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Voters get 2nd look at OV budget; revote is Tuesday

BRANDON — Voters in the Brandon area on Tuesday will get a second chance to approve a fiscal year 2025 spending plan for the Otter Valley Unified Union schools.

The new proposed budget reflects $26,979,072 in total spending, a reduction of $268,751.13, or 1%, from the $27 million spending proposal district voters defeated on Town Meeting Day.

To achieve those savings, the OVUU School Board agreed at its April 2 meeting to cut a “late run” afterschool bus for the middle school, the Nordic ski team, the dean of students position at the Neshobe Elementary School in Brandon and $164,000 in assessments from OVUU to the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union for its share of district expenses like special education, mental health professionals and transportation.

As reported in the Brandon Reporter, those reductions represent an average annual tax savings of $13.60 per $100,000 of assessed property value across the OVUU district, which includes Brandon, Pittsford, Leicester, Whiting, Sudbury, Goshen and Sudbury. For example, a taxpayer who owns a $200,000 home would likely see an annual savings of $27.20 and a taxpayer with a home assessed at $300,000 would likely realize annual savings of $40.80. Actual amounts will vary amongst the district’s towns but should largely align with those numbers.

If the revised budget fails on April 30, the board must return to the drawing board to make additional spending cuts. District officials must continue to propose budgets until an FY’25 spending plan is approved by voters. In the meantime, the district is legally allowed to borrow up to 87% of its previous year’s budget to keep schools open, should a new budget not pass before the end of the current year’s budget on June 30.

SUPERINTENDENT NEEDED

This comes as the school district is looking for a new superintendent.

Kristin Hubert early this spring submitted her resignation to the RNESU Board and will leave the position on July 1.  She took on the role in 2022, after spending three years as RNESU’s director of curriculum.

“It has been my pleasure to serve the Supervisory Union as both Superintendent and Director of Curriculum, contributing to its success while serving the students, teachers, and staff,” Hubert wrote in an email to the RNESU community on March 22.

“I am proud of the contributions I have made to the district, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have served in this role,” Hubert continued.

“We are saddened that Dr. Hubert has decided to pursue other interests,” wrote Laurie Bertrand, chair of the OVUU School Board. “During her time here, she has strengthened our processes and led by example, always putting students first.”

Hubert will continue to work in education.  She leaves RNESU to join the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation as Director of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programming (GEAR UP), an educational nonprofit based in Winooski that helps junior high and high school students prepare for education and training after graduation.  She will also teach doctoral-level classes at Northeastern University in Boston.

During her two-year tenure heading RNESU, Hubert oversaw the district’s return to pre-COVID life while addressing new challenges, such as school safety and the accommodation of transgender students at Otter Valley.

Dr. Hubert’s resignation comes in the midst of a difficult budget season as well.  OVUU’s proposed FY2025 budget was defeated at the ballot box on March 5 and the OVUU Board is currently preparing a second proposal to put before voters on Tuesday, April 30.  Dr. Hubert will remain at RNESU through June 30, leaving enough time to shepherd through next year’s budget.

Hubert’s resignation was the third high-level departure in the district this school year.  Neshobe Principal Vicki Wells and Lothrop Principal Erica Williams Harryman both tendered resignations as well.

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