I invite you to the ID-4 School District Annual Meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, in the Mary Hogan School gymnasium. The meeting will be an opportunity for Middlebury residents to vote on the proposed 2014-2015 budget and playground project, and to learn about school initiatives.
Over the past year, the board has focused on sustaining and improving the Mary Hogan School through a period of much change. A significant shift in school leadership occurred in July, as Tom Buzzell became full principal and Steve Lindemann assistant principal. In addition, the Addison Central Supervisory Union welcomed new Superintendent Peter Burrows.
Thus, our primary goal has been to support our new leaders and ensure their success as they work on behalf of our students. We’ve also been working on a number of issues we hope will have a positive impact on our students and community.
The board is pleased with the culmination of five years of work on a new structure for our school playground. While we recognize the sadness some feel about the replacement of the Kidspace structure, after 27 years and much use and repairs, the structure is no longer viable. The proposed new structure will be accessible and safe for all students, and paid for entirely with educational reserve funds, and potential gifts and grants. There will be no property tax increase associated with this project.
We are committed to improving our food service program, and have been working with outside organizations, including ACORN and Shelburne Farms. The Safe Routes to School Committee, with support from the board, updated its school travel plan, and promotes walking and biking to school through regular events. Mary Hogan School has almost reached the state’s “platinum” SRTS standard, and has received statewide recognition for its efforts.
We are conscious of the financial constraints on many people in our community. A growing percentage of children at the school are eligible for free- and reduced-priced lunches — rising from 26 percent in FY01 to 43 percent this year. The dual challenge of this trend is the need to provide a quality education for children who may be struggling due to poverty, while also maintaining a school budget and tax rate that is affordable for our community.
Our proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year contains a modest 3.56 percent increase in spending, or a 0.75 percent increase per pupil. This translates to a $0.03 increase per $100 of equalized value in our homestead property tax rate. We propose to add a grade 1-2 teacher to serve our largest class of students to maintain appropriate class sizes. Our enrollment continues to grow modestly, but this is the first classroom teacher added after a cumulative enrollment increase of over 35 students.
Finally, we would like to honor retiring Principal Bonnie Bourne. Bonnie started at Mary Hogan School in 1987, became principal in 1995, and in 2007, was honored as the Vermont National Distinguished Principal. Bonnie believes firmly in opportunities for all “youngsters” and has always been willing to go the extra mile to support parents and children. We wish Bonnie well in her retirement.
I hope to see you at our annual meeting, where there will be ample time to ask questions and discuss issues of importance to our students, school and community. Come early to meet board members, administrators and teachers, and view our children’s art work, learn about our new science programs, and see details of the playground project and other initiatives at the school. Childcare will be provided. The Mary Hogan School is the town’s school, and we thank you for your interest and support.