As members of the Champlain Valley School District school board began making their annual round of budget presentations to selectboards, they were anticipating a return to normal school life next fall.
School board chair Lynne Jaunich said she was 99.99 percent sure federal funds will cover budget losses related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed budget has been developed with return to regular in-school learning in mind.
“The big assumption is the schools will be back to normal come September,” Jaunich said.
The school system received about $2 million from the first Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, popularly referred to as the CARES Act, last spring.
It is unknown how much will be granted in the second round of CARES Act funding, which was passed at the end of December.
The federal government earmarked $127 million to Vermont schools, and school district representatives are hoping to get about $3 million, according to chief operations officer Jeanne Jensen said.
If the school system does get that much, and school is back to normal in the fall, COVID won’t have much of an impact on its budget.
The federal funds should cover the money the district lost from unbudgeted pandemic expenses, she said.
The proposed budget includes a total of about $85,285 in spending for fiscal year 2021-22.
This would be an increase from the almost $82,399,000 budgeted for total spending last year — a 3.5 percent increase, Jensen said.
But, she said, the board is planning to use money held in reserve and from revenues to hold the increase in taxes to one percent.
School systems cannot give 100 percent certainty of their tax rates, as the state mandates equitable sharing of funds among counties of differing economic levels, Jensen said — rates could increase anywhere from 2 cents to 11 cents.
This will mean that the tax rate in Shelburne will increase from $1.58 to $1.69, which would be an increase of $95.44 per $100,000 of property value, she said.
In a phone call, Jaunich said she was having “a glass half-full kind of day.” She thought, if quarantine was still in effect, contrary to assumptions made in the budgeting process, the state and federal governments would appropriate more funds to help schools.