Opinion: Keep an eye on VUHS budget, get involved and vote

I might say I was disappointed with the attendance at the Vergennes Union High School budget meeting on Tuesday. I do understand that taxpayers are feeling “unheard” or considered for the overtaxed situation we all currently find ourselves in. So much so, that the very expensive overtaxed properties on the lakefront are being sold as these residents have had enough to go ahead and move out and leave. The lake is not an asset due to the pollution, unsafe swimming water, along with no fish or dead fish floats each spring. This tax base could be gone, properties will sell for less declining the tax base. These properties are no longer prime tax base properties. How do you compensate for this loss?
Now is the time to act and this is our opportunity to turn around the broken school funding our towns and state find themselves in. Our new superintendent of schools is setting new goals with a plan of action. Now is our time to step in and present our needs for tax reduction. Our goal and plan to considerable tax cuts. 
The federal government and state funds for some programs have now lapsed, because these programs are still going on, instead of being dropped due to no funding, the board and superintendent have not been informed by taxpayers that we do not have the funds in our household budgets to keep these programs going.
There is $100,000 being place in the budget as a burden to taxpayers for a hot lunch program that is continuing the breakfast program for students without government funds to pay for this program. Not on my dime, please. Parents can and should be responsible for feeding their children breakfast. Oh, these are poor families that do not have money. Well, let’s just continue to raise the school taxes so these poor families have less and less money for food, heat and medical care, not to mention all the other simplistic everyday needs for survival. Addison County’s economy does not sustain jobs to support its occupants. So let’s double the school taxes, that is how much the tax has cheeped up on us taxpayers.
I speak for the senior citizens on Social Security who can no longer give more and more to school budgets. It is unfair and unethical for our seniors to be treated with such disregard and lack of respect. Do we tax at the expense of our citizens so those who want and expect to have crumble others to get satisfaction for needs that are unwarranted. There are other ways to obtain goals other than taxation.
The cuts made by the school board are appeasers to the taxpayers of our communities. Cost per student is now at $16,300.66, which is an 8 percent increase. When asked “What would you do if the taxpayers said that only $10,000 per student could be spent?” Well, states the business manager, “that would be half of the budget.” Really, that is how much our schools are overtaxed. Other states do not spend this amount.
This school board does not have the realization for the economical situation of our area. They are so far above reality that they do not know how to come back into reality.
I believe it is time to vote down the school budgets, to form a “task force” of taxpayers to cut the needed items down to be able to pay a fair and reasonable tax while giving students an excellent education. Can it be done? You bet it can. And when the pressure is put on. When taxpayers step up and speak up: Enough.
One must consider that people on the school board need direction. Somehow the message is not getting through to them for restructuring of the budget for cuts that bring the cost per student down to $10,000 or under. Crazy, no. There are so many items that can be cut. Government programs with out financial funds are not continued at the taxpayers’ expense. Teachers, remember some with master’s degrees, can and should perform with higher standards using their skills. There are so many aides, what do these teachers do?
Teacher contracts need to be re-assessed. This matter needs an attitude of “strictly business” to meet the needs of our taxpayers while giving students a good education. Restructure can and will provide this. Fundraising by our community, if needed, would join together this community in a comradeship to support our schools instead of ignoring the school your child attends.
I want to see crowed rooms for meetings, not just a few people who are fired up and fed up. Please get up and step up. Vote budgets down, show up to the school board meeting, get involved with the task force. Ordinary, hardworking people can put together ideas to lower taxes while improving our schools.
Consolidation is not necessary if restructuring is accomplished. I prefer to keep a good superintendent and business manager that is headed in the right direction to restructure. I assure you that this is now occurring. Now is the time to submit changes that need to be made. No one person can do it right without the support of those around them to make change.
VOTE. Encourage your friends, neighbors, seniors to vote. Then take action. Now, while the time is at hand. We do not want to miss this opportunity, while the issue of education is a concern in Montpelier at our Statehouse. Our school boards know the pressure is on, they need our input for action.
Elizabeth Armstrong
West Addison

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