August 29, 2014

GUEST COLUMN: School Board asks residents to support school budget

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By the Williston School Board

Please support the Williston School District and vote “yes” on the 2013–2014 budget. This is our second attempt at passing a budget that provides sufficient funding to maintain the quality education that our community expects.

The revised budget of $17,253,639 represents a 3.8 percent increase from the previous year. This is a significant reduction from the budget previously put forth to the community on Town Meeting Day. The previous budget represented a 5.09 percent increase. The Williston School District is able to make these cuts in the amount of approximately $215,000.00 without reducing the teaching staff or programs.

These cuts come from two primary sources. First, after hearing from our constituents, the Williston School Board decided to eliminate the 1–to–1 iPad initiative. Second, the revised budget reflects a reduction in budgeted health care costs. Health care costs will increase by 10 percent, instead of the projected 14 percent reflected in the previous budget.

The school board and administration worked hard in the face of a number of challenges to create this budget. One of the main challenges is that many of the expenses driving the school budget continue to increase despite declining enrollment. Fuel for school buses increased by 8 percent, wage increases for faculty are mandated by the collective bargaining agreement, and health care costs are still up a significant 10 percent. Meanwhile, funding from federal grants that provided a buffer for instructional support in the areas of literacy and math have diminished substantially.

Despite these challenges, the school budget maintains our children’s academic programs. Instructional supports for literacy and math curricula previously funded with federal grants will be continued. Other critical programs such as summer school and Connecting Youth mentoring will be preserved.

We are fortunate to have a school district that is focused on providing an excellent education for our community’s children. Teachers are dedicated, well trained, and effective in helping kids reach their full potential. Administrators have created a positive school climate to foster learning and growth for every student. And, one cannot say enough about the engaged parents and community members that support our schools.

The vote is scheduled for May 7, 2013. Voters may cast votes at any time between now and May 7 by stopping in Town Hall. With your support for the 2013–2014 school budget, we can maintain the quality education our community expects, which is an investment in our children and our future.

The Williston School Board includes Joshua Diamond, Kevin  Mara, Giovanna Boggero, Deb Baker–Moody and Kevin Brochu.

 
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