With budget approved, school district ready to face challenges

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BRATTLEBORO — The Windham Southeast School District's $51,171,300 fiscal year 2021 budget passed in a 1,531-542 vote Tuesday.

"We are happy to see strong community support for the efforts our staff have made to create welcoming schools," said David Schoales, board chairman. "I am especially grateful that we can now assure our employees that they will have jobs, and that our principals will have the people and resources they need to face the challenges of rebuilding after six months of no school."

The district held a vote via Australian ballot this time around due to the coronavirus pandemic. The annual March vote was postponed until June and then modified out of concern for public safety.

Last year, the district's inaugural merged budget was approved in a floor vote at Brattleboro Union High School. The district runs schools in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford and Putney.

The FY21 budget features a 1.8 percent or $894,982 increase in spending and includes substantial funding for professional development aimed at training school staff in trauma-informed practices.

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Schoales said the district lost "several excellent young candidates" for jobs because only conditional contracts could be offered.

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"People chose to accept other offers due to the uncertainty caused by the three-month delay in approving our budget," he said. "So we are glad to be over this snag and fully supported and heading into a new year with new leadership and high expectations."

Superintendent Lyle Holiday's last day was Tuesday.

Holiday thanked "all for the overwhelming support of our students through approval of the budget.

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"Our students are going to need all the support we can offer when schools reopen," she said. "Principals always work to create a budget that best meets the needs of students."

Her successor is Andrew Skarzynski, who previously was principal of Rutland Intermediate School and has 23 years of experience in education.

On Tuesday, stipends of $4,000 for board members and $6,000 for the chairperson were approved in a 1,484-256 vote. Voters elected incumbents Steven Brown as moderator, Barb Nowakowski as clerk and Frank Rucker as treasurer, who all ran unopposed. The reports of district officers were accepted in a 1,534-43 vote.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.


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