St. Johnsbury folks will be going to another meeting in the near future.
On the recommendation of Superintendent David Baker, St. Johnsbury's school directors voted last week to call a special town meeting, Aug. 4, to reconsider the school budget. Baker wants to take more of the anticipated extra state aid and apply it to eliminating the school district's bonded indebtedness of just over $400,000, and get rid of the carryover debt from the previous year. He says this action would save the district four years of exorbitant debt payments and the cumbersome interest payments that accompany such debt.
We're happy to say the new superintendent has an excellent idea. We support his proposal - providing the money is used for that purpose.
We strongly caution the school board not to use any portion of the state aid to create new programs or new teaching and staff positions. We remember the sad days of the Kunin era when Montpelier chose to keep the surplus rather than return it to the taxpayers. The Statehouse politicos spent the money on new programs requiring funding in future years. And Vermont was in trouble when the surplus was gone. We must not make the same mistake in St. Johnsbury. The school board should use the money to eliminate bonded indebtedness - not create new fiscal problems down the road.
And while we're at it, we applaud new school director Robert Ward for casting the lone vote on the board against the new teachers' contract. We think Ward spoke for most taxpayers when he said: "We need to look at what we have and the limited pool of money. I don't think this is the most efficient and beneficial use of our money."