Danby voters defeat school budget...again

DANBY - The budgets for the Danby school district and the Union District #23 (UD #23) were both narrowly defeated in a revote held Tuesday.

The vote on the revised Union District #23 budget of $1,488,479 - which encompasses the towns of Danby and Mount Tabor - was defeated by one vote - 162-163.

According to Danby Town Clerk Janice Arnold, 136 Danby residents voted in favor of the budget and 162 voted against it. Danby residents also accounted for one spoiled vote. Mount Tabor residents, on the other hand, voted in favor of the budget 26-1.

The original proposed Union District #23 budget of $1,547,125 was defeated at Town Meeting day 250-188.

The revised Danby school district budget of $2,029,575 was voted down by 148-151 margin.

The original budget of $2,051,600 was defeated by Danby voters at Town Meeting by a vote of 236 to 162.

Under the revised budgets, Danby's tax rate would increase by 17 cents per hundred dollars of assessed property value compared to the previous year's budget, according to Superintendent of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union (BRSU) Daniel French.

Both boards will meet next week and French said the budgets will be the major item on each board's agenda.

What further cuts could be made to the budgets is a topic that French expected to be taken up by the board members at their meetings next week, but French said he was inclined to present the same budget to voters and focus on getting a higher voter turnout to attempt to get them passed. French also said he expected the danger of taking such a course of action to be addressed at the upcoming board meetings.

If the boards decide to hold another revote and the budgets are defeated again it could delay the goal of having approved budgets in place for the beginning of the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. However, French said that the board could decide not to hold another revote.

"Under the law we're allowed to borrow money; up to 87 percent of the current year's budget," said French. "At some point we're going to seek to have an approved budget. I just don't know what the timeline would be."

When the revised budgets were adopted in late March the UD #23 had perhaps the most changes out of the two, according to French.

Two significant changes centered around the nurse and the guidance counselor positions. French said the the nurse's position was reduced from a 100 percent FTE (Full Time Equivalent) to 60 percent FTE. Additionally, 20 percent of the position was shifted to Medicaid - meaning that it will be paid for by the Federal government. The other 40 percent will be locally funded, according to previous reports.

Similar action was also taken with the guidance counselor position. French said that 25 percent of the school guidance counselor position will be shifted to the Consolidated Federal Grant Program (CFP).

The board also cut $14,000 from the budget by reducing professional development costs and travel reimbursement related to those expenses. In addition, French also imposed a budget freeze in the current year, accoring to previous reports.

In all, the changes made to budget resulted in a $58,000 savings over the initial budget.

The Danby School Board's revised budget marked a $22,000 decrease as a result of declining special education expenses, according to earlier reports. French also recommended that the board not eliminate another one of their buses. Shortly after the initial budget had been defeated, French had been asked by the board to analyze the possibility of reducing one of their buses and to make a recommendation at a subsequent meeting. The district had cut the operation of one bus from transportation expenses last year, according to previous reports.


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