Opinion: Revised VUHS budget falls flat

In 2014 the Vergennes Union High School board responded appropriately to a rejected budget by resubmitting a budget that more closely reflected the reality that we have to live within our means.
Fast forward to the defeated 2015 proposal that increased spending by 11 percent (a staggering number by any measure), and one would assume that the next proposal would once again be more realistic, yet the opposite is being submitted for a revote.
The new budget rolls out a nearly $1 million increase while offering a token $156,000 reduction in growth using tortured language that recaptures that reduction later and soft sells the impact of the tax increases (6 percent in Vergennes alone) while supporters are implying that (nonexistent) cuts threaten the very existence of VUHS and Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns, which is nonsensical and ignores the fairmindedness and common sense of the taxpayer.
Here are some interesting facts:
• Statewide we have more than 21,000 fewer students in our Vermont schools today than we did in 1997 (VUHS is down 223 since 2006 and VUES down 25) while expenses are going through the roof and incomes are barely (if at all) keeping up with inflation.
• Vermont student-teacher ratios are the lowest in New England at 9.9:1 while the U.S. average is 15:1.
• Vermont per-pupil spending has increased from $7,770 in 1999 to $16,773 in 2013, the highest among New England states and much higher than the national average of $11,445 and climbing rapidly, yet average teachers salaries in Vermont are said to be less than every New England state except for Maine and less than the national average.
Every indicator is that our school-aged population is decreasing yet expenses are 180 degrees out of phase and heading up with no end in sight, so it should be of no surprise to anyone that this budget revote proposal is completely unacceptable to a large number of people who pay the bills.
Ivan St. George

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