St. Johnsbury Revamps School Budget

stjschoolSAINT JOHNSBURY - With Town Meeting Day set to take place for Saint Johnsbury in less than two weeks, one major concern faces both the municipal and the school district. The possibility of a budget increase.

Many school districts across the state have been dealing with the issue of consolidation.  Here in Caledonia County, that's no different.  The St. Johnsbury School is facing consolidation due to budgets.  The issue stems from Act 46, which gives the schools the option to voluntarily merge in order to create a better education for  students enrolled. In theory by merging resources, students would have better access to equipment and class offerings.

Faced with the issue of a student overload, residents of St. Johnsbury will vote on March 1st to add a tuition reserve fund for the school.

In previous years, the school has pulled money from its lower grades in order to pay for the needs of high school. Superintendent, Ranny Bledsoe, believes having to pull money from one part of the budget takes away from the other parts.

"It's a situation where we're essentially having to pull from one part of our budget to pay the other part," says Bledsoe. "It's not fair, It's not fair that kids in this school can't get certain books that we know we need because we have additional high school students."

However, compared to certain issues that other schools are facing, this issue is considered small. Bledsoe shared her thoughts on this issue, with optimism because the school will have a 3% budget increase for the upcoming year.

"We don't have student reduction, we don't have a lot of problems that are really causing budget challenges in Vermont so we don't have drops in students," says Bledose. "We have a very stable student population and we've had a very slow growing budget."

With the issue being as small as it is, Superintendent Bledsoe believes it will cost an estimated $16,000 to educate each high school student enrolled in the Saint Johnsbury School next year.

Interested community members can meet on February 29th at the St. Johnsbury School to voice any concerns or questions they may have regarding this issue.

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