To the editor: Board chair urges ‘Yes’ vote on new GMUSD budget

The Green Mountain Unified School District became operational in September 2017. In short order, the board, represented by the towns of Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester, elected officers, organized committees, and began work on the budget.

The budget proved challenging. We had anticipated substantial savings as a result of consolidation under Act 46. Because of factors beyond our control, the Finance Committee started with a budget “deficit” of almost $400,000. This included a $93,000 “penalty” imposed by the state for savings achieved when teachers transitioned to the Health Care Exchange in January 2018, a set aside of $180,000 to comply with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and a $120,000 fund shortage in the prior fiscal year. The fund shortage included an almost $22,000 cut in federal Title I funding affecting literacy instruction for struggling learners in our elementary schools.

Despite these challenges, the board adopted a responsible budget. The proposed budget increases our equalized pupil spending less than 1 percent. The proposed budget of $12,547,513 is barely $14,000 higher than last year’s combined school budgets. Every town will realize, as a result of the consolidation, a slightly reduced tax consequence.

The budget maintains the status quo with no major changes to the operations of our schools, with one exception. The board agreed to fund an interim teaching Dean of Students at Chester-Andover Elementary School. We added this position due to the growing emotional and behavioral needs of our students.

Additionally, we replaced the lost Title I funding critical to literacy instruction in our elementary schools, and added funding for a part time Flexible Pathways/Capstone coordinator at the high school to help students design their Flexible Pathways and Capstone projects necessary for graduation. We also added money to fund field trips for students at Cavendish Town Elementary School, something Chester-Andover Elementary already funded, and added a small amount to begin exploring bringing foreign language to our elementary schools.

These are important first steps toward achieving the Act 46 goals. We anticipate that we will see additional improvements in each successive year toward providing the most opportunities possible for our students.

Vote “YES” to support our schools.

Marilyn Mahusky
GMUSD Board of Directors

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  1. Cortney Slobodnjak says:

    Marilyn- Thank you for clearly outlining some of the major struggles that the board has faced. Especially because of the board’s “pioneering” of this new setup and configuration(Act 46), I appreciate the work you have all done.
    There has not been enough focus or attention paid to the proactive things you have outlined here. From both voters and leadership- there has been a lack of clarity and accurate or complete information. This does not indicate to me a conspiracy to hide things, but an overwhelming amount of work that is being done.
    While I am hopeful that this might change in the future, I am not sure that the no vote is going to achieve what voters were hoping for, especially with what you have mentioned here. It seems there has been a lot of effort to remedy a number of unexpected situations for a district in its infancy to face.
    As a taxpayer, a GMUSD parent and as a school district employee- this matters deeply to me. Maybe we can look at new methods of communicating this information to others as we move forward. Sincerely, Cortney

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