Third vote on Mt. Abe budget set for June 9

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School board is asking Addison Northeast Supervisory Union voters to mark their calendars for June 9, when the board expects to hold a vote on a third proposed FY 2016 spending plan for the school.
“The process of developing that new budget will be worked on over the next few weeks,” said board chair Dawn Griswold in a statement.
The board this year has failed twice to draft a budget that voters find acceptable. On Town Meeting Day, five-town residents rejected a $14.06 million budget proposal by a margin of 1,241 to 1,088. On April 14, voters said “no” to a $14.02 million spending proposal by a wider margin, 755 to 485.
Both the proposals were less expensive than the spending plan for the current fiscal year, which is $14.09 million.
The school board faces a tough task in drafting a new budget. That’s because some voters have indicated in public comments and survey responses that they voted “no” because they felt the budgets were too expensive, while others said they opposed the plans because they cut too much staff or services.
Voters have also expressed frustration with the leadership of ANeSU Superintendent David Adams and the governance structure of the district’s school boards. The ANeSU board announced after the April 14 budget defeat that it will bring in a federal mediator this summer to conduct interviews with staff, boards and administrators in order to evaluate the climate at the district’s six schools. The mediator this fall will make recommendations with regard to how the boards can improve climate and more closely supervise administrators, including Adams.
The Mount Abe board will meet again on Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m. at the school to discuss the next steps. Griswold said the board will hold several meetings throughout May where voters can express their opinions as to how the board should craft a new budget.
The board chair said the school board members plan to warn the new budget vote at a meeting May 26 — two weeks before June 9.
“That is when we will have the details of the budget (dollar amount, reductions, program information, etc.),” Griswold said. “We will also be scheduling a budget informational meeting … before June 9.”
The Bristol Elementary School Board will also need to draft a third budget proposal after its second draft was also rejected by voters April 14. That board has not set a date by which it hopes to hold a new vote, but if the past is any indicator, it will be on the same day as the Mount Abraham revote.

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