Fairfax residents to get another vote on $36.5M bond for school improvements

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Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 11:43 PM EST
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FAIRFAX, Vt. (WCAX) - Fairfax voters will have another say on a $36.5 million bond to improve Bellows Free Academy. A revote will take place in January after some residents petitioned for the revote because they claimed they weren’t aware they had to request a special ballot.

The school has been in operation since 1930 and is starting to show signs of its age. Franklin West Supervisory Union Superintendent John Tague says one of the reasons they need the bond is to fix an ongoing capacity problem.

“Our number of students are growing,” Tague said. “We’ve had some large classes coming in the past several years to the point elementary classrooms are in the lower portion of the high school.”

The bond would cover nine new classrooms and improve existing ones, specifically for middle and high school science. Additionally, it will cover the cost of a new front office space that’s more secure and a fire sprinkler system.

This bond narrowly passed in November by just 33 votes. A handful of residents created a petition for a revote, saying they didn’t know they had to request a special ballot, bringing the topic back up for discussion a fourth time.

Parents and former students tell WCAX News it’s time to stop pushing these improvements off.

“There’s been consistent needs identified through all three of these bonds and we keep voting this down and kicking it to the right, but the needs are consistently still there,” said Jason Boyd, a parent and former school board member.

“BFA is one of the schools in the state that has some of the most extracurricular involvement from students,” said 2019 alumni Shane Seals. “I think there’s a lot more opportunities we could have if we had space.”

The tax change to residents if this bond is approved is estimated to be between $98 to $176.

Fairfax School Bond Tax Impact
Fairfax School Bond Tax Impact

Tague told WCAX News earlier this year he hopes to have construction on these projects completed by 2024. There’s no word on whether this revote will push it back.

“We’ve been looking at this bond since 2017,” Tague said. “There’s some folks feeling it’s about time we move forward with it and the other perspective is it is a lot of money we’re asking for.”

The revote will be taking place on Jan. 10. If you live in Fairfax, you can request a ballot from the town clerk or vote in person at the middle school gym.

Editor’s Note: This tax impact mentioned has been updated to reflect FY24. The previous estimate mentioned in this story was based on FY23.

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