BUHS budget passes, but challenges still loom

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BRATTLEBORO — About 100 voters from five towns approved the high school budget from the floor Tuesday night.

"There was recognition that we can not continue to use the [reserve] fund balance and that we will continue to look closely at all programming as we move ahead," Windham Southeast Superintendent Lyle Holiday told the Reformer.

The approximately $24.6 million budget for fiscal year 2019 features a 3 percent, or $768,197, decrease in spending over the previous year at Brattleboro Union High School. Due to funding penalties facing the district around an "excessive spending threshold" from the state, the school board made some budget cuts and used more fund balance than originally anticipated. The latest budget will take $1,285,000 from the fund while the FY18 budget took $53,000.

The Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee raised concerns about depending on such a large contribution from the fund balance in a report this month.

"Without the use of fund balance this year, either services would have been cut far more significantly or the local property tax increase for the schools as whole [Brattleboro Union High School and the Brattleboro Town School District] would have been higher," the report says.

Students from Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Putney and Vernon attend the high school. Holiday said 10 residents from Vernon showed up Tuesday for the last annual BUHS meeting they can vote in.

Starting June 30, the town will no longer be part of the union. As Act 46 talks led to a merger proposal between the five schools that make up the union and Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, Vernon left the union in order to keep school choice. School officials expect a large number of the town's students to continue to come to BUHS and pay tuition.

Each member town's school tax rate will look differently as the rates are combined with those from the elementary school districts. An increase of 2.7 percent is anticipated in Brattleboro, according to Windham Southeast Supervisory Union documents.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.



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