Southampton voters to decide on override at Tuesday TM



Published: 05-15-2017 8:35 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — Due to a tight budget, the William E. Norris School is asking for a $110,000 override at Town Meeting Tuesday night to fund additional staff and necessary supplies.

Southampton residents will vote on 39 articles at Town Meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at Norris School gymnasium, 34 Pomeroy Meadow Road. If the meeting is not complete by late Tuesday night, it will resume on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Other articles on the warrant include a wetlands protection bylaw, a right-to-farm bylaw, new police and fire vehicles and restoration of Revolutionary and Civil War graves.

In an email pitch to parents and the community urging support of the override — Article 11 on the warrant — Superintendent Craig Jurgensen and the Norris School Committee school officials said the level-funded budget lacks money for supplies, curriculum or other necessary items, as well as additions to staff to provide tiered intervention and support.

The school’s fiscal 2018 budget of $4,052,064 is $100,000 more than the current budget, which Jurgensen said will enable the district to offer the same services next year as it did this year.

“With no other options for funding, the School Committee is proposing an $110,000 override to the town to fund a Special Education Team Leader, a Math Interventionist, and supplies and curriculum materials for the teachers,” the School Committee wrote to parents. “Translated into tax dollars this would mean an increase of $.16 per $1,000 assessed value of your home or for example, $40 for a $250,000 assessment.”

In the school’s newsletter, “Tiger Talk,” the February issue says the town has historically funded the schools at the absolute minimum.

The newsletter said the average per pupil expenditure in the state for fiscal 2015 was $14,935. In Southampton, per pupil spending was $10,774 — the second lowest town in Massachusetts.

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“With 527 students in our school we are stretched thin when we look to meet the mandates and maintain our needed educational levels,” the newsletter states. “We cannot continue with historically minimal funding.”

The Norris School has two other articles on the warrant – Article 12 and Article 28.

Article 12 is to establish a stabilization fund for the Norris Elementary School Special Education program to pay for unanticipated and unexpected special education expenses.

Article 28 asks the town to transfer $65,000 Community Preservation funds to the Parent Teacher Organization of the Norris School for playground equipment for preschool and kindergarten classes. The general playground equipment and structures at the school are not developmentally appropriate or sized correctly for young children, Jurgensen said in an email.

Other requests

Voters will also be asked to transfer money from stabilization accounts to the fire and police departments for new vehicles.

The Fire Department is asking for a transfer of $319,993 for a new ambulance. If approved, the purchase would be funded over five years through transfers from the ambulance stabilization fund and short-term borrowing.

The Police Department is asking for a transfer of $53,523 for a 2017 Ford Explorer Interceptor AWD, or a comparable vehicle.

Three articles are on the table seeking CPA funds to revitalize Revolutionary and Civil War graves.

The town is asked to transfer $10,000 from CPA funds to the Historical Commission to match a grant from the State Historical Records Advisory Board to restore and clean the historic grave sites and stones.

Article 31 asks the town to transfer $5,000 for granite markers at aged and deteriorating stones. Article 30 asks the town to transfer $2,000 to fund cleaning and straightening of the grave stones.

If approved, both of the funds would be transferred from the CPA account to the veterans’ grave officer.

To maintain the quality of surface water, water recharge areas or potential water supplies, voters are asked to adopt a wetland protection by-law.

Finally, Article 8 is a right-to-farm bylaw that “encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities and protects farmlands with the Town of Southampton by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies,” the warrant states.

Articles added by citizen petition are Article 4, to support legislation to limit the influence of money in politics, and Article 3, to amend Town Meeting procedure so speakers face the audience rather than the moderator.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at