GMUSD finance panel urges public participation

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

If you live in the Green Mountain Unified School District, the Finance Committee of the Green Mountain District Board wants you.

Finance committee chair Deb Brown asks the committee if it wants to add public members. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Noting that in past budget cycles, budget committees have recruited the public to become members and bring different perspectives to the table, committee chair Deb Brown of Chester asked the nine members present from the 11 member panel if they wanted to do that again. Instead the board decided to urge the public to attend its meetings.

Member Kate Lamphere of Cavendish said she would “rather have a packed house of community members than one or two token members on the committee.”

To streamline the process of reporting back to the district board, this year the Finance Committee is made up of all the board members, which some felt is already on the outside edge of manageability. Member Doug McBride of Cavendish called everyone’s attention to Article 16 of the district’s Act 46 Articles of Agreement titled “Input on Policy and Budget Development,” which says that “The board shall provide for local input on policy and budget development. Structures to support and encourage public participation within the Unified District will be established by the Board on or before June 30, 2018.”

Board member Kate Lamphere saying she would rather have a “packed house of community members” than one or two on the committee.

While member Fred Marin of Cavendish maintained that warning the meeting was sufficient, McBride asserted that the article “clearly anticipates more than an open meeting.”

“How do you get them to come?” asked member Wayne Wheelock of Baltimore.

McBride answered that it’s the board’s legal obligation to come up with a plan and members asked The Telegraph to make it clear that they want public participation in the budget process.

In reply, The Telegraph told the board that if public input is wanted they need to see to it that the budget is more easily understood, that budget documents are accessible to the public well ahead of time rather than passing them out at the meeting and that presentations are clearer with less jargon and fewer acronyms.

The next meeting of the GMUSD Finance Committee is scheduled for  6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 25 at the Chester-Andover Elementary School, 72 Main St., Chester. The committee urges the public to attend.

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