AMHERST - Voters by an 897-vote margin approved a $1.68 million Proposition 2½ override in Tuesday’s annual town election and placed two newcomers to the School Committee.
Richard B. Hood garnered the most votes with 2,418. Robert A. Spence came in second with 1,964 votes in the five-way race. Hood was a strong supporter of the override. Spence took no position on the override to mirror the current School Committee, which had not taken a vote.
One-term incumbent Kathleen D. Anderson lost her bid for a second term. Incumbent Andrew M. Churchill did not seek re-election.
Anderson finished third, with Vincent J. O’Connor and Ernest J. Dalkas rounding out the contest.
This was the only town-wide race.
Hood, who worked for passage of the override, credited supporters’ success on work and organization. Hood said supporters modeled their campaign on the one in Northampton which saw the passage of a $2 million override in June.
He said he believes the committee needs to focus on district goals and that having an interim superintendent should not impede the committee on moving forward.
The Amherst Regional School Committee will meet tonight to review the budgets and vote Thursday night.
Unlike in 2007 when the override loss by 267 votes, this time supporters approved it by a vote of 3,058 to 2,189.
The Finance Committee and Select Board supported the override, which at its $1.68 million level would add about $264 annually for the average homeowner with a house valued at $334,600.
March 15, the teacher’s union agreed to give back about $350,000 in pay increases if the override was approved. Town officials said if additional revenue was found they would not tax to the full levy limit and would lower the annual increase to about $190 a year.
According the ballot question the money would be apportioned in the following ways: $452,252 to the town operating budget, $400,000 to the elementary schools, $739,195 to the regional schools assessment, and $88,994 to the library operating budget. But those numbers could change.
The Budget Coordinating Group is slated to meet Thursday morning to discuss the results of the override. The group is comprised of members of the school and finance committees, the Select Board and the Jones Library Board of Trustees.
Since Proposition 2½ was enacted into law in 1980, Amherst has passed two overrides - one in 1991 and the second in 2004. The money will save jobs 20 jobs in the schools as well as library and town positions.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.