VUHS board ready to request smaller bond

<p> VERGENNES &mdash; The Vergennes Union High School board met on Monday night and edged closer to adopting a new, more modest bond proposal to take care of what Addison Northwest Supervisory Union Superintendent Tom O&rsquo;Brien called the most critical items that were included in two earlier defeated plans.</p><p> The new bond the VUHS board discussed on Monday, which O&rsquo;Brien said on Tuesday would be &ldquo;somewhere in the $2 million range,&rdquo; will focus &ldquo;on the roof and the cafeteria and kitchen primarily, with some smaller pieces in the auditorium.&rdquo;</p><p> O&rsquo;Brien said the board will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday at the ANwSU offices on Green Street in Vergennes. There, members might well schedule a new bond vote to coincide with balloting in Vergennes for a new $1.45 million police station.</p><p> On Tuesday, the Vergennes City Council set that vote for May 14, and aldermen said they would welcome a vote on the same day and possibly even a joint public informational meeting on the two bonds.</p><p> The VUHS board mid-year in 2012 started looking at how to fund repairs to leaky roofing in several areas of the school, needed equipment replacement and other fixes in the school&rsquo;s kitchen and cafeteria, and safety issues in the auditorium, including wiring and a slippery stage surface.</p><p> The board also decided to ask for funds to handle handicap access and performance improvements to the auditorium that included replacing all its seats, new air handling, improved storage, a new orchestra pit, new lighting and sound equipment, a reconfigured entrance, a raised control room and catwalks; to make improvements to parking lots, sidewalks and traffic flows; to put new bleachers in the middle school gym; and to install an artificial turf field to be surrounded by a track.</p><p> The price tag came to $6.5 million, and ANwSU residents said no on Election Day in November, 2,244-1,653.</p><p> Next, in early February the VUHS board proposed two bonds, one for $4.2 million that would take care of almost all the work inside and immediately around the school, and a second for $2 million for the athletic improvements. That second bond could have been approved only if the larger bond also received backing.</p><p> Again, voters said no, 820-671, to the $4.2 million plan, and 1,107-376 to the field and track.</p><p> Now, O&rsquo;Brien said, the board wants to see what absolutely must get taken care of.&nbsp;</p><p> &ldquo;They&rsquo;re trying to make sure that they focus on the must-dos,&rdquo; he said.</p><p> The board on Monday talked about, and on this Thursday will also discuss further, creating a line item in the annual budget to help pay for future building needs, what O&rsquo;Brien called on Tuesday a capital projects fund.</p><p> &ldquo;They&rsquo;re also going to be looking to make sure they have a more consistent course to look at taking care of the building than they have had,&rdquo; he said.</p><p> <em>Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].</em></p>

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100