South Burlington reconsiders $50M school budget Thursday

SOUTH BURLINGTON – South Burlington voters on Thursday will consider a $49,754,590 proposed school budget after a previous spending plan was rejected at March Town Meeting.

The school board adopted a fiscal year 2018 budget last month. The vote to adopt the spending plan was 4 to 1. Board member Bridget Burkhardt voted against the proposal.

The retooled spending plan represents $810,814 worth of reductions from the budget that was rejected on Town Meeting Day, March 7. If the proposed spending plan is approved by voters, the property tax rate is projected to decrease 0.07 percent from fiscal year 2017, according to information on the district’s website.

Reductions in the proposed budget include three anticipated teacher retirements totaling $72,000; $50,000 savings from new health care options; a $55,000 savings in reduction of an administration position, loss of a part-time communications coordinator post at $34,028; cutting additional Career Development Center staff, at $40,000 and removing $5,000 for robotics and maker spaces.

Other items deleted from the budget include a deferral of maintenance projects, shaving off $236,200; moving combined Central Office space to leased space, reducing $75,000 and a $300,000 reduction coming from the Capital Reserve Fund contribution.

Additions include an additional $47,914 earmarked for athletic uniforms needed for competition, stemming from mascot change and installation of an art room air conditioner, running $8,500 at South Burlington High School.

Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In the meantime, the board issued a press release this week, outlining issues that are dividing board and the South Burlington Educators Association in contract talks.

The current contract expires June 30 and teachers are slated to begin enrolling in one of four new health plans by Nov. 1, according to the statement.

The sticking points between the board and the South Burlington Educators Association cover an array of issues, including teacher contributions for health insurance plans and salaries. The union wants the district to pay 100 percent of teachers’ premiums and cover all of out-of-pocket medical expenses. The union told the board it won’t reconvene for mediation until May 15.

The board and the South Burlington Educators Association could seek the assistance of a mediator to reach an agreement, according to the press release.

Gail Callahan

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