By Alex Malm
The School Board was presented with the proposed FY 25 budget on Nov. 21.
Superintendent, Dan Black, explained that it’s the first step in the budget process, with his proposed budget being scrutinized over the coming weeks and months, until the School Board decides on what to send to the warrant article.
“At this point I’m proposing a budget to them, but it’s really their call on what we bring to the voters,” Black said.
He said the proposed budget would be a total of $88,259,411, which is about $154,000 less than the default budget of $88,413,544. The proposed budget is a 2.69% increase over the current approved budget.
“A lot of tough choices lead to that,” Black said about the proposed budget coming in under the default budget.
Black explained that as part of the proposed budget they were looking to “limit the growth over last year’s budget,” and that matches the staffing needs to enrollment and services.
He also noted that it was important to come in with a proposed budget as lean as possible knowing they would be proposing a likely expensive warrant article for the Moose Hill Building Project, and also a potential warrant article for a Support Staff Contract – after the district and the union couldn’t come to terms last year on a tentative agreement, meaning no proposed contract made it to the ballot.
“That’s a big ask of the community,” Black said about the Moose Hill project, saying that they wanted to “tighten our belts,” in the areas they could.
Out of the increases to this year’s budget, Black said 80% of it was from previous voter approved warrant articles, including $915,000 in increases for collective bargaining agreements and $445,000 for the infrastructure bond, for example.
If the proposed budget goes to the ballot, the local tax rate would be $10.48 compared to the default budget, which would have a tax rate of $10.51. The amount of money needed to be raised from taxes would be just over $65.9 million as part of Black’s budget compared to the default budget which would need to raise just over $66 million from local taxes.
Black also laid out the budget schedule for the coming months, noting there would be workshop meetings during the Dec. 5, 12, and 19 meetings with the School Board expecting to finalize its budget on Jan. 9, and with a public hearing on Jan. 11.
On Jan. 16, the Moose Hill Project bond hearing is expected to take place, and the Deliberative Session is scheduled for Feb. 9 with the budget vote on March 12 during the town’s elections.