On February 1, 2023

WCSD voters consider planning for new high school, heating system, school roof 

By Curt Peterson

The Windsor Central Unified Union School District board approved its district-wide warning for the March 7 Town Meeting Australian Ballot on Jan. 26. The vote was unanimous.

Votes in each of the seven participating towns — Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Woodstock, Plymouth, Pomfret and Reading — will count equally, and a simple majority will approve or reject each of the articles.

According to retiring board member Jim Haff of Killington, the original articles of agreement signed when forming the consolidated district, require that all individual budget items must be subject to voter approval by Australian Ballot.

The remaining articles involve election of local town school board officials.

There will be a public in-person and/or virtual informational meeting March 2 at 6:30 p.m. to introduce and discuss the warning at the Woodstock Union Middle and High School library, or via a Zoom link provided on the district meeting calendar.

Article 2 asks voters to approve a proposed budget of $25,836,048 for district operating expenses, an average of about $23,135 per “equalized pupil,” an official figure to be determined by the Agency of Education. The board estimated 1,100 equalized pupils to arrive at their per-pupil cost figure.

Recent district budgets have been $18,318,858 (FY23 — an anomaly utilizing unexpected surplus funds), $20,216,923 (FY22), and $19,995,250 (FY21).

Articles 7, 8, and 9 are separate because they are bonded expenses over five years.

“We’re separating the warrant articles from each other because each is a separate project and borrowing decision, with different limitations/considerations,” according to board finance chair Ben Ford. “For instance, at one point we considered bundling them, but were advised by counsel that design activities needed to be separate from school construction.”

Article 7 asks approval to finance $1,650,000 for “the design, bidding, permitting, and document development for the proposed new middle/high school,” to be repaid over five years.

Article 8 seeks financing approval to convert oil/steam to propane heat at the middle/high school at an estimated cost of $1,000,000, also to be repaid over five years.

Article 9 involves financing roof replacement and energy conservation measures to cost up to $1,750,000 at Killington Elementary School, again to be repaid over five years.

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