Rivendell school budget revote set for Saturday

By CHRISTINA DOLAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-29-2024 3:23 PM

ORFORD — On Saturday, June 1, voters in the Rivendell Interstate School District will consider a second, reduced budget of $15.3 million after the decisive defeat of previous budget proposal in April.

Following last month’s defeat, the School Board made about $426,000 in cuts, mostly by eliminating vacant positions and reducing some administrators to part-time status. It also made reductions to spending on special education, health, library and custodial services.  

Two additional warrant articles will ask voters to apply to the budget $100,000 from the unassigned fund balance to offset tax rates, and appropriate $50,000 to a contingency reserve fund for repairs and maintenance. 

Rivendell serves about 400 students from Fairlee, Vershire, West Fairlee and Orford. Its students attend Westshire Elementary School in West Fairlee, Samuel Morey Elementary School in Fairlee and Orford’s Rivendell Academy, which serves grades 6-12.

At the district’s April 13 annual meeting, cheers and applause followed the announcement that the budget had failed 240-143 in paper ballot voting. Some voters noted that Rivendell’s per-pupil spending is among the highest in Vermont at $28,000. Others said they thought staffing rates were higher than necessary, particularly given the district's waning enrollment, which is down about 14% from 2014.

There are approximately 2,600 voters in the district, roughly 400 of whom took part in the April vote. 

School districts that do not pass a budget by the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1 will be allowed to borrow up to 87% of their previous year’s operating budget.

In-person floor voting on the budget will take place on Saturday, June 1 at 10 a.m. at the Rivendell Academy gymnasium in Orford.

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Christina Dolan can be reached at cdolan@vnews.com or 603-727-3208.