Rutland Town School Board cuts another $73K from budget
By Josh O'Gorman
The Rutland School Board cut an additional $73,000 from the thrice-defeated school budget Thursday night and set a June date for a fourth vote.
By a unanimous 4-0 vote- Board member Nicole McPhee was not present- the Board approved a proposed budget of $7,900,800.
This budget represents an increase of $227,885, or 3 percent, compared to the current budget of $7,672,915.
“I want to express our sadness over the budget,” said Board Chairwoman Lynette Gallipo of the vote nine days earlier, May 14, when Rutland Town residents defeated a proposed budget of $7,974,000 by a vote of 408 to 396.
There has been much speculation among members of the Board and the community at large as to why voters are defeating the budget. Debra Taylor, superintendent of the Rutland Central Supervisory Union, which includes the Rutland Town School District, addressed the notion that voting down the school budget sends a message to Montpelier that the state’s funding system under Act 60 and Act 68 is unjust.
“We are voting on a budget for the children of Rutland Town. We are not voting on the funding formula,” Taylor said.
If the Board was looking for guidance from residents who voted against the budget, they didn’t get it from the audience of Thursday’s meeting, which included five parents of students who attend the school.
Jim Wright, a former member of the Board whose son is in seventh grade, disputed the conventional wisdom the budget is being defeated by older residents who don’t have children in the school.
“It’s not just the elderly who are voting down the budget,” Wright said. “We’re victims of our geography. There’s no sense of community in Rutland Town. In most small towns, the school is the center of the community, but that’s not the case here.”
The cuts made to the budget this time around are benign; the District will save $35,000 in high school tuition because more students than expected are attending high schools who charge a lower tuition rate than Rutland High School.
The other cut, $38,000, will come from the retirement of three long-time teachers, who will be replaced with new teachers at lower salaries.
The proposed budget will result in a tax rate of $1.22, a decrease of 3.19 cents.
There will be an informational meeting at 7 p.m. June 10 at the school. Voters will return to the polls June 11.