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Oxbow High School Slims Budget Proposal

Bradford — After narrowly rejecting the proposed 2013-2014 Oxbow Union High School budget last month, voters will consider a new slimmer version of the spending plan.

On Thursday, the school board cut about $94,000 from the original proposal, creating a budget totaling just under $7.2 million.

The decrease resulted from lower than expected health insurance premiums and the board’s decision not to fill a teaching position at the high school, said Don Johnson, Orange East Supervisory Union superintendent.

The original budget included a projected 14 percent increase in health care premiums. But when the actual numbers came in a few weeks ago, they represented only a 10 percent increase, Johnson said. As a result, health care premiums will cost the school about $26,000 less than expected.

The revised budget also cuts $68,400 for salary and benefits, money that otherwise would have hired a teacher to fill an anticipated vacancy.

Two full-time science teachers have resigned, effective at the end of the school year. One is a full time high school chemistry teacher, and the other is a full-time physics teacher who teaches high school students and eighth graders, said Larry Walsh, Oxbow High School’s principal.

“At this point we are challenged with (deciding) how to provide the best education for our kids in those areas,” he said.

It’s not yet clear which position would go unfilled.

“The board didn’t really determine which one, partly to see how the candidates are and what the needs are,” Johnson said.

Ballot voting on the revised budget will be held on May 2 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Bradford Academy auditorium. An informational meeting about the new proposed budget is set for April 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Oxbow High School auditorium.

The original proposal, which failed by just five votes, represented a 1.7 percent increase over the current year’s budget. The increase was driven by health insurance and special education costs. Had it passed, it would have raised the Oxbow portion of the school tax rate for Newbury residents by 3.1 percent, to 72 cents per $100 of assessed value. Bradford residents would have seen their tax rate rise by 5.3 percent, to 73 cents per $100 of assessed value. The projected tax rate under the proposed budget was not available last week.

Aimee Caruso can be reached at acaruso@vnews.com or 603-727-3210.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Bradford, vt. — The $7.3 million Oxbow Union High School Budget was voted down by just five votes yesterday in all-day balloting, leaving school administrators and board members unclear about the path forward. After the results of the 170-165 vote were read aloud at last night’s school meeting, School Board Chairwoman Vicky Carson declined to reveal any specific plans for …