Increases Proposed for the St. Johnsbury School District

stj school signST. JOHNSBURY- A 16% increase is being proposed for the St. Johnsbury School District at this years town meeting day. The proposed budget is just under 22. 3 million dollars. School officials say the increase comes from a number of things, including grants that are expiring and needing to find ways to fund them. Some of those grants are the CATCH After School program, the Family Place program, and a tobacco education grant.

 

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."

An increase in the number of students attending the St. Johnsbury Academy and special education requirements are also adding to the increased budget. Wenger 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."

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.

Dr. Ricca also came up with the idea to have a bus company provide transportation for residents who cant't make it out to voting tomorrow. " Part of what I heard as when we started to discuss the budget in the fall was that there wasn't a lot of voter turnout." The town and the school district are splitting the cost of a bus provided by Butler's Bus Service to have the bus run through the town at certain points for residents to take to the school as voting happens tomorrow.

The bus will start at quarter to the hour starting at Mt. Pleasant Trailer Park, Green Lantern Trailer Park, Mountain View Drive, Down Pleasant Street, finishing up at Riley's Fish Shack and ending up at the school.

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