Sunderland school budget goes up 6.55 percent

  • Sunderland Elementary School. THE RECORDER

For the Bulletin
Saturday, April 01, 2017

SUNDERLAND — The local elementary school’s five-member committee unanimously voted to approve a $3,207,521 budget for next year.

Of this, residents would have to pay $2,531,758 — a 6.55 percent increase, or $155,568 more than the current year.

“As we all know, creating school budgets has become increasingly challenging due to decreasing federal and state funding,” Union 38 Superintendent Lynn Carey said in a preface to the budget. “In addition, we experienced a 10.4 percent increase in health insurance costs this year.”

Salary-related costs rose by $98,787, driven by negotiated salary agreements, and operational costs increased $83,539, in large part because the town is footing $58,716 (up 2.47 percent) of the district’s central office costs.

Union 38 business director Patti Cavanaugh explained that the reason for that increase is “because Sunderland is the only town that’s growing. The other three are decreasing, unfortunately.”

Offsetting increases, Cavanaugh found an error in a previous draft budget, freeing up $30,095. Operational decreases amount to $26,758, in part because of the district’s recent central office move from Christian Lane in Whately to Frontier Regional School.

The school projects a population of 260, three more than this year.

“We are growing — the school is growing — we are cutting a hole in the wall to make room for preschoolers,” Carey said, about the school’s expanded, full-day preschool, new this year.

Carey also noted that Sunderland “is below the state average in costs per student. But our scores are pretty good. We’re bridging the gap because we have so many people supporting our students.” Compared to other schools in the district, Sunderland pays the least amount per student — $13,600.