Tuesday January 22, 2013

WESTMINSTER -- The proposed seven-figure budget for the Bellows Falls Union High School system is up 1.3 percent from the one approved last year.

Matt Guild, chairman of the BFUHS Board of Directors’ budget committee, said passage of Article 6 of the BFUHS warrant would raise and appropriate $7,120,375 -- with an additional $325,278 to send certain students to River Valley Technical Center in Springfield. He said River Valley approves its budget separately.

Guild said all eligible voters will receive documentation about the budget figures.

The BFUHS Board of Directors approved the proposed budget (set to go to voters of Rockingham, Westminster, Athens and Grafton via Australian ballot on March 5) at a board meeting on Monday, Jan. 14. Guild said that vote will be held at the BFUHS auditorium. The other articles on the warrant will be decided by voice vote in the individual towns at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Guild said the local education funding, which is the amount of money generated by taxes and not from the federal or state level, is at $5,840,339 -- down about $27,000 from the current year’s budget.

David Clark, the chairman of the board, put the figures into context by saying the budget has increased about 3 percent cumulatively over the past eight years.

"I think (the budget committee) has done a phenomenal job of managing the budget," he told the Reformer. "I think it’s a pretty good budget."

Guild said the board was able to obey orders to have level local education funding by reducing the number of positions available, including one English teacher. Guild said no programs were eliminated.

"It’s a budget that balances the needs of the students with the needs of the taxpayers," he said, adding that every student has his or her own unique needs that are equally important.

Guild said the committee was able to maintain robust academic programs -- as well as vocational education and extra-curricular activities -- while still be respectful of taxpayer money.

He said he has no reason to believe voters will reject the proposed budget, saying it has not happened in the four or five years he has been on the board. He said he can think of only a few times the proposed budget was rejected in his entire life.

If the budget is struck down by voters, the board of directors goes back to the drawing board to craft a new one to propose.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311. You can follow him at dpoli_reformer.