(Host) It appears that voters in many communities across the state have given their support to their local school budget.
Officials believe that voters understood that local school boards faced some difficult tasks when writing their budgets this year.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) Many school officials didn’t know what to expect when voters reviewed their local budgets on Town Meeting Day.
A number of communities tried to keep spending down even though they faced higher energy costs and rising health care expenses.
An early tally of local school budgets indicates that voters were sympathetic to the budget pressures facing their schools.
However this was not the case in Barre City and Northfield where the school budgets were voted down.
John Nelson is the executive director of the Vermont School Boards Association:
(Nelson) “This has been a particularly difficult year because of health care costs, increases in fuel costs. The common level of appraisal is still a big problem so it’s been a difficult year. And I think the results are showing the people still want to support their public schools.”
(Kinzel) Many communities discussed the problems associated with a declining student enrollment base – a situation that results in less money from the state. Some towns are considering various consolidation options but Nelson isn’t convinced that this approach makes sense for all communities.
(Nelson) “Whether it’s going to prove to be something that has a dramatic effect on costs is yet to be seen some places. I think it might be very helpful, and in other places consolidation might not be the answer. And I think there is still a strong value in Vermont in terms of our small schools, in our community schools, so consolidation is something we won’t enter into easily in many places.”
(Kinzel) Nelson hopes lawmakers will study ways to reduce the impact of the common level of appraisal when they return to Montpelier next week for the second half of the session.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.