Vassalboro school board approves first reading of school budget

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

Budget totals over $8.3 million

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Board members approved the first reading of their 2021-22 budget April 6, half an hour before they were scheduled to discuss it with the town budget committee.

The budget totals over $8.3 million. The increase in expenditures is over $330,000, or more than four percent.

However, changes in non-tax revenues mean the increase to Vassalboro taxpayers will be about $81,000. School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur calculated $81,000 represents about one-fourth of a mil, or about 25 cents more in taxes for each $1,000 of property valuation.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer and Finance Director Paula Pooler emphasized how easily the budget can change. For example, after the March 30, school board meeting, they subtracted two students from the tuition account, because they will attend Maine charter schools. Charter school tuition goes directly to the school, Pfeiffer explained.

He then added that as of April 6, two new high school students had moved to Vassalboro; their tuition will add about $23,000 to the expenditure side of the budget.

The proposed budget asks voters to transfer $80,000 from surplus to help cover expenditures. The request for the current year was $70,000.

Part of the April 6 discussion focused on whether those withdrawals would leave a healthy-enough surplus. Pooler said she does not yet know whether this year’s expenses will require using any part of the $70,000; she is cautiously optimistic that it will not be spent.

She believes the surplus account will be adequate with the proposed $80,000 transferred out.

After the school board meeting adjourned, budget committee members joined virtually for a joint budget review.

Discussion of possible funding to repave and expand the parking lot led veteran planning board member Douglas Phillips to recommend talking with the Department of Environmental Protection about possible limits on additional impervious surfaces.

Budget committee members met in person two nights later, Thursday, April 8, to decide what more they needed to know about the 2021-22 school budget before they met again with the school board on Tuesday, April 13.

Their main immediate issues were what the school board could legally use federal Covid relief funds for and whether the already-low increase in local taxes could be eliminated.

Longer-range, budget committee members seconded Chairman Rick Denico’s hope that in the future, they could get school budget information earlier. Denico suggested a discussion with school board members over the summer.

On Tuesday, April 13, school board members were scheduled to hold their regular monthly meeting, followed by a joint meeting with the budget committee.


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