South Burlington voters weigh in on $1.9M school budget increase

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 12:41 AM EDT
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South Burlington voters will decide on Thursday whether to accept a $1.9 million increase in the school district’s new budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year.

The proposal includes an increase of 3.8%, which translates to a 5.9% tax rate increase. The board drafted it after voters struck down a $4 million increase on Town Meeting Day.

Board member Bridget Burkhardt says if this new proposal also gets rejected, 42 teachers might not have a job in the fall. She also says students might not get the attention they need when they return to class from remote learning.

“We’re preparing to make sure we have enough staff in place to meet all of those needs that will have arisen when they were away from school and we’ll have to determine where students are when they come back and see how much remediation is needed in terms of the academic side of things,” Burkhardt said.

Some people who have kids in the school district say the money is well worth it.

“I have children and I feel like the taxes that I spend every year is some of the best money I spend all year long,” said Emilee Hoffman.

“I think that my children have benefited enormously from the South Burlington school systems and I highly believe in the quality of the education they offer,” said Ann Mason.

Those planning to vote no, like Sheldon Katz, feel the district should not be asking for more money in the middle of an economic crisis.

“Now is not the right time. There’s a lot of uncertainty. A lot of people have lost jobs or have had pay cuts. And this is a really inappropriate time,” said Katz.

Burkhardt says they sent out 2,700 absentee ballots. There’s a drop-off box set up outside of the city hall if you still need to send in your absentee ballot.

If you plan to vote in person, your regular polling place will be open. You can vote at Orchard School, Tuttle Middle School, or Chamberlin School. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters are asked to wear a mask to the polls. City Clerk Donna Kinville says they will have some masks and face coverings available to those who don’t have one. Kinville says no one will be turned away for not wearing a mask nor will they be denied their right to vote.

Voters are also asked to wear gloves and bring their own pens. Election officials will be equipped with N95 masks, face shields and gloves. They will also have hand sanitizer and disinfecting. Election officials say poll workers and voters will be separated by tables. They also say one voter will be allowed at each voting station and they will tape off the other three to make sure physical distancing is maintained.

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