11 jobs are part of Spaulding budget cutbacks
BARRE — The cost of running Spaulding High School would climb by more than $570,000 based on the $12.3 million budget proposal that voters in Barre and Barre Town will be asked to approve in March.
Despite a hint of dissension earlier in the week, school directors unanimously adopted the spending plan, which includes an estimated $440,000 in state and federal grants, during a special meeting Wednesday night.
The budget reflects deep cuts in personnel, though not quite as deep as the ones that were questioned during Monday’s board meeting when 12 positions totaling an estimated $800,000 were placed on the table by Principal Tom Sedore.
After the finance committee made some adjustments, the proposal before the board Wednesday incorporated cuts to 11 positions. Funding for one full-time English teacher and a half-time library assistant had been restored, but a position working with students for whom English is not their first language had been newly slated for reduction to part time.
The reduction or elimination of 10 other positions — including a special educator, a secretary and a custodian — was done to blunt a sharp spending increase that is being blamed on negotiated salaries and benefits, a spike in special education expenses and a roof replacement project.
The district’s business manager said most if not all of the 11 jobs are currently filled.
Excluding grants, which won’t affect taxes, the budget for the high school sits at $11.86 million — up $570,000, or 3.86 percent over the $11.29 million budget that voters approved last year.
Superintendent John Bacon said the proposed budget would trigger modest increases in the school tax rates in Barre and Barre Town.
According to Bacon, the proposed budget would add an estimated 1.7 cents to the tax rate in Barre Town and 0.9 cents to the rate in Barre. He said those projections anticipate a 4-cent increase in the state education tax rate, which is expected to climb between 3 and 5 cents this year.
“We’re absorbing that tax increase from the state very nicely,” said Bacon.
One of the big reasons is that the common level of appraisal in both Barre and Barre Town has increased for the third straight year, resulting in a corresponding reduction in the tax rate.
The common level of appraisal, or CLA, is a calculation the state uses to equalize property values from community to community for school funding purposes. If the state believes a municipality’s valuation of its property isn’t current, it raises the tax rate a corresponding percentage.
In Barre and to a lesser extent Barre Town, that formula is working in reverse again this year. In Barre Town the CLA ticked up from 85.84 to 86.43 percent of fair market value, while Barre’s CLA climbed from 96.38 to 99.995 percent. In both cases it has had a favorable effect on tax rate projections.
School directors who expressed reservations about the budget Monday night appeared satisfied with word that, despite declining enrollment, funding for the English teacher and the library aide had been restored.
The board did not object to the other cuts, which included portions of a science teacher position and a technology instructor job, as well as the elimination of a full-time special educator, a behavior interventionist, four special education paraprofessionals, a custodian and a secretary.
The position responsible for working with students who are still learning English was added to the list of reductions due to low enrollment.
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