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White River Valley budget up after deficit

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/14/2020 9:52:17 PM
Modified: 2/14/2020 10:10:21 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — Bethel and Royalton voters will be asked to approve spending $12.1 million to support their unified school district in the 2020-21 school year, the third year of the merged district.

The White River Valley Unified School District — which is endeavoring to recover from an estimated $450,000 deficit related an underfunded health account for employees — expects to spend $18,400 per pupil, which is 2.13% more than the current year.

“For the current budget, we did quite a bit of trimming and ultimately we ended up cutting things that we felt like we could cut and still maintain the programming that we want and that we promised to the communities as we merged,” said School Board Chairwoman Lisa Floyd, of Bethel.

In addition to addressing the deficit in the Health Reimbursement Arrangement, which began with a spending freeze that started in November, the district also is expecting to spend more to cover health insurance costs, salaries and substitute pay, Floyd said.

To get to a flat budget, the board would have had to have cut programs it felt were important, Floyd said.

But the board did make some reductions.

The district is eliminating one elementary teacher at both of the White River Valley School’s two campuses.

As a result, board members expect class sizes will be at about 17, Floyd said.

Other staff reductions included half a custodial position in Bethel and a reduction in the hours of a work-based learning position in Royalton.

The board also trimmed smaller budget items such as field trips, saying that students can fundraise more if need be, she said.

The school budget, if approved, would bring school taxes in Bethel to $1.58 per $100 of valuation, up about 3 cents from last year for an additional $75 on a $250,000 home.

That translates to $1.66 per $100 of value on a home in Royalton, up about 6 cents from last year for an additional $150 on a $250,000 home.

The budget question will be decided at the school district’s annual meeting on March 2 at 6 p.m. at the school district’s Bethel campus.

On March 3, voters will elect three School Board members by Australian ballot.

Incumbent Lisa McCrory is running unopposed for a three-year seat from Bethel.

Robert Gray Jr. and Jessica Ryan are competing for one year remaining on a three-year seat in Royalton.

No one filed to run for a three-year seat in Royalton that is currently held by Andrew Jones. Jones is running as a write-in candidate, he said in an email.

Polls in the two towns will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 3.

The polling place in Bethel is the Bethel Elementary School lobby at 273 Pleasant St. and, in Royalton, the polling place is the Royalton campus of the White River Valley School at 223 S. Windsor St.

Budget information sessions will be held next week.

The Bethel session will be held in the school cafeteria at 6 p.m Monday.

As a fundraiser for a student trip to Yellowstone National Park, baked goods and drinks will be for sale and child care will be available for children ages 4 to fifth grade.

For more information, contact Holly Williams at hwilliams@wrvsu.org.

The Royalton session will take place in the school cafeteria on Tuesday at 7 p.m., after the board’s regular meeting. Child care will be provided by the high school’s National Honor Society starting at 6 p.m.

For more information, contact Sam Griffin at sgriffin@wrvvsu.org.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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