News

School budget finalized for Town Meeting

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The Champlain Valley School Board will ask for voter support for an $89.4 million annual budget and borrowing authority for school buses and building upgrades totaling $7.7 million on the Town Meeting Day ballot.

The board unanimously approved the budget and borrowing questions at its Jan. 18 meeting.

The budget increases spending by $4.1 million over the current fiscal year and would cause a tax rate increase of 2 percent, to $1.62 for every $100 of assessed property value, according to Jeanne Jensen, the district’s chief operations officer. The increase would cost the owner of a $300,000 Williston home, as an example, an additional $94 on their annual property tax bill.

The primary drivers of the spending increase are anticipated salary and health insurance increases in a new contract with the teachers union that is currently being negotiated, as well as inflation in the general cost of goods and services. 

The district is also planning to add two to four elementary school teachers, two special educators, a district-level data analyst and enough money for three full-time people to work on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The board also approved a ballot question seeking authority to sell $7.5 million in bonds to cover the costs of upgrades in all six of its school buildings. Williston’s schools would see “grounds and building repairs” totaling $270,000 and CVU High School would get “mechanical upgrades and grounds maintenance” totaling $865,000. The largest expense ($4.7 million) would go toward “electrical and life safety improvements” at Charlotte Central School.

A second borrowing question would authorize $210,000 in debt for the purchase of two school buses. 

The school district’s annual meeting will be held via video-conference Monday, Feb. 28. In-person voting will take place at the National Guard Armory at 7846 Williston Road, March 1, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Early voting is available by requesting a ballot from the Town Clerk’s office at 878-5121 or by email at smason@willistonvt.org or stopping into the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall.

An early ballot request form can also be found in the Town Clerk section of the town website (www.town.williston.vt.us) or at the State of Vermont’s “my voter” site (www.mvp.vermont.gov).