Wednesday March 6, 2013

DORSET -- Voters gave emphatic an thumbs up to both the town and school district budgets during Tuesday’s balloting.

The municipal budget proposed by the select board passed by a 211-26 margin, while the school district’s proposed budget sailed through 193-51.

On Monday night, about 120 Dorset residents attended the annual gathering of voters at the Dorset Elementary School to discuss the 2012 annual school and town reports and vote on important articles that impact the budget.

The school report was up first and went by generally fast as all articles were passed with relative ease. Two special articles were passed that each approved payments of $14,875 for both Long Trail School and Burr and Burton Academy based on tuition support.

The question was asked to Mark Tashjian, headmaster of BBA, by Terry Tyler, "what courses do you give the kids who are not going to college or perhaps cannot afford it -- what are you doing to prepare them for going into business and [life after high school]?"

Tashjian said BBA has a invested in a program called the "student success program" that targets students who are not historically successful coming into high school and are developing a program to prepare them for life, but ideally prepare them to further aspire for a higher form of education or even military service.

"We don’t have a vocational track like some places do, my strong belief is that the best preparation for life is about mindset. A mindset that is dedicated to learning, to know how to handle yourself, how to problem solve and envision a long-term goal and stick to it," said Tashjian. "We are working actively to develop traits like grit, problem solving, and work ethic, which are in my opinion the most transferable skills across our entire school."

The town was up next and all of the 22 articles on the warning were approved.

The topic that gave way to the most discussion was the article from the Dorset Village Library asking voters to appropriate an increase in the sum of $10,000, the highest amount of the night, for support of the library’s services provided to residents of Dorset. Although ultimately passed, there were a handful of individuals who were opposed to the idea of giving such a large sum of money without first having some discussion.

One of those with some questions before allowing the article to be put to a floor vote was Abbott DeRham who first commented that last year they asked for the same amount and wanted to know where that money went and where this money was going.

"It would be great if I could just look at my budget and suddenly change it so it is all nice and even, but we are talking about doubling a line item. This is by far the largest one we are talking about, where is that money going?" asked DeRham.

The vice president of the Dorset Village Library, Carol Cone, responded by saying, "It is not a whimsical doubling of the budget, but this is a 200 year-old building and we are putting on a new roof this year which, if anybody lives in a historic home knows is quite a big deal."

During last year’s town meeting the same topic was voted on by Australian ballot and Dorset voters passed the same increase with a vote of 367 for and 122 against.

Another motion carried to appropriate the sum of $7,500 to the Dorset Historical Society to support its activities and continued efforts to serve as a cultural resource to the community. The same motion was passed last year with relative ease.