Career Center budget down, tuition level

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BENNINGTON — The board of the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center has approved a budget that will be down about 1 percent from the current year, thanks to cost savings in salaries and other areas.Because enrollment has decreased, tuition for sending towns will rise by the slightest of margins, 0.07 percent or $13, to $18,603. The board approved the fiscal 2019 budget unanimously.

The total budget will be $3,424,190, down about $30,000 from FY18, when it was $3,457,114, representing a decrease of about 0.95 percent.

"This is largely due to salary savings and salary vacancies," said business manager Stephanie Mulligan. "We had a couple equipment items that we removed from the budget, which doesn't mean that the programs will not be receiving them, we are just going to come up with them through an alternative method."

Superintendent Michael Lawler said that nothing that was cut had been deemed inappropriate or excessive. "We just found other ways that we believe we can fund them or make them happen without having them in next year's budget," he said. "For example, a skid steer, that was a request for $42,000, if the board chose could certainly come out of the equipment reserve account. We may have additional savings this year, with salary savings."

The six-semester average full-time equivalent student population at the center is projected to be slightly down from this year, by about six students, a decrease of almost 4 percent. That number is used to calculate tuition, which is why that number is up slightly while the budget is down.

Chairman Rickey Harrington praised the finance committee for putting together a level budget. "I think its important that those responsible take their lumps if the taxpayers don't like it and those responsible take credit when they do like it," he said.

"I think that our ability to maintain this facility, offer the programs that we offer, that are well-equipped and modern, for a budget of $3.4 million is pretty incredible," said Lawler. "In that we can bring you a budget that is reduced, and tuition kept basically the same, without having any real educational impact on any of our programs. While we can't promise that that will occur every year... in fact I don't think it will continue to occur, over the last few years, we've brought it down, down, down, and we're really at about as tight a budget as you can ask for with the enrollment numbers that we have. It's been a lot of hard work on everyone's part."

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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