In support of the Springfield School District budget

Dear Editor,

I am writing you today to share my support for the Springfield Vermont School Budget that goes to vote March 2, 2021.

The budget that goes to the voters March 2 is a reduction in educational spending of 2.34%. A lot of effort has been made by our staff, board, and budget committee. Folks in many cases divided up and met with each individual school to ensure we are putting forth the right budget. A large amount of time reviewing and fine-tuning this budget has been given. This budget will allow us to meet the needs of our students. Reductions have been made where possible. The biggest increase in this budget is healthcare costs. Our healthcare agreements are now negotiated statewide in Montpelier. While I celebrate a reduction in our tax rate, I do want to point out that part of this reduction are funds not spent last year because of Covid-19. I do not expect us to see reductions becoming a common thing in years to come.

In Springfield, and I believe in much of our state, it is very important that we carefully reshape our districts in a way that will reduce costs everywhere possible; however, done in a way that does not take away from the quality education we are providing our students.

As you may have heard or will hear, we did make a 0.5 teacher position reduction to music, art, and PE at Springfield High School. We do this at the recommendation of our administration and I do believe it is the right thing to do. These reductions do not eliminate these areas of education, but instead slim down the number of classes we are offering each day in these classes. At Springfield High School we are moving from two full-time art and PE teachers to 1.5. In music, we are moving from one full-time teacher to 0.5. I completely believe these classes are of utmost importance to the successful education of all our children. Our current enrollments in these classes simply cannot support the current staffing, and this is why I have gone along with the reductions. If enrollments and needs change in a future year, I would support increasing the three 0.5 positions to something greater.

We have been working to redesign our district to both protect and improve our kids’ education while also protecting our citizens from increased tax burden. We will continue to work diligently to align things so we can make further improvements while also minimizing any additional burden on the taxpayer in the year(s) to come.

You will also see on the ballet that we are asking voters to approve the creation of a Budget Stabilization Fund and to fund it with $400,000, which is part of the surplus from last year. Again, for the most part, this surplus we had was because of monies not spent last year. There were many scenarios where it was decided not to make certain purchases or saw a reduction in operational expenses because it was so unclear what hidden expenses we may incur as we worked through Covid last year and prepared for our current year. I do believe by creating and funding the stabilization fund, taxpayers will be shielded from the year-to-year ups and downs.

I’ll give you an example of a closer-to-home explanation to help you understand why we are looking to create this fund. Amongst other reasons, because of state and federal grants, mandates, and funding changes in our schools, we can easily find financials hard to keep predictable and steady. Can you imagine if your employer said, “For the next year we’re going to pay you $10 more per hour but just for this next year, then the following year we’ll reduce your hourly rate by $20 per hour,” so the extra monies paid can be recouped by your employer. We would all be excited to be bringing in more money. However, when our hourly rate went down $20 per hour, we would not be so excited. Many folks would have become use to living off the higher rate and would have a hard time managing monthly finances. This stabilization fund will help us to keep tax rates steadier and not pass on big increases or decreases to the tax payer year over year.

I ask you to support our budget to ensure we can continue to be a strong district and give our kids the education they deserve.


Michael Griffin

Springfield School Board Director

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