Ann Bradshaw

MTSD financial matters

Student growth in achievement and personal development is the core mission of public schools. Ensuring students have high-quality instruction and opportunities to learn about the arts, build leadership skills and explore interests are the reasons schools exist.

District operations support the core mission. Clean buildings in good repair, well-groomed athletic fields and play areas allow us to provide safe and healthy environments. The technology department ensures students and staff have access to devices and robust Internet connections to extend learning beyond the classroom. The food service department provides nutritious meals that students will actually eat and enjoy. 

Underlying all of these functions is school finance. Accurate financial projections and day-to-day revenue management are critically important. Vermont law requires school districts, towns and cities account for the monies entrusted to them and that these records be audited.

The Town of Milton charter states, “The selectboard shall, with the advice, consultation and consent of the school board, provide for an independent audit by a certified public account who shall perform an annual audit.” Both the town and the school district contract with Sullivan Powers and Company to conduct annual audits and to generate financial statements. The audit is conducted to assess internal controls and to verify compliance with laws, regulations and grant agreements. Internal controls allow employees to prevent and detect fraud and misuse of funds in the course of their routine work and to correct noncompliance with generally accepted accounting principles in a timely manner. The recently completed audit of the school district’s financial activity for the 2016-2017 school year showed no weaknesses, deficiencies or instances of noncompliance. The review of federal programs also showed no weaknesses, deficiencies or compliance issues. Compliance means that financial matters are conducted in accordance with federal laws and regulations.

The school board’s finance committee recently met with Fred Duplessis, CPA, of Sullivan Rogers and Company to review the FY17 audit. He told the committee that the result was a “clean opinion on all financial matters investigated in the audit.” With a general fund budget of more than $28 million dollars, a clean audit is a very good thing and something to be proud of!

Because Milton has had “clean” audits for multiple years, showing the district is good at managing federal funds, the district is designated a “low risk auditee,” an advantage if competitive grants become available. Low-risk means the district is doing things right and has demonstrated that it capably manages grant funds.

Education spending per equalized pupil

Education spending per equalized pupil is revenue from the state education fund and property taxes. The state calculates equalized pupils for each district using weights for different groups of students, such as preschoolers and students with disabilities. Milton’s education spending has historically been lower than the state average. Using FY17 as an example, Milton spent $568 less than the state average per equalized pupil. If district spending were at the state average, an additional $917,320 would have been spent in Milton schools last year. Milton’s education spending per equalized pupil in FY17 ranked seventh of 10 K-12 districts. 

The school board and administration are preparing the budget for the 2018-19 school year. The goal is to be transparent and responsive to community questions and concerns. Please visit the Milton Town School District Facebook page or our website for a form to submit questions or comments. We will periodically post responses.

Community discussion on race

The district will host a two-part community discussion on race to talk about areas of concern and actions we can take to move forward in a positive direction. The dates are Wednesday, Nov. 29 and Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Milton Elementary and Middle School Library. The discussions will be moderated by Susan Terry.

Information from the sessions will be used by the district’s equity committee and could serve as a starting point for ongoing work groups. We hope to have broad representation, including parents, middle and high school students, elected officials, community members and school district employees.

If you are interested, please RSVP to Jen Saunders by November 20, as we have a limited number of seats. If we have more interest than we can accommodate, we will be sure to include representation from each group.