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The Stamford School Board was able to agree on $60,000 in cuts after meeting for the third time.

Stamford School Board Approves Budget Proposal

By John DurkaniBerkshires Staff
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STAMFORD, Vt. — After more than an hour of heated discussion on Thursday night, the School Board finally approved a $1,678,575 budget for fiscal 2013 to be voted on at a special town meeting, tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 14, at 7 p.m.
This new budget is a $60,667 decrease from the previous proposal of $1.8 million that was shot down at Town Meeting on March 5. This proposed spending plan does not include additional warrant articles, such as funding for computer equipment, and will leave Principal Beth Choquette as a full-time principal.
At last week's meeting on March 28, the board failed to agree on cuts and decided it needed to discuss concerns about the budget with teachers. School Director Nancy LeSage, the appointed teacher liaison, spoke with the faculty for about two hours on Tuesday, but Chairwoman Cynthia Lamore said the board would need more time to evaluate their concerns.
"We haven't had time to go over and address all the questions I don't want to just skim these things over and not give them the due diligence or concentration they need," Lamore said.
Afterward, Annette Czarnecki, a special education teacher, read a statement prepared by the Stamford School staff that addressed requests and concerns relating to the prospect of implementing a half-time principal. The staff's concerns ranged from the possibility of contract violations, which would happen if a teacher were replaced without the association being informed, to how current administrative tasks – including hiring, evaluations, scheduling, meetings, activities, and emergency situations – would be performed. 
The School Board did have the support to move toward the budget that included $60,667 in cuts.
"Concerns that this faculty has is in the cutting of the principal, not the $60,000," Czarnecki said. "That doesn’t affect anything that we do."
From there, the School Board approved the proposed budget  unopposed, but with LeSage abstaining. However, Lamore addressed whether the town would even approve the $1.7 million budget.
"So if we look at that budget two years ago, my feeling is that the $60,000 isn’t going to hit the target," Lamore said. "We need to be fiscally responsible to the town. At the Town Meeting, there was a lot of talk about the governor's directive to all the boards to stay within a 3 percent increase to all the budgets. We were at 12 percent."
However, others think the town will oblige, especially if they see figures that show a decrease in 
"I think that if you've got a budget that will cut $60,000, I think the town will respect that you really tried to cut the budget, especially if the tax rate goes down," said Heather Tietgens, a former board member.
The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 12.

Stamford Tax Factors Stamford School Staff Letter
Tags: school budget,   town meeting,   

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