School budget up for debate in Burlington - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

School budget up for debate in Burlington

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It's already a multi-million dollar budget and it could go up. Burlington school leaders outlined what they say it will cost to run the system next year.

Dozens of parents and teachers showed up at the Burlington High School cafeteria Tuesday evening for their last shot at voicing concerns about next year's school budget. The proposed $67 million budget for Fiscal Year 2015 would be a roughly $5 million jump from the year before.

"Which is a 6.9 percent increase in spending per pupil. And in that budget basically we are rolling forward a budget deficit that is approximately 2 percent over that budget from last year," said school board chairman Alan Matson.

Many Burlington residents said their biggest issue is what that increase means for taxpayers. School board chairman Alan Matson says it could translate to a 14 percent tax increase.

"From a retiree standpoint you can talk about going up 10 percent year after year after year. I can only keep up maybe a percent and a half a year. I can't sustain this forever and ever," said Ed Wilbur, a Burlington taxpayer.

Along with the proposed increase in spending, Matson says the school board is looking at cutting programs like grade-school Spanish and librarians to keep figures from escalating even further. Resources that many parents say they stand behind and don't want cut.

"Kids only have one chance at an education and when we start cutting this stuff it means that they are missing out," said Kathy Olwell, a Burlington mother.

"My job is to run an effective and cost-efficient school library program. I have to tell you, sitting in front of you, that cutting the library paraprofessional in my building, is one of the least effective ways of delivering service," said Burlington librarian Shannon Walters.

Some spoke out that they don't support cuts of any kind and are supporting the proposal.

"There are so many moving pieces that we need to make sure that we keep functioning, that we keep funding so that all of our students can have the best possible opportunities to be successful," said Brian Williams of Burlington.

As of the publishing of this story the school board had not yet voted. Once a final budget is decided on it will hit the ballots in March to be decided on by voters.

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