$3 Million Bond Narrowly Passes

st j bondST. JOHNSBURY- St. Johnsbury taxpayers narrowly passed a $3 million bond for the St. Johnsbury School by just 11 votes, 411 against 400. The bond addresses two key issues; a redesign of front office locations and entryway design for added school security, and a new wood chip heating system.


At an informational meeting Monday night, the heating system addition and upgrades were the main topic discussed. Keith Robinson, architect and project manager for the project from Black River Design was on hand to discuss plans and the need for the upgrade. "On all the coldest days of the year, two boilers are all you need to keep the building running." The wood chip boilers would be considered more reliable, and would have a wood chip system that works with the oil boilers.

At the moment, the school is using two boilers for heating instead of three, as the third is unrepairable. The St. Johnsbury School Superintendent, Dr. Brian Ricca, has explained multiple times why the addition and upgrades to the heating infrastructure are needed. Ricca and a few of the board members stated that if one of the functioning boilers were to break down, the school would have to shut down due to the extreme temperatures in the winter.

"We'll shutdown. It's not that you can say, 'Well we're going to cut out 10 days of education.' We're mandated to have a certain number of days of education. We're going to extend it into the summer. There's a lot of drawbacks to not getting it done," said Deane Rankin, Vice Chair of the School Board.

The decision to move several offices and redesign the front vestibule is in to align the school with current safety and security standards.

Keith Robinson explained that they are going to, "move the office that's back in the middle of the school, move them up to the very front. Which is the front half of the cafeteria and take that portion of the cafeteria and basically move it back where the office is."

"The school needing these replacements and upgrades has nothing to do with neglect and no failure for need to upgrade," explained Ricca.

Joseph Achilles, a St. Johnsbury Voter and Behavioral Specialist at St. Johnsbury School said, "I feel like it will help our students be safe and our school community be safer by allowing this operation between the front door and the entrance."

It is important to consider that the taxes went up 6.7% last year, but the education budget went up 16%. The school budget includes the entire St. Johnsbury School District.

When asked about the cost hit that taxpayers would face on a $150,000 home, Rankin stated that it's about, "Eleven to thirteen dollars. And that's not taking into account income sensitivity. Income Sensitivity, some people because of their incomes pay less property tax so they're going to have less of a hit."

"It's very hard on the taxpayers. On a $150,000 home it's going to be between eleven or twelve dollars not counting in what the state pays," said Robert Lawrence, a St. Johnsbury voter.