Voters in Essex, Essex Junction and Westford have approved a 2020 school district budget tonight. It passed by a margin of more than 3-to-1, with 719 ‘yes’ votes and 215 people voting ‘no’.
Of the $81,486,555 in the Essex Westford School District budget, $61,411,352 is for education spending. That’s an increase from this year of 1.88%.
“It looked reasonable,” voter Deb McAdoo said. “I didn’t see anything in the budget that flagged my concern, and I also needed to compare it to what the impact on my wallet would be so that I can take care of my own. It looked pretty fair and reasonable to me.”
However, Sandra Dahl, a retired former teacher, isn’t so sure.
“I don’t think we get the entire picture when we’re voting on school budgets, and I think they’re very crafty, the way they create the information for their voters,” she said.
During her 39-year teaching career with Addison Northeast, Dahl says voters shot down school budget proposals many times, “and I think the school district has never learned how to accept or to learn to work with something when the taxpayers do say no,” she added. “And I don’t think they’ve ever learned that here.”
Dahl also says she’s concerned about inequity of school funding from one district to another and how school district mergers under Act 46 have affected much of Vermont.
Essex Westford itself is a product of one of those Act 46 mergers. Voters approved it in 2015 and the current district was formed two years ago.
“To me, it looks like the merger is a good deal and we did save money, and I’m very happy about that,” McAdoo said.
The 2020 Essex Westford budget comes out to $16,104 per student.