Groveton school budget narrowly survives


March 23, 2011
NORTHUMBERLAND — After surviving a show-of-hands vote to amend the school budget downward by $300,000, the proposed $5,738,842 budget nearly came to defeat, passing by a mere 10 votes on a secret ballot at the March 15 school meeting in Ryan Gymnasium at Groveton High School.

The school board had unanimously recommended passage of the proposed budget and the town budget committee had recommended passage by a vote of 5-l. Jack Bernard, the dissenting member of the budget committee, sought to amend the budget downward, suggesting that positions such as a half-time kindergarten teacher and a janitor could be eliminated without affecting the quality of education offered and that such a move would provide a bit of tax relief for already overburdened taxpayers.

Following a lengthy discussion of the proposed amendment, it was decisively defeated on a show-of-hands vote. However, when the vote was rendered on the original warrant article, the winning margin was only 10 votes, with the final tally 85-75.

While debating the proposed budget, the question of the effect of Stratford's vote the previous night to tuition all of its high school students to Groveton, starting in the fall of 2011, was raised. The school board informed voters that Stratford's action had no bearing on the Groveton budget as there has been no agreement worked out between the two towns to actually accept the Stratford students at this time.

The article asking to approve cost increases in the collective bargaining agreement between the school board and the Groveton Teachers Association generated a fair amount of discussion and also went to a secret ballot vote after a show-of-hands vote was deemed too close to call. Discussion centered primarily around health insurance costs and buy-outs. Following the close hand vote, the article passed on a secret ballot, 89-68.

An article seeking to establish a cooperative school district planning committee passed easily. Stratford and Stark, the other likely towns involved if such a district materializes, had already agreed to participate in the planning process. The committee will have three members from Groveton, all appointed by the school district moderator, one of whom will be a school board member. Members of the general public who have interest in serving on the committee were asked to give their name to the supervisory union office for consideration.

A petitioned article asking that authorization be granted to the school board to enter into an agreement with the Groveton Regional Economic Action Team granting GREAT the right of first refusal on school owned property on Brown Road passed with only minor discussion.

Nearly 200 attended the meeting.

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