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Joyce Endee

Meredith selectmen considering a vote for IL withdrawal study

March 24, 2010
MEREDITH — Following an advisory vote at town meeting, the Board of Selectmen will consider a vote of their own calling for a feasibility study to leave the Inter-Lakes School District.

Voters decided in favor of an advisory motion for the Board of Selectmen to request a study looking into Meredith's possible withdrawal from the School District during the March 10 town meeting.

During that meeting, many Meredith residents expressed anger over the outcome of the Inter-Lakes School District Meeting where more money was amended back into the budget. Some residents said they felt Sandwich voters took over the meeting.

The Board of Selectmen is now in the position of deciding whether to proceed with such a request.

"We want to make every reasonable effort to open up a dialogue with the School District," said Board of Selectmen Chair Peter Brothers. "We want to do that in the best possible dialogue and faith that would extend that discussion."

Inter-Lakes School Board Chair Jack Carty said the School Board had the matter on their agenda for their March 23 meeting, though the only as a discussion with no action. Carty told the selectmen that this matter is up to them, and the School Board does not have to make any advisements.

If the board does call for such a study, the rest of the process will carry out according to state law. This decision would only be for a study request and any request to withdraw would have to come after the study is complete and by a town vote.

"I think we're in unplowed turf at this point," said Selectman Chuck Palm.

Brothers said the issue should be looked at when people have had a chance to cool down after the School District Meeting and then look at the options.

Resident Paula Trombi urged the Board not to consider the request, saying the voters had their say at School District Meeting ands it was not right to make such a decision because people did not like the outcome. Trombi expressed concern that such measures could be taken to rescind the results of any passing vote.

"I think it's a real knee-jerk reaction because some people didn't like the outcome of a legal vote," Trombi said.

Trombi pointed out that four out of five members of the board voted in favor of the motion. Brothers defended his own vote on the motion, saying the process leading to that vote was "well-rehearsed."

"I do believe the way that came down wasn't the best process you or I have seen," Brothers said, saying he would be willing to look at a different process.

Brothers said the town should be allowed to see how the exploratory process plays out.

Resident John McEwan supported starting the process, saying Sandwich took over the budget.

"It was a travesty," McEwan said, also calling the vote "a joke" in terms of democracy.

If the Board of Selectmen decides to vote for such a study to be undertaken, the School Board has 45 days from the vote to begin a study. If the School Board does not take up a study within 45 days, the Board of Selectmen can declare a special town meeting to decide on the study's undertaking.

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