Mount Abe board mulls options, seeks input
BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School board took its first crack at developing a new budget proposal for the Bristol school Tuesday evening after voters in the five-town area rejected the initial draft on Town Meeting Day.
While board members did not decide whether to create a budget that is more or less expensive than the original spending plan, they did decide to solicit input from voters and staff to help make up their minds.
About 30 parents, faculty and community members were on hand to share their concerns about the budget. ANeSU Superintendent David Adams said some residents expressed anxiety about the quality of education at the school, while others said they cannot support increasing education taxes to support the school.
The spending plan that voters rejected totaled $14.06 million, slightly less than the budget for the current fiscal year, which totals $14.09 million. The tally of the March 3 vote across Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro was 1,241 to 1,088.
An online survey created by Bristol resident Megan LaRose that asks ANeSU residents to explain their concerns at the ballot box gives school boards and the community an idea of why voters rejected the Mount Abraham budget. As of Monday, more than 150 people responded to the anonymous survey, the results of which were provided to the Independent.
Residents listed various reasons for saying “no.”
“Our property taxes are way too high,” one voter wrote. “I expect the school board to make every effort to reduce the cost per student to a reasonable level.”
Others advocated laying off staff to keep pace with declining enrollment; Adams projected that the number of students at the grade 7-12 school will dip below 700 next year.
“Cut as many teachers as possible,” a voter said. “Combine classes and eliminate poorly attended electives.”
The Mount Abraham board isn’t the only ANeSU board that must create a new budget proposal. The boards of Bristol Elementary School and Monkton Central School are also drafting new budgets after voters said “no” on Town Meeting Day. The Bristol Elementary board came to no conclusions about its budget at a Monday meeting (see story in this edition) and the Monkton Central board was due to meet Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the school.
The budgets for Beeman Elementary, Robinson Elementary and Lincoln Community schools all passed.
The Mount Abraham school board will meet again next Tuesday evening at the school library at 6:30 p.m. to continue its work on the spending proposal, and will warn a new budget vote sometime this spring.
The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)
BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)
See when your favorite high school team is competing in the fall sports playoffs.