Town: All articles of the Annual Town Meeting (page 10 of the Town Report) passed. Inquiries were made about increases in insurance for the town constable and the health insurance for town employees. Town manager, Rich Svec, explained that because the Town Constable, Seth Perry, has all the qualifications of a police officer, his liability needs to be in accordance. For health insurance, the increase of $20,000 is due to a new employee as well as a current employee going from a single to a family plan.
The question was raised if there was a law requiring that the names of delinquent taxpayers continued to be listed in the town report. Since this system creates considerable stress for some of the older residents, who will go to great lengths not to “be in the book,” should this practice continue? The town auditor, Peter LaBelle, said that this is the way it’s always been done and would check to see if it’s a requirement.
Citizens Service Awards: This year’s recipients were to Ginny Garrow, for over 20 years of service to the town and to Will Hunter, who has been a town Justice of the Peace for 22 years and Town and School Moderator since 2010. This was the last Town/School meeting that Will moderated
School: All articles for the school were approved (page 87). Since the budget for the Cavendish Town Elementary School is voted on by Australian ballot on Tuesday, the remainder of the evening was an informational about the town budget.
Considerable concern was raised about the Ballot Warrant for the school’s budget. Article 1 (page 88) states, “Shall the voters of the Cavendish Town Elementary School District approve the school board to expend $1,914,620.00, which is the amount the school board has determined to be necessary for the ensuing fiscal year? It is estimated that this proposed budget, if approved, will result in education spending of $15,266.33 per equalized pupil. This projected spending per pupil is 3.3% lower than spending for the current year.”
The school budget has actually increased from 1,900,180 in FY16 to 1,914,620 for the proposed Fy17 budget. Viewed as the “Madison Avenue approach” to a warning, a number of people raised concern about how the wording of the warrant since it would imply that costs have gone down when in fact the budget has been increased. According to the school board and town clerk Diane McNamara, this was the language they were required to use by the state, who wants to emphasize the per equalized pupil cost versus the actual budget. To read more on this issue, check out Lyonel Tracy’s Democracy Compromised. Tracy is a former education commissioner in NH and the former superintendent of schools for the Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union.
Principal George Thomson went on to explain the impact of Act 46 (pages 110 and 111), which has been crafted to save money by consolidating districts by July 1, 2019. It has many components, which from the school board up to and through the state Dept. of Education are still being worked on. To help foster better understanding of Act 46, there will be a focus form on Tuesday, March 15, 6:30 pm at CTES.
The request was made that future budgets reflect actual costs for the school year and how the balance, positive or negative, will be dealt with.
There was some concern that the nursing position was reduced to .4-she is there Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8-1. Mr. Thomson explained that the state requirement is one nurse per 500 students, which CTES exceeds. Further, duties that were once performed by the nurse (health education and social services coordination) are now carried out by other staff members.
Handicap accessible parking for the Town Library is not available during the times the school is in session, making the library non compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. While various members of the community had hoped this could be addressed with the new space adjacent to the school, the board indicated that it was too costly to move existing play structures and make necessary changes.
Town Meeting was taped by LPC TV and will soon be available at their website.