The Readers Write

A mile in an educator’s shoes

In the 1960s the community of Shelburne made a decision to start the process of building a new school for a future they could likely not yet envision. Education at that time was a traditional model that encompassed, in most cases, hours of sit and get. As a nation we were in the space race. Cars were large, and by comparison to today, would be considered unsafe. Computers were in their infancy. Yet, the generation before us voted to build the school that houses this generation–our future.

Thus, I invite you, my neighbors, to visit my classroom on Thursday and Friday at 5pm this week for an informal walk through the halls of Shelburne Community School. I hope after you walk a literal mile (the distance in our halls) that you will see the necessary improvements needed to support the next generation. Our board and administration have worked hard, they have listened to your input to craft a plan that will effectively continue to support the needs of this and future generations. A generation that now has a computer in their hand, airbags all around them and a future that will have jobs we could not see possible fifty years ago. They need a school building that will continue to support their success.

Please visit me, to see for yourself, this Thursday and Friday at 5pm and see why passing the school bonds will keep Shelburne Community School a place to grow the future.

With gratitude and respect,

Joey Adams, Educator

Shelburne Community School

 

SCS affordability questions

A legitimate question on peoples’ minds as they consider a vote for the school bond is around affordability, and the relative “efficiency” with which SCS is run. A few statistics may help with informed decision making:

Looking at the most recent Vermont Dept. of Education “School Comparison Data for Cost Effectiveness,” which excludes highly variable Special Education funding:

-SCS has among the lowest per-pupil spending rates in Vermont: 192nd out of 235 school districts operating schools.

-SCS likewise has among the highest (most crowded classroom) Student-Teacher and Student Administrator ratios in the state, at 277th and 247th respectively, out of 304 schools.

In short – operations at SCS are already very “lean” relative to other Vermont communities.

Reviewing the most recently available (FY15) statewide education tax rates, Shelburne has the lowest education tax rate among peer communities Burlington, South Burlington, Charlotte, Essex, Hinesburg and Williston. The project would push tax rates to the middle of this group, but still substantially below immediate neighbors South Burlington, Charlotte and Hinesburg.

And while we’re certainly a town of diverse means, overall, Shelburne has the third-highest per capita income in the state, according to the most recent (2010) US Census data.

Chittenden County, a regular on national “best places to live” lists is increasingly a “tech hub,” and the economic engine of Vermont, with most job and income growth coming in the area. Three thousand jobs were added in the professional services sector alone since the great recession, and yes, good schools matter disproportionately to this population group.

While SCS enrollment reached a peak in the late 1990s, this year’s enrollment is the highest since 2008, and projections are for steady or modestly increasing enrollment through 2025. Chittenden County continues to see slow but steady population growth, and Shelburne remains a magnet town within for families.

Even with enrollment levels below their peak, one of the findings of the original school engineering report was that even at current enrollment levels, Shelburne classrooms are undersized relative to national education guidelines. The D and E renovations significantly address that, by adding 10 percent of new classroom space through elimination of a corridor in each wing, and moving HVAC equipment to the roof.

In sum, in my and many peers’ opinions – SCS is a leanly-operated critical piece of infrastructure for our community, and one that is significantly overdue in seeing facilities investments. I would personally encourage your support of both school bond votes come Nov. 3.

Matt Wormser, Shelburne 

 

What happens when the party is over?

While I was enjoying the music and festivities at the fire station today after a fun parade filled with smiling children, I couldn’t help but think of the place where nearly 700 of Shelburne’s children will return tomorrow, and the bond vote on Nov. 3 that will determine its fate. Shelburne is surely a community that can draw families from all over Vermont for its child-friendly parties, but what happens when the party is over?

I remembered one response I received after writing a post on Front Porch Forum about the numerous safety, structural and maintenance issues that impeded my daughter’s ability to learn and her teacher’s ability to teach. The response was two stinging words: “Private school.”

Is Shelburne the kind of community that puts on a nice parade but limits access to a safe, quality education to only those families who can afford private school? Or is Shelburne a community that truly cares for its kids and its future? I’ll be voting in favor of both school bonds on Nov. 3 with the hope for the latter.

Meagan Downey, Shelburne

 

In support of school bond articles on Nov. 3

As a long time Shelburne resident, I attended Shelburne Village school (what is now the Town Hall) in 1979 for one year before moving on to Shelburne Middle School (now Shelburne Community School). I remember the gym space of the Village School was filled with tables and converted to the cafeteria at noon; the tables folded up and back to a gym it became after lunch. The Village School, though functional, was deemed outdated, in need to excessive improvement, and was closed; students moved to the much newer Community school. Now, some 35 years later, the SCS building is outdated, and patched together (once temporary structures now, seemingly permanent). The “deferred maintenance” of the structure is not only significant, but, it is dire. In the 1970s, residents had the forethought to see the old Village School was no longer conducive to modern learning needs or appropriate in size. In 2015, we, the residents of Shelburne, are faced with the same.

