VUHS board to discuss bond, budget on Tuesday evening

VERGENNES — The Vergennes Union High School board will meet in the school this Tuesday at 6 p.m. to discuss its next step after the Election Day defeat of its $6.5 million bond proposal. Addison Northwest Supervisory Union voters on Nov. 6 by 2,244-1,653 rejected a bond that would have funded repairs and major upgrades to VUHS.
According to the warning for the Nov. 20 meeting, it will be a work session that will focus on efforts to craft next year’s budget and to “revise the proposed Facilities Repairs/Improvement Bond.”
After the vote, board member Neil Kamman said those two discussions could be related. Officials said bond talks were initially triggered by the need to fix leaky roofing on the school’s classroom wing and auditorium, and that work must be done sooner rather than later.
Kamman said roofing, which according to estimates and including contingencies and soft costs could top $500,000, might be put in the budget.
After the bond defeat, ANwSU Superintendent Tom O’Brien listed as other priorities aging kitchen and cafeteria facilities and functional problems in the auditorium, including heating and ventilation, unsafe wiring, and safety problems with the stage.
Officials have said other options — as well as putting roofing in the budget — might include putting parts of the original plan up for separate votes in their original or in changed forms, or simply presenting a scaled-back proposal. 
Plan elements included the kitchen and cafeteria upgrades; the improvements to the auditorium, which include the wiring and safety upgrades, seating replacement, handicap accessibility changes, and major work to enhance its ability to stage music and theatrical performances; a track proposed to surround the varsity soccer/lacrosse field, which would get an artificial surface; some work to the library and middle school gym; and parking, sidewalk and traffic-flow improvements.
ANwSU business manager Kathy Cannon had estimated the bond proposal, if it had passed, would have added between $82 and $94 in additional annual taxes for an ANwSU home assessed at $200,000, assuming its owners are not eligible for tax prebates. More than half of ANwSU homeowners were eligible for prebates according to most recently available state data.
VUHS board members said they received little feedback during the run-up to the Nov. 6 vote. Tuesday’s meeting, as are all school board gatherings, is open to the public.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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