At the Special Town Meeting on Aug. 15, Townsend residents approved a motion to appropriate a supplemental amount of $417,728 to the North Middlesex Regional School District. The motion was passed 101-43. The appropriation is dependent on the results of a special election on Aug. 28, when residents from all three district towns will vote on an override of Proposition 2 1/2.
Townsend was the last town to have a Special Town Meeting on the issue; in the two previous nights, Pepperell and Ashby both passed articles to appropriate their portions of the school budget, contingent on the results of their special elections.
"It was as expected," said Townsend resident Ron Dionne of the results. "The other two towns already voted for it."
Despite its passing, the motion was not without its critics.
"Don't forget when you vote for a (Proposition) 2 1/2 override it effects every person in this room, whether you're 20, 40 or 80. It's going to stay with you the rest of your life," said Jerry Copeland of Townsend.
Largely, the crown was full of questions regarding the repurccusions of the override.
Margaret Genoter asked what the increase in the average bill was expected to look like should the residents support the override at the election.
Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan and Selectman Sue Lisio said that if the override is approved, residents can expect to see an increase of about $51 per $100,000 of their homes' value in property taxes.
When asked how the money was going to be used, Superintendent Joan Landers said that the "primary concerns are class sizes, the high school math curriculum and specialists at the middle school."
"The majority of the override money is just to prevent us to have to cut away at the current system we have," said School Committe Chairwoman Susan Robbins.
Lisio said that concerned residents should make a concerted effort to be part of the budget discussions at the appropriate times, which is not Town Meeting.
"I'm hearing a lot of questions about the school budget I just want to make it clear that the town, the Financial Committee and the Board of Selectmen doesn't have anything to do with how that budget gets developed we can't impact what theyv'e done and how their budget is right now. Its kind of late in the game for that if you're concerned about those things the place where you belond is at the School Committee meetings," she said.
Sheehan said that ultimately, the decision will be made by a 2-1 majority vote between the three towns; this means that if two towns pass the override, the third will still have to pay their portion of the budget regardless of the outcome of its election.
"I think it's good (that the motion was passed.) It's good for the school, and I also think that it's good for the town because if other two towns pass it and we don't, it will decimate our budget," said Lisio. "I think it's good that people are asking questions and want to understand."
The supplemental amount is in addition to the $8,105,114 that the town already appropriated to the school as part of their overall budget at the annual Town Meeting in May.
This is the district's second attempt at an override; after a failed attempt on June 21, the School Committee voted to approve a new budget of $44,837,082, which is $1,994,291 less than the needs budget and contains $200,000 from the district's reserves.