By SCOOTER MACMILLAN
Voters approved all three articles concerning the Champlain Valley School District budget by relatively large margins on Town Meeting Day. However, voter turnout was low, with less than 21 percent of the more than 23,000 registered voters in the district casting ballots.
Voters approved Article VII, the $78.9 million budget for the 2019-20 school year, with almost 70 percent of votes in favor, 3,390-1,526.
Voters also approved Article VIII, authorizing the school system to apply funds from the fund balance to offset taxes, 3,933-1,000.
Because of savings from consolidation, the district has reserve funds left over from prior years’ budgets. By approving Article VIII, voters are allowing the district to use $500,000 from the reserve fund balance as revenue for the 2019-20 school year, use $1 million from the fund balance for facilities repairs and maintenance, and use the remaining balance of $1,829,698 as revenue for future budgets.
And the voters approved Article IX, which authorizes the school board to borrow $485,000 to buy five school buses, 3,273-1,627. The CVSD has 562 buses and its goal is to replace five to six buses a year in order to keep the average age of its buses at eight years.
Champlain Valley School District Board Chair Lynne Jaunich said that she was pleased but not surprised by the results.
“We presented a sound budget that was fiscally sound and educationally sound, and this is the way that I’d hope it would go,” she said.
Voters also elected school board members on Tuesday. Russ Caffry, who was running unopposed, won re-election in Shelburne, taking 1,204 of the 1,432 votes cast.
There were no candidates who submitted petitions to qualify for the open school board seat in Williston, but Angela Arseneault defeated two other write-in candidates for the win, replacing outgoing member Kevin Mara, who was not running for re-election.
At the Champlain Valley School District’s Annual Meeting on Monday night, there were only two members of the public in attendance and the meeting lasted about 15 minutes.
One was a person who was not running for re-election and one was a person who was running for the first time.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Andrea Morgante, who was not running for re-election to the Hinesburg Selectboard after 27 years in that capacity, expressed her concerns about school buses. She said that she supports school buses “but I don’t think the big yellow school buses with only five students on them are serving our needs. I think there might be smaller buses, more frequent trips.” She called for an analysis of how the district’s buses are meeting the needs of students.
Gary Miller, who was one of the two defeated write-in candidates for the Williston School Board seat, said he would like to see the budget developed so it is clear what budget expenses go to fund items like social services and what expenses are directly related to learning.