By Gregory J. Lamoureux
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct a mistake regarding the difference in the change of the tax rate compared to last year .
The newly formed Enosburgh-Richford Unified Union School District will be presenting their budget to voters on Wednesday, June 26th. Polls open at 10 am and close at 7 pm.
A product of a forced merger by the State Board of Education, the two town’s school districts merge on July 1, 2019.
Coming in at $17.6 million, the budget is an increase of a little more than a half a million over last year’s combined budget for the two districts separately. That represents an increase of almost 3%.
The tax rate for schools, if the budget passes, will increase for Richford but decrease for Enosburg, according to a handout produced by the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union.
Taking into account each town’s common level of appraisal, the tax rate for Enosburg is expected to come in at $1.249, while Richford’s tax rate will come in at $1.1931.ERU-FY20-Budget-Packet
Richford’s tax rate increases slightly, by about 0.11% over last year’s school taxes, according to FNESU’s finance department. Enosburgh taxpayers will see a decrease in their taxes of 6.46%.
“We have worked hard to present a fiscally responsible budget that supports educational opportunities and success. We welcome community members to join us at the scheduled informational meetings to gain clarity or to resolve any concerns or questions you may have,” Chair of the board Polly Rico wrote to voters.
Driving the increase, according to Rico, is an increase in healthcare costs of about 10%, and an increase in salaries of 3%.
Out of the entire budget, only about 55% goes directly to instructional costs, according to FNESU. The remainder goes to debt services (3%), Transportation (2%), building costs (11%), FNESU (11%), School Administration (8%), school board expenses (<1%), instructional support (4%), and student support (6%).
Per equalized pupil, which accounts for high schoolers costing less than elementary schoolers, and special education students costing more, the new district is slated to spend about $13,895 for each student.
Compare that to other districts in the area and the spending is lower than most, except for Fairfax, who spends about $13,096 per equalized pupil.
Maple Run Unified School District spends about $15,777. Alburgh spends the most, cashing in a $17,664.
Voters will also be asked to decide on amending the articles of agreement between the two schools, including wording that specifies the district will operate as a pre-K to 12 district. It also includes an article which is more stringent for the closing of a school, the addition of two more board members, and the length of term for each board member.ERUUSD-Proposed-Articles-Changes
You can attend one of the informational meetings scheduled on the topic. The first one is planned for June 24th, at the Richford High School Gym, starting at 7 pm. A second informational meeting is planned for June 25th at the Enosburg Falls High School Auditorium. That also begins at 7 pm.