Letter to the editor: ANWSD needs some tax relief

Now that the Addison Northwest school district has consolidated, we the taxpayers were to see a break in the excessively high property taxes … a small penance was given, to be gobbled up by increases for the teachers … if we vote this upcoming budget. How did we let this outrageous over-taxation happen?
Taxpayers have left our towns, our area will turn into a ghost town, those trying to sell now find stagnant real estate sales, even expensive lakefront properties have no market. Moving and paying on two properties is not affordable. And the children we need for our school populations are vanishing. When we have one centrally located school with excessive lengthy bus trips to get there, will our children spend more time on the bus than in school?
The only way to see tax reduction is to group together to ask for a “restructuring of the school budget.” This is the year, as we consolidate.
I am circulating a petition seeking a 25 percent decrease in the school budget. And taxpayers and voters are signing it as fast as I can circulate it around for signatures. Twenty-five percent is a very reasonable request, as we are overtaxed by almost 50 percent. Cost per student is about $18,290.68, that amount was approved last March for ANwSU. Now, the teachers union ANTA comes in with increases for insurance and pay. At this cost all students should be brilliant and headed for the top colleges in the nation, however they are not up to par.
I am not against the teachers, these are the professionals who are there to teach and educate students of this district, and I have told them that at two negotiation meetings, when I addressed them face to face. What I am against is the fact that we are no longer able to keep paying them additional wages, while we can no longer pay property taxes, or see our towns go without the necessary funds to run our towns. I have also stated that the excessive salaries can no longer be paid. Social Security persons are 80 percent or more of the population here with a $3 a month raise, this does not pay for a teacher salary increase. Nor should we be asked to do this. It is unreasonable.
I told them they are the cliff edge and we the taxpayers are all done paying. I had 100 signatures last week, with ease, and, many more this week. Many ideas have been verbalized, to save costs; perhaps the superintendent’s office will be shut down.
Why do we have an expensive superintendent’s office, when the enrollment is down and space is available at one of the schools. Or will we close Addison Central School due to the low enrollment? Of course this school is totally out of debt, and in the best of condition, running with a good furnace. Our town’s people will not want this closing.
A complete overhaul of the budget needs to be done by a qualified person who knows what he/she is doing — not the school board or the superintendent. The new consolidated board lacks expertise and knowledge and stated so at a recent meeting. And the superintendent works for us, we tell her what is to be done, not her telling us. We have the control and power here to correct the budget. The school board needs our support, I would like more voters there, not just reps for the teachers to make everyone feel we need to pay more. The payout limit has been met. A few people in the community should not put poverty on the rest for their wants of high wages.
When taxes are lowered we will then see families move into our area, buy property and build homes. Then we will have more tax base to support education.
The consensus is that Montpelier is the problem, that is for sure. Mandates will have to come with the funds for the laws they pass.
Do try to attend some meeting and do vote the budget down if cuts are not made. And I will persist to get signers for the petition. Emails can also be submitted.
Elizabeth Armstrong

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