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May 21, 2013

Danvers school budget under fire at Town Meeting

(Continued)

Former Selectman and Precinct 7 Town Meeting member Mark Zuberek said the town spends much more on the schools once building maintenance and other costs are factored in.

“This proposed reduction is only a down payment on what has to happen,” Zuberek said, saying the schools have to live within their means because “taxpayers cannot keep reaching into their pockets every year.”

Former nine-year School Committee member Bill Bates, who works as an aide to state Rep. Ted Speliotis, defended the school budget request.

“Your School Committee does not need to be reminded there is no bottomless pit,” Bates said.

Bates said any school budget cuts on Town Meeting floor could jeopardize contractual agreements. He said the new positions include some, such as the middle school teachers, that have been trimmed in recent years.

School Committee member Arthur Skarmeas said the school budget process “is collaborative with the town,” and noted that no one spoke against the budget during three hearings on it. The minority report failed to pass.

Precinct 4 Town Meeting member John Zavaglia tried to persuade members to go along with Saturday voting for the town election by proposing to change his article so that voting on the first Saturday of May would be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. He had proposed an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. voting time in his original motion. It then came to light that the only way to change the date of the election is to change the Town Manager Act and have a vote of the Legislature with a home rule petition, a process that could take a year.

While some people rose in favor of Saturday voting as being more convenient, others said the change would cause confusion. Bill Nicholson, a poll worker, rose twice to defend Tuesday voting.

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