On Wednesday, July 11, the School Building Committee met with a full complement of district/town representatives. Discussion centered on the results of the recent Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion votes from the 10-town district. Vote tally totals were 46% yes to fund the Bay Path Regional Vocational High School renovation project and 54% against. Charlton (55% yes; 45% no); Southbridge (51% yes; 49% no); and Spencer (51% yes; 49% no) were the three towns that were in favor of the much-needed renovation with the seven remaining towns defeating the Prop 2 ½ debt exclusion: Auburn (49% yes; 51% no); Dudley (41% yes; 59% no); North Brookfield (45% yes; 55% no); Oxford (49% yes; 51% no); Paxton (42% yes; 58% no); Rutland (32% yes; 68% no); and Webster (46% yes; 54% no). Also in attendance, for procedural and election process advice were three town clerks: Darlene Tully of Charlton, Lori Kelly of Oxford, and Madaline Daoust of Southbridge.
John Lafleche, incoming Bay Path School Superintendent, indicated that if approved by the committee, special elections seeking a combined majority vote from all 10 district towns for the renovation project would now go forward. A marketing committee has formed and a special election versus a state ballot was discussed. Having the renovation vote placed on the November 6 presidential election ballot was the first suggestion, but many school building committee members were not positive about this choice being the best for getting the most information out to voters. A meeting has been set with State Senator Stephen M. saBrewer to discuss all ballot options. The town clerks were also concerned about software programming costs. After a lengthy discussion with the town clerks, it was estimated that a potential cost of $100,000 could be the final budget number to be borne by Bay Path to establish special elections in all 10 towns.
An additional concern raised by several committee members was simplification of the ballot language used due to the legal and often-times confusing descriptions. Mr. Lafleche noted that ballot language was controlled by state law. He also stated that if a positive outcome resulted from the special elections, “Towns would have to decide how to fund the Bay Path renovation project, whether it was a Prop 2 ½ override or not.” He also remarked that “of the three towns who already passed and approved the Bay Path renovation project, their funding was already in place. As for the towns who voted in the negative, the funding would come out of their levy and these towns would have to find the means to pay their share of the project.” With a Prop 2 ½ override, there would be a finite amount of taxes paid.
Additional discussions also concerned town employees being mindful of influencing the marketing campaign and the non-expenditure of public funds to influence election outcomes. The provision of informational details to the general public was the singular item that was legally allowed according to information provided by the town clerks. It was determined that the State Ethics Board would be contacted to provide training to all members of the Bay Path School Committee, if possible, at their next meeting on August 6.
The committee then voted on whether they should seek district-wide election approval—unanimously approved by 16 members, and whether to become part of a state-wide ballot or to have a separate election in October for the district-wide vote—again, all 16 members voted in favor of a special election.
Further discussions with the attending town clerks also included setting hours for the special election with a 4-hour minimum, warrant postings, and voter registration procedures.
- Monday, 16 July 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Region