Opinion: School appeals for Act 46 relief
Editor’s note: This letter was sent to House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell.
At our Nov. 17, 2015, meeting, the Monkton Central School Board voted unanimously for me to send this request to you, asking that the Vermont House and Senate rescind the Allowable Growth provisions (section 37) of Act 46. We would like you to consider our request, and we outline our concerns below.
In recent years we have strived to maintain a high quality of education at our school, while making tough decisions about staffing, and at the same time putting off needed building upgrades and repairs to keep school costs for the citizens of Monkton reasonable.
Through Act 46, we are charged this year with creating a budget with a 1.43 percent increase. After crunching the numbers at our meeting last evening, including the $21,000 we expect from a 7.9 percent health insurance increase, we estimate that we will have only $8,000 additional dollars to spend, above the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget. This $8,000 will have to cover all cost increases, including salaries, inflation on overhead costs and building upgrades and repairs, just to name a few.
We are very concerned that the Allowable Growth provisions will mean we have to make changes in programs that will limit improvements to educational outcomes and curtail opportunities for Monkton Central School students. If we go over the threshold, the taxpayer is going to suffer an even greater burden than would have happened before Act 46, a double tax.
We would prefer that the citizens of Monkton be allowed to decide, via the ballot box, how much they are willing to invest in the children of Monkton. Under the former education law, there was a threshold, which we found allowed the board to manage the individual and specific needs of our school, and to meet the educational needs of Monkton Central School students more effectively.
It is for these reasons that we request that the Vermont House and Senate rescind the Allowable Growth provisions (section 37) of Act 46 and that this change is made before the end of January 2016, which is when we must finalize the warning for our school’s FY ’17 budget.
On behalf of the Monkton Central School Board