
“Our goal in developing the budget for Bristol Elementary School has been to determine the best use of available resources that will make the most significant impact on students’ learning needs,” said Principal Kevin Robinson. “The FY18 budget has been developed without cutting existing programs or staff, and with minimal increases for our community’s tax payers.”
Robinson said that academic support and professional development were priorities in developing the 2017-2018 budget. Especially important were funds for implementing the new Bridges math curriculum and the Lucy Calkins curriculum for reading and writing. The budget also includes professional development for creating wrap-around systems of support for students across the full range of behavioral needs and academic proficiencies.
Facilities work scheduled for next fiscal year includes planned maintenance on school library windows and vent work within the school, Robinson said.
According to ANESU Chief Financial Officer Howard Mansfield, the proposed spending plans of $4.7 million for Bristol Elementary and $12.9 million for Mount Abraham Union High School and Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center would yield in an estimated residential property tax rate of $1.7508 per $100 of assessed property value, given Bristol’s current common level of appraisal of 91.35 percent.
The 2016-2017 Bristol education tax rate is $1.7042 for residents and $1.6712 for nonresidents.
The Lincoln Community School board has proposed a $2,101,791 spending plan.
Last year at town meeting, the proposed budget of $2,198,722 was raised on the floor by $17,400 to $2,216,122. With the passage last November of the school district unification plan for all ANeSU schools, this March will be the last town meeting at which Lincoln residents will be able to change the elementary school budget from the floor.
The $2.1 million spending plan for 2017-2018 represents a 5.16 percent decrease from the current fiscal year.
The amount to be raised by taxes would be $2,059,132, an increase of 9.75 percent.
“Last fall, the Lincoln Community School board asked the administration to prepare a budget that would maintain the excellent educational programming at LCS,” said Principal Tory Riley. “Due to a decrease in revenue, just maintaining programming resulted in an increase in expenses. The budget reflects an ongoing commitment to maintaining early literacy instruction, the Lincoln Mentors Program, and the After School Program. We have added one half day to the nurse’s time for a total of one and one-half days per week.
Riley continued, “LCS continues to enjoy the steady enrollment we’ve had for the past two decades. We have seven classrooms with an average of 17 students per class. We experience little turnover in faculty and staff; this consistency adds to the strength of the school, as does the participation of families and community members.”
Calculations from the central office estimate Lincoln’s education property tax rate at $1.5686 for homeowners. Lincoln’s common level of appraisal (CLA) is 107.22 percent. For the current fiscal year, the Lincoln education tax rate was set at $1.5309 for residents and $1.4721 for nonresidents.
The Monkton Central School board is proposing expenditures of $2,653,500 for 2017-2018, a decrease of $160,420 (5.7 percent) from the current academic and fiscal year.
The amount to be raised by taxes is proposed at $2,484,818, a 2.99 percent increase from the $2,412,679 for 2016-2017.
The central office estimates a homestead education property tax rate would be $1.8713, using a CLA of 86.77 percent. That compares to a current year education tax rate of $1.8072 for residents and $1.7495 for nonresidents.
New Haven residents are being asked to approve a Beeman Elementary School budget of $1,763,830, which comes in at $120,294 (or 6.38 percent) less than the current year.
At that level, New Haven residents would need to raise $1,478,230 from taxes, a 0.89 percent increase over the amount raised by taxes this year.
“At Beeman, the school board asked for level funding,” said Principal Kristine Evarts. “There were a couple of factors that we don’t have control over, the CLA in New Haven is below 100 and there are more New Haven students at Beeman than at MTA (Mount Abe), which costs us more.
“That all being said, we presented a very thoughtful budget. We have in this budget increased time for the library/media technologist, guidance counselor, a full-time general education paraprofessional, as well as some facilities updates.
“All of these increases are to ensure successful student outcomes.”
Using a CLA of 97.89 percent, the education property tax rate for a New Haven homeowner is estimated at $1.5767 per $100 in assessed property value; the current year’s rate is $1.5361 for residents and $1.5295 for nonresidents.
The Robinson Elementary School board is proposing a spending plan of $2,721,254 for 2017-2018, a $200,217 (6.85 percent) decrease from $2,921,471 in spending this year.
The proposed budget requires $2,538,864 to be raised by taxes, an increase of $46,859 (1.88 percent).
“The Robinson board gave me a budget target of no greater than a 2 percent increase in education spending,” said Principal Edorah Fraser. “The budget approved by the board includes a 1.88 percent increase in spending over the current budget.”
Fraser noted that the 2017-2018 budget includes these targeted increases:
•  An increase in health education by 0.2 FTE (full-time teaching equivalents) — $13,500.
•  A library aide — $6,200.
•  Mentoring program staffing (to replace funds previously provided by a federal grant) — $10,000.
“Our goal is to build on the strengths of our talented staff by giving them time to do their best work,” Frazer said. “For example, our library/media specialist is also a former teacher and has excellent skills in collaborating on literacy instruction with teachers. We would like to free up her time from clerical work in the library so that she can do the more complex work of infusing resources into classrooms and training teachers in the technology we have. Our wellness teacher does not have sufficient time in her current schedule to teach both the physical education and the health standards for which she is responsible. We are seeking an additional day a week of her time so that our students will receive full instruction in these subjects.”
Frazer also said that other budget areas related to programming, materials and staffing remained level and that no staff positions were reduced or eliminated.
COMING IN FY 2018-2019
Following the vote for unification on Nov. 8, 2016, residents will see a change in the budgeting process for the 2018-2019 fiscal year as the unified Addison Northeast School District takes over. ANESD’s first fiscal year of operation (2018-2019) will also initiate the homestead education tax rate incentives that are part of Act 46 (a reduction of eight cents in the first year, decreasing to six, four and two cents in the three years thereafter).
Town Meeting Day 2017 is Tuesday, March 7. Residents are encouraged to consult their respective school reports to learn more about topics to be discussed or articles to be voting on at town meeting.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].

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