July 31, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Opponents of the Vermont Gas pipeline staged a sit-in protest at the Williston staging area Wednesday morning, attempting to stop work on the pipeline extension project. Look for the story in tomorrow’s Observer.

School boards work to trim budgets

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CVU board to cut positions

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

January 9th, 2014

The Champlain Valley Union High School Board took a hard look at its 2014-15 budget on Monday, shaving the increase down by nearly 2 percent.

In its last meeting before approving the 2014-15 school budget, the board hammered out reductions—including the elimination of one full-time position and the reduction of another by one-third. The decreases bring the budget down to approximately $22.4 million, a 1.65 increase over the current budget and a slight decrease in CVU’s net spending.

Earlier this winter, the board was faced with a $22.8 million baseline budget, which is the amount required to offer the same programs and services as in the current budget. That’s a 3.56 percent increase—representing approximately $783,500—from the current 2013-14 budget.

In the Jan. 9 meeting, the CVU administration presented changes that would save money—a retirement, a leave of absence and a teacher moving to half time. None of those positions were eliminated, but the change allows CVU to hire new staff at a lower salary.

However, the board opted to cut the budget further, eliminating one full-time house director position and reconfiguring the other three positions. Next year, students will see one house director for grades nine and 10, one for 11 and 12, and one for curriculum. The board also reduced an English teacher position by one third, resulting in a total reduction in staffing of 1.33 positions—a $123,000 reduction in the budget. The board also opted, however, to continue two positions that it approved last year—a half-time power reading and a half-time math coach.

“We have made a reduction in staffing, we have done some reconfiguration that we think will save money going forward,” Rath told the Observer. “We’ve done it in a manner that we think maintains CVU’s ability to provide an excellent education for our 1,300 kids.”

The CVU board is set to hold a budget hearing Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. at the high school.

“The board worked really hard to decrease the net (spending) and still maintain the quality of education and we think we’ve done it,” Rath said.

Voters will not see an article on the ballot in March regarding a turf field project. The turf fields committee and CVU board members plan to look at the school’s athletic field issues in the spring and try to come up with a solution, Rath said.

The Williston School Board is also looking to trim down the school district’s budget.

The Williston School Board was faced with a 2.56 percent projected increase in the baseline budget—an increase of $441,729—bringing the baseline budget to $17,695,368. That would result in an anticipated 10.75 percent increase in homestead taxes.

In December, the board requested to see possible budgets that would come in at 0 percent, 1 percent and 2 percent increases. Williston School District Principal Walter Nardelli is set to present the results on Jan. 9.

The board is set to hold a public budget hearing Jan. 16.

Voters will have the final say when they approve or reject the proposed budgets in March.

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