The Vernon Board of Education on Monday night voted to send a $51,669,787 budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year to Mayor George Apel.
The 6-2 approval vote was taken at a special meeting that was called to order at 6:02 p.m. and was adjourned at 6:27. Though the comment period was short, it showed there are two distinctive philosophies among school board members.
The figure represents an increase of $3,488,790, or 7.24 percent, over the $48,180,997 spending plan for the current fiscal year.
Voting in favor of the budget were Democrats Michelle Arn, Amarjit Buttar, Kyle Percy and Terri Goldich and Republicans Laura Bush and Anne Fischer.
Voting against the proposal were Republicans David Kemp and William Nicholson.
Arn made the motion to adopt the budget and Percy seconded it.
The number approved on Monday was $49,990 higher than the bottom line that came out of the final workshop last week. That is the salary of a Lake Street School teacher that was inadvertently left out of an account.
Goldich said the number represents what it will take to properly educate the town's young people.
She said items could have been added - like a "math interventionist."
The responsibility to balance, "our Board of Education budget with the town's ability to pay is not our responsibility," she said, a reference to the mayor eventually sending the school and municipal budgets in one package to the Town Council for ultimate approval.
Kemp said since the school budget proposal is not due on the mayor's desk until Friday, the Board of Education should have been in no hurry to endorse it.
Kemp said if approval by the council or referendum "is not the final result … we may have to reconstruct pieces of the budget in a short period of time."
Kemp added, "We need to find out where we can and can't be. So you can pass this tonight, but remember we may have to get to a number that is not necessarily of our choosing," he said while adding he thinks the school board should consider what number the council and voters would approve before sending the budget along.
Nicholson jumped all over that comment and agreed with Kemp.
"The Board of Education is sometimes detached from reality. Our job is to do the best we can do - within reason," he said. "We are asking people who are already heavily taxed to pay more. History is very clear that no budget referendum increases the number to a budget. Why would we vote for something that we know is not going to be the final number?"
Arn said the board was giving the public the opportunity to decide if the number is realistic.
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