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Bridgewater School Budget Down

Town Spending Set To Rise 3 Percent

Bridgewater’s Town and School District Meeting will take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 4, in the basement of Bridgewater Village School.

Bridgewater — One year after a narrow majority of voters consented to pay 9 percent more to run the Bridgewater Village School, school officials will ask residents at the Town and School District Meeting for almost 6 percent less in property taxes to educate students in kindergarten through grade 6.

School Principal Theodore Brown said that with fewer special-education students needing “out-of-building” services, the district is requesting $938,660 from property taxpayers for the coming academic year. At the school-district meeting in 2013, it took a paper-ballot vote of 35-27 to pass the current year’s contribution of $995,033. Special-education tuition is expected to cost Bridgewater $5,000 this coming school year, down from $50,000 in 2013-2014 and from $64,674 in 2012-2013.

Brown estimated that his staff will teach a total of 38 students at the elementary food in 2014-2015, up from 36 this year.

“There’s unknowns, as always,” he said. “We’re basing our projection on younger siblings of kids we already have. That number is subject to change.”

Among those children in the school this year are the two daughters of Chantal Deojay, who will seek re-election to a three-year term on the School Board on the floor of the School District Meeting.

“I think the girls get a good education there, despite the smallness of the school,” Deojay, farm manager at the Farm and Wilderness camp in nearby Plymouth, Vt., said of her decision to run again. “I also like the staff and the feel of the school.”

With the town seeking $730,538 in property taxes for municipal operations — up nearly 3.1 percent from $708,673 in the current fiscal year — town and school officials are projecting that the combined property-tax rate will rise from nearly $2.20 to just shy of $2.29 per $100 of assessed valuation, Bridgewater Treasurer Victoria Young said. That would result in an overall tax bill of about $5,725 for the owners of a home valued at $250,000, or $225 more than the current year, depending on whether the owners qualify for Vermont’s income-sensitivity program.

Young said that most of the increase in the town request will result from the Highway Department ending the current year with a much smaller surplus — less than $200, compared with last year’s $30,000-plus. “Also,” Young added, “insurance seems to be going up and up” from $26,800 to $29,500.

In addition to money for regular expenses, the town will ask voters to approve $19,600 in separate articles on the warning, $250 more than in 2013. The requests include $4,900 for services from the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, $5,250 as the town’s contribution to The Thompson Senior Center in Woodstock, $5,000 to the Woodstock Recreation Center to waive non-resident fees for Bridgewater residents, and $900 to the Pentangle Arts Council.

David Corriveau can be reached at dacorriveau@gmail.com and at 603-727-3304.