Wednesday, January 08, 2014


News to Know January 8th

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW January 8, 2014


This  communication is put together and distributed on a volunteer basis by resident Corinne Stridsberg simply in an effort to share information and build community, it is not from the town of Berlin.

Please share this with your Berlin friends and neighbors.  If you're not already receiving this news directly by email, send an email to request this to


Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook to find bits of current news:



Please note there is a lot of information here to digest and a couple of very important meetings regarding school budgets, one tonight at U-32 and the other at Berlin Elementary School on Monday.


Included below please find:

Please note there are several petitions currently circulating in town.  Some folks have asked to have a copy available on the counter at the Town Clerk's office for your convenience.  At the moment there are ones for:
Jeremy Hansen who is running for re-election to the selectboard. 
Ture Nelson who is running for re-election to the selectboard. 
Rosemary Morse who is running for re-election to the Town Clerk position. 
There is one petition asking for funding requests for four agencies be added to the warning.  These four agencies are: Prevent Child Abuse Vermont; Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice; Just Basics, Inc.; and Montpelier Senior Activity Center
There are also petitions to have the Town and School District budgets go back to a floor vote.  Please note that this vote will be a floor vote since it's not a budget item.
Are there any other petitions circulating?  I would be glad to share that information with others.  To date no petitions have gone out for anybody to run for the open Berlin Elementary School Board of Directors positions.  Four of the five seats will be on the ballot.
Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 is the final day to register to vote in order to be able to participate in Town Meeting.  The Town Clerk’s office is open Mon.– Thurs. 8:30am – 3:30pm.  Registering to vote can be done at the Town Clerk’s office.
Town Meeting is Tuesday, March 4th 10am at Berlin Elementary School.  Australian Ballot Voting 10am – 7pm.  
Absentee ballots are available from the Town Clerk, these can be requested by phone or mail.   Any absentee ballot request to be mailed needs to be made by the Thursday before Town Meeting and must be received back no later than when the polls close Tuesday evening (received in the mail on or before 3/4/14, or delivered to the Town Office or to polling officials located at the school that day). 
Petitions for Town Meeting which is on Tuesday, March 4th:

Petitions asking for a funding amount to be on the Warning must be submitted to the Town Clerk with the required signatures by 3:30pm on Thursday, January 23rd.  For funding petitions, 5% of the registered voters must sign the petition.  The checklist has about 1900 people on it, which makes the current requirement  95 signatures.  Please get more signatures than required in case there are any duplicates or otherwise invalid signatures.

Petitions that are for candidates running for an office or to be on a board must be submitted to the Town Clerk with the required signatures by 3:30pm on Monday, January 27th.  Candidates need just 1% (or currently 19) of registered voters to sign their petition.  Please get more signatures than required in case there are any duplicates or otherwise invalid signatures.

If you decide to become a Write-in candidate, you need to be a registered voter and you must receive a minimum of 30 votes or 1% of registered voters whichever is less.  When there are multiple people with write-in votes for the same position, to be elected the candidate must receive at least the 1% minimum and then it's whoever receives the most votes.  If nobody has received the 1% minimum, nobody is elected.

For more details regarding registering to vote, call the Berlin Town Clerk 229-9298  or go the Secretary of State’s website:            

Meetings are held at the Berlin Town Office on Shed Road unless otherwise noted:
Select Board                                        1st and 3rd Mondays, 7pm
Elementary School Board                     2nd Monday at Berlin Elementary, 6pm
                                                            In Learning Center (library)

Sewer Commission                               2nd and 4th Mondays, 7pm
Development Review Board                 1st and 3rd Tuesday, 7pm
Conservation Committee                       every other first Wed. of the month from Sept. to May
   and Recreation Committee                 (Sept, Nov, Jan, Mar, May)

Planning Commission                            2nd and 4th Wednesday, 7pm
U-32 High School Board                      2nd and 4th Wednesday at U-32, 6pm in Room 131
Emergency Mgmt Team                        2nd Thursday, 6pm at fire station
Water Supply Committee                      Currently meeting as needed
Cemetery Commission              Currently meeting as needed
Capital Budget Committee                    Currently meeting as needed
Economic Dev. Committee                   Currently inactive
Meeting dates are subject to change.  For meetings where a large turn-out is anticipated, those meetings are apt to be scheduled to take place at the elementary school.
NOTE: Next Board meeting is Monday, January 13th 6pm
Pub. 1/7/14 Times Argus by David Delcore
   BERLIN — The School Board has unenthusiastically endorsed a $3.2 million budget proposal that includes surgical cuts to five positions at Berlin Elementary School.

