January 23, 2019

Guest Column: A school budget Q&A from CVSD

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is part of a series of monthly articles submitted by the Champlain Valley School District Board of Directors.

Happy New Year! In response to input and questions about the Champlain Valley School District budget, we developed a list of frequently asked questions. More budget information is available at cvsdvt.org/budget, or email us at cvsdboard@cvsdvt.org.

Q: How will my local school budget be voted on now that we are consolidated?

A: The funding for all schools in the Champlain Valley School District (CVSD) will be combined into a single ballot question residents will vote on at their local polling places Tuesday, March 6. The Champlain Valley School District encompasses Charlotte, St. George, Williston, Shelburne and Hinesburg. Voted ballots will be brought to a central location and co-mingled prior to being counted.

Q: What are the CVSD board’s budget goals?

A: The board identified two fiscal goals in preparing the budget proposal. The first goal was to meet Gov. Phil Scott’s challenge and limit budget growth to 2.5 percent. The second goal was to meet our own fiscal objective of limiting a budget increase to 2.3 percent. In addition, we also set objectives for a coordinated system to ensure equity of resources across schools, provide for innovative learning and support academic success for all students. Community input aligns with our objectives to maintain essential programming, follow state guidelines for class sizes, maintain local school cultures and identify efficiencies due to consolidation.

Q: How much is the proposed budget increasing by and why?

A: The proposed budget is increasing by 2.3 percent this year. A portion of that (1.1 percent of the 2.3 percent) is for debt service of construction projects. All other spending covers increases in the cost of goods and services, such as energy, and contractually obligated salary increases. Increases are partially offset by reductions in the cost of health care premiums, supplies, legal and auditing costs, and insurance.

Q: Has consolidation saved the district money?

A: In our second year as a merged system, we estimate savings of $187,000 due to consolidation for a total of $220,000 over the first two years. These early savings are mostly administrative, with larger savings projected as we begin to implement other systems changes.

Q: How will bond votes for construction and renovation be done now that we are consolidated?

A: All bonds will be voted on by residents of all towns in the Champlain Valley School District, with all costs shared by residents of the entire district.

Q: How will renovation projects be approached now that we are one district? 

A: We are still working on developing systems. However, we anticipate developing a long-term capital plan with priorities independent of location.

Q: How are the facilities being managed now that we are one district?

A: The management of our physical plant is an area where consolidation is having a significant impact. This fall we reorganized the operations and maintenance management team, reducing administration and bringing in needed technical staff. Now, our licensed professionals can be shared across campuses and used where their skills are most needed.

Q: How are you planning to meet the deferred maintenance needs of all six buildings?

A: We are creating a long-term maintenance plan that will help us meet both the immediate needs and the ones we can predict in an organized, sustainable way. The CVSD board is committed to maintaining our buildings efficiently and effectively in order to prevent costly repairs.

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