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To The Editor:
The incorrectly reported 9 percent increase in the proposed Waitsfield School budget was both alarming and misrepresentative of the diligent, long-range planning that has been completed by the Waitsfield School Board over the past several years. The proposed 2012-2013 school budget represents an increase of 0.9 percent (less than 1 percent) over the previous year’s spending. Significant factors in this budget are a move to a full-day kindergarten program and return of $35,578 fund balance remaining from last year’s budget to the town's taxpayers to offset the impact of the budget. Over the previous two years, the Waitsfield School Board brought budgets that were first a (negative) –2.2 percent and then 1.6 percent increases over the previous year’s spending. In addition to general reductions, these budgets have reduced staffing in kindergarten (elimination of one classroom), paraprofessionals and preschool (combining 3- and 4-year-olds in one class) in response to our slightly declining enrollment.
Looking ahead, we intend to reduce a classroom teaching position in 2013-2014 in response to anticipated enrollment. Long-range planning is also in place to address our wonderful but aging facility. We have taken advantage of federal and state incentives and grants to update the heating and ventilation systems, retrofit and replace lighting fixtures, improve insulation and install more energy-efficient windows and doors. This year we created an early education focused playground, again taking advantage of federal funds along with generous contributions from the Waitsfield PTA and the Mad River Recreation District; we look forward to the next phase of this project after the spring thaw.
Throughout this and past budget seasons, the mantra of the school board has been to provide our town's children with the highest quality education we can for each child for the fewest possible dollars, and it will continue to guide us as we craft budgets to meet both the needs our students and our broader community.
Kaiya Korb, principal
Waitsfield Elementary School