Town Meeting rejects additional school staffers at May 3 Town Meeting
With the pandemic not quite over, the annual Town Meeting is being held remotely once more. Town Moderator, Bob Hiss, is hoping that this will be the last remote meeting. A vast majority of Town Meeting members were in attendance (remotely) for the kick off of the first night.
Much of the 48-article warrant deals with the town’s proposed operating budget for the year beginning July 1, 2021. With 48 articles to address, tonight’s meeting focused on Article 5, per the request of Select Board Chairwoman, Melinda Collins.
Article 5: To see what sum of money the town will vote to appropriate from the stabilization fund for the purpose of funding departmental budgets for the fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2021.
From the Warrant: “In FY22 we once again find it necessary to borrow from the Stabilization Fund to cover the Town’s operational expenses. The Town
expects to receive money from the Federal Government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and it is possible that some of those funds could be used to reimburse the stabilization fund. There was a proposal by the School Committee to use more of the Stabilization Fund to help the Schools, but the Warrant Committee, through a split vote, supported this smaller allocation instead. The balance in the Stabilization Fund as of March 26, 2021 was $4,662,602.”
A Town Meeting member proposed a friendly amendment to this article that would increase the recommended sum proposed for the schools from $520,000 to $871,000. This increase would fund six more positions in the Milton Public Schools starting July 1. His explanation for the motion was that the pandemic has hit many families hard, especially when it comes to education, therefore he believes the schools are going to need more support staff, not less, and it is wise to make an investment in our children since we are still in a crisis situation.
An argument against this friendly amendment is that other departments are having to make cuts and reductions, and also, the town will be able to take advantage of financial assistance through other means, such as federal government funds via the CARES ACT and various grants.
Most of this meeting consisted of the Town Meeting members asking questions to be answered by the Select Board and/or the The Warrant Committee. This lasted for several hours, and many of the Town Meeting members spoke out in support of the friendly amendment.
However, when it came time for the vote, it was determined that the friendly amendment was not accepted and the articled passed as it stands.