Otter Valley voters will decide on $2 million bond

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(Host)   In Town Meeting news, voters in Brandon and five other nearby towns will decide whether to approve a bond of just under two million dollars to make repairs at Otter Valley Union High School.    

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports – a much larger bond for the school was voted down twice last year.

(Keck)    About 700 students in grades seven through 12 attend Otter Valley Union High School in Brandon.    William Mathis is Superintendent of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union.  He says the nearly 50-year-old building needs some major repairs.

(Mathis) "It’s sort of like a car that you drive for 300,000 miles.  You can treat it well and maintain it well, but after 300,000 miles, you still have to rebuild the engine.  And that’s what we’re facing here."

(Keck)    Last year school officials proposed a $10.3 million bond to pay for repairs, as well as extensive renovations, new classrooms and a second gym. 

Voters resoundingly said no – twice.   Otter Valley Union High School principal Dana Cole-Leveque says they went back to the drawing board and determined what absolutely had to be done.   

(Cole-Leveque) "We’ve got a roof that leaks.  And when it rains or when the snow melts, it leaks badly upstairs, and it’s dangerous and unsafe.   We have two underground fuel storage tanks that have to be excavated and replaced.”

(Keck)  Their wastewater treatment needs to be brought into compliance and he says there are drainage problems around the school.

(Cole-Leveque) "Those are issues that we have to address. We can’t pay for them out of a single year’s budget. We have to ask the voters to support taking care of the building.”

(Keck)   Cole-Leveque says the overall operating budget for the school has gone up just over 2 percent this year, even with some staffing reductions.    Despite the nearly $2 million price tag for the bond, Cole Leveque says he’s optimistic that voters will approve it.  

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck.

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