Many of us are home owners who must deal with required repairs and upkeep. As a home owner and as a residential remodeling contractor, when dated materials are pushed beyond their useful age, greater damage and expense looms. Inevitably, there comes a time when, you just have to face the facts and address the problems. In this circumstance, we are not home owners that will eventually move on from the building, leaving the problems to the next owner. We are stewards of a public space that will continue to be used for an indefinite number of years. The children of Shelburne are in need of a structure where they can live and learn in a safe and modern space. A space that will help them to grow and to compete in an increasingly competitive world. Investing in a facility that will then provide the most educated individuals possible to become intelligent local and worldwide residents. When it comes to well spent dollars, I can’t see any greater “bang for the buck” than money spent to improve a school building, greater than any other public capital improvement.

Putting off the expenses may be tempting. Perhaps we’ll have more money later, maybe we won’t live here anymore and someone else can pay for it. As a contractor I can tell you, it will only cost more later. The efficiency of combining several jobs into one large one is far more cost effective than having to bring all the same workforce and equipment needed back several times to the same location. Not only is it more efficient for the contractors but for the residents too. Anyone who has had a major kitchen or bath renovation knows. Deciding how the project is going to be paid for, preparing and cleaning out the space so it can be worked on, figuring out how you are going to get by without the use and functionality of the space while it’s under construction, using a painfully smaller, less effective alternative space, and getting the new space set up to be used is often an overlooked but hugely time consuming, costly and frustrating process. So when it comes down to saving money, it unquestionably pays to buck up and fix as many issues as possible in one project.

As a parent of two children, that currently attend Shelburne Community School, I worry that the space that they inhabit for much of their day, is not safe. I will be the first to admit that the likelihood of a violent event at the school is small, but if it does happen and our community children do not even have places to hide in the school because we wanted to save some money, it would be devastating. And the breezeway? Requiring young children to regularly be exposed to the weather and anything or anyone else during the school day is truly asinine, indefensible and embarrassing at every level. Having science and technology spaces suitable to this century is pure necessity to modern learning. I also recognize that our Middle School aged daughter must learn in a in a classroom that does not allow for quiet time that is free from the distractions of the constant through traffic moving along the corridor. Additionally, our terrific teachers deserve the opportunity to teach in an environment that promotes learning, creativity and focus. If the bonds are passed, our children will need to endure the challenge and distraction of construction and get little use of the new space but, we support this work for the future community, students and families.

The School Board combed through, cut and refined the costs of the previous request, even eliminating some like the cafeteria kitchen which desperately needs attention.  The reality is crystal clear, it’s time to address all the issues that the School Bonds cover. Painfully but, necessary. Through improved safety, education, energy efficiency (and associated cost savings). The need is there. Waiting on any portion will only be more expensive and frustrating. I feel there is a moral duty to generations of children who may then have a more positive impact on the communities where they live than they otherwise would. When you look at the big picture, the cost benefits are far more significant than any other public construction expense.

Please vote with us to pass both school bond requests.

Jeff and Becky Kapsalis, Shelburne 

 

Vote “yes” to support both bonds

My husband Glenn and I are in support of the bond vote to fund a much needed roof replacement and to fund renovations to the D and E wing, we will vote yes to support both bonds. In addition we will both vote “yes” on other needs the town lays out such as needs to replace the bridge in Shelburne, and to update the sewer system. It will cost us more every year in taxes and we are okay with that. Actually we will gratefully pay a larger tax bill, even though it means we’ll have to tighten up in other areas. We feel so lucky every day to live in this wonderful town, with such a warm and rich community. We feel grateful to the teachers and administrators at SCS and to all the families and residents that make it possible for the stellar education our children are receiving. We feel grateful to the people who work so hard in our town – Colleen Haag, Paul Goodrich, Katie and all the wonderful staff at the Pierson library, Betsy Cieplicki at Shelburne Recreation, to name just a few. Honestly, we are so lucky!

Glenn and I make modest salaries – we are middle income. We have two children that go to SCS and have owned a home, paid taxes and happily lived in the town of Shelburne for almost 20 years now. We want to take care of our town and our school to ensure they are well cared for. We benefit from the investment people have made before us, and we are happy to do our part to support the place we call home. The increase in taxes for us, feels like a small price to pay for such a wonderful, well cared for school and town. Many thanks to everyone who has worked so hard on the school bond and to those working hard in the town as well.

Crossing fingers, toes and anything else I can think of that the school bonds both pass!

Kelly and Glenn Story, Shelburne 

 

Interim operations of the Shelburne Food Shelf clarification

Perhaps you would permit me this further clarification about the interim operations of the Shelburne Food Shelf. For the time being Rev. Greg Smith of the Shelburne United Methodist church is serving as the treasurer of the Shelburne Food Shelf. People who wish to make financial contributions to the Food Shelf should contact him directly during office hours, Monday-Friday, 9am to 12pm at 985-3981. He is also, at present, handling request for financial assistance. Again, you must call during our office hours for these matters.

For all other matters pertaining to the Food Shelf please email us at shelburnefoodshelf@gmail.com

Rev. Gregory Smith, Shelburne United Methodist Church

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