Voters will be watching
Democracy was in action on Town Meeting Day here in Montpelier. The citizens had the opportunity to vote, and vote we did. In a society where free speech is still respected and encouraged, the lead-up to Town Meeting Day provided the opportunity for citizens to voice their opinions about candidates and issues throughout the city. We encountered each other outside farmers markets, canvassing neighborhoods, wrote op-ed pieces and letters to the editor for publication in local newspapers. This is what we do in a democratic society — we talk about issues and candidates. We ask questions and expect answers. We voice opinions and expect that someone is listening.
On Town Meeting Day the residents of Montpelier used the ballot box to send a very clear message to the school board: Reduce the school budget to something we, the taxpayers, can afford. It is time for them to sharpen their pencils and line-by-line critically evaluate the budget to create a rank-order list from which to draw in making cuts that are the most rational and least painful to the community. If the school board does not have the expertise to create an affordable budget, they need to put together a panel that goes beyond the experts in the superintendent’s office to help them fix the problem.
Voters do not expect the school board to solve within the next few weeks problems it has taken years to create. We do expect the school board to present us with a budget for the next fiscal year with a minimum reduction of $200,000. If they expect this budget to pass, the school board must at the same time present voters with a plan that lays the groundwork for attaining long-term fiscally responsible quality education in Montpelier. Voters know this can be accomplished, and we will be watching and ready to vote down any budget that maintains the current status quo.
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