Voters to Decide on Proposed $7.3M Oxbow School Budget

Bradford and Newbury, Vt., voters will decide on the 2013-14 Oxbow Union High School budget and several other articles by Australian ballot from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 26. Bradford voters will cast ballots at Bradford Academy and Newbury voters will cast their votes at the Newbury Town Offices. The annual Oxbow school meeting will be held at 8 p.m. March 26 in the Oxbow auditorium.

Bradford — Proposed spending for the 2013-14 school year at Oxbow Union High School is up slightly, though a surplus from last school year will spare residents in the Oxbow towns of Bradford and Newbury from a sharp tax increase.

The proposed $7.3 million budget for next year is up about 1.7 percent over the current year’s, said Oxbow School Board Chairwoman Vicky Carson of Newbury.

Much of that increase is attributed to a rise in health insurance costs, which are expected to rise anywhere between 10 and 14 percent, Carson said.

Other areas seeing increased spending are special education, “which I think every district is facing,” Carson said, as well as an increased assessment from the Orange East Supervisory Union, of which Oxbow is a part. Fixed costs, such as utilities and heating fuel, also account for the increase.

“As far as big ticket items for the school ... most of those expenses have been held at zero or slightly above,” Carson said.

At the end of the 2011-12 year, the Oxbow School District had a surplus of $388,000. Voters will consider on March 26 whether to use $60,000 of that amount to pay back a loan of $791,000 the district took out four years ago.

“I think we’ll be paying (the loan) off early, because each year, we’ve applied some of our surplus to the principal. We’re on schedule,” Carson said. The remaining $328,000 of surplus money would be used to mitigate the tax impact of school taxes for Bradford and Newbury residents.

The warning for Oxbow’s annual meeting includes an article to apply $15,000 toward the hiring of a school resource officer at the high school.

But the article was contingent upon Bradford voters approving an article at their annual meeting to hire a school resource officer, which they rejected 107-43, rendering the article at the Oxbow meeting null and void.

The Oxbow portion of the tax rate for Newbury residents is predicted to rise to 72 cents per $100 of assessed value, an increase of 3.1 percent. For Bradford residents, the tax rate is estimated to be 73 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 5.3 percent increase.

A school district moderator, treasurer and clerk will be elected from the floor at the business portion of Oxbow’s annual meeting. Positions on the Oxbow School Board will be voted on in May, when Bradford and Newbury residents will vote on their respective school district budgets.

Katie Beth Ryan can be reached at kbryan@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.