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.
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.
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The beautiful thing about a democracy is that the vocal minority does not get their way. Just by showing up at these meetings and causing a fuss doesn't mean you have the support of the whole town. A handful of people doing most of the talking doesn't translate into votes. One person, one vote. My guess is that this budget does not go far enough. Ultimately it will be the townspeople who will decide.
Just a thought, but I think it would benefit the school board next year if they tally all the costs to the town (including holding additional town meetings, paper, mileage, consultants, lawyers, etc) that are incurred due to rejecting the initial budget.
The cuts that are being proposed do not give the town long term savings. We will be right back to square one next year. And with dwindling enrollment, the cuts could be even deeper. There will be, at most, 20 students in the middle school next year. And that is a generous number, because there will most likely be more kids pulled out if things remain the same. The people who are insisting on keeping their head in the sand are not looking at the big picture. Go ahead and keep your principal, but don't complain when there's no school in Stamford to send your children to. Think of the children.
To the couple of people who disagreed with the first comment: What exactly are you disagreeing with? That this is a democracy? That the vocal minority doesn't automatically get it's way by causing a fuss in public? That it's one person one vote? Do you plan on getting more than one ballot at town meeting? If you don't like the democratic system, maybe you should consider relocating.
Don't take disagreements too seriously. Some people click disagree just for the fun of it. I've had people disagree when I've wished fire victims or a new business well. Some people are actually disagreeing but some aren't. Let's see how many disagree :)
How about a public apology to one audience member! The disrespectful comment showed no tack, was toughtless and showed no sensitivity at all! Most of all it had no impacted on the budget! The only thing that was accomplished was hurting a lovely person with a heart of gold!
I'm not bothering to attend those meetings anymore because it's not worth the drama. And you have a few people who like to hear themselves talk and don't make any sense half the time. They complain that the board comes to these meetings without a plan, but they won't shut their mouths long enough for them to make one. Yet if the board met without posting it to the public they would be the first to cry foul. I don't need to go there and run my mouth. I will let my vote do the talking on May 14th. Can't wait to silence the critics.
Blame it on whoever you want but the truth is the School Board made the final desicion on voting to bring the budget to the town without cutting the position of the principal to half time. The vote was 4 to 1. I do not believe a vocal minority as you have called people numerous times could have done this on their own. Maybe you should look at the letter just below the article that was read outload by a teacher representative that evening, on behalf of all the teachers at the school. The letter clearly states they are not in favor of the cut to the principal. I am looking forward to the meeting next month!
Contracts are up for the Principal at the beginning of june and if she is as terrible as people say she is then it is up to the school board to not renew her contract. In the state of Vermont the school board has the power over contract renewal, hiring and firing. There seems to be a little confusion with certain people who believe not approving the school budget is going to help solve your issue you have against the current principal. The fact is it will not! The people who want the budget to pass want what is best for the school and the taxpayers. This dream of long term savings in this economy is unrealistic right now and is not going to happen especially without a plan. Every school district in this country is going thru a economic crisis. Look at Clarksburg and their current situation. The good thing about a budget is that it's once a year. The current budget for 2013 is going to decrease from last year. So therefore, your fighting the wrong battle. The only way for the principal to be let go is by the school board. The problem is they need to work together and do their research and besides Mr. Sarkis I have yet to see this happen. Every year they try and they fail. Why? Ask your elected board members that one. But stop trying to intimidate people with your get out of town attitude!
The vote was 4 to 1 because the School Board decided to leave it to the town so they wouldn't have to take the personal heat for the budget. Smart move on their part. And it was Mr Honig who made the motion to put it to the town. Not Sarkis, but he seems to be getting al the credit. Sarkis is in the clear minority on the Board, as is his supporters in the town. And it's these loud mouthed people who are the bullies. That's why the majority of the townspeople stayed away. Glad you are looking forward to the meeting. Hope you are not too disappointed.
Certain people keep talking about what's best for the children, but if you look at the budget cuts, it is the CHILDREN who are making the sacrifices, not the principal or the teachers. There is $20,000 sitting there that could be cut if she went to half time, and then the kids could get back some books, supplies and technical equipment.
You are correct in stating that the principal will not necessarily leave if this happens, which is fine. Let her pay her dues as a teacher which most principals have. She is a prime example of the so-called Peter Principle. Look it up.
'The Principal' wrote: "The only way for the principal to be let go is by the school board."
If you did your homework by reading the principal's contract, you would know that it is virtually impossible for the schoolboard to let the principal go without the support of the superintendent. Only he is allowed to evaluate her, and then sends his reccomendation to the board. In order to override this, the board has to give, within 90 days, a substantial reason why they will not be signing the contract. Without airtight documentation which would most likely have to be supplied by the superintendent, the board's hands are tied.
If you don't like the way the board handles things, you are free to run for office next March. But good luck getting elected if you are a Sarkis supporter- there are several people chomping at the bit to run against him. Looks like he will have an uphill climb.
