Act 46 School Merger Vote Approaching on May 2
As we prepare to vote on the merger of our school district with the Williamstown School District on May 2nd. Many questions have been asked of committee members about the impact of a merger. A number of folks have asked, if a merger is approved, what are the financial implications?
There are financial implications and potential savings if a merger is approved.
The savings are potential because the newly elected school board will have to decide, with input from the community, how these savings will be utilized. They will have three choices. They can use the savings to reduce taxes, use the savings to improve and expand programs or they can use the savings to achieve both tax savings and program improvements. It should also be noted that the savings below are an estimate based on the most recent data.
The potential areas of savings are:
1. Unification of Central (Superintendent’s) Office Services : $232,500/year ongoing. The total over the first 5 years of operation of the new unified district are estimated to be $1,162,500
2. Better Coordination of High School Programming: A sectioning analysis of high school courses offered by both districts revealed not only the capacity to combine sections in certain courses to optimize class sizes, but duplication of certain course offerings that if offered across both high schools would also result in an optimization of student/teacher ratios. In addition, programs offered in one high school but not in the other could, through scheduling and program coordination result in increased educational opportunities for all students. If a creative approach to coordinating existing programs at the high school level were able to eliminate 100% of the current programmatic duplication and fully optimize existing teaching resources, the resultant ongoing savings would be approximately $300,000 per year.
3. Additional Savings due to Maximizing Operational Efficiencies: Identifying specific savings due to large scale purchasing, contract negotiation, and better asset coordination is difficult to predict. That said, the potential savings is estimated to be approximately $142,000 in year one and approximately $710,000 over the first 5 years of operation.
4. Impact of Tax Incentives: If voters approve the merger prior to July 1, 2017, the State of Vermont will reduce our school tax rate over the next four years in the following way: Year 1- .08, Year 2- .06, Year 3- .04, Year 4- .02. (Note: The value of future incentives are projections based on current state polices and represents the best estimate of the revenue impact of current state incentives.) The projected impact of tax incentives on the overall tax rates of both Northfield and Williamstown represents a total savings of approximately $1,206,180.
Total Potential Cost Savings/Revenue Incentives Due to Merger with Incentives over 5 years: $4,578,680
5. Finally, we will receive an Act 46 implementation grant of $150,000.