Hanover and Norwich Voters Pass Next Year’s Dresden School District Budget

Voting booths in the HHS gym.

Voting booths in the HHS gym.

Voters in Hanover and Norwich passed the Dresden School District’s proposed $26.5 million budget for the 2018-2019 school year last Tuesday. The budget passed 1,078 to 345. Additionally, all the races for school district offices that were up for election were uncontested, leaving Jonathan Edwards as District Moderator, Deborah McLane Carter as District Clerk, and Cheryl A. Lindberg as District Treasurer.

The budget, which is a 1.9% increase off the current budget (and falls within the district guideline of keeping budget increases below 2% per year), allocates a little over $14 million to Hanover High School while $7.4 million with go to the Richmond Middle School. The remaining $5 million goes to district-wide appropriations.

Residents in the bi-state school district can expect an increase in taxes soon. The school board estimates that the new budget will cause a 2.75% tax increase for Hanover residents and a 4.98% increase for those in Norwich (not including the extra taxes for each town’s elementary school). To add some extra context, Hanover (being the bigger town) will be footing 68.134% of the budget while Norwich will contribute the remaining 31.866%.

By itself, Hanover High’s budget will increase by 2.3% compared to this year in order to accomodate for a small projected increase in enrollment from 725 students during the 2017-2018 year to 741 for 2018-2019. According to school board member Carey Callaghan, who spoke at the Dresden School District meeting on March 1st, the school will also receive funding to subsidize the boys’ junior varsity ice hockey team. Additionally, the budget puts money aside for the creation of a new “innovation lab” in the former automotive space on the school’s bottom floor.

As for the Richmond Middle School, the upcoming 2.36% increase in the budget is meant to provide for more positions at the school, including a new Spanish teaching position and a special education position. Enrollment is expected to stay fairly steady; the board projects a student body of 374 students next year, compared to the current figure of 373.

The Hanover Finance Committee, which was represented by Kari Asmus at the district meeting, gave the Dresden budget its blessing. However, Asmus did implore more Norwich residents to become part of the committee, since Norwich has little representation on the finance committee due to few residents joining.

Voter turnout on the Dresden budget varied between towns. According to Hanover School District Clerk Rob Grabill, Hanover fielded about 406 voters. Norwich, which also had its town meeting that same day, had 1,017 voters.

The budget of the Dresden School District, which manages the Richmond Middle and Hanover High Schools, was not the only one to be voted by Hanover-Norwich area voters on Tuesday. The Hanover School District, which manages the Bernice A. Ray Elementary School, had its $14.2 million budget proposal approved 349 to 60. Meanwhile, voters in Norwich passed the $5.68 million budget proposed by the Norwich School District (which manages the Marion Cross Elementary School).

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