Dear Members of Our Five Town Community,
Thank you to everyone who joined us on Monday for the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) Informational Meeting. If you were unable to attend and/or would like more information, please visit our district website www.anwsd.org to view the:
Annual Report & FY22 Budget Book: https://tinyurl.com/4slejags
Annual Meeting Warning: https://tinyurl.com/5bb2gl74
ANWSD Budget Presentation from the 2021 Informational Meeting: https://tinyurl.com/257oek2u
RETN Recording of the Informational Meeting: https://tinyurl.com/2gl26udk
FY20 Audit Report Management Letter: https://tinyurl.com/3yahemdu
FY20 Budget Development Information: https://tinyurl.com/e6xxzh6t
As with all annual meetings, we started by acknowledging the many accomplishments made by the people of the School District on behalf of our students. There is much to be proud of this past year. We sincerely thank the administrators, faculty, and staff, who have worked so hard to keep our children and community members safe and for making education happen for our students. We thank our community for pulling together through all of the trials and tribulations. And we thank our students for their perseverance and resilience. Over the last year, this District has embodied its vision by being “a kind, collaborative, creative community for all.”
On March 2nd, we will present to you 10 Articles for consideration. The first six articles would normally be voted on the floor during the in-person annual meeting, but because of Covid-related restrictions, we must vote on them by Australian ballot.
Article 7 is the FY22 ANWSD District budget. This budget maintains all current ANWSD student programming and continues our commitment to high-quality staffing by funding professional development and competitive salaries. We invest in technology which has become a priority during this pandemic. The budget also allows for the expansion of a childcare and Pre-K pilot program, which will include full-day childcare at FCS in conjunction with the Pre-K program already on-site. The ANWSD total expenditure budget decreases by -1.09% and education spending as compared to FY21 decreases by -4%. We are also anticipating a decrease in per pupil spending between -2.96% and -3.54% depending upon final bill approvals by the Vermont Legislature and Governor. The union tax rate is estimated to decrease by -$0.1079 from last year’s union tax rate.
This budget is the result of hard work by our administration and staff responding to the continued decline in enrollment. Some key savings that resulted in a decreased District Budget include: more equalized pupils than expected because the State froze ADM counts due to COVID-19; no CPI increases for any non-contracted expenses to reflect the current economic climate; health insurance costs increased by approximately 10%, which is less than the three-year average we expected would continue; other anticipated costs were less than projected, including workers compensation insurance and dental insurance; and finally, we reduced one additional bus which further decreased our transportation costs.
In short, we propose a budget that decreases the financial cost to our community while continuing to maintain all of our programs. The FY22 Budget makes strategic investments in key areas such as technology, professional development, and early childhood education.
Article 8 asks the voters to establish an Education Stabilization Reserve Fund for the purpose of funding possible future budget shortfalls and to authorize the Board of School Directors to assign a portion of surplus funds at the close of the fiscal year, up to an amount not to exceed 4% of current year annual expenditure budget. If approved by voters, the appropriate amount (never more than 4% of total operating budget) of Unassigned Fund balance from the General Fund can be allocated to the Education Stabilization Reserve Fund. This fund will help reduce the effects of annual variations in District revenues upon the budget by reserving certain year-end surpluses for the purpose of offsetting deficits. Our auditors have repeatedly requested that our District create such a fund and they helped write the policy (F45 Fund Balance Policy - https://tinyurl.com/59jupptj) that provides the oversight necessary for the responsible and transparent distribution of this reserve fund. Article 8 has been considered carefully for at least two years and will put the District in a more fiscally responsible position going forward.
Article 9 authorizes the assignment of $475,000 from the fiscal year 2020 fund balance to the ANWSD Capital Improvements Fund. Our buildings face some upcoming repair and maintenance issues, including repairs to portions of the VUHS roof. By adding to the existing Capital Improvement Fund, we are in a much better position to provide the resources required to keep our facilities in excellent condition.
Article 10 authorizes the District to incur indebtedness not to exceed $380,000 for the purposes of mold mitigation in the Early Childhood wing of the Ferrisburgh Central School (FCS). The District plans to continue using the FCS facility for educational purposes for the foreseeable future. Currently, the building is safe to occupy, but only by running the HVAC system in a way that is both inefficient and costly. Although the District has a Capital Improvements Fund, we are asking the voters to approve financing for a portion of this project both because of very low current interest rates (approximately 1.75% on a 5-year loan) and the fact that carrying some debt helps the District stay under the state tax threshold penalty.
We hope that you will support each of our warned articles by voting on March 2. Voting will take place at the following times and locations:
Addison Town Clerk's Office from 7am-7pm
Ferrisburgh Town Office from 7am-7pm
Panton Town Hall from 10am-7pm
Vergennes Fire Station from 9am-7pm
Waltham Town Hall from 10am-7pm
If you have any questions, please contact ANWSD directly as we cannot respond to postings due to open meeting laws. Thank you for your continued support and engagement.
John Stroup (Vergennes), *Chair
Thomas Borchert (Waltham) *Vice Chair
Kristina MacKulin (Ferrisburgh) *Board Clerk
Laurie Childers (Addison)
Bill Clark (Ferrisburgh)
Martha DeGraaf (Vergennes)
Kirsten De La Cruz (Panton)
George Gardner (Ferrisburgh)
Chris Kayhart (Ferrisburgh)
Amy Kittredge (Addison)
Mark Koenig (Vergennes)
Keith Morrill (Vergennes)