A School Budget to Meet the Challenges of Education Funding
The MTSD is comprised of 1,630 curious learners and 345 dedicated faculty and staff. In partnership with the community, we are committed to an education that supports the growth and success of the whole child. We aim to provide a variety of programming that ensures all students are prepared for success in college, career, and as citizens of a democratic society. It is our mission to provide safe and healthy facilities and learning environments that meet the needs of our changing world.
Our Changing World
MTSD is at a turning point — our world is changing, and the way our school operates and provides services is changing too. New State mandates and accountability systems related to school impacts all aspects of our organization, including: funding, the delivery of services, and infrastructure.
This fall, we presented the Board with a Proposal for services and staff to meet our changing needs. Education Funding and the FY21 Budget realities soon set in and it became evident that even a level service budget would result in an increase that our Board felt our community could not support.
Even A Level Service Budget is Too Much
It was certainly disappointing to learn that a level service budget would equate to a $1,730,033 or 5.6% increase in the budget overall from the current year without making any improvements or adding new staff. This increase was the result of costs associated with health care, out placed and vocational tuition, salary & other payroll charges, and fund transfers.
To bring a more passable budget to the voters, the Board asked us to reduce the Level Service increase of 5.6% to 3.7%. This meant making close to $580,000 in reductions. This was a challenging task in a system that is just meeting its needs. We made reductions in programming and staffing; each will have an impact on the system.
The Role of Education Funding
The Education Fund is a pot of money in Montpelier. It is made up of revenue transfers from Vermont’s general fund and the collection of residential and non-residential property taxes. The State uses a very complicated formula to determine the amount each town contributes to the Education Fund and the amount each school receives in turn. It is not a tax rate dollar to dollar equivalency, but is dependent upon each district’s Equalized Pupil number.
The number of equalized pupils in a district is not equal to the actual number of students attending school. In Milton, we have 1,630 students who attend school; however, our number of equalized pupils is 1,597.07. Vermont uses a weighting formula to determine the number of Equalized Pupils in each district. It is based on the principle that it costs more to educate students in certain categories (i.e. secondary students, English Language Learners or students in lower income households).
Towns like Milton, with lower equalized per pupil spending receive less money from the Education Fund than districts with a higher equalized per pupil spending, even though we pay into the fund the same amount per equalized pupil.
To learn more about Vermont Education Funding, our budget development process, the factors that contributed to such a high increase, and our budget reduction and their impact, please attend our Budget Social on Saturday, February 8 at 11:00 a.m in the MHS Library or visit the Milton Town School District website, mtsd-vt.org, budget page.