February 26, 2007
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Voters in 17 Addison County towns on March 6 will vote on the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center’s $3,079,821 budget, a 0.16 percent increase that keeps the spending plan technically level-funded. Voters will also be asked to approve an additional $143,261, next year’s budget for the Adult Technical Education Program, which has increased by 4.1 percent.
Career Center director Lynn Coale said the major contributing factor to next year’s level-funding was the reduction in the center’s debt related to last spring’s $4.3 million North Campus addition off Mainelli Road.
According to the Career Center’s business manager Mark Bouvier, as a result of the construction the center’s budget last year included $85,000 in short term borrowing funds as well as the project’s annual principal payment of $110,000 plus interest — the Center bonded a total of $2,170,000.
The state had promised to reimburse the center for half of the project’s cost, and to date has paid about $2.1 million.
So this year, without the added borrowing costs, the center only has to pay $110,000 with interest, making up about 6.5 percent of the total budget.
The budget’s $5,000 increase can be attributed to a 3 percent hike in teachers’ salaries and costs associated with operating the North Campus building.
In addition to the March 6 meeting, the district is invited to a preliminary annual meeting on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., at which voters will be given the chance to authorize the board of directors to place $29,700 of last year’s unreserved balance into the Building and Equipment Reserve Fund.
Coale explained that if the board doesn’t get this approval, it is required to return that money to voters. He stressed, however, that in the reserve fund, that money will go a long way to fix unforeseen building problems.
“We have unanswered needs for our new building,” he said. “We’d also like to replace some of the windows at the main campus. So (the reserve fund) certainly helps out.”
At the Feb. 28 meeting, voters will also decide whether to endorse an annual stipend of $500 to each voting member of the board of directors, a practice that, according to board Chair April Jin, only began last year.
In other Career Center changes to be discussed at the annual meeting, Jin said that tuition for full-time students will go up $253 next year, due to decreased enrollment this year.
The board is planning to add new courses to its central curriculum, including one related to health care, and expand its adult classes with night and summer courses in automotive and heavy equipment and foundations of engineering and architecture.
At the end of the school year, the Career Center will say goodbye to two retiring employees, Co-op coordinator Donna Scott and longtime math teacher Dale Birdsall.
Coale urged district members to attend both meetings, but stressed that this year’s changes in budget and programming were minor.
“We are generally offering the same program at the same price,” he said.