Upton voters OK $148,730 budget, new $1,000 scholarship

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UPTON — Less than 30 voters at Thursday night’s annual town meeting agreed to raise and appropriate $148,730 for the municipal budget, newly elected Town Clerk Michele Bouchard said early Friday afternoon.

This doesn’t include the SAD 44 assessment, which is done later in the year.

Thursday’s appropriation was $17,200 less than last year’s $165,930.

“Everything went smoothly,” said Bouchard, a former social studies teacher for 13 years at Edward Little High School in Auburn.

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What’s not yet known, she said, is where the money is coming from for the amended $1,000 that voters approved to give annually for four years as a scholarship for graduating high school seniors who will attend college.

In Article 24, selectmen recommended that a one-time scholarship of $250 be given to students who show proof of a first semester grade point average of 2.5 or greater.

“The original warrant article never says what to take the money out of, but I would guess surplus,” Bouchard said. “We had quite a discussion about the scholarship.”

Jim Rector, current tax collector, treasurer and registrar of voters, said early Friday evening that selectmen purposely didn’t include a funding mechanism. They wanted the concept approved first.

“It will probably come out of the town office expense, but it didn’t ask for an appropriation for this year,” Rector said. “Now, it’s $1,000 per year completed for up to four years, so it could be a maximum of $4,000, but it’s not going to be a major impact on any one-year budget.”

After discussion, Bouchard said people agreed on the $250 and were about to vote when resident Mike Lewit introduced his replacement article, upping the ante.

It stated, “To see if the town will provide scholarships for resident Upton high school graduates who will be attending postsecondary institutions,” she said.

The original article specified college, but Bouchard said it was changed to postsecondary institutions to allow for universities and vocational schools.

The new article further stated, “Recommend $1,000 per year for up to four years to be given to students who show proof of a first semester GPA of 2.5 greater.”

It gives authority to the Upton School Committee to handle all scholarship awards and states the money would be paid to a college at the beginning of the second semester of each college year.

Bouchard said students must apply annually for the scholarships. Additionally, they will be eligible to apply for this scholarship up to six years after graduating from high school.

“And the reason they went with six is, currently, we have a couple of young ladies in town who are going into the military, and (voters) decided that if they go into the military, when they get out they could have a couple of years worth still, if they wanted to go to college, that they would be eligible to apply,” Bouchard said.

Upton currently has only five or six students enrolled from high school to kindergarten.

“A lot of small towns do this, and Upton hadn’t,” Bouchard said. “So it’s a start, combined with all the other scholarships that are available.”

In municipal elections, which Upton does from the floor, Robin Aldrich was elected by a 15-12 tally to a three-year term as the new School Committee member, unseating incumbent John Aron.

Former selectman and current Planning Board member Bob Brown was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen after incumbent Rodney Goodrum decided not to seek re-election.

Bouchard was elected as town clerk after Rector decided to relinquish that role. Rector, however, was re-elected as tax collector and treasurer.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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