Thanks to Mayor John Hollar and School Board Chair Sue Aldrich for attending a recent community forum to discuss budget priorities for the next year. Mayor Hollar talked about making necessary investments in public infrastructure. Sue Aldrich talked about accolades that our public schools have received because of the strong support of our public school system. Many residents support making investments in infrastructure, especially in our public schools. Several people mentioned having moved families to Montpelier for the quality of its public education system.
Some residents expressed concern about the state’s education funding formula. However, that has little to do with the responsible, modest budgets offered by the school board and passed by residents on Town Meeting Day. The bulk of increases seen last year are almost entirely due to the funding formula, not the local school budget (a tiny 2.7% increase). Concerns about state education funding should not serve as an excuse to vote down the local school budget simply to “send a message” or with the expectation that it will even have a significant impact on our property taxes. Our public schools are a magnet for families and ensure that our children are well-prepared to become informed citizens and contributors to our community and we must continue to support them.
The School Board should start with a vision for quality education for all our children and work to meet that need. Starting with an assumption that budget slashing leads to a more “vibrant” and “affordable” Montpelier is misguided and erodes the foundation of our community. Montpelier is a special place to live, work, and raise a family. Public investment in our public schools is essential to maintaining Montpelier’s quality of life. I was pleased to see so many residents turn out to send that message.