COLCHESTER – After a decade on the job, Colchester school superintendent Larry Waters says he’s batting about .500 in passing budgets with the town’s famously skeptical voters.This could be a lucky year.Town Meeting Day voters will consider a school budget increase of about 4 percent — but thanks to an unusual rise in student population and an $800,000 surplus from a previous year, Colchester expects property tax rates to shrink.”In order to control taxes, we have to control spending,” Waters said. “I’d like to say we do control spending here.”Colchester is one of many school districts that used one-time funds this year to support their budgets and comply with a new state law that would have penalized them for spending too much per student.Waters says Colchester would have easily met the state spending limit without the $800,000 one-time rollover. But for other school districts, scrimping and penny-pinching weren’t enough.Desperate to avoid state penalties, many school districts turned to one-time funds and reserves to keep per-pupil spending artificially low. One-time funds act as revenue, offsetting the amount of money that needs to be raised in taxes.In the Northeast Kingdom, the Coventry school district skimmed $30,000 from a $50,000 tuition reserve fund to avoid a penalty, said Glenn Hankinson, director of business for North Country Supervisory Union.East Haven, Lyndon… Read full this story
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