Voters approve budgets in two school districts

West River district budget passes on second try; Windham Southeast overwhelmingly OKs budget

Two regional school districts have voter approval for their budgets after votes on June 30.

In a second round of casting ballots, voters of the five-town West River Modified Union Education District (WRMUED) approved the fiscal year 2021 budget.

Voters approved the district's pre-K-6 budget, 341–211.

Voters in the towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney overwhelmingly approved the Windham Southeast School District budget, 1,531–242.

The voters traditionally vote the budget from the floor, but due to COVID-19 safety precautions, this year's budget was voted by Australian ballot.

The WSESD's fiscal year 2021 budget is $51,171,300.

Fourth time a charm

According to new WRMUED Board Chair Al Claussen, the board revised the budget as a whole a fourth time before returning it to voters.

The budget version 4.0 presented to voters on June 30 totaled $12,035,000. It represented a 0.11 percent decrease compared to the previous version defeated on June 10, when voters rejected the pre-K-6 portion of the budget, 218–221.

The new budget represents a 2.77 percent increase over fiscal year 2020.

The board and administration included funds for a new teacher's position but also made multiple cuts across the latest proposed budget, resulting in a net decrease, Claussen said.

The WRMUED's budget funds schools in Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, Townshend, and Windham. The budget is unified pre-K-12; however, the district's articles of agreement call for the budget to be split into two articles - grades pre-K-6 and grades 7-12 - and voted upon separately.

Voters must approve both articles for either budget component to take effect.

The Leland & Gray portion passed, 279–245, on June 10.

Claussen said that, over the summer, the board will investigate long-term sustainability options. According to Claussen, the district needs to find cost savings.

At this point nothing is off the table, he said, noting that the board is confident that the community supports Leland & Gray as its district middle and high school.

The board is sending out a survey to gather feedback from community members and students. Its most recent long-term planning meeting took place July 13.

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