MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury voters on April 14 will consider a proposed Mary Hogan Elementary School budget of $5,771,990, representing a 1.52-percent increase in spending compared to this year.
The budget reflects no new programs, nor additional teaching staff. It actually represents a decrease of $87 in spending per pupil (from $13,539 to $13,452). That’s in large part because the school anticipates welcoming eight additional students next year, for a potential total of 395, according to Mary Hogan Elementary School Associate Principal Tom Buzzell.
But a potential 2.2-cent increase in the statewide education property tax rate and common level of appraisal (CLA) factors are largely responsible for projections that Middlebury’s K-12 education property taxes could go up by 9.5 percent as a result of the ID-4 and UD-3 budgets.
“We continue to look closely at what we are asking from the voters,” Buzzell said. “We have a very generous community that has been so supportive of education. We realize that financially, these are very difficult times for many families and we are trying to be sensitive to that.”
Buzzell said school directors have taken pains to contain the rate of spending increases in the ID-4 school district.
“I think that over the last five years, we have moved from a point where we were spending around 134 percent of the state average per pupil, to this current budget where we are spending 110.7 percent of the state average,” Buzzell said. “I think that is noteworthy, in that we have found fiscal efficiencies in many areas of the budget and we have been able to move from spending one-third more than the state average to something more in line with the state average.
“I would like voters who are considering the budget to consider that trend, along with the 1.52 percent (spending) increase and the per-pupil decrease,” Buzzell added.
As reported last week in the Addison Independent, Middlebury residents on April 14 will also be asked to approve a major drainage, grading and resurfacing project for the asphalt-based playground areas and emergency vehicle route at Mary Hogan Elementary. The cost of the repairs is being placed at between $170,000 and $190,000.