DOVER -- Since September, the School Board has been at work drafting a budget to present to voters at Town Meeting.
"Their goal was to create a taxpayer friendly, educationally sound budget," said Principal Bill Anton. "Specifically for this year, they wanted to be sure to absorb the increase that would be coming down from the state for the Dover taxpayers. And I think they accomplished that without sacrificing any of the momentum or quality that the Dover School delivers."
On Jan. 14, the budget was finalized: $2,701,503, which is a decrease of about $134,000 from last year.
"(The decrease comes from) really smart, responsible budgeting by the School Board and some decrease in secondary students," said Anton.
One of the first articles will ask voters if they'd like to authorize the implementation of the International Baccalaureate Program, which school officials have been looking into since 2012.
According to a press release, "the aim of all IB programs is to develop internationally-minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. IB offers high quality programs of international education to a worldwide community of schools. There are more than 900,000 IB students in over 140 countries."
Voters will also decide whether to set the annual tuition rate for approved independent schools at $15,400, which is the rate at Burr and Burton. But tuition can be applied to any approved school and the student would receive that much funding.
"Another article will be asking the town for some money to work with a consultant to enhance, enlarge and better use the school building as a school and community resource," Anton said.
The idea had been presented by School Board Chairman Rich Werner months ago. Members of the Building Committee had made lists of potential improvements and renovations that the school might benefit from.
Some ideas mentioned in a meeting in October included reviewing the heating system and getting an opinion on the condition of the roof. Getting estimates for covering exposed areas of the beams on the exterior, reviewing the flooring, expanding the parking lot and addressing the drainage and expansion of the field were also discussed.
The fact that the school year is 185 days long and the building is only occupied by students and employees from 8:20 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. was brought up by Werner while proposing the possibility of using the building for other community-based programs and uses. He had also mentioned looking into hosting solar panels on the property.
By hiring a consultant, the board would be better equipped to make decisions on any of the improvements. A proposal to address some of those projects could perhaps be made to voters next year.
Anton said the School Board was pleased to see enrollment go up in the past three years. It has gone from 83 students to 100, including children in the new 3-year-old program.
"If you take the 3-year-olds out, you're still going 91 to 100, which is rare in the current environment of declining enrollment in Vermont," said Anton.
The program for 3-year-olds began last year. Those children attend school for three days a week. Then when they turn 4, they come for five days a week. Carrie Dix was credited for implementing the program with a seamless transition.
"This is the first year that we had kids in our kindergarten program that had the opportunity to be in both the 3- and 4-year-old program," continued Anton. "The ability for the kids to hit the ground running in kindergarten has been phenomenal."
First grade teacher Crystal Griswold was selected to be one of 51 educators on the National Panel Review Board for the Common Core Assessment. In March, she will go to Charlotte, N.C., to review assessment questions.
"She was selected out of thousands of possible teachers. We're particularly happy she will be able to bring the knowledge of that assessment to the school and help analyze what we're doing instruction wise and see if there's anything we need to change," said Anton.
Dover will be one of 27 schools that will be piloting the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing in March. It is part of the new Common Core Assessment.
Students from the school had proven themselves in the last two years of New England Comprehensive Assessment Program testing. Anton had told the Reformer his students were consistently putting up numbers that were significantly higher than the state average.