(This information originally appeared in the April 17 edition of Currently Colchester, which was delivered to all homes in Colchester.)
Following the defeat of the budget on March 4, the Colchester School Board directed a targeted budget reduction of $475,331, which would result in a proposed budget of $35,532,781—an increase of $1,034,935, or 3 percent.
The three-step process for this reduction included reviewing the items that were added to the budget for next year to determine need and priority, completing another review of expenditures to determine areas where possible reductions might be made and the impact of those reductions on programs and services, and collaborating with principals to determine other areas for reductions and the impact of those reductions.
The result of this work includes the following reduction areas and amounts:
- Teacher contract salaries (hiring salary limits for at least seven openings): $84,441
- Special education support staff (elimination of special education position): $21,000
- Maintenance (use of capital reserve fund): $50,000
- Technology devices at CHS and CMS (eliminate devices planned for grades 7–9): $150,000
- Math lab support staff (no math remediation at CHS): $16,990
- Eliminate support staff at CMS (reduce office/library personnel): $23,092
- Technology integration specialist (eliminate K–5 technology instruction support): $77,814
- Currently Colchester publication (eliminate monthly publication): $14,000
- Other (related amounts to above): $5,407
Total Amount of Reductions $442,744
The summary of the superintendent’s proposed budget going before voters on May 6 is as follows:
Budget amount: $35,565,368
Increase amount: $1,067,522
Percentage amount: 3.09 percent
Tax increase amount: 3.69 percent (This tax increase amount is based upon a Homestead Tax Rate of $0.98 per $100 of equalized value.)
Although increasing classroom technology integration is paramount not only to the district’s vision and strategic plan—written collaboratively with the community—but also in meeting requirements established by the Common Core State Standards—the budget reductions necessitate the elimination of this line item.
What else is particularly important to note?
The Vermont State Legislature is responsible for determining the Homestead Tax Rate, which greatly influences tax increases. This year, the legislature originally chose a rate of $1.01—which was 7 cents higher than last year’s—and it is upon the $1.01 rate that the original FY 2015 budget proposal was based. Recently, however, the Vermont House voted in favor of H.889 (which sets the property tax rates and base education amount for FY 2015). The bill, which is introduced by the committee annually, this year also includes a variety of changes to education financing laws and states the General Assembly’s intent to transition to an education financing system that relies less on property taxes and more on an education income tax. H.889 recently set the base homestead rate at $0.98 per $100 of equalized property value, up four cents from fiscal year 2014.
We encourage citizens to review our comprehensive budget-related information, available on the district’s website. We also encourage community members to call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999 to ask questions.
What would the FY ’15 school budget mean for my taxes?
The following table provides information about tax increases based upon property value. For example, the taxes for the owner of a property valued at $300,000 whose total household annual income is greater than $90,000 would increase $151.
The following income-sensitivity table illustrates the tax increase for property owners whose total annual household income is $90,000 or less. For example, the taxes for a property owner whose total annual household income is $65,000 would increase $26.89.
Questions? We’re here to help. Please call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999 if you would like more information.
Please vote on Tuesday, May 6.
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