Many hours spent reviewing school budget
To the Editor:
Mr. Conrad’s letter re: “Mont Vernon Voters Turn Down School Budget” is inaccurate when it comes to the Budget Committee’s reluctance to segregate necessary repairs from desired or deferrable repairs.
Stating that the Budget Committee was remiss is totally inaccurate. The committee spent many hours reviewing the budget with the School Board and SAU. The board and SAU explained in depth the necessity of repairs that where in the budget versus the bond warrant article. Based on these explanations, the committee concluded that the items in the budget were needed and reasonable.
Mr. Conrad is criticizing the Budget Committee unfairly. Had he attended the School Board and Budget Committee meeting that discussed these items, he would have had a better understanding as to why the committee voted 4-0 to accept the budget. The Budget Committee report to the School Board, which was contained in the deliberative session guide, clearly explained the position of the committee and reflected that necessary repairs amounted to $33,614, which was for building and grounds.
The committee voted 4-0 to not accept the bond warrant article, as it felt it was not well thought out and agree with Mr. Conrad. He has done a good job in reviewing the architect’s report and came to the same conclusion as the Budget Committee that additional analysis needs to be done on energy conservation measures before any significant capital expenditures be made. The Budget Committee made several recommendations to the School Board on how to proceed with the bond article. The Budget Committee is only advisory and it is up to the board to accept, or reject, any recommendations made by the committee. The board made the decision to go forward with bond article in spite of the committee’s unanimous recommendation that further analysis be done before a bond be put on the ballot.
The Budget Committee looked at the overall budget taking the approach that looking at the forest is more important than looking at the trees. Nickel and diming the individual line items generally results in a minor adjustment to the overall budget. The overall needs of the school are most important. The forest versus the trees approach applies to the School Board and the SAU as well. The board and SAU need to develop better ways to get the community involved.
One way to start is to develop a survey of what the community thinks and expects of the school and why they do not support the board and SAU when it comes to funding. One question that needs to be answered is why the student population is going down but the costs continue to go up. A trend of this nature reflects that there are inefficiencies and that funding should be adjusted accordingly, which the tax payers are doing. The board and SAU needs to communicate more efficiently as to why this is happening.
The Budget Committee did an in depth review of the 2014-15 school budget; unfortunately voters are apathetic when it comes to being informed as to the needs of the school. It is time that more information is put out as to the needs of the Village School and more people attend School Board meetings to see what is happening at the Village School. Just voting at the bottom line approach is not adequate.
It is time to re-evaluate the effectiveness of SB2 and consider consolidating the school district in order to become more efficient and cost effective.
MATHEW GELBWAKS and PAUL LISCORD
Mont Vernon Village School Budget Committee