Valley Tech FY20 Annual Budget Unanimously Approved,
UPTON – The Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional District School Committee received unanimous approval of their fiscal year 2020 budget from all 13 member towns. In March, the committee approved the District’s proposed $24.7 million budget, up 3.5 percent from last year’s $23.9 million fiscal 2019 budget. BVT’s 13 town budget approval process included some forty Districtwide presentations over the past eight months.
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. The school system recognized that ultimately local municipal officials accept responsibility for advancing a balanced budget for their towns and often extend value-added fiscal suggestions and strategies. The District's FY20 budget designers acknowledge the eventual likelihood of a revised state formula for educational funding but remain cautious regarding the true impact of next year's state aid. Relief in the form of additional state aid for education may be on the horizon but is unlikely to have a significant impact on this budget cycle. Thus, the overall BVT budget increase for FY20 is limited to 3.53%.
Consistent with past practice, BVT's new budget incorporated multiple cost saving and cost avoidance components. Budget viewers are encouraged to note the considerable capital improvements made possible via aggressive competitive grant acquisitions, (particularly under the Governor’s Economic Improvement Bond). Additional examples of non-tax assets include donations of major furniture upgrades secured through their elaborate business advisory committee network. Ever mindful of the financial constraints facing the member communities, this budget plan applies $715,000 from a blend of state-certified E&D funds coupled with previous MSBA reimbursements to avoid bond debt to cover the next phase of the roofing repair project. Remarkably the District’s cost containment and self-funding approach enabled the system to address its capital improvement initiatives via grants, fundraising endeavors, and its Reserve Fund. Thus, avoiding the impact of dependency on local budget taxpayer contributions.
Encouraged by collaboration with town administrators, the District embarked upon a major wellness campaign which resulted in a zero increase in employee health premiums by their principal provider, Harvard Pilgrim. Successful collective bargaining by the BVT School Committee further adjusted employee health insurance contributions and expanded an HSA option to advance health benefit savings. Prompted by earlier discussions with several district finance committees, the District ramped up its other post-employment benefits (OPEB) contributions by a reclassification of 2013 delayed pension billing by the Commonwealth. This independent audit reviewed action enabled the District to deposit more than $183,000 of its reserves to OPEB obligations.
Additional efficiencies were attained via plant maintenance work completed by BVT students and technical personnel, a transition from independent vendor business relationships to the State contract for phone services, and competitive bidding.
“Valley Tech 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,” said Dr. Michael F. Fitzpatrick, Superintendent-Director. These efforts, coupled with high levels of student achievement, continue to garner accolades and awards, including the recent spotlight on BVT by the national school superintendents’ association, as one of the country’s 25 “Most Innovative School Districts.
BVT invites the entire Valley Tech District to share in this national limelight, as the staff and students continue to illustrate the incredible return on investment made possible by their 13 member municipalities. BVT continues to foster an environment that protects and promotes the social and emotional wellness of their students.
“You have something very special going on there, WOW!” exclaimed Peter D. Caruso, Millville Town Administrator after a recent tour of the BVT campus. “The real world education that is being achieved and the shared culture and vibrancy are evident throughout the school. As someone who has dealt with taking a blank sheet of paper and a plug of metal to the design, prototyping, testing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of electromechanical widgets, I appreciate the value of what BVT students are learning, and what they will have to offer the community when they graduate.”
BVT hopes and trusts local policymakers will continue to express support the cross-curricular nature of vocational education.
About Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School (BVT):
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School (www.valleytech.k12.ma.us) 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 rigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills.