by Janine Lesser
Vice Chairman, ConVal School Board
It’s that time of year–time to vote on the ConVal school budget. The day is March 8th in your local polling place. All households in the nine towns in our regional school district will receive the annual flyer with the budget and the warrant articles, and information on your voting locations and times.
We all know it’s crucial we make good decisions. If you have children enrolled in the district schools, if you are a community-oriented person who believes in investing in our children, or if you are simply thinking about real estate values and taxes-the school budget vote makes us sit up and pay attention. But the issues are complicated, and straight forward, understandable facts can sometimes be hard to come by. The ConVal School Board would like to offer some information that we believe is important to your decision. The Board has posted a series of articles on the ConVal website, under the School Board link on the budget development process. The information includes the proposed 2022-23 budget, a PowerPoint on the proposed budget, the warrant, a sample ballot, an explanation of the trust funds, the proposed teacher contract (collective bargaining agreement), and information on how property taxes are determined. You can find that information here: https://schoolboard.convalsd.net/budget/. Here is a link to the January 25th Community Forum, whose two topics were the 2022-23 budget and the PreK for All warrant article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWR78WOKlnU. You can also contact your school board representative with questions, those representatives are also listed under the school board link.
This year has seen the usual host of challenges, but with the addition of a sustained effort to manage the ongoing effects of COVID19, and a sustained effort to withstand a host of detrimental pieces of legislation and decisions coming from Concord. ConVal is developing its next five-year strategic plan, with an eye on recovering from the effects of the last two years, and using the lessons learned to move forward. Our communities have done a fine job of providing input, and still have opportunities to weigh in via focus groups. The draft plan will be available for community feedback.
Our schools continued to gain recognition and awards despite these challenges: Linda Compton, school nurse at Antrim Elementary School, was nominated for the “National Life Changer of the Year” award and Cindi Hodgdon was recognized with the “Outstanding German Educator” award by a national organization. The Region 14 Applied Technology Center at ConVal hosted a open house for close to 600 regional students and community members over the past week. The high school students earned 40 awards in the 2022 Scholastic Art Awards competition. ConVal Theatre Arts is alive and well with their stage production of “Frozen: Kids.” The ConVal athletics program has earned many achievements, including the unified basketball, boys basketball, soccer. Our elementary and middle schools sponsor many family and community involvement activities year-round.
The budget for which we are asking support is conservative: the operating budget has a .65% increase over the current year’s budget. The warrant articles include a new three-year teacher contract that the School Board fully supports as fair to the teachers and staff, and to taxpayers. Another warrant article requests the funds to expand the PreK For All program to the final three classrooms, giving the district the ability to accommodate all preschool children in a play-based program.
In the face of declining state revenues, the school board fully recognizes both its responsibility to tax payers and to the children and families of these nine communities. The need for an education that prepares our students for the rigors of independent and informed decisions and action in our democracy have never been greater. The Board is fully invested in comprehensively addressing one of our most pressing problems—managing the cost of education while maintaining excellence and equity in education for all students. We hope that you agree and vote yes for the budget.