RNESU board approves budget hike of 2.75%


BRANDON — At their regular meeting last Wednesday, Dec. 15, the RNESU board met for an hour to discuss the current shortage of bus drivers, the continuing effect of the pandemic on the school district, the proposed budget, and heard an update on the ongoing superintendent search.


Superintendent Jeanne Collins briefed the board on the extensive efforts the board is taking to try to ease the shortage of bus drivers throughout the district. She noted the district is advertising for help in the area newspapers, in social media and digital venues, and that the district was still facing shortages. She also said an important avenue could be word-of-mouth advertising and wanted the community to know that the district was offering to pay for training and licensing of drivers, and that there are opportunities to combine the two part-time daily activities of a typical driver (early morning driver to school and after school, with other part-time school positions (such as custodial) into a full-time job position that could offer benefits.


The administration will keep its focus on trying to recruit new bus drivers and encourages the school community to help spread word of the job opportunities.


In its discussion of the proposed district-wide budget for FY 2022, the board approved a proposed budget of $10,733,367, which represents a budget increase of 2.75%. District wide property assessments were up 9.45%, however, which could likely mean the tax rates will remain somewhat stable. A budget surplus of $170,000, which is typical, will be carried over.



In comments related to the COVID 19 pandemic, Collins noted that the entire community needed a break from the constant stain, but that the current resurgence means that is unlikely. “People are tired,” she said, but encouraged everyone to remain vigilant through the next wave of the omicron variant and this winter’s surge of the Delta variant — both of which are expected to hit Vermont and the Northeast now and through the early part of the winter.


Collins noted that the entire second grade at Neshobe Elementary School had been quarantined. In later news last Friday, Collins made the decision to go to remote learning at Neshobe through school break. (See related story.)



Collins also described the Whiting Childcare Partnership Program, to the board, noting that 20 students were enrolled as of Oct. 1, 2021. The program can host two classes of 16 students each in what she described as a “unique learning/daycare environment.” Eleven students attend the program from outside the district, she said, adding that there was demand for a similar program to be located in the southern part of the district.


In other news, Bertrand presented an update of the superintendent’s search, saying it was “well underway” and had hopes of completing the search before Town Meeting. (See related story in this issue.) She noted that the search committee consisted of sic RNESU board members, a consultant, representatives from special services, finance, technology, a principal, a teacher and Melinda Piper, secretary of the superintendent’s office.


As a final action, the board approved an additional 50% increase in the board chair’s compensation, raising it to a total of $900 per year, for the large number of hours the board chair puts into that position.


Note: Gene DeLorenzo contributed to this report.

Share this story:
Back to Top