West River Education District set to vote on revised budget

TOWNSHEND — The West River Education District, composed of the towns of Townshend, Newfane, Jamaica, Brookline, with representation from Windham, will have a re-vote on Tuesday, April 30, on the revised budget for grades 7-12 for the 2019-20 school year.

Last month, at the vote held March 26, voters approved the first part of the school budget for the district for grades pre-K through 6. The second part of the proposed budget for the upper grades was voted down.

An informational meeting will be held on Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m., for the voters in the WRED towns to gather with board members at Leland & Gray Middle-High School in Townshend to ask questions and discuss the revised grade 7-12 school budget.

According to a news release, at the regular WRED board meeting on April 8, the board heard from members of the public that they would have preferred more details from the board about the 2019-20 school budget in order to make an informed vote on the matter.

On the ballot of March 26, the total expense for school funding for all grades for the coming year was “artificially” separated into two parts - one part for the lower grades, and one part for the upper grades.

Fewer than 10 percent of the registered voters in the district cast a ballot last time, and the board is now emphasizing to voters that their next vote on April 30, even though it is only for part of the overall funding for the newly unified district, will affect all the schools in Townshend, Newfane, Jamaica, and Windham.

There was further discussion at the prior board meeting about providing the public with a clearer explanation at the April 25 informational meeting about the formula that is used to determine the figure for the spending per equalized pupil.

At the upcoming gathering, the board will break down that formula. The WRED board voted at its regular April meeting on April 8 to take $100,000 out of the proposed budget, and those cuts, none of which will affect the students' educational opportunities, will also be explained by the board at the informational meeting.

The reductions were related to delaying costs for facilities. The financials on the revised proposed budget can be viewed online at www.windhamcentral.org by clicking on the link there.

The proposed budget for grades 7-12 is $6,402,943. It is estimated that this proposed budget, if approved, will result in education spending of $22,369 per equalized pupil. No sign-in and no app is required to view any part of the WRED board's records.

The board recently mailed a brochure to the voter checklists in the five towns announcing the coming April 30 re-vote, as well as the April 25 informational meeting. Copies of the brochure are also available at the Windham Central Supervisory Union office at 1219 VT-Route 30 in Townshend.

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