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South Burlington voters pass school budget on third vote

Supporters of the school budget hold signs outside of Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington as voters stream in and out of the polling station. Photo by Gail Callahan/VTDigger
Supporters of the school budget hold signs outside of Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington as voters stream in and out of the polling station. Photo by Gail Callahan/VTDigger

By Gail Callahan

For VTDigger

South Burlington voters passed a $49,268,888 school budget Tuesday.

It is the third time this spring city voters have considered a spending plan at the ballot box. Voters originally rejected a proposed fiscal plan at March Town Meeting and once again gave a revised spending plan the thumbs down April 6.

The vote to approve the budget was 3,146 to 2,067. The spending plan is a 4.89 increase over this year’s current budget.

School Commissioner and board clerk Martin LaLonde was pleased with the results. “I’m very happy,” LaLonde said. “Now, we can move ahead.”

In interviews at the polls, voters had mixed opinions. Lee Emmons is a retired South Burlington educator and coach. He said he voted against the budget. His opposition to the Rebel nickname change along with concern about the rapid growth in school budgets fueled his opposition. “I’m voting no because we’re spending too much money,” he said.

Emmons coached sports for years in the district and he is concerned about the course the discussion on the Rebel nickname change has taken and about the ultimate decision made by the school board to drop the Rebel nickname.

“During the time I worked here, I never thought that the Rebel name was associated with the Confederate States of America.”

On social media, the budget passage also prompted an array of comments. Kiya Batmanglidj, who graduated from South Burlington High School and now works in Washington, D.C., as a congressional aide, was a leading voice in the opposition to the Rebel name change.

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