The school district meeting will begin first, and in articles 1 through 5, voters will cast paper ballots for a moderator, and three school board members. But if voters approve Article 6, future moderators and board members may be elected by Australian ballot. If approved, the Australian ballot would go into effect in March 2015, and rather than voting by paper ballot on the floor at Town Meeting, voters would be able to cast ballots on the following Tuesday, as they do now for town officers.
Article 7 asks voters to approve tuition payments of up to $15,400 for Searsburg students attending Burr & Burton Academy. Dover, which is also a school choice town, approved a similar article two years ago. Dover voters also opted to pay an equal amount for students attending any independent school. If approved as written, the special rate Searsburg would pay would only apply to Burr & Burton.
Burr & Burton’s $15,400 tuition rate is about $1,648 more than the statewide average secondary tuition that the town is required by statute to pay for students attending independent schools. But even if voters approve the increased tuition expenditures for Burr & Burton students, it appears that next year’s school spending will be substantially lower than the current year. Under Article 8, voters will be asked to approve a school budget of $328,166, nearly $100,000 less than last year’s budget request of $428,063.
The municipal meeting is warned for 7 pm. The warning includes seven articles asking for a combined $1,000 in funding for local organizations and charitable groups.
Article 16 asks voters to approve a highway department budget of $123,450. With $9,500 anticipated in other revenue, the proposed tax impact is $113,950 – almost $20,000 less than last year.
Under Article 17, voters will be asked to approve a general fund budget of $113,900, which is about $5,000 higher than last year’s figure. But anticipated non-tax revenue, at $27,300, is down by almost $1,000, so the amount to be raised in taxes, $86,600, is about $6,000 higher than last year’s warned amount.