Clarendon school budget up 2.1 percent
By SANDI SWITZER
Correspondent | February 28,2013
CLARENDON — This year’s town meeting ballot will have two questions for voters on the school spending plan.
Clarendon Elementary School’s proposed $3,176,272 budget has triggered a two-vote provision under state statutes.
According to school officials, the two votes are necessary because the school district’s spending per pupil last year was more than the statewide average and this year’s budget proposal is more than last year’s when adjusted for inflation.
Principal Fred Valastro attributed the increased per-pupil spending to a “large loss in revenue,” including decreased tuition fees and a loss of $36,000 in federal education jobs bill funds.
Voters will be asked to approve $3,131,851 for fiscal year 2013-14 as well as $44,421. The two ballot items total $3,176,272 — the amount school directors determined was needed to operate the school next year.
The proposed budget is up just 2.1 percent over last year, according to Valastro.
“Clarendon Elementary School has done a very good job restraining the expenses which we are able to control,” he said.
Over the past several years, school officials have reduced the number of paraprofessionals from 20 to 10 and eliminated three full-time faculty positions.
“We’re keeping our expenses as low as possible. Any more cuts would affect programs,” he added.
The principal said the proposed $3,176,272 budget was less than the school’s 2011 spending plan of $3,257,905.
Stan Pawlaczyk, business manager for the Rutland South Supervisory Union, said the $3,176,272 amount included a $15,000 building fund request.
“Last year, the building fund was a separate article,” he said. “The actual budget to run the school is $3,161,272 and then when you add the $15,000 building fund, it brings it up to $3,176,272.”
Subtract the building fund, he said, and the proposed budget is up $65,778 or 2.1 percent.
Expenditures are up slightly due to salary increases, along with a 14 percent hike in health insurance rates, according to Pawlaczyk.
Elisabeth Kulas Klopchin, a taxpayer, parent and unopposed candidate for the School Board, urged voters to approve both articles.
“I have attended the School Board meetings as the proposed Clarendon Elementary budget was drafted. I believe this budget is fair to the taxpayers and will provide our children with the best education possible for the next school year,” she said. “The impact on any individual homeowner will be minimal and will result in a huge positive impact on our students.”
Pawlaczyk said the state statute requiring a split vote on school budgets would not be an issue in the future.
“This is the last year of the two-vote requirement,” he said.