BENNINGTON -- The Mount Anthony Union School Board met on Monday to approve the school system's budget as it will be warned to voters.

The budget is the same $28,527,618 budget that was voted on by MAU's finance committee last week. The budget is up from the $27,651,998 budget from last year, but the $875,620.25 in new spending is partially offset by a $764,390.61 increase in non-tax revenues, leading to an overall increase in spending of only about .5 percent over the current year's budget.

Treasurer Tim Holbrook commented that those non-tax revenues are mostly from special education resources and the fund balance from FY13. Board member Edward Letourneau asked Holbrook if that board should be cautious going forward, as those funds may not exist in the future. "We're fortunate that we've had a substantial fund balance over the years, but is that something we can count on? No," said Holbrook.

While the total budget is up 3.13 percent from last year, Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union CFO Rick Pembroke's office broke down where those expenses come from. Of the 3.13 percent, .04 comes from SVSU, 1.32 comes from Special Education, .45 comes from the Career Development Center, and 1.31 comes from MAU regular education.

School officials have said that staff between the Middle and High Schools will remain at the same levels as the 2013-2014 school year.

The board also voted to unanimously approve state-mandated school choice numbers for the 2014-2015 school year. The article will allow no more than 40 students to utilize school choice to attend MAUHS, although chairwoman Sean-Marie Oller noted that the school has never seen anywhere near that number. The high school currently has five students from outside the district attending MAUHS through the school choice program.

This decision comes on the first day of National School Choice Week, which will feature over 5,500 school choice events across the country, including 12 across Vermont. The week, which is run by the School Choice Week organization, is described as "the nation's largest-ever celebration of educational opportunity." The organization "spotlights all types of education options for families, including traditional public schools, public magnet schools, charter schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling."

"Vermont families know that when parents have the freedom to choose the best schools for their children, great things happen," said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, "Student achievement increases, graduation rates rise, and children are better prepared for real life. We hope families across the state will use National School Choice Week as an opportunity to learn more about the educational options available to their children, and to begin researching schools for the 2014-2015 school year. If families want to switch schools, January is the time to start the search process."

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