The Montpelier school administration and the school board’s choice to cut next year’s $17 million budget by $82,000 (less than half a percent) and to use $63,000 of its reserve funds to maintain existing programs and staffing “kicks the can down the road” and actually increases the problem for the next budget. The board chose to forgo hiring a half-time custodian at Main Street Middle School despite the administration’s report that rain and snow melt has been actively dripping inside the building for months. In addition, now mold has been found in the high school building. While money has already been borrowed to fix the middle school roof, other significant structural and environmental school building repairs may be coming, and the reserve may not recover the $63,000 which is being used to pay for current operations. The $63,000 was added to $100,000 of reserve funds that was already in the budget.
I think the administration and the school board are mistakenly focusing on the small margin of defeat rather than the significance of this rare school budget defeat. While a half percent adjustment is a move in the right direction, it is more than offset and digs the hole deeper for next year by using the one-time reserve funds for normal operating expenses.
The board may not be responsible for the reduction of the state’s education funding decisions, but the board is responsible for increasing the education portion of property taxes for the citizens of Montpelier.
I recommend voting down the Montpelier school budget again, until the administration and the board present a budget that will grow education taxes somewhere closer to the cost-of-living adjustment rate.
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