Education spending for the 2011-2012 school year will be lower than the current year across Chittenden Central Supervisory Union (CCSU). CCSU school boards voted to honor the targets from the “Challenges for Change,” or Act 146, legislation. This new law seeks decreases in school spending statewide to make up $23 million of the state’s $120 million deficit for school spending, effective next school year.
The Vermont Department of Education (DOE) released their budget-cutting recommendations, or “targets,” to each school district in Vermont in August 2010. CCSU received a voluntary target of $727,931, which was calculated at the school district level as follows: Essex Junction School District – $240,439; Union #46 School District – $365,729; Westford School District – $59,591; and Central Office – $62,172. Essentially, these targets represent the amount that should be cut throughout the supervisory union and its member school districts for the 2011-2012 school year.
After several public forums, the school districts within CCSU identified enough reduction opportunities to be able to report to the DOE that they will be able to meet their targets. In addition to the district school boards, the CCSU Board reported the Central Office budget would meet its target as well.
School boards attempted to avoid reductions that would impact students and instruction. Instead, opting to find efficiencies to reduce staffing, using technology to save money, and reducing contract costs by re-bidding or taking on the work internally (e.g. special education transportation and hosting financial software on CCSU-owned servers).
“We are still early in our budget development, so we don’t have final numbers yet, but we’ve done enough work to know that the targets are achievable in each entity,” CCSU Executive Director of Operations/Chief Financial Officer Grant Geisler said. “The decision to meet the targets would have been more difficult had there been a significant impact to students. However, we were able to find some efficiencies and were also fortunate in that none of our districts had deficits to cover.”
“The boards’ decisions to achieve the targets were more about trying to be sensitive to taxpayers during a difficult economic time,” CCSU Superintendent Michael Deweese said. “The boards are doing the same work they normally do – attempting to maximize resources while providing high educational quality. The new law prompted this work to start earlier this year. Detailed budget development work follows for each CCSU school district over the next couple of months.”