The Vernon School budget failed to pass in voting on Town Meeting day, and was defeated again by a single vote in a re-vote on April 13. The School Board has now re-worked the budget and scheduled a new vote on May 31.

Join the School Board for an informational session on Tuesday, May 30th at 6 pm at the Vernon Elementary School Cafetorium.  The School Board will outline the details on the budget reduction (an additional $24,500) that is to be voted on Wednesday, May 31st. Voting takes place at the Town Offices from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

IMPORTANT NOTE #1: State law mandates a ballot question referring to “equalized students”. On this basis, it would appear that the per-equalized-student budget has gone up. This is not the case — please ignore that statement on the ballot. The 2017/18 proposed budget is now almost 7% less than the current budget, or a total reduction of over $300,000.

IMPORTANT NOTE #2: YOUR VOTE COUNTS. The budget would have passed in the last vote if two more people had come out to vote for it.

According to the school board, the most recent reductions were taken in response to community sentiment that changes were needed.  By trimming various line items, including plant maintenance, grounds supplies, and anticipated savings in instructional salaries, the Board could offer a lower bottom line to taxpayers.

Come hear the details on May 30th and remember to vote on May 31st.  Of course, early voting is encouraged, so if you have questions, feel free to call or email your School Board directors:

Mike Hebert, Chair — mikehebert413@gmail.com802-451-9088
Walter Breau, Clerk — wcbreau@gmail.com802-254-2817
Kerry Amidon — amidon.kerry@comcast.net802-254-9745
Sandy Morrison — sweetbriarsm@gmail.com802-257-7386
Deborah Hebert —  – 802-451-9087


Third time the charm?: Failure to pass school budget could mean ‘serious problems’

Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 5:51 pm
By Chris Mays

VERNON — The school budget is coming up for a third, and local officials hope, final vote.

“If it doesn’t pass again, we’re going to have some serious problems,” said School Board Chairman Mike Hebert, also state representative for Windham-1.

At annual Town Meeting in March, the school budget was defeated in a 272-222 vote. A month later, the approximately $4 million budget — trimmed by $10,000 by way of increasing projected revenue — was defeated again. That time, by one vote: 128-127.

The next vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 30. An informational meeting is being held the night before at 6 p.m. at the Vernon Elementary School.

The latest proposal involves an additional cut of $24,500, which Hebert said comes from a couple teachers leaving and electricity costs associated with a solar project proposed for Windham Solid Waste Management District’s closed and capped landfill in Brattleboro.

Details on the solar project were said to provide a better projection for when the savings would be realized. There is no definite date for when the solar site’s expected to go live but the expectation is for October or November, according to WSWMD Executive Director Bob Spencer. Issuance of a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board is anticipated by early July.

Hebert said the board has been conservative on savings around electricity but decided another chunk of funding could be removed from the budget.

“We’re anticipating our monthly fees for electricity will go down significantly,” he said. “The savings could be more. If we do have more savings, then we will return funds to taxpayers next year from the reserve fund.”

The two teachers had been with the school a long time and collected a higher paycheck than entry-level teachers who might replace them, Hebert said, and a guidance counselor also on the top of the pay scale is retiring. But there’s always the possibility that the district may not find entry-level teachers to fill the vacant positions. So budgeting reflected that.

“You have to be cautious when you do that,” said Hebert.

A line item for oil was also shaved further.

“We burned less oil last year,” Hebert said. “We’ve been more efficient on that.”

Altogether, the proposed budget is about 6.9 percent lower than the one approved last year.

Hebert has blamed rejection of the previous budgets on mandated language for voting on school budgets. Ballots must include the annual increase or decrease as it relates to “spending per equalized pupil,” which in Vernon showed a 14 percent increase although the budget had been reduced by over 6 percent in all proposed versions over last year. “Equalized pupils” are weighted differently than actual students. Socioeconomic backgrounds and age/grade are a couple factors going into the formula.

Hebert said he has spoken to school board members in other parts of the state and there is some agreement on the issue.

“The way the wording is is misleading,” he said. “I think people after the last vote — we only missed by one vote — have a clearer understanding.”

Another flyer, with information on the upcoming meeting and vote, has been sent out to residents.

“We’re pretty optimistic the budget will pass this time,” Hebert said, adding that board members had already explained the “equalized pupil” pupil quite a bit. “To reduce that artificial number would be $400,000 out of our budget. That would devastate our school.”

Hebert added, “What we need to do is make sure people come out and understand the budget, come out and support it. Next year, we’ll have to take another look at what we’re doing.”

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.