Building upgrades on Mont Vernon school warrant Budget committee want board to look at school merger

MONT VERNON – Voters in Mont Vernon will debate a $720,300 bond for Village School building and grounds improvements at a Deliberative Session scheduled for Feb. 6.

Among the items the bond would pay for are metal duct work and heating and ventilation upgrades intended for energy efficiency.

“We want to preserve the quality of the building and reduce the cost of running it,” said School Board Chairwoman Kim Roberge, according to the draft minutes of the Jan. 16 public hearing on the bond and the budget.

The board is looking at alternatives to the school’s oil system that costs $46,000 a year to heat the building.

The 10-year bond’s full tax impact would begin in 2016 when it would be 39 cents and would go down to 28 cents in 2025. It needs a three-fifths vote to pass, on Election Day, March 11.

The Budget Committee does not support the bond and wants more work done on reducing the building’s heat loss before replacing the heating system.

Also on the school warrant is a $4.3 million operating budget for 2015, which is $340,000 less than the current budget.

The Village School District has been operating under a default budget since 2010. Since the default budget is higher than the proposed operating budget this year, rejecting the proposed budget would mean higher taxes. The default budget would lower the rate by only 50 cents, while the proposed budget would lower it by $1.34.

Major areas where the district anticipates savings include special education, Amherst Middle School tuition and health insurance premiums.

The Budget Committee is also concerned about declining enrollments and is recommending the district spend $20,000 to study whether the Village School should merge with another district.

“This is a fragmented district,” said Budget Committee Chairman Brian Bunner.

School Board member Trevor Girard said his board agreed, but it is a matter of timing.

“We need to consider whether the town will support this,” or could be persuaded to support it, he said.

The Deliberative Session, where voters can discuss and possibly amend the warrant articles, is set for Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., in the Village School. Elections are on Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., in the Village School.

Mont Vernon residents will also vote on the Souhegan Cooperative School warrant. That Deliberative Session is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1, at 9 a.m., in the high school.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.