Middle school tuition causes budget deficit

MONT VERNON – The Mont Vernon School District is facing a potential $100,000 deficit in its 2008-09 budget, driven mainly by increased tuition costs to send seventh- and eighth-graders to Amherst Middle School.

The district has an operating budget of $4.55 million; the potential deficit represents a 2.2 percent increase over projected spending.

The announcement was made Thursday by Superintendent Mary Jennings.

When the Mont Vernon Village School Board meets on Thursday, Dec. 11, school administrators plan to recommended budget cuts. If the cuts cannot be made, voters at the annual School District Meeting in March will be asked to approve a deficit appropriation, according to Jennings.

Several factors account for the shortfall, Jennings said.

The major cost item is the final amount of tuition due to the Amherst School District for the education of Mont Vernon seventh and eighth graders. Not only did three more Mont Vernon students attend Amherst Middle School than projected, but the total amount of tuition increased after the final AMS per-pupil cost was determined. These factors account for an $88,000 increase in tuition costs.

Other factors include more special education services required through individual educational plans added to the budget at the beginning of the school year, as well as program costs for English Language Learners.

Mont Vernon is part of SAU 39 with Amherst. Each community has its own K-8 school district, although the Mont Vernon Village School only accommodates grades K-6, with seventh and eighth graders tuitioned to Amherst Middle School. The towns own Souhegan High School in Amherst together.