Vassalboro school board fails to finalize budget proposal

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

Meeting March 30, Vassalboro School Board members were still unable to come up with a final 2021-22 budget proposal. They intended to try again Tuesday evening, April 6.

Part of the hold-up was external, including lack of information on what Vassalboro can expect from new federal pandemic money and what restrictions will be put on spending it. Pfeiffer is clear that the federal money cannot be used to replace existing budget items; it is to be used for future oriented projects, he and Finance Director Paula Pooler agreed.

Vassalboro and other schools used some of the last round of federal money to buy new buses that otherwise would have been in future budgets. One question Pfeiffer and Pooler raised is whether federal money could repave the school parking lot, a project that is no longer in the board’s draft budget.

Another unknown as of March 30 was the 2021-22 increase in insurance costs. Pooler said she hoped to have a firm figure by April 5.

Yet another external issue that comes up every year is how much Vassalboro will owe for high-school tuition for the full fiscal year. Every year the state sets the next year’s tuition rate in December. Every year Vassalboro administrators try to determine how many students will be in high school and which of the schools allowed by Vassalboro’s school choice policy each student will choose; and to guestimate how much tuition rates will increase in December.

The major internal factor still in doubt was the special education budget, which Special Education Director Tanya Thibeau was adjusting as she accounted for expected needs.

In addition to the budget discussion, board members agreed on a schedule for April that includes going back to five-day-a-week in-school classes beginning April 8 and continuing after spring vacation week (April 19 through 23) “unless things go crazy,” Pfeiffer said.

Because of the vacation week, the April regular Vassalboro board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 13, instead of the usual third Tuesday of the month.


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