And for those who keep referring to Mrs. Czarnecki's letter, be reminded that none of the teachers are residents of Stamford. And whole they should be allowed to have some input, they do not have a vote.
The superintendent is totally unapproachable in this matter, among others. He does 1% listening and 99% talking. If he doesn't like what you say he will intimidate and/or threaten to sue you. Real nice.
Yes, it is about the budget. The taxpayers want to get their money's worth. The principal needs to start earning her keep.
In my opinion, the letter from the faculty is meaningless. Of course I'm going to sign a letter in support of my boss, if it means the difference between keeping or losing my job, or the difference between good or deplorable working conditions. I wonder why we have lost some really good teachers in the not so distance past? Also, Vermont State statute allows a school board to non-renew a principal's contract simply because they want to change the direction of the school. They DO NOT need superintendent approval or support to not renew the principal's contract. It does not have to have anything do to with a punitive action, simply a change of direction for the school. I vote for that change!
>>Vermont State statute allows a school board to non-renew a principal's contract simply because they want to change the direction of the school.>>
If this is true, I wish the Board had acted on this. Pownal used this reason without any reprecussions. And they gave their principal a year notice according to that contract. Our board's deadline according to our principal's contract was March 30th. The board has to give her written notice within 90 days of her contract renewal.
I agree that we have lost a lot of good teachers. Most of the teachers who remain were hand picked by the current principal, Sarkis, a principal appointed parent, and the former board chairperson, all of whom will readily do the principal's bidding. So of course the teachers signed that letter. But none of them live in Stamford so they won't have a vote come May 14th.
Seems like every year it is the same complaints in Stamford. Dont think it has anything to do with the economy, it has to do with the same people nagging about the same things over and over again. Some people need to get a life outside Stamford VT!!!!!
>>>Question: Does anyone know if state law allows non-residents to speak at the town meetings without prior town approval>>>
Answer: The moderator can exercise discretion as to whether or not to recognize a non-resident or resident but non-voter who wishes to speak, but it is generally discouraged. Discussion should be mostly restricted to voting taxpayers. Also, many towns separate voters and non-voters in different seating areas so non-voters cannot vote verbally or by raising their hand. Another method is to distribute colored cards to voters that they may hold up during votes. The most fool-proof way is to request a paper ballot.
I believe that the town moderator has been alerted to these concerns, so steps will most likely be taken to avoid any mishaps.
I am sick of ALL of this! Certain school board members and the LOUD minority are making this town look like idiots!!! A large percentage of Stamford students have "helicopter" parents! They hover over teachers, administrators and try to control the out come of everything for their child(ren). To the point that one Now school board member says her son was treated unfairly and she didn't know why??? boo hoo those slips you signed should have been a warning!!!
So to those that think the threat to leave ... go ahead pull your kids out ... you will just have to fly a little further to air your complaints (because of course everyone is at fault not you or your little angels... it will be the same elsewhere!!!)
I am glad that people want to run for the school boards we need a change up and fast!!! However I believe Jim Sarkis is the only one doing his homework and providing the info that was needed for coming to an agreement with the budge! Everyone else has their own agendas ... principle, superintendant ... and of course not to mention the Lamore and Bugbee follower!!
So yes I have just stated what I see/hear and what people outside see/hear also ... what I would like to see is the students accomplishments, programs etc in the local papers instead of this nonsense!!
In response to "Resident's" comments, first of all, if you are going to launch personal attacks and mention names, you need to sign your own name. It's cowardly to hide behind the anonymity of the internet, which is nothing short of cyber bullying. I don't know anything about signed slips or whatever, but I do know that Sarkis is in the minority like it or not. The board members were voted in by two-thirds of the vote. The LOUD minority are his little cronies. And it's really hypocritical to accuse the principal of having an agenda when you are feeding right into it. How does it feel to be her puppet? And by the way, maybe you should spend some time learning how to spell instead of coming on here and looking ignorant. And I think the "helicopter" parents as you call tem ae just trying to do their job- being parents and advocating for the children they love. And they wouldn't have to hover if the school was doing their job. It wasn't like this when Leo was there. They could trust that their children would be ok. Now is a different story. As for daring them to pull their kids out, be careful wha you wish for. If this trend keeps up, Stamford School will be a distant memory.
As you can see from looking at your own comment ... it is easy to misspell it is not ignorant...if it were you would be ignorant also!!
The budget is one issue the concerns anyone may have with the principal is another ... to use the budget process as a way to get "the principle to quit" is wrong!!! And the fact that the certain school board directors are in favor of that process is appalling!!!
Resident, I still have dialup here in the hills so sometimes letters are dropped from words because of the slow speed... and I was talking about your continuously spelling principal "principle". That's not a typo. But maybe you lack principles, just as the principal does. It is especially apparent by the fact that you skirted around my main issue, which is that you are launching personal attacks against board members in a cowardly manner. I can't believe the editor even approved your comment.