School Ballot Items

Burlington Schools — Past, Present, and Future…

Hi neighbors – On Town Meeting Day, the Burlington School District will have three items on the ballot. Taken together, they address the District’s past, present, and its future.

One item, approved unanimously for the ballot by the City Council last night, is for authority to issue $9.7 million in general obligation bonds to perform school safety improvements and critical repairs at three schools — Flynn, C.P. Smith, and Barnes. The money will be used to replace 50-year old boilers, improve energy efficiency, update electrical systems, improve ADA accessibility, and improve security.

A complete explanation of the proposed work and the process the School Board went through to select these three schools is available on the District website, http://www.bsdvt.org.

There has been considerable discussion among Board members and at the City Council regarding ADA accessibility at the Edmunds complex. The Board has proposed a line item in next year’s budget to begin evaluating the work that has to be done. The Board will also continue its discussions with the City administration to determine what financial resources are available to perform the work. There are a variety of different possibilities, and the Board is committed to resolving the issue as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A second ballot item deals with the District’s present needs — the budget for the Fiscal 2010 year. I covered the budget at length in a previous post, so please contact me if you have any questions.

The third and final ballot item (also approved unanimously by the City Council) looks to the District’s future. The District is asking voters to increase its annual bonding authority for capital improvements from $750,000 to $2 million per year. These funds will be used to perform on-going improvements that fall outside the District’s regular preventative maintenance schedule. For instance, the windows at Edmunds were replaced using some or all of the existing capital improvement funds over the last four years. Not only have the windows restored the building’s appearance (no more plywood!), but they have also provided substantial energy savings. Information about the District’s current plans for the next five years of capital improvements is on the District website.

The Burlington School District currently supervises and maintains property worth $95 million. The industry standard for a capital improvement budget of this type is 2-3%. Increasing the District’s budget to $2 million will put it in the low end of that range, but it should go a long ways to keeping the District’s buildings functioning and safe in the years to come.

I hope that you will support each of the items that the District is bringing forward, as the Board works to resolve existing problems, to provide a quality education for the city’s students, and to maintain the District’s resources. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Commissioner Amy Werbel (awerbel@bsdvt.org) will be at Speeder & Earl’s from 10-12 on Saturday, 1/31, to answer questions about the schools and the upcoming ballot items. I will hold a similar session on February 7.

Fred Lane
12 Catherine Street
Ward 5 School Commissioner and Finance Chair
FLane@bsdvt.org

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