By Valerie Welter

While I appreciate and respect the time HUUSD Board members dedicate to their responsibilities, I respectfully disagree with the assumptions proffered by HUUSD Board member Christine Sullivan in a recent response to the "I Stand with Our Educators" discussion. For clarity, I have included these below:

1. A no vote on the budget will generate more fear and uncertainty for students, staff and families across the district.

2. A no vote on the budget is a vote not to pay teachers.

I take issue with personal opinions being presented as factual; hence, I will preface my concerns with the qualifier "in my opinion." In my opinion, a no vote on the budget will not generate more fear and uncertainty for students, staff and families across the district. On the contrary, it will foster hope. Hope that we can push reset and mutually collaborate on a solution to the present situation that many find untenable. Additionally, in my opinion, a no vote on the budget does not represent a vote to not pay teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth; our teachers are aware of this. I find it unconscionable that the actions of those who oppose the current budget and HUUSD Board decisions are being misrepresented in such a manner. I believe that the suppositions presented in a public forum on the meaning of a no vote are an insult to the intelligence and motives of those individuals who have spoken out on behalf of their families, communities and values.

I have lived in the Mad River Valley since 1977; I have never voted no on a school budget. Education and community are values held dear in our family. That will change on Town Meeting Day. I will be voting no on the current budget proposal. I do not need to be told what my no vote means. My no vote is a protest, a protest symbolizing my lack of confidence in the process, of the fear mongering and misinformation by the administration, of the lack of transparency, of the exclusion of our teachers and community members in the process, of the divisive leadership by the superintendent. My no vote is a statement in support of the values of family and community. My no vote represents my disapproval as outlined in the HUUSD court filings, January 30, Page 8: “If the voters disapprove of the HUUSD Board’s grade configuration plan, they can indicate their disapproval by voting against the fiscal year 2021 budget that moves forward that plan.” My no vote is in response to HUUSD Board member Alex Thomsen’s directive of January 15: “There is no better public referendum than a budget vote. So if the public doesn’t like this budget, they cannot vote for the budget, and that will show they don’t want to move fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth.” Consequently, I encourage others to contemplate, define and give voice to what their yes or no votes means.

Welter lives in Fayston.