Common Level of Appraisal scrutinized

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(Host) School budgets are expected to face close scrutiny this year as voters head to town meetings. In many instances, modest budget increases are triggering dramatic jumps in school property taxes. That’s happening because property appraisals in some towns are below the state’s common level of appraisal.

Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard, Laura Soares of the Vermont School Boards Association School said the budget casualties may be higher than in past years.

(Soares) “I think it’s going to be a more difficult year but I don’t think we’ll see a huge number of budgets go down. I have, and the school board members I’ve talked to. They have done more this year than any year to control their costs, to keep their budgets low.”

(Host) Jeff Francis of the Vermont Superintendents Association says too much of the state’s education fund is being spent on other programs. Francis says that’s helping drive up school property tax rates.

Responding to calls that school funding reform include measures to control education costs, Francis said it’s easier said than done.

(Francis) “I think that those ideas are worthy of review, I also know that the distance between the Statehouse and local communities on topics like this seems further than the mileage chart would indicate. It’s one thing to have this discussion in Montpelier. It’s another thing altogether to go and have them at the local level.”

(Host) Francis says many education costs are beyond the control of local school boards.

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