Though board members won’t formally adopt the budget request that will appear on the Town Meeting Day ballot in March until their regular meeting Monday, they have reluctantly signed off on an administrative proposal that targets portions of five positions without eliminating any of them.
   The spread-the-pain approach preserves the full range of services currently provided at
Berlin’s pre-kindergarten-through-6 school while generating just enough savings — nearly $85,000 — to bring the net tax increase of the proposed budget below the 4 percent target the board set last month.
   Chairwoman Vera Frazier credited Superintendent Bill Kimball and Principal Chris Dodge for doing precisely what the board asked, while expressing misgivings about how they trimmed the budget’s tax increase, which now stands at 3.96 percent.
   “This wouldn’t be my preference for cuts,” Frazier said of position-specific reductions to the preschool, physical education and art programs, as well as to the school nurse’s position.
   Frazier wasn’t alone.
   Board member Carl Parton said the proposed staff cuts were troubling.
   “It’s a loss to our kids to make those cuts,” he said. “It’s a loss to the people who deliver services to our kids.”
Fellow School Director Amy Brewer was even more blunt.
   “It really sucks,” she said.
   Kimball didn’t argue, assuring the board that he had combed through the budget with Dodge in an effort to find money to restore one or more of the staffing cuts and concluded that, while it was mathematically possible, it probably wasn’t responsible.
   “You probably wouldn’t have paper through the year,” he said, suggesting the board would have to cut a lot of supplies to offset forgoing any of the proposed reductions.
   The plan advanced by Kimball would require modifying the preschool program to reflect a 40 percent reduction in the full-time instructor’s position and a 30 percent reduction to a support staff position.
   The combined savings would be just over $36,000.
   Both the school nurse’s position and the physical education teacher’s position would essentially be reduced from five to four days a week for a savings of $18,644 and $16,400, respectively, and the art teacher’s position would be reduced from four to three days a week for a savings of $13,331.
   Based on those cuts and several previously approved budget adjustments, the board is prepared to ask voters to spend $3,264,790 to operate the local school system. That’s an increase of slightly less than $99,000, or about 3.1 percent, over the $3,166,235 budget that voters approved in March. Voters rejected a supplemental request for $100,655 that same day.
   The result of the latter vote wasn’t lost on board members, who complained about what they characterized as frustratingly low parent turnout on Town Meeting Day and acknowledged the budget-building process was a balancing act.
   “We feel like we’re threading the needle with a long chain, and it’s tough to do,” said Chris Rice.
   Rice said the staff reductions were regrettable but necessary to bring the tax increase associated with the proposed budget below 4 percent.
   “Given what we saw last year and what we all hear anecdotally at the grocery store … I think that (4 percent) is as good a target as any,” he said. “I hope it passes.”

Board members and teachers who attended the special meeting brainstormed about what they might do to boost turnout and agreed to explore the possibility of registering voters at a school concert this month.
   However, Parton suggested school boosters might be better served by focusing on “inspiration not registration.”
   “(Parents) are on the voter checklist. They’re just not voting,” he said.
NOTE: board meeting tonight Wed. Jan 8 at 6pm)
pub. by Times Argus on 1/6/14 by David Delcore

   EAST MONTPELIER –— The U-32 School Board is poised to consider an administrative proposal to cut as many as four full-time teachers, the equivalent of a fifth, a special educator, a paraprofessional and 50 percent of one of the school’s two librarian positions when it meets Wednesday night.

   The proposed staffing cuts total just over $450,000 and would represent a net savings of more than $390,000 once revenue that would be lost, if some of the positions are eliminated, is factored into the equation.
   The board has already made a series of cuts, trimming the 10 percent spending increase reflected in the first draft of the budget for the junior-senior high school, which serves students from Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex and Worcester, to just over 7 percent.
   That’s where things stand heading into Wednesday’s 6 p.m. meeting.
   The budget’s bottom line now sits at $15.1 million — $1 million more than the $14.1 million figure that voters in the five-town union high school district collectively approved last March. Barring further reductions the tax impact of the proposed budget would be an increase of about 4.1 percent
   That’s higher than school officials would like, prompting the prioritized list of staffing reductions that was prepared for the board’s consideration.
   Most of the proposed cuts involve a junior high school program that, due to declining enrollment, has unusually low class sizes.
   According to school officials there are 12 students in the average seventh- and eighth-grade classes at U-32. That number, they said, would jump up to 19 if the board approves all of the staff reductions that have been proposed.
   Those cuts include one of six junior high school math teachers, three of nine “core” teachers responsible for students in seventh and eighth grades, as well as a special educator and full-time paraprofessional.
   Only some of those positions — the math teacher, one of the core teachers, the special educator and the paraprofessional — are included in the top tier of cuts that would result in a net savings of about $175,000 and bring the tax impact of the budget just below 3 percent.
   The administrative proposal suggests the board consider cutting half of a librarian’s position ($31,075) and the equivalent of a full-time teaching position by targeting high school classes with low enrollment ($62,150), before cutting an additional two core teachers from the junior high school ($124,300).
   If all of the cuts are approved the U-32 spending increase would drop just below 4 percent and the tax impact of the budget would be an increase of roughly 1.3 percent.
   That would shave between 2.6 and 3.2 cents off projected tax rate hikes in all five communities. Based on soon-to-be-finalized elementary school budgets those rate hikes range from a low of 10.7 cents in
Berlin to a high of 24.8 cents in Calais.
   East Montpelier is looking at an 18.2-cent rate hike if nothing changes at U-32 Wednesday night, while the increase in Middlesex and Worcester have been tentatively pegged at 15.5 cents and 17.8 cents respectively.
   Those figures are based on soon-to-be-finalized elementary school budgets and were recently adjusted to reflect changes to the common level of appraisal (CLA) in all five communities.
   Though the CLA, a calculation the state uses to equalize the tax burden in all
Vermont towns, remained relatively stable in East Montpelier, Middlesex and Worcester, it rose nearly 3.4 percent in Berlin and dropped almost 6 percent in Calais.

The overnight effect trimmed roughly 5.2 cents from the projected rate hike in
Berlin and added 10.9 cents to the projected rate increase in Calais.

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