Forum, March 3: In Support of Hanover, Dresden School Budgets

Friday, March 02, 2018
Support Hanover, Dresden Budgets

Last March, only 434 Hanover voters turned out in all-day polling to vote on the Dresden and Hanover school district warrants with combined budget appropriations of $39.9 million. This year, the amount will be $40.7 million. For the Hanover taxpayer, the combined increases will result in a 36 cent increase in the tax rate, from $13.11 per $1,000 in assessed property value to $13.47 (up 2.75 percent). A home valued at $450,000 would see a tax increase of $162 — an amount that does not include anticipated increases in town- or county-related assessments.

Starting at the beginning of this budget cycle, members of the Hanover Finance Committee attended meetings, reviewed comparative data, and sifted through expenditure and revenue projections. At the end of the process, we voted unanimously to support both the Dresden and Hanover district budgets. In our opinion, the school boards had been attentive both to the needs of our students and to the concerns of the taxpayer.

For more information, voters can refer to the school district mailer, pick up a copy of the annual report at the library, or visit the SAU 70 website.

On behalf of the Finance Committee, I urge all voters to cast ballots on Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Hanover High gymnasium. This is, after all, a matter for the entire community to decide.

Kari Asmus

Chair, Hanover Finance Committee

Reject the ‘Alternative Structure’

I hope Windsor voters will reject the proposed “alternative structure” school merger on Tuesday. We all agree on the importance of education, but we must consider the broad impact of rising taxes on Windsor residents and businesses, and seek a balance between the school and municipal budget.

Is there really a good reason for the fiscal irresponsibility and inequality of the grandfather clause that allows approximately 50 West Windsor students to bypass Windsor schools at a cost of $20,000 each, projected to be more than $1 million in 2019 and as much as $4 million by the end of six years, which is close to the total current municipal budget? Why bypass Windsor schools? They are fully accredited, and Windsor High has a proven, 150-year track record.

Doesn’t this clause fail to meet the goals of Act 46 to make the state’s schools more efficient and deliver education at a cost that parents, voters and taxpayers value and can afford? The proposal cuts our School Board from five to three members and they would have no control over tuition expenses or educational standards outside the district.

The Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union strategic plan states that, in the case of an “alternative structure” with a voluntary merger between Windsor and West Windsor, the tax pressure continues to fall on Windsor “without the mitigating intervention of tax incentives.” (There are none.) Further, the plan states, “non-incentivized mergers do not come with a cap on increases or decreases in the homestead tax rate — a factor that benefits West Windsor whose taxpayers will receive the full benefit,” at the expense of Windsor.

Vermont’s plan to eliminate income sensitivity is not good news for many Windsor homeowners who could face tough choices. West Windsor has a median household income of $75,000 and the town has struggled with the unsustainable tuition expense, so how can Windsor sustain it with a median household income of $47,000? Do taxpayers want to sacrifice future infrastructure improvements or cut fire, ambulance, teachers or staff to pay for this unnecessary expense? It defies common sense.

Catherine Hoyt


Historical Society on Hartford Ballot

Funding for the Hartford Historical Society will be on the ballot on Tuesday.

The purpose of the society is to preserve and add to the history of our community. We have four programs each year. Our president-museum director has provided programs at various schools in the area. Children’s programs also have been provided at the Garipay House. Our museum is open to the public.

The funds would be used to the general maintenance of the Garipay House, inside and outside, including utilities such as heating oil, electricity, water and sewer, office equipment, telephone and maintenance of equipment. It would also pay for a janitor and cleaning supplies, outside equipment such as a lawn mower and snow blower, and last but not least, insurance on the building, accountant services and our security system.

Roy S. Black

White River Junction

Vote Yes on Articles 6, 7 in Norwich

I am writing to encourage the voters of Norwich to vote yes on the school budget, and on Article 7, which adds $100,000 to the school budget. Article 7 is not about a fifth-grade teacher but about maintaining responsible staffing levels and class sizes set forth by the Norwich School Board. Voting yes on Article 7 would mean an overall reduction of one classroom teacher. Voting no on Article 7 would mean an overall reduction of two classroom teachers.

The enrollment projection for the 2018-19 school year is an overall decrease of seven students. The school budget, without the addition of $100,000, is for a reduction of two classroom teachers. A seven-student decrease does not merit this level of reduction in staffing. The additional reduction of a second classroom teacher was the last decision made in the budget process. This decision was made purely in response to the Vermont tax department’s prediction, not for any educational reason. The Marion Cross School administration and staff are not in favor of this cut. The principal has stated that it is in the best interest of the students to maintain this classroom teacher.

Maintaining this classroom teacher allows for Marion Cross School to respond responsibly to the needs of its students. In the 2018-19 projections, there are several grades that are large and, in other districts, would become three classrooms, not two. As Norwich residents know, enrollments fluctuate. For example, last year, five new students moved into the fifth grade. Maintaining the appropriate staffing levels means the school can adapt to these fluctuations without seeking emergency funding.

We want families to move to our town and be part of our community. We want our school to continue to be the heart of our town. Please vote yes on articles 6 and 7 on Tuesday.

Jessica Eakin


Kim Souza Has His Vote

I write in support of Kim Souza for Hartford Selectboard. She has my vote. I urge you to give her yours. Souza is the epitome of a community supporter, not only investing in and maintaining a Hartford business, but also giving back consistently over the years through events and fundraisers. She knows how to organize, communicate and follow through and is already an excellent representative. Vote for Kim Souza.

Matt Bucy