Opinion: ANeSU school boards need to listen to upset voters

I find it hard to believe that Dawn Griswold, chairman of both the Mount Abe and Monkton school boards, has no insight as to why those budgets were not passed. At Mount Abe’s annual meeting, the audience was seething with discontent for the lack of communication and transparency, and unwillingness of the superintendent’s office to share the burden of a leaner budget.
From what I’ve heard of Monkton’s town meeting, many similar feelings were shared. Starksboro voters added Robinson’s cut positions back in the budget, and though it may be fruitless, to have $50,000 subtracted from their portion of the supervisory unions budget. In Bristol, teachers, parents and many other residents asked the same questions about cuts, quality of services, and how we could have a voice in the ever-increasing size and power of our SU budget.
I think everyone can agree that we want our property taxes lower. Personally I’d like to see those cuts start at the top, in the superintendent’s office. The superintendent’s office should cut, not add, personnel, and not offer principals 11-percent raises while trying to negotiate 0-percent raises for teachers; in other words, share the pain of trying be effective with less.
I feel sure that Bristol’s school board has heard our community’s concerns. When asked if they would cut the budget further if it were voted down, our chairman said the first step would be to have a community forum. Let’s move forward, work together to make the budget process more transparent and collaborative.
Jamie Calzini

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