On September 17, the Board of Finance held a special meeting prior to the BOS special meeting to discuss and possibly approve the proposed school building referendum. The BOF needed to approve the referendums for the BOS to be able to vote on moving them to a town meeting for a possible town vote.
The referendums call for the appropriation of $84,220,000 to design, construct and equip a new high school building and $29,190,000 to demolish Consolidated School and build an early learning academy at Meeting House Hill School.
The Board voted unanimously to approve the referendums to the Board of Selectmen for their approval.
In discussing the issue prior to the vote, Board Member Cheryl Reedy gave a lengthy comment in which she said she recognized both sides of the issue, noting that “I really struggled with this project…there are two sides to the issue. Right off the bat I wanted to be against this project, because it’s a whole lot of money…I know that there has been a community engagement as part of this…I know that the Board of Education and the Superintendent have been working on figuring out what needs to be done in the schools and what capital programs need to be done for the past year.”
BOF Chair Wes Marsh noted he liked the process in place where the process is vetted by all three boards–Education, Finance and Selectmen–prior to going to the voters. He said, “It’s nice that our process is we’re elected to be the representatives to look at the specifics of a…problem and come up with what we think is the best solution and send it out to the voters, and the voters have to show up en masse and make that decision.”
Board Alternate Brian Shea, who as an alternate was involved in the discussion, but not the vote, provided a counterpoint. “I personally think this is being rushed through,” he said, “I believe there’s an alternative argument to this.”
A Special Town Meeting tonight, September 26 prior to the regular BOS meeting is set to approve of a date for the Town Vote, tentatively set for Saturday, October 5.
By Greg Slomba