Editorial: The GM school board is leading

By Cynthia Prairie
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

When a public body should be criticized, at times the loudest voice you’ll hear comes from me.

Today, that will be true for one that deserves praise: The Green Mountain Unified School District Board of Directors and its Finance Committee.

Over the past several months, these elected members of the Green Mountain board, which oversees Cavendish Town and Chester-Andover elementaries and Green Mountain High and their budgets, have taken bold and decisive steps toward openness and transparency, including grappling with an opaque budgeting process, and have been pushing forward with their vision for improving the schools for our communities of Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester.

By starting the budgeting process early, rather than waiting until late November as in past years, the board was able to establish its priorities to mesh with those of the school’s administration.

The GM board, under the direction of Joe Fromberger of Andover, seems to be finding its footing and taking cues from education goals laid out during the Act 46 process, when parents and taxpayers explained what they wanted to see from their schools and the promised benefits of a merger.

Many of those goals have been waylaid by historically bad practices, which kept the school boards confused with murky budgets, constantly changing targets and a supervisory union that seems to see  the solution to nearly every problem as more administrators.

The Finance Committee was an impressive sight on Monday, Nov. 25, as chair Deb Brown of Chester lead the committee in a long but very productive meeting. Among actions: The committee nixed the proposed purchase of a Chester bank building for a public pre-school. In addition to being expensive to start and run, the move would have taken a valuable private property off the tax rolls. The board also stuck to the priorities it established earlier this year, with an emphasis on early reading, establishing a second language program in our elementary schools and increasing the support of its science, technology, engineering, arts and math program.

At this point, the GM board, and its Finance Committee, — clear-eyed in its vision for our children — is grappling with a sloppy budgeting process and trying to bring order to it.

It’s going to take a lot of work on their part. And along they way, members will be bombarded with criticism from those whose priorities may not easily mesh with our communities’ priorities.  But we can keep them on track by letting them know we do appreciate their hard work.

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Filed Under: CommentaryTelegraph Editorial

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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