Letters: Support MAU budget
I am writing to ask the voters in the Mount Anthony Union school district to support the MAU budget.
The MAU school board is charged with overseeing a 6th -12th grade educational system that assures high quality for students and good value for taxpayers. Every year, we, as school board members along with the MAU and Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union administrators, work hard to find the right balance.
The MAU school district employs an exceptionally dedicated staff and, as in previous years, there is always a great deal to acknowledge and many sources of pride. I am continually impressed with the dedication of MAU's staff and their effort to create an atmosphere of serious learning and high expectations in our schools.
We employ a continuous improvement model because we know too we can always do better.
The MAU finance committee worked with the districts' administrators and chief financial officer to reduce costs without compromising education or the school buildings' maintenance. This year's total expenditures are up 3.13 percent; however, if state and federal revenue for special education is considered, the net increase in education spending is less than half of 1 percent.
Expenses include contractual obligations, costs for rising health care insurance and increases for fixed costs such as fuel and electricity.
It is difficult to explain the complex formulas that result in a town's education tax rate. The projected budget along with revenues and the previous year's fund balance, combined with the equalized pupil counts from the state, the blended elementary and secondary student percentages by town, the state's base homestead rate and the common level of appraisal (CLA) by town, all go into determining the local education tax rate.
As a diverse community, we have diverse and challenging needs. The MAU board remains committed to a quality education for all students. You can read about MAU' s graduates in a bi- monthly insert in the local newspaper called Where Are They Now?
The MAU student body includes state and national academic contest winners, published authors, Vermont state champions in various sports and gifted actors, musicians, and artists who exhibit their work throughout our community. Many of MAU's graduates go on to two- and four -year colleges, the military or straight to a job and have successful careers in many disciplines.
I want to thank the community for their continued support of our schools and encourage your support again this year on Town Meeting day.
Tax information can be found in the annual reports of each school district. They are available online or by calling 802-447-7501. The MAU floor meeting is at 6:15 p.m. on March 3 at the Bennington Firehouse.
On a personal note, after 20 years of service to our school system, I am stepping down as a local school board member. The time spent has been both challenging and rewarding. I have confidence in the instructional and support services provided at the MAU schools. We are well positioned for the future.
I will remain on the Vermont State Board of Education through March, 2017, and welcome your thoughts on statewide education issues. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help Goddard College
It's come to my attention that Goddard College is in trouble; more specifically the fine, top-notch faculty that teach there. The Goddard Faculty Union negotiations are close to impasse. I am deeply concerned that due to extreme measures the administration would like to impose on Goddard faculty members, the progressive and creative program that changed my life is in danger. These extreme measures include massive pay cuts, removal of severance pay and a huge reduction in the college's contribution to retirement programs.
While Goddard College is dear to the heart of many Vermonters; it should hold that place for all of us. Vermonters cannot afford to stand by while the caliber of education at Goddard declines due to funding cuts. Because of the high esteem in which Goddard is held, the opportunities afforded by a Goddard degree are immeasurable. A decline in the quality of a Goddard education would be devastating.
I encourage you to learn more about Goddard College in order to understand the urgent need to protect those who serve this unique institution. If you already know and love Goddard, please believe me that the situation is dire.
Find out what you can do to help. Letter writing, despite what those who don't engage in it will tell you, works. Pressure on the Goddard administration is critical, and needs to happen now. For more information, please contact me at email@example.com.
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