Thumbs Up for Blackstone Valley Tech Budget
-Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, Superintendent-Director
Conservative financing and creative cost containment have once again earned voter approval of the Blackstone Valley Tech budget.
Each year, passage of the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District's budget hinges on approval from two-thirds of the District's 13 member towns. The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 cleared the two-thirds hurdle by earning its ninth vote of approval in Blackstone, followed quickly by a tenth vote of approval at the May 28 annual town meeting in Bellingham.
The approved blueprint for cost savings was crafted over months of review and prioritization by educators and School Committee members dedicated to providing cost-effective, quality services for many of the youth in the Blackstone Valley. Beginning with a zero-based budget and a commitment to current levels of service, the School Committee's final budget of $20,970,532 calls for member towns to contribute an average per pupil investment of $9,491.
"But Valley Tech does not stop there," Superintendent Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick said of the per pupil investment. "By meeting strict standards established by the state and its private sector partners for vocational technical programs, Valley Tech qualifies for significant Chapter 74 state revenue to match local financing efforts. It is unfair for anyone to criticize local schools for not accessing the higher Chapter 74 eligible funding when they are not designed to meet the rigorous Chapter 74 criteria."
Additional sources of state revenue, according to Fitzpatrick, are far from Valley Tech's only method of giving District residents more bang for their buck.
"In fact, Valley Tech further complements local efforts through the diligent pursuit of grant funding, private sector support, and efficiencies such as green school initiatives," Fitzpatrick explained. "The school is particularly aggressive in attaining additional learning and teaching resources without impacting local assessment contributions."
On behalf of the Valley Tech School Committee, Fitzpatrick expressed gratitude to the vast majority of finance committees throughout the 13-town District for voicing support of the Valley Tech budget, which utilized $250,000 in available reserve funds, and the planned pursuit of grants, cost reduction, and additional revenue to achieve a modest 2.5% increase.
As in years past, the approved budget is the sole funding request that Valley Tech will make of its member communities for Fiscal Year 2015. With the exception of special debt or an occasional capital improvement initiative, Valley Tech's annual budget request includes workers’ compensation, health and other insurance, unemployment, snow removal, federal/state revenue shortfalls, central office, bookkeeping, treasurer, legal, audit, and other expenses. Special Education and Student Assessment costs are also included within the annual budget. Valley Tech staff and students are able to undertake much of the maintenance of the building along with monitoring the facility’s complex ventilation and heating system, saving thousands of dollars in outside labor costs.
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of vigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills. The school’s website is www.valleytech.k12.ma.us.