BLACKSTONE — Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District Superintendent-Director Michael Fitzpatrick appeared before the Blackstone Finance Committee Monday to review the district’s proposed $24.6 million fiscal year 2020 budget, which includes the town’s proposed budget contribution of $927,481.
The $24,641,915 spending plan, which was approved by the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District Committee on March 7, represents a 3.53 percent, or $839,892, increase over last year’s $23,802,023 budget.
The budget will be voted on this spring at town meetings in the district’s 13 member towns, including Bellingham, Blackstone, Millville, Uxbridge, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Northbridge, Sutton and Upton.
“Valley Tech’s proposed FY20 operational budget was crafted by a diligent and cost-conscious Budget Subcommittee with input provided by several district-wide town managers,” said Fitzpatrick. “Our school system recognizes that ultimately local municipal officials accept responsibility for advancing a balanced budget for their towns and often extend value added fiscal suggestions and strategies.”
According to Fitzpatrick, the overall BVT budget increase for FY20 is limited to 3.53 percent. Consistent with past practice, BVT’s new budget incorporated multiple cost saving and cost avoidance components. For example, the budget plan anticipates applying $715,000 from a blend of state-certified E&D funds coupled with previous Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) reimbursements to avoid bond debt to cover the next phase of the school’s roof repair.
The district will self-fund the re-roofing of the 54-year-old building with 53-plus percent reimbursement funds from the (MSBA) along with $360,000 realized from the sale of the Trask Land on Chestnut Street. The land was sold last summer to Alfonso Builders of Milford. This strategy will avoid debt obligation and costs by member towns.
The first three phases, which consisted of a self-funded restoration using a white knight system in 2006, and two MSBA funded full-replacements in 2011 and 2015, were completed and have contributed to both energy efficiency and improved building integrity.
This fourth and final phase completes the restoration to the remaining section of the 29 year old Carlisle roofing system and eliminates the need for maintenance and repairs. Since the old black roof surface has no reflective qualities and therefore absorbs solar heat, the occupied space below requires additional energy to be maintained at a comfortable temperature during warm weather. The installation or new insulation coupled with a highly reflective surface will reduce the amount of heat transferred into and out of the building, resulting in energy efficiency and cost saving in both warm and cold seasons.
Fitzpatrick said the completion of the critical roof repair project ensures the safety of the students at BVT, as well as the safety of the investment the district towns have made to make BVT “an exceptional academic and vocational institution.”
Fitzpatrick noted that additional efficiencies in the budget were attained via plant maintenance work completed by students and technical personnel; transitioning from independent vendor business relationships to the state contract for phone services; and competitive bidding.
“Our administration and staff continue to seek ways to improve processes and reduce energy consumption and waste in order to contain costs, manage spending, and promote a positive and healthy learning environment,” he said.
Fitzpatrick noted that total member town assessments sustained a 4.20 percent increase, which is driven by a 4.82 percent escalation in state-mandated minimum contributions. Of the 3.53 percent expenditure increase, 80 percent is attributed to wages and transportation.
“The District works diligently to cultivate external partnerships, revenue sources and operational efficiencies that maintain facilities, enhance curriculum, and support college and career readiness,” he said.
Fitzpatrick’s stop in Blackstone is part of a tour of member towns the superintendent is visiting to review the budget prior to the town meetings.
Blackstone’s contribution for fiscal year 2017 totals $927,481, which includes a minimal contribution of $700,247; an additional assessment of $63,297; and other costs. This year’s assessment is $60,182 more than last year’s assessment.
There are 89 Blackstone students enrolled in the school this year.
Millville’s total contribution is $361,267, including an additional assessment of 27,738; and other costs. There are 39 Millville students enrolled this year.
Bellingham’s contribution totals $871,171, including a $46,940 in additional assessment and other costs. The school has 66 Bellingham students enrolled this year.
Uxbridge’s total contribution is $1,783,971, including an additional assessment of $101,704 and other costs. There are 143 Uxbridge students enrolled this year.
The total assessments from the 13 member towns is $14,962,198.
Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter @jofitz7