Taconic & Green board tackles budget

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LONDONDERRY — The Taconic & Green Regional School District began its in-depth budget discussion at the first of two December meetings Tuesday night at Flood Brook School.

A follow-up meeting is planned for Dec. 18 in Sunderland to continue the budget talk.

Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union Superintendent Jackie

Wilson told the board that the current budget for fiscal year 2020 isn't going to change a great deal with no huge surprises or major changes.

"I feel like it's a very responsible budget," Wilson said.

While it's very early in the budget process, the proposed budget for FY 2020 is slated to increase slightly.

The budget for FY 2018, in which the budget year runs July 2017 to June 2018, came in at $30,860,486, which was just more than $136,000 over budget. The FY 2019 budget, which was set at $31,885,710 is currently on track to end the year in June 2019 an estimated $340,000 over budget.

The proposed FY 2020 budget is preliminarily set at $32,592,334, which includes a warned article of $388,327.

That amount, which would require voter approval separate from the full budget, would include $125,000 to be put into a bus reserve fund, which voters would also have to approve, as well as $263,327 for building reserves.

Another piece of the increase is in health services, which has been budgeted at $312,633, an increase of 20.9 percent.

Wilson told the board that as the T&G district settles into its own, it's become clear that health education and services will need to be improved across the district and a health teacher has been added to the budget.

As the board starts to tackle the numbers, there are some things that just aren't known yet this early in the budgeting process.

Wilson said actions taken by the Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union would have an effect on the T&G process and there are a few parts of the budget that will be updated in the second draft, including technology, operations and food service programs.

The Burr and Burton Academy, which receives most of the high-school-age students, hasn't yet set its tuition rate, although that increase is usually relatively small.

One challenge the board was made aware of that will affect budgeting now and in the future has been a shrinking enrollment across the schools.

A comparison of enrollment from FY2018 to FY2019 showed a decrease in enrollment in all schools in grades from kindergarten to middle school.

Currier, Dorset, Flood Brook, Sunderland and Manchester Elementary and Middle School have lost a combined 50 students, a decrease of 5 percent of their collective student bodies.

Currier decreased the most from 86 students to 73, a 15 percent drop.

The budget discussion will continue with more information and more focus at the next meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, at Sunderland School.

Contact Darren at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.

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