Dover explores supervisory union swap


DOVER -- Principal Bill Anton got some numbers on what it could look like financially if Dover School were to join a different supervisory union.

"Last time we talked about this, we talked about just going and trying to get evidence to provide you guys some more food for thought," Anton told the School Board on Tuesday. "All these numbers are just for conversation."

In working up the numbers, he met with Windham Southwest Supervisory Union Business Manager Karen Atwood.

Dover is currently a part of Windham Central Supervisory Union.

Anton pointed out that WSWSU was on its fourth superintendent in five years and the superintendent controls disbursement of Title 1 money or Consolidated Federal Grants. That funding had been a major part of what sparked the initial request from the School Board for Anton to look into swapping supervisory unions. And the board's good relationship with WCSU superintendent Steven John was noted at a previous meeting.

John was at the Tuesday meeting and supported the board's exploring the question, saying it would be good to share its observations with other boards.

Allocations that Anton brought up involved special education, Medicaid and supervisory union office budgets.

In WCSU, he said special education is allocated on an as needed basis.

"We pay for what we use at the beginning of the year," Anton added.

WSWSU uses an insurance pool model based on a percentage involving teachers and enrollment for its special education allocation.

Anton's spreadsheet showed Medicaid funding for WCSU gives Dover approximately $3,900 a year while WSWSU funds an alternative program with that money. Its schools don't see any of that money.

Looking at the spreadsheet, School Board Chairman Rich Werner did some quick math.

"I just took the pluses and subtracted out the minuses and came up with $53,400 savings using WSWSU versus WCSU. And figuring $14,000 a penny on the tax rate, that would save 3 cents on the tax rate," Werner said, adding that extra money could afford another teacher.

He also mentioned that at any point, WCSU could change the way it handles its allocations.

"It's always a moving target," Werner said. "Our next step, I think, is let's think about it."

Anton still had questions such as: Exactly how are related services billed? What will be the going forward Title 1 allocation philosophy? Can Dover get billed in special education on a per service basis?

For related services, Anton wondered whether Dover would have to get rid of its technology specialist or band teacher if it changed supervisory unions.

Werner suggested that if any board members come up with any additional questions over the next couple weeks, they can add it to Anton's list. The subject will be revisited at the board meeting at the end of September.

When board member Laura Sibilia asked about timing, Werner said he did not think the board could get anything together quick enough to do anything this year.

John said it took awhile for Winhall to swap supervisory unions. He also said he thought this would be the right season in terms of trying to make a decision.

"Our side has to decide by early December. Before that," he added, referring to his supervisory union's budget drafting schedule.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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