Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union draft budget up less than 1 percent

This article by Derek Carson originally appeared Thursday in the Bennington Banner.

BENNINGTON — The budget of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union appears to be on track for an increase of less than 1 percent for the 2018-2019 school year.

At first glance, the budget appears set to increase 3.82 percent, or $924,837. However, the vast majority of this increase comes from the $728,480 that is shifting from local boards to the SVSU after the latest round of collective bargaining moved all paraeducators from being employees of the local boards to employees of the SU. No additional money is actually being spent, as the cost is simply shifting to the SVSU budget. Taking that into account, the real increase is $196,357, or 0.81 percent over this current year’s budget.

While he hesitated to use the term “hiring freeze,” Superintendent Jim Culkeen made it clear to administrators and department heads that with the shortfall in the state education budget, any proposed new positions would be heavily scrutinized, more so than in a typical year. State officials have estimated the shortfall could be as much as $80 million, and could add 8 cents to local tax rates before local budgets are even considered.

The SVSU board met with department heads for over two hours on Wednesday, and have tentatively scheduled a second budget meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 19 to continue discussing the issue. Typically, the SVSU budget is the first to be finalized. Taxpayers do not pay or vote on the SVSU budget directly; instead, it is distributed to the local school boards, whose budgets in turn are used to calculate the local tax rates.

The numbers from this first draft budget are by no means final, and additional cuts or expenses could be made from this point.

Read full article at the Bennington Banner.

(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)

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