Voters Share Their Voices on St. J School Budget

st.j voteST. JOHNSBURY- Voters came out today to vote on the 22.3 million dollar school budget which is a 16% increase from last year's budget. Part of the larger budget is an increase in students attending the St. Johnsbury academy and special education requirements.

Chris Wenger Chair of the School Board says, "When we get new students we have to pay their tuition as well, that's part of what has driven increases in the budget over the past few years, otherwise we have some rising special education costs that's a significant portion of the increase as well."

 

Another part of the budget being discussed is some of the grants that are expiring and the school needs money to fund the programs. Some of the grants are tobacco safety and education grant...a preschool education grant...the family place program and the CATCH after school program.

Chris Wenger Chair of the School board says, "We're trying to make sure that we can continue those programs because we find them all to be extremely crucial. You know when you get a program set up through a grant, the grants run out at some point."

Dr. Brian Ricca the Superintendent of the school district says he's proud the district is meeting the needs of their students and the increases in the budget are driven by the students, "All of our increases are really pointed at our students. There's very little that anyone could point to in our budget in terms of an increase that someone would be able to say oh that's just a want."

People of the town have spoken out about their feelings towards the programs and the budget. Willie Nickerson a St. Johnsbury resident said at last night's informational meeting, "I have a young family and we've taken advantage of a couple of those programs. And like you said there phenomenal. Just the resources, I've grown up in this town and I've been here a long time. And I didn't know how to access those resources so going to the Family Place and to have someone to talk to and see what was there is incredibly valuable."

Deborah Turner a resident of St. Johnsbury said, "School is very important and children need to learn a lot and with this age they have several venues to learn but you have to make sure it's correct and absolutely true and so I think that money is well spent."

School officials are confident the budget will help their students grow and was made with the students and families in mind. "Obviously, I support the school budget here. I helped build it, I was candid and honest in terms of what I thought we needed in order to do right by the students of St. Johnsbury. I sent out two surveys since I'm new to really try to get a sense of what the school is doing well and what it needs to continue to do well. And by far the most overwhelming response was we are serving the needs of our students well" says Ricca.

Voting polls will be opened until 7pm at the St. Johnsbury School and results will be announced later this evening.

What's Coming Up At 5:30

What's Coming Up Tonight at 5:30

 

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