Some Fairfax residents call for revote on $36.5M school bond
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Will the Fairfax school bond be able to pass a second time? A petition for a revote was handed into the town office on Friday.
Many Fairfax residents say they were unaware of the vote on a $36.5 million bond to renovate Bellows Free Academy. The bond narrowly passed by 33 votes on Election Day after two previous failed attempts.
“The petition was put out because we wanted to inform people things weren’t done right,” said resident Bryan McNall.
“I feel for $36 million, voters weren’t informed the way they were supposed to be and they didn’t get a fair and honest vote,” said Jason Michaud, also a Fairfax resident.
McNall and Michaud say the town tells them 50% of Fairfax residents voted via absentee ballot, of those, only 28% requested a ballot for the school bond vote.
This was the third time the school board put out a bond measure saying the school needs more classrooms and better accessibility, among other things.
Superintendent John Tague says they did everything to notify people of the vote including mailers, a public forum and a tour of the school. He says the decision not to mail every resident a ballot was made because of the amount of work it would create for the town.
“We did a mailing to let people know they could request a ballot, they could go to the town office and vote, or they could vote on Election Day,” Tague said. “We did our best to inform everyone.”
Fairfax voter Christel Michaud says the process this time around felt rushed and community outreach was lacking.
“There was a variety of ways communication happened to the community,” Christel Michaud said. “In this particular bond proposal, it was done over a six-month period with information really coming out two months before.”
Tague says the whole process was carried out under what the law allows. The school bond wasn’t on the general ballot since they missed the August deadline to submit it to the Secretary of State’s Office.
“We’ll see what comes of the petition and the vote, and if the voters believe it’s the right project, then we’ll move forward,” Tague said.
As of Friday, the town was working on verifying all of the signatures on the petition. They have 60 days to notify the community of a new vote if the petition stands.
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