SCS Board continues budget process

The Shelburne Community School (SCS) Board continues to weigh its options as it works its way through the budget season.

During a special school board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, the panel continued to look at and discuss several decision packets (potential increases) to the proposed 2015-16 spending plan.

SCS Board Chair Dave Connery said earlier this week school directors are “working hard” to trim about $200,000 from the spending proposal. Right now, Shelburne’s 2015-16 baseline budget is $13,121,869, which is 5.87 percent higher than the current voter-approved 2014-15 budget of $12,393,989. Connery emphasized that the board is trying to pare the increase to 4.2 percent. The board also met Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 7:30am for another budget meeting.

The board did receive some welcome news in the form of estimates for health-care costs. Chittenden South Supervisory Union (CSSU) officials budgeted for a 10 percent increase for health care, but that percentage is likely to only jump 4.5 percent. Dental was thought to rise about 5 percent, but information from Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust says there will be no increase.

Last month, SCS Co-Principals Pati Beaumont and Allan Miller presented several potential decision packets they would like the board to add to the baseline budget including:

  • Funding for a two-week summer camp for English Language Learners (ELL). Beaumont and Miller say there is a lack of similar programming locally.
  • Hiring a part-time, certified health educator.
  • Add dollars for transportation for students identified as “homeless.” According to CSSU, five SCS students currently match that description.
  • Middle school track program. The request is based on the popularity of a recent pilot program which 40 students attended. Coaches’ training for head injury and concussion recognition.
  • Substitute costs. Increase to match actual expenses felt by SCS.
  • Connecting Youth (CY) Mentoring Program. Administrators are seeking to expand CY fifth through eighth grade mentoring program. Funding would increase from current nine matches to 28 and secure higher community member involvement. Another full day would also be added to the Mentoring Coordinator position as well.

Following the December budget meetings, Connery noted that some of the administration proposals, such as the addition of a part-time health educator, along with “trimming back” the CY mentoring program may not be included in the final budget. He also commented that the board may not support funding for additional training for athletic coaches who aren’t Physical Education teachers, but that there is board support for a middle school track program.

Citing federal mandates, Connery mentioned the board is required to include decision packets, funding transportation, and substitute teacher costs. He also pointed out healthcare costs and salaries are the largest “budget drivers.” “It’s a balance of keeping things lean without affecting instructional quality,” Connery said. “The board is trying to minimally increase the budget so not to impact teacher-student ratio.”

Connery explained there is a difference in the way special education in Shelburne is funded and outlined in the spending proposal. Implementing a 2010 measure approve by the state legislature, all special education costs are consolidated at SU level. Additionally, special education spending and staffing will occur at CSSU. In turn, CSSU will disperse the cost of giving services to all SU schools. In fact, Connery noted spending for those services is increasing $220,000 from the current spending plan to the 2015-16 budget proposal. He emphasized there is no change in the manner in which special education services are delivered at SCS.

Voters will get a chance to view the municipal and school spending plans Tuesday, Jan. 13 during a joint budget meeting at 7pm at Shelburne’s Town offices.