On Tuesday, May 17, Warren residents voted on a bond that would fund a $2.55 million construction project for the school.
There were 201 residents who turned out to vote, with 161 voting yes and 40 voting no. The total number of voters in Warren is about 1,400.
Warren School principal Beth Peterson said that the school board and building and grounds committee will meet this summer or in early fall to discuss the next phase of the project.
They will put forth a bidding process for construction by January of next year and construction will begin during winter vacation. The bulk of the work will occur in summer of 2017.
Last fall, Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust (VSBIT) inspected the building for safety and security issues and gave the Warren School a list of potential issues to investigate further.
The school’s maintenance staff could not take on every project, school board chair Matthew “Chicky” Staples said, and so the board put out a request for proposals (RFP) to contracting firms. They then selected the Burlington-based company TruexCullins.
Repairs will consist mainly of architectural items such as roofs, windows and walls as well as a new heating and ventilation system. Less costly projects include electrical, lighting, plumbing and structural work.
The bond amount is the maximum amount that the Washington West Supervisory Union Act 46 Study Committee would allow to be shared with all schools. Voters throughout the supervisory union district will vote on whether or not to consolidate all school boards in the district next month. If that happens debt from each school will be socialized.
The 2016 fiscal year for Washington West Supervisory Union (WWSU) districts is coming to a close on June 30. In the final stretch, Warren Elementary School currently holds a projected deficit of $232,823.
At the Warren School Board’s May 3 meeting, WWSU director of finance and operations Michelle Baker advised the board to borrow a current expense note of $200,000 from People’s Bank, to carry them through the end of the year. The note includes a 1.5 percent interest rate.
The board voted to borrow the funds.
Warren School principal Beth Peterson said that the deficit, which is not a certain figure but estimated at this point, is based on choices that the school board made and “typical, unanticipated expenditures.”
Decisions made by the board include a $28,800 payment to TruexCullins in order to evaluate the school for repairs that will take place beginning in January 2017. Another example is the expansion of the school’s pre-K program, at $35,688. They also decided to offer early retirement packages to employees.
Unanticipated expenses, Peterson said, include changes in health care costs as employees reserve the right to alter the type of benefits they receive during open enrollment periods. This cost came at $37,362. Similarly, with new hires during the year, the board can estimate the cost of health care packages that individuals may select; individuals often choose more costly plans.
Peterson said that when the budget is planned in January, “We make our best guesses six months ahead and we had a really unusual year.” She added that the finalized deficit will be known by July 1 and that there may be remaining funds from certain line items that could be contributed toward the deficit.
The school did generate $31,650 in tuition revenue beyond their estimated budget.
The 2016 budget was set at $2,417,372 and is now projected at $2,666,184, according to a document created by Baker. This is 10.3 percent increase.
Next year’s budget is currently set at $2,543,025.
The board will receive an updated financial projection for FY2016 at their next meeting.