LYNDON — Kingdom East, the newly unified school district with seven schools and serving eight towns, passed its first-ever budget on Tuesday, with all towns voting for the $33,998,997 spending plan for the district’s first year of operations.

The budget represented a decrease in spending compared with the individual school budgets tallied for the prior year which totaled $34,036,608.

Kingdom East’s first superintendent, Jen Botzojorns said, “It passed 408 yes to 148 no.”

The votes for the new district’s eight member towns are co-mingled, said Botzojorns. “We know the number from each town, we do not know how many yes or no from each town due to the (votes being) co-mingled.”

A total of 569 people voted as follows: 102 in Burke; 87 in Concord; 48 in Lunenburg; 111 in Lyndon; 66 in Newark; 25 in Sheffield; 71 in Sutton; and 59 in Wheelock, reported Botzojorns.

The new district formed under Act 46, the 2015 state school district consolidation law which offered four years of tax incentives to merging districts. The law aimed to right-size school districts to create larger regional systems that state officials hope will find cost efficiencies as well as expanded and more equitable opportunities for Vermont’s public school students.

In many regions, including the Northeast Kingdom, the state has seen drops in public school students for the past 20 years, but school budgets have continued to climb, leading to property tax outcry which the Legislature responded to by creating Act 46 during the 2015 legislative session.

Kingdom East was voted on in the eight member towns at their annual town meetings in 2017, and this past year, the new district has been getting off the ground as the existing supervisory unions wind down.

The towns making up Kingdom East are: Burke, Concord, Lunenburg, Lyndon, Newark, Sheffield, Sutton and Wheelock. Miller’s Run School serves students from Sheffield and Wheelock.

At the second annual meeting of the Kingdom East School District, held Monday at 7:30 p.m. on the eve of the first budget vote, the board voted to move its annual meeting up as well as its budget vote - to coincide henceforth with the annual town meeting date the second Tuesday in March every year.

Because of when the annual meeting date was set at the first annual meeting late last May - for April 9 - the board had to hold the vote on the budget after that date this year.

Jen Barone of Burke, a retired CNSU administrator, was named moderator for the district. Dawn Dwyer, town clerk of Lyndon, was elected clerk, and Dianna Simpson, town clerk of Sutton, was elected as treasurer for the board.

Kingdom East School District held its second official annual meeting Monday evening.

The annual meeting for Kingdom East will next year be held on the Monday evening before the annual town meetings across the district.

There were about two dozen citizens at the meeting, coming from a number of different towns, and voting on the handful of mainly housekeeping articles on the warning for the annual meeting, which lasted just under 15 minutes.

At Tuesday’s daylong vote by Australian ballot in the eight member towns, five school directors were also elected to the board. There were no contests in the election.


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