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Burlington to re-vote school budget Tuesday - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington to re-vote school budget Tuesday

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - The get out the vote signs in Burlington have sprouted up like mushrooms after a spring rain. A class from Burlington High School opted to show their support of the budget as part of their end of year class about protest.

Reporter Judy Simpson: Do you know the total number of the budget?

Bobby TreadwelI, BHS Sophomore: I am not totally sure but I have a whole pamphlet of statistics that are not on me, my teacher has one.

Teacher Terry Buehner says the students did read news reports about the budget vote, and got information from other sources as well.

"They just had a guest speaker in from the Friends of Education. They have also read articles in the newspaper, it was actually their idea. They are the ones, this particular group who wanted to do it," said Buehner.

Burlington Friends of Education support the proposed budget. It is a $67.4 million spending plan. It would raise taxes 7 percent. It is $500,000 more than the rejected budget on Town Meeting Day because the board is trying to retire a deficit uncovered after the March vote.

This budget reflects more than a million dollars in cuts including 6.5 teachers and 20 para-educators.

"This budget does reflect some better accounting that was one of the things the finance chair and some outside accounting firms were able to identify. This is a budget that represents less spending than the previous year," said Christopher Hood from Burlington Friends of Education.

At another pro-budget event in Burlington Monday, school children sang songs about supporting the budget and Burlington kids.

But according to at least one member of the school board, this budget has nothing to do with supporting the kids. Scot Shumski, who sits on the Burlington school board finance committee, says it’s about a bloated budget process that has run amock.

"What this is about is I am serving my first term as a school board commissioner. One of the first things I asked for was a line item budget, I was told by the administration it didn’t exist. The next thing I got the exact phrase I was told was they didn't feel comfortable sharing it with me," said Shumski.

And he says voters need to keep this in mind.

"What the voters need to understand is this $67 million budget that the people will vote on tomorrow, no member of the board ever saw a line item budget when they were creating this." said Shumski.

If this current budget proposal fails the city charter calls for adopting a default budget that is $1.1 million less than the revote budget. It would result in a five percent tax increase. It also includes a variety of cuts in educational programs and administrative costs.

As for the future, Shumski says there will soon be a new superintendent and a new director of finance and he hopes that will add more transparency to building school budgets in the future.

Burlington is not alone. There will be school budget re-votes in Colchester, Elmore, Georgia, Milton, Reading, St Johnsbury and Barre City.


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