I would like to thank Montpelier School Board members Charlie Phillips and Lowell VanDerlip for listening to the needs of Montpelier by creating an alternative to the proposed school budget. Unfortunately, on January 22, there were other agendas at play and it didn’t get the attention it deserved.
The superintendent would have us believe the way to cut $200,000 from the 2015 budget would be to cut teachers. Phillips’ proposal would have cut $200,000 without affecting the jobs of teachers.
$200,000 is not much when looking at a 17 million dollar budget for 934 children, but it would help. Taxes on a $200,000 home would go up $374.00. In a city with a large elderly population living on a fixed income, $374.00 can do a lot to help to keep people from the decision to buy food or medication.
Most people’s savings are tied up in their homes. It would be different if those who cannot afford a 22% increase in two years could sell and move. It takes an average of seven months to sell a home in Montpelier and as taxes go up the ability to get a mortgage to buy a house here diminishes.
Montpelier is in the middle of the state per pupil spending average only when school districts with huge busing needs are included. District schools such as U-32 and Harwood bus all of their students, while in Montpelier only a few students are bused. We should compare ourselves to Northfield and Spaulding’s per pupil spending which is $1,134 and $3,130 less than Montpelier’s.
Mr. Phillips presented his plan to give a $200,000 respite in the 2015 school budget. The board chose to stay with their proposed 13% budget and then voted an increase for a debate advisor stipend. Their rationale — if the taxpayers want to change the budget, they need to first vote down the 13% proposal.
The time has come to vote no on the Montpelier School budget so that Mr. Phillips’ budget can have a chance.