GMUSD’S BUDGET: Did it deliver on its Act 46 promise?

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At the Jan. 17 Finance Committee and Green Mountain Unified School District (GMUSD) board meetings, the Finance Committee was tied in approving the budget with two no, two yes and one abstaining. Throughout the budget meeting, Cavendish representative Doug McBride pointed out issue after issue on the budget showing how it didn’t conform to the Act 46 promise and asking the hard questions. When the GMUSD board met, they ignored the Finance Committee’s deadlock and went ahead and voted in the budget, minus $30,000. The only dissenting vote was McBride’s.

When asked why he voted no, McBride stated that the budget is not what we promised the voters. It does not conform to Act 46’s promise of enhancing the education of students and there is no economic savings.

With an 11% increase in administration, only an interim principal for CTES but a Dean of Students added at Chester Andover Elementary and no programs to “enhance education,” Cavendish residents attending the meeting were not pleased with the outcome.

To have approved the first budget under GMUSD in such a callous way is an insult to our students, teachers, schools, and taxpayers.  What’s the true mission of this board?  After the last few meetings I’ve witnessed, I find it hard to believe the mission is at all about the children we are trying to educate. Denise Hughes, Cavendish resident mother of three students in Pre K and CTES

“I am dismayed at how the Superintendent seems once again to be bullying us into making hasty decisions about the future of our schools. While she has backed down temporarily, she makes it clear that everything is on the table for next year, which is not that far away. I appreciate the work the board did to get a few positions reinstated, including the principal at CTES, but I do not understand why the overwhelming majority them voted on a budget that included an arbitrary $30,000 cut at the end, in spite of an passionate plea last week to consider asking voters for more time. The process of consolidation was divisive. Now we are divided again, rather than being united for our schools and communities, and it seems to be all to comply with something we aren’t sure we agree with in the first place. The time to push back is now.” Sara Stowell, Proctorsville resident, parent of two students at GMUHS

If this is the process for improving educational outcomes more efficiently and at a lower cost, then our system is broken and the result is offensive.   -Trevor Barlow, Proctorsville resident, parent of two students at CTES

After the two meetings this week-last night's meeting and the January 16th Combined CTES and CAES Board Meeting: Moving 6th Grade to Chester -there is a real concern that a movement is a foot by the TRSU to ultimately squeeze CTES inch by inch until it no longer exists.  It is important that the Cavendish community pay attention as if the goal, stated or not, is to do away with CTES, the impact will include the devaluation of property, the continuing decline in census (a town without a school is not attractive to young families), and ultimately end in the loss of the heart and hub of the community as we know it.

You can watch these meetings on line at Okemo Valley TV and on Comcast. Check the Okemo Valley TV website for scheduled times.