Superintendent Deweese’s Thoughts about EJRP Governance (Part 2) posted on Dec 9, 2010
As Superintendent of Chittenden Central Supervisory Union (CCSU), serving the Essex Junction, Union #46, and Westford school districts, I offer the following perspectives on the current Essex Junction Recreation & Parks (EJRP) “governance” dialogue. This is the second installment focused on EJRP finances. (Part 1 dealt with EJRP history and status.)
Things to know …
For the past 40 years, the Essex Junction School District has had responsibility to run EJRP’s programs under the governance of the Prudential Committee (school board). Upon the request of the Essex Junction (Village) Trustees in 1970, the School District assumed all Recreation operations (except for parks ownership). This authority is vested in the school district’s official charter.
Since 1970, the school district has developed an EJRP budget for voters’ consideration, voted on at the same time as the school budgets.
The Prudential Committee develops the EJRP budget each year during open school board meetings. We invite all citizens to attend. The board’s budget meeting dates are warned, published, and open to the public. Visit www.ccusvt.org/schoolboards to learn more about when the board is developing its budgets.
Upon concluding its EJRP budget development, the Prudential Committee then finalizes the EJRP budget, then presented to voters each April. Information about the EJRP budget is published on the school district’s web site www.ccsuvt.org for voter’s information and awareness prior to the annual vote.
The Prudential Committee also provides detailed information about the EJRP budget in the School District’s Annual Report. The Annual Report is available to voters on their web-site. Hard copies can also be requested.
A recent “Recreation Department Financial Report” delivered by two citizens to the Village Trustees contained information routinely discussed each year by the Prudential Committee during its budget deliberations. They had requested information from the School District that would have been discussed by the School Board in a few short weeks.
Over the past 15 years, the EJRP budget has on average passed with over 67 percent of voters favoring the budget.
Including the 2011-2012 school year, the EJRP tax rate has not increased from the previous budget for five consecutive years.
EJRP is one of the smallest entities served by CCSU. As such, there would not be significant savings if CCSU no longer provided its support to EJRP. Conversely, EJRP would be a very large department within the municipal Village government and would certainly require some level of additional cost and effort to assume the responsibilities now managed by CCSU.
My office recently provided a detailed set of answers as posed by the Prudential Committee related to EJRP governance and financial issues. The questions were informed by the Village Board of Trustees. The presentation is available online at http://www.ejrp.org/ejrp-budget-information.
While the Prudential Committee awaits a thoughtful response from the Trustees to the fundamental question of “Why change Rec governance?” the discussion between the two governments will occur in the next few months. There is a logical case to be made for either the Village (municipal) or the Essex Junction School District to govern EJRP. Such a determination should involve measured, responsible, and thoughtful consideration by citizens. If a change from the current governance arrangement (school to village) is warranted, then local citizens and EJRP employees deserve a proper and seamless transition. Or, if a change is not warranted, then we should all rededicate energy and resources to other more pressing village and school issues.