Archive - Dec 13, 2007
STARKSBORO FARMER DAVID RUSSELL takes a group of children from Starksboro Cooperative Preschool for a horse-drawn wagon ride up into the Christmas tree stand above his Starksboro dairy farm Tuesday morning. Russell helped the children cut down a tree and deliver it back down the hill.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
December 13, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The UD-3 school board on Tuesday agreed to send voters a proposed 2008-2009 spending plan of $15 million and a request to spend almost $400,000 in surplus funds on security and energy efficiency upgrades to the Middlebury Union high school and middle school buildings.
The proposed budget places the district safely below the per-pupil spending penalty threshold prescribed under the state’s education funding law. Under that law, districts that spend 125 percent of the statewide average per-pupil spending level are taxed at a higher rate, with the “penalty” revenues used to help pay for education in poorer towns.
Addison Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Lee Sease said the draft budget reflects a 4.73 percent increase in overall spending compared to the current year.
District officials are still firming up numbers on how the budget will affect taxpayers in the UD-3 member communities of Middlebury, Cornwall, Weybridge, Shoreham, Ripton, Salisbury and Bridport. The UD-3 budget reflects education expenses for both MUHS and MUMS.
Sease acknowledged that the district was in large part able to keep its budget under the state’s per-pupil spending threshold because 12 teachers have voiced interest in participating in an early retirement program. This program will allow the district to either keep some of the positions unfilled or hire new teachers at a lower wage scale.
But Sease added a cautionary note about the retirements in a recent memo to UD-3 board members.
“These early retirements have not been fully processed,” Sease wrote. “If for some reason these retirements do not come to pass, then substantial reductions-in-force will need to be made to meet the budget as presented.”
December 13, 2007
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — A chronic funding shortfall could end a summer childcare program that has served up to 100 Vergennes-area children and their families in recent years.
Mary Johnson Childcare Center co-director Ilana Snyder said the Vergennes Summer School Age Program has been losing between $20,000 and $25,000 annually for the past three years. After seeing the latest numbers at the end of this past summer the MJCC board voted to pull the plug unless more funding could be found.
But MJCC officials are still working on ways to pay for the program, which has operated either at Vergennes Union Elementary School or Vergennes Union High School in recent years and was based at VUHS this past summer.
No one who knows the program — which offers arts, sports, field trips, swimming, and other activities, plus lunches — wants to see it end, Snyder said: Many working-class families rely on it for childcare while schools are out of session, and it also serves many families whose tuition is subsidized by the state.
“It would be a loss for that community,” she said. “A hundred kids with no place to go … That’s an issue. That’s a cause for concern.”
Families not helped by the state paid $125 a week last summer for the seven-week, full-day program, which has operated when schools are closed and grew out of the Roxanne Bannister Provencher summer recreation program in the 1990s.
Snyder said MJCC is pursuing additional state funding and private grants for the program, which is too expensive for tuition alone to support.
December 13, 2007
By MEGAN JAMES and ANDY KIRKALDY
LINCOLN — The Sargent family of Lincoln will have lots of venison in the freezer this winter and stories to share for years to come thanks to a fortunate combination of hunting acumen and good luck last week.
First Stanley Sargent bagged a trophy buck with one shot from his muzzleloader, then three days later his son Brett Sargent felled an even bigger buck, also with a single shot.
“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” Stanley said with a wry smile in his voice when asked how he felt upon learning that his son had got the bigger buck. Then he added, “Really, I’m tickled.”
It started on Wednesday, Dec. 5. “Everybody had been up there looking for this deer,” Stanley said that afternoon, as he nudged the 160-pound animal back into the bed of his truck, blood dripping onto the snow beneath it as he closed the rear gate.
Early that morning he swapped deer stories with fellow hunters while filling up on breakfast at Kinfolk Kountry Restaurant in Bristol. He’d been in the hospital only a week before for a hernia operation, so he hadn’t been able to hunt in Vermont muzzleloader season yet.
“If I get one, someone’s going to have to help me out,” he recalled telling the folks at the restaurant.
Sargent left Kinfolk, and not half a mile up the road, he saw the deer on the edge of the woods, evidently in pursuit of a doe, he said. He pulled over, grabbed his muzzleloader, got out of his truck and shot.
“I see feet flying and horns flying everywhere,” he said. But he didn’t have any powder left. He’d put his pouch full of muzzleloader paraphernalia away earlier this fall after hunting in New York during muzzleloader season there. After his surgery, Sargent forgot to put it back in his truck.