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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Oppose school spending caps

To The Editor:

I want to share my strong concern about the proposed school spending cap in H.526 and encourage others who share this concern to contact their legislators. The cap would require that school districts limit the growth of their budgets to 4 percent the first year and 3.5 percent thereafter unless the budget passed by a vote of 60 percent or more. 
This limit would be imposed regardless of unavoidable or unexpected expenses related to special education, health insurance, energy and unfunded government mandates. Yet these are the kinds of budget items that often make up the lion's share of school budget increases. In Waterbury and Duxbury, costs due to the much needed renovation of our elementary school alone would put us over that cap. These are not examples of out of control spending -- these are real needs.

With this bill, how would an already lean or a small school absorb those kinds of costs and stay within the proposed spending caps other than by compromising core programs? Bigger districts with bigger budgets will continue to be able to spend at higher rates. It sounds like the "haves" will continue to have and the "have nots" will continue to have not.  

In reality, school districts are already working hard to contain costs. According to information from the Joint Fiscal Office, education spending increases have been steadily decreasing in recent years (down from an average of 6.6 percent in 2005 to 4.37 percent increase in 2008 budgets).

In reality, one size does not fit all - for our communities, our schools or our children. Please let your legislators know if you oppose this bill.

Sherry Ziemke
Waterbury Center


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