SWANZEY CENTER — Voters in the Monadnock Regional School District on Tuesday shot down the proposed operating budget and a measure that would have advanced the district’s plans to consolidate its five elementary schools into three.
They also rejected a proposal to pay for a Swanzey police officer to serve as a part-time school resource officer, alongside the district’s existing security officer. The article had been submitted by petition.
Everything else on the ballot — including appropriations of $1,130,000 for renovations at Monadnock Regional Middle/High School and $240,000 for maintenance and repairs at the district’s schools — passed.
The defeat of the $33,727,946 operating budget by a 1,037 to 893 vote, according to unofficial results, means the district will operate under a default budget of $33,251,463.
The budget had been a topic of discussion at last month’s deliberative session, with the school board and budget committee disagreeing on how high the budget should go.
Budget committee members said the district has been running surpluses and so could live within a lower budget figure. School board member Brian Bohannon of Swanzey disagreed, warning that cuts would reduce staff and extracurriculars, ultimately harming students.
The potential elementary-school consolidation has been another much-discussed topic.
According to a plan supported by the school board, a new or expanded “south school” for Fitzwilliam and Troy children would replace the Emerson and Troy elementary schools. Cutler in West Swanzey would also close, with all of Swanzey’s grade-schoolers attending Mount Caesar in Swanzey Center. Gilsum’s STEAM Academy would stay as is.
An article on this year’s warrant would have appropriated $250,000 for engineering and design work on that plan. But the unofficial results show voters rejecting it resoundingly, 1,276 to 659. Not a single town voted in favor.
Residents voted to establish two new expendable trust funds — one to buy new or replacement vehicles, the other for improvements to school grounds and parking lots — and set aside a total of $110,000 in them.
They also authorized the district to retain some surplus funds each year. Retained funds can be used only for emergencies or to reduce the tax rate.
Voters also chose school-district officers at the polls, though there were no contested races.
A little over 2,000 of the district’s more than 9,600 registered voters turned out.