The original Springfield school budget was defeated on Town Meeting Day. Recently, the School Board, of which I am a member, unanimously voted to put forth a new proposed budget to the voters. The new school budget includes further staff cuts and results in approximately a one-cent tax rate increase.

A goal of the School Board is to have a fiscally responsible budget that is centered on the education of our students. My core belief as a board member is that the education of our students is the primary objective. We need to accomplish this goal with a pragmatic budget. As a town, we face challenges from a declining grand list, increasing state educational mandates, decreasing enrollment and an increasing number of special education students. Springfield is not alone in the before-mentioned challenges, as this is a statewide dilemma.

A strong school system leads to solutions to all of these challenges. A student who feels valued by the town and school is more apt to remain in the community. This new graduate may purchase a home or start a business, adding to the grand list. As this graduate becomes involved in the community, he or she may add to the declining enrollment or volunteer for community positions.

The strength of many towns lies in the schools. Parents will purchase homes in towns with successful schools with options for their children; this is where Springfield has set its sights. We have taken a step in the right direction last year as we saw increased test scores in 10 of 12 areas. We need to continue this growth by approving a student-centered budget.

As a parent with two children in the district, I urge the voters to support the budget. The proposed budget is an effort to maintain the educational outcomes afforded to our students while reducing spending. As a father, I am concerned that further reductions will result in a diminished education for my children.

Fredrick Douglass said, “It is easier to educate a child than to fix a broken man.” We need to invest in our children now as we look to the future of our town.

Please join me by supporting Springfield’s school budget. There will be an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at Springfield High School. More details about the budget can be obtained by calling the Springfield District Office at 885-5141. Voting will take place Tuesday, April 30, at Riverside Middle School. I welcome your comments and concerns at tpalmer@ssdvt.org.

Troy Palmer is a parent and Springfield School Board member.

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