Click photo to enlarge
Southwest Vermont Regional Technical School District Board Chairman James Boutin and Clerk Kevin Goodhue pore over the proposed CDC budget. (Derek Carson)

The Southwest Vermont Regional Technical School District, which operates the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center, approved a $3,672,233 budget for the 2014-2015 school year on Monday.

Business Manager Stephanie Mulligan, in her first year in the position, presented the budget to the board. According to Mulligan, the finance committee had started the process in November, when teachers submitted their detailed requests for budgets. The initial budget, as requested by the teachers, was up 11 percent over the previous year's budget.

"So the next step of what we did is, the superintendent [James Culkeen] and the administration met with each individual teacher, and we went line by line through their budgets and cut about $94,000," said Mulligan. They were then able to cut an additional $242,000 to reach the current budget total, which is an increase of four percent over last year's budget.

Insurance marketplace

A large reason for the increase, said Mulligan, is that the cost per plan for health insurance has gone up four percent, and the total increase in dollars is over 10 percent. Mulligan said a large part of that was uncertainty in the new insurance marketplace, and which staff would take family plans versus single plans, etc. The actual number spent on insurance could very well be lower, said Mulligan. "I budgeted higher for specific health plans because I'm not sure what people will take next year, and I wanted to make sure I was conservative in my budget and didn't go with what they already had," said Mulligan.

Two other large expenditures in this year's budget are a front-loader for the Forestry program and the replacement of at least one computer lab of the three that are scheduled to be replaced.

The CDC budget had remained at the same level for several years before rising three percent for the current school year. Culkeen estimated that about 70 percent of the budget goes towards personnel salaries and benefits.

The CDC's expenditures in regard to their lease of part of the Mount Anthony Union High School building are broken down in a document provided by the Mount Anthony Union finance committee. CDC does not pay a fixed lease rate every month, but instead shares expenses. All shared expenses are paid based on one of several use formulas agreed upon by the two school districts. For example, CDC pays 14 percent of nursing fees, down from 15 percent last year, with MAUHS paying the other 86 percent. This is based on a calculation of student in-class minutes. 989 MAU students are in class for 320 minutes each day, while CDC, whose enrollment in this case is calculated from a six-year average, has 182.95 students in class for 240 minutes each day. This creates a ratio of 316,480 minutes for MAU to 43,908 minutes for CDC, which is where the 14 percent is derived from.

For other expenses, such as electricity, the formula is derived from square foot usage. CDC utilizes 66,494 square feet, compared to MAU's 197,522, meaning that CDC pays 25 percent of those expenses, while MAU pays the other 75 percent. This square footage includes all outbuildings. James Boutin, chairman of the board, did say that the board was looking into the possibility of paying a fixed rate instead of a percentage in the future, but he acknowledged that the rate would have to be adjusted every year, and that for now it was easier to stay with a percentage.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB