This article by Cherise Madigan originally appeared March 8 in the Manchester Journal.
WINHALL — The town’s school board and taxpayers have been granted a surprise one-year reprieve by Burr and Burton Academy to remain one of its sending towns, while still paying a lower tuition rate.
But voters at Town Meeting also handed the school board a mandate: Look at all future education options, including those that might partially eliminate school choice.
After hearing from BBA that the school would accept the state average tuition of $15,130 per student rather than its sending town tuition of $17,065, voters cast a nonbinding advisory vote asking the school board to look at all options for their school system — including options that do not maintain school choice, like a potential merger with the Taconic and Green Regional Education District.
Winhall, which does not operate its own school and pays tuition for students in K-12 under a full school choice model, faced a staggering property tax increase after the enrollment of 29 students last August rather than the 10 that were anticipated and budgeted for. The growing enrollment led to a spike in per-pupil spending well over the state limit, and with a resulting penalty for exceeding that limit, the tax rate for Winhall residents was anticipated to rise 50 cents per $100 in assessed value if no action was taken.
Instead, the Winhall School Board opted to downgrade its reimbursement to Burr and Burton Academy (BBA) to the state tuition average of $15,130 — less than the “sending town” rate of $17,065 per year which ensures admission for Winhall students — reducing the tax increase to 27 cents per $100 of valuation.
But rather than deciding between a significant tax increase that eliminated the sending town arrangement, and a huge tax increase, Winhall received an unexpected gift from BBA — and a caution that it can’t ever be repeated.
Read full article at the Manchester Journal.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)