By Sheri Duff
Last Monday night, the CVU School Board discussed unwelcomed news: another year of student enrollment decline coupled with a rise in the state’s homestead tax rate could spell a 10-percent tax rate increase for district voters if preliminary budget projections stand up. After the news was delivered, Interim Principal Jeff Evans and Chittenden South Supervisory Union Operations Officer Bob Mason were tasked with bringing the budget under scrutiny and making recommendations for the Board to discuss at its January meeting.
To make matters worse, the areas of concern – enrollment and the homestead tax rate – are not within the Board’s purview. According to Board Chair David Rath, if the projections stand, even a no-net increase in spending would require a hike in the tax rate.
The sobering news caused the School Board to consider reversing its earlier position: to bring a revised bond for turf fields back to voters in March. A 1.5-million bond issue for two turf fields was defeated by voters in November. “We cannot go for a bond issue in a year we go for a tax increase,” said CVU Board member Jeanne Jensen.
“I completely understand the Board’s position,” Amy DuBrul, co-chair of the turf fundraising committee, said in response to a tax increase. “As long as the Board recognizes that reseeding the athletic fields [at an estimated cost of $1.5 million] as opposed to artificial turf is a waste of money.”
The Board’s finance committee will meet with DuBrul and other fundraising committee officers while Evans and Mason revise the proposed budget for its January meeting. Until then, the decision on the turf field bond is on hold.