Legal review brings clarity

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JAY – A legal review clarifies the number of residents who must be present to vote next month on a proposed $9.85 million school budget, which will be the second budget proposal brought before voters after they rejected the initial one.

There were 740 residents who voted June 12 to turn down the first proposal presented by school officials. Some believed that rules required at least that many residents must turn out Tuesday, Aug. 21, during an all-day referendum at the Community Building to decide on the revised school package. They thought that if at least that number of voters did not appear Aug. 21, then the new proposed budget would fail regardless of the vote.

But that’s not the case, according to school Superintendent Robert Wall.

Several attorneys reviewed information and determined that since the Aug. 21 referendum isn’t technically a revote, then it doesn’t require that a certain number of residents cast ballots, Wall said.

The new proposal reflects a decrease of $614,403 from last year’s budget. Voters defeated a $9.96 million budget last month that was $504,000 less than last year’s spending plan.

School administrators and directors went back and made cuts and adjustments to reduce the initial budget by an additional $110,182.

A legal review also determined that Jay voters in June already agreed to appropriate $7.3 million for education and raise $6.3 million as the town’s share, with the remainder coming from the state. That vote previously passed 463-255.

What they rejected in a 386-340 vote was authorizing the School Committee to spend additional money such as grants, tuition and other funds the School Department anticipates receiving to cover the entire budget, Wall said.

Voters also defeated an article, 412-318, that would have raised and appropriated an additional $2.1 million in local funds that exceeds the state’s Essential Programs and Services funding model by $1.8 million.

The revised article for additional local funds will ask voters in August to consider spending $1.98 million, which exceeds the state’s Essential Programs and Services allocation model by $1.7 million, to cover textbooks, supplies, personnel, co-curricular and other expenses.

Schools will be able to open this year, Wall said, with the amount voters already agreed to spend, but it will take approval of the additional local money to continue operating schools through the academic year.

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