On June 12, 2024

Otter Valley, Barstow and Hartland school districts pass budgets after multiple attempts

Slate Valley to vote for fifth time, Tuesday June 18

By Polly Mikula

Editor’s note: The story first published as “Many area school districts are still working to pass budgets has been updated to reflect the passage of school bonds June 11 and 12 for Barstow, Otter Valley and Hartland.

While voters in at least half a dozen districts approved spending plans last Tuesday, June 4, there are still almost a dozen districts in Vermont without an approved budget as of June 11.

Locally, Green Mountain Unified School District and Two Rivers Supervisory Union passed their budgets June 4, in addition to Milton Town School District, Champlain Islands Unified School District, Franklin West Supervisory Union, Twinfield Union School District, and Lake Region Union Elementary Middle School District (by only two votes).

Voters in Andover, Baltimore Proctorsville and Chester approved the Green Mountain Unified School District budget of $16,576,447 — resulting in education spending of $12,361 per long term weighted equalized pupil. The board cut nearly $900,000 from its original proposal.

The Ludlow Mount Holly Unified School District passed its budget of $8,812,561, after nearly $322,000 in cuts were made from the original proposal.

But Otter Valley, Barstow, Hartland and Slate Valley school districts had yet to produce a positive vote and headed to the polls again this week.

New school budgets take effect at the start of the new fiscal year, July 1. If a district does not have an approved budget, schools can borrow up to 87% of the prior year’s budget to cover costs until a budget is passed.

Otter Valley, Barstow pass budgets June 11 and June 12

The Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union (RNESU) district school boards of Otter Valley Unified Union and Barstow Unified Union once again retooled their budgets for a third revote June 11 and 12, respectively.

The Barstow School Board reduced its original $6.27 million budget to $6.06 million for its third revote. Barstow provides preK-8 education to students in Chittenden and Mendon. 

The Barstow district budget passed June 12: 415-195.

The Otter Valley School Board cut $430,000 for its third vote asking voters to approve $26,808,822 on June 11. The result of the cuts put per-pupil spending at $12,355, which is lower than the $12,436 figure that the April 23 version of the budget represented.

OVUUS delivers preK-12 public education to students in Brandon, Leicester, Whiting, Goshen, Sudbury and Pittsford.

Otter Vally district budget passed June 11: 738-667.

Additionally, Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union Board (RNESU) Superintendent Kristen Hubert announced this spring she’d be leaving at the end of the school year, so the board is seeking a replacement. 

“We really need someone who has lots of experience,” said Laurie Bertrand, chair of the RNESU Board, which oversees the OVUUS and the Barstow school districts.

The school board early this month offered the superintendent’s job to Brooke Olsen-Farrell, superintendent of the Fair Haven-area Slate Valley school district. But Olsen-Farrell decided to stay where she is, Bertrand said.

The RNESU decided it really needs a new leader with a long tenure leading educational institutions, because the Brandon-area schools are losing many experienced employees due to retirement and attrition, Bertrand said. She pointed out that Michael Ruppell, principal of Otter Valley Union High School, will be among the most senior administrators in the district next year — though he’s been on the job only two years.

“We have a very young administration,” Bertrand said. “We need someone who can help everyone feel supported.”

Hartland School district passes budget, June 11

Hartland’s school budget actually passed on Town Meeting Day, but only by 9 votes. It was petitioned and a revote was held May 28, which failed by 14. For the third vote on June 11, the board decided not to fill a recently vacated teaching position, thereby reducing the budget by $90,539 to $10,950,028.

The Hartland School District serves the children of Hartland by operating Hartland Elementary School, a K-8 school. Students have school choice for grades 9-12. 

The Hartland district budget passed: 630-438.

Slate Valley to revote June 18

The Slate Valley Unified Union School District (SVUUSD) will head back to the polls for the fifth time Tuesday, June 18. Voters will be asked to approve a budget of $30,497,235. Down $524, 400 from the original budget defeated on Town Meeting Day. That budget was defeated by 464 votes,1004-1468.

SVUUSD failed its fourth budget of $30.8 million on May 30, but by the smallest margin yet — just 32 votes, 962-994. That budget would have resulted in a per pupil education spending of $11,294.83. 

The district serves the towns of Benson, Castleton, Fair Haven, Hubbardton, Orwell and West Haven and operates Benson Village School, Castleton Elementary School, Fair Haven Grade School, Orwell Village School and Fair Haven Middle and High Schools. 

Voting results will be published on MountainTimes.info.

John Flowers contributed to this report. 

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