TOWNSHEND—In his fiscal year 2013 budget address earlier this month, Gov. Peter Shumlin said, “I commend our local school boards for holding the line on new spending over the past two years and urge them to do it again.”
But one year of level funding was enough for Leland & Gray Middle and High School. For fiscal 2013, the proposed budget comes in at $6,552,332, which is a 3.5 percent increase over last year’s $6,328,984 total.
A public information meeting on the budget will be held Jan. 31 in the school library at 7:30 p.m.
The Leland & Gray annual meeting takes place Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the school gym at 7:30 p.m.
Voting by Australian ballot takes place on Feb. 8, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.. at the town offices in Townshend and Jamaica, and at the NewBrook Fire House in Newfane.
Town offices in Brookline and Windham will be open for voting from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The education tax rate, set by a legislated, multilevel funding formula, is projected to be $1.4386 for this year, a slight increase over last year’s rate of $1.3761.
Frank Rucker, the chief financial officer for the Windham Central Supervisory Union, including Leland & Gray, and a walking compendium of education tax policy and budgets, pointed out the complications of setting tax rates in a union school regional district.
“After Town Meeting, I report the results and then town officers will take those rates [and then, with state requirements,] adjust the amounts based on a formula that includes, for example, those who earn $90,000 or less in one group, and another for those earning more, whose rates are based on property valuation.”
He said that property owners in the five towns comprising Windham Central, Townshend, Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, and Windham, pay varying rates based on how many students they send to Leland & Gray, their own elementary school budgets, and the common level of appraisal.
The common level of appraisal is used to equalize education taxes statewide to ensure that properties of equal value pay equal taxes.
The projected effect of some funding formula changes, partially attributed to Tropical Storm Irene, will have a varying impact from town to town on the school tax rates, the budget proposal explains.
An increase of 2.6 percent in special education services accounts for most of the general 3.5-percent increase and reflects the addition of nine more students in the program. The remaining budget growth, less than 1 percent, is attributed to anticipated increases in salaries and benefits.
School board and WCSU Chair Emily Long noted that increases of 13.1 percent in the foreign language budget and 10.5 percent in music partially restore cuts made in those subjects last year.
Those wishing to view the entire budget may do so at www.windhamcentralboard.org. Click on “school boards” and scroll down to Leland & Gray for further information.