Sharon OKs Elementary School Budget as Tuition Costs Increase

Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, March 05, 2018

Sharon— Sharon voters approved a $4.4 million school budget for the town’s elementary school on Monday night as residents were briefed by school board members about the school district’s proposal to keep the governance of Sharon Elementary School independent under the state’s Act 46 consolidation plan.

Voters also approved tapping about $101,000 from the surplus fund account to spend on school building repairs for improving insulation, exterior painting and parking lot painting.

The brisk, 42-minute Annual School Meeting – held on the eve of Town Meeting and attended by about 50 adults plus one infant in the gym of Sharon Elementary School – adopted a budget that called for spending to increase about $257,000, or 6.2 percent, the vast majority of it driven by higher costs for tuitioning Sharon students to area middle and high schools.

“Of that increase, $220,000 is in secondary tuition costs,” said Barrett Williams, principal Sharon Elementary School, adding that only about $37,000 is attributable to an increase in the school budget.

Williams showed a pie chart on the overhead projector that detailed 44 percent of the Sharon School District’s budget goes toward tuitioning costs for 7-12 students. That rises to 52 percent when costs for special education are included.

Per-pupil spending, the figure that more closely influences the tax rate, will increase by 3.3 percent to $16,033 per equalized pupil. Williams said that will increase the tax rate to about $1.50 per $100 of assessed property value, about 3.5 cents higher than last year and adding $36 to the annual tax for a home valued at $100,000 or about $70 for a home valued at $200,000.

Williams, who is in his 10th year as principal at Sharon Elementary School, said the school has budgeted funds to hire a part-time language teacher next because feedback from students indicated the lack of foreign language study put them at a disadvantage when entering middle school.

“Students (have told us) they felt behind going into middle school, so we’ve added that into our budget this year to allow for an introduction,” he said.

When an audience member asked what language the school would be offering, Williams said they would be advertising for the position and that depended on the applications they received.

“It could be French, Spanish, or Mandarin,” he said.

The audience was told that the Sharon School District’s proposal to remain independently governed has been filed with the state and is now being reviewed by officials, with an answer expected sometime later this year.

School Board member Steve Gagliardone said that the board weighed combining with districts of Tunbridge, South Strafford and Stockbridge but ultimately decided none were a practical fit. The most likely scenario, he said, was a merger with Stockbridge but, among other things, the towns are 33 miles apart and don’t  even border each other.

Also at the meeting, School Board member Karen Henderson, whose three-year term was expiring, was re-elected to a new three-year term.

John Lippman can be reached at jlippman@vnews.com.