Tuesday May 11, 2010

ARLINGTON -- Even after two well-attended Arlington School District forums seeking input on revisions the public wanted in a budget voted down in March, a slight majority of voters still weren’t satisfied on Tuesday.

On a vote of 222-227 in a special town election, voters rejected the $5,443,457 budget presented by the board to fund its two schools -- Fisher Elementary and Arlington Memorial High School.

Residents rejected an initial budget proposal on Town Meeting Day on a vote of 268-291. Since that time the board has made revisions that trimmed an additional $66,000.

Board Chairman Todd Wilkins said he believed the most recent draft was educationally and financially sound, but said he anticipated a close vote.

"To me, it was a flip of a coin because you have so many different agendas," Wilkins said by phone after the results were made public. "People are upset because their family and their friends are loosing jobs, and people are upset because they don’t want positions cut, and you also have people out there that want you to cut more from the budget."

This budget plan represented an approximate 4.2 percent decrease from the current fiscal year’s budget of $5,680,655. The reductions were created largely from personnel cuts in art, music, wellness, a paraprofessional position, and a reduction in time for a science and math teacher position.


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Wilkins said the board has not discussed what plan of action it will take going forward, but said the board would have to continue working to find "common ground."

"We’re not going to be able to make everybody happy; we’re just going to have to find that common ground," he said.

Wilkins said the budget must remain the district’s top priority, and the board will do everything in its power to have a budget passed before the fiscal year comes to an end on June 30.

"There’s a lot of issues that this board has to take care of that this board has put on hold, unfortunately. But right now the most important thing is this budget," Wilkins said. "Administrators have to do what they can [to plan for] next year, but it’s extremely hard to do that without a budget."

The board meets tonight at AMHS for a regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com