CVU kicks off budget season

By Rachel Gill
Observer correspondent

On the opening night of Champlain Valley Union’s budget season, all eyes were on the areas of operations and maintenance and information technology services.

The first pass at the 2008-2009 budget began on Nov. 26 with the first of what will be a series of seven work sessions.

Bob Mason, chief of operations for Chittenden South Supervisory Union, started the meeting by explaining how this year’s process will be different from previous years.

In the past, all CSSU boards started with a budget that incorporated all possible program, personnel and miscellaneous cost additions. Through the budget process the boards then discussed what to keep and what to cut.

Mason said this year the board will take last year’s budget and make adjustments, such as meeting contractual obligations and current operating costs, to arrive at a baseline budget.

Mason said all CSSU boards approved the change in the budget process during their retreats last summer.

“This is part of a district wide effort to make the budget process clearer and more transparent,” Mason said.

This year CVU is starting with a baseline budget of $20.6 million.

Mason also explained that figure reflects the minimum amount needed for the school to maintain the same quality of services as last year without any program changes.

The board’s next step is to focus on individual elements to either add or subtract from the baseline budget.

To start the new budget process, CVU Principal Sean McMannon presented this year’s operations and maintenance budget requests. Currently, the operations and maintenance budget request is hovering at just over $1.2 million, a $32,000 decrease from last year. Despite the overall decrease, numbers may change because of a request for a full-time grounds position not yet factored into this year’s figures. According to the operations and maintenance budget request report, the position could add $33,000.

Jeff Tobrocke, CVU Chittenden House director, presented the budget requests for information technology. This year’s proposed technology budget is currently $524,000 – less than last year’s $544,000 budget – but is expected to increase by $70,000. School officials said $63,000 of the increase will fund the lease of copier-printers.

The remaining $7,000 will help purchase equipment or software requests submitted by teachers, although the full cost of the requests would likely exceed the money available.

School officials said the requests are currently under review by the technology committee, which is expected to submit its decision on Dec. 10. Changes to the technology budget have not been approved and are also expected to go before the board at its next meeting.

For more information on this year’s budget process visit the CSSU Web site at The next CVU budget work session is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in CVU Room 172.