Board Reviews Preliminary FY18 Budget Information

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Thursday January 05, 2017

It may seem that March is far away, but the South Burlington School Board actually began preparing for voting day in December. At the December 21 board meeting, more detailed information was presented for the board to mull over as they work through their budget development process. The administration has been hard at work gathering facts and figures since October, taking into account student enrollment numbers and needs.

While some of the figures Business Manager John Aubin and Superintendent David Young presented could be subject to adjustment and change, they gave the board some guidelines from which to work.

The administration presented their draft preliminary 2017-2018 budget including financial increases and decreases, program changes, comparative staffing levels, and the current projected enrollment. The draft budget pushes forward the FY17 budget with the FTEs that were added throughout this year. It maintains the assumption that they will continue to be needed.

The baseline data provided showed a budget increase of $2,440,117 from FY17, in a jump from $46,973,703 to $49,413,820. The latter figure includes the extra staffing that was added throughout the past school year). The impact this could have on the average home will be calculated and modified as more information becomes available, such as the common level of appraisal.

Although the state tax parameters such as the excess spending threshold amount, property and income yield amounts, the statewide non-residential tax rate, and the preliminary calculation of equalized pupils, as well as the projected special education expense reimbursement amount have been received, they simply serve as parameters as they may change when the legislature goes into session.

David Young said that with the budget, as always, the aim is “to provide the students of the South Burlington School District with an optimal learning experience and the choice to participate in a wide array of opportunities such as clubs and athletics, at a cost the community can support.”

In addition to the baseline budget, the administration is proposing several initiatives they feel could move the district in a positive direction. These include bringing language programs to the elementary level, and creating more instruction space in the schools by moving administrative functions like the superintendent’s office, IT, and the business office to an off-site location. They have also posited that targeted additions to staff could be a help as well, such as additional HR staff, a communications coordinator, and a preschool coordinator. While it isn’t the administration’s expectation that all of the positions in the categories of direct staff support, support to staff, and support of the physical plant would be funded in the FY18 budget, it was their hope that some would be considered, at least in the short term.

In addition, the stewardship plan for facility maintenance continues to be another key component of the budget with $973,850 worth of work being projected for the 2017-2018 school year. This includes two big ticket items, two buses for the district and a security camera system upgrade.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent