04/02/2009

By Lisa Loomis

When Hancock voters severed their joint school contract with Granville on Town Meeting day, it left Granville voters unable to vote on their school budget.

The Granville budget was based on both towns continuing their contract which had kindergarten through fourth-grade students from both towns at the Granville school and grades five and six at the Hancock school.

As The Valley Reporter goes to press on April 1, the Hancock Select Board is considering a voter petition for a revote of the Town Meeting vote to sever the contract with Granville and tuition Hancock students elsewhere. 

TABLED THE ISSUE

But whatever action the select board takes will be impacted by the vote that Granville residents will cast on Monday, April 6. Unable to vote a school budget due to the Hancock vote, Granville voters tabled the issue for 30 days and then the school board, with David Allen, the business manager of the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union, rewarned the budget number of $768,213.

"However, once the board went through the costs in greater detail, we came up with two other numbers that were explained to voters in a mailer," Allen said.

"To keep the Granville School open the anticipated cost -- not the warned amount -- would be $860,368, so the warned amount would need to be amended from the floor. The second option explained in the flyer was the $779,380 cost of tuitioning the students," he continued.

PER STUDENT COSTS

Granville parent Asah Rowles provided per student costs for the two options. Keeping the school open with an estimated 13 students and 1.5 teachers would cost $13,223 per student. Closing the school and tuitioning students would cost $12,101 per student, but parents would be responsible for all transportation.
 
And while the Hancock Town Meeting vote affected Granville's ability to vote on its budget, the April 6 Granville vote may change what type of a revote the Hancock Select Board can bring back to its voters. Hancock voters may not be able to recreate the contract with Granville that was in place since 2004.  Hancock voters may end up with the choice of tuitioning students out or keeping the Hancock school open.

LEGAL LANGUAGE

"The contract between the two towns provided that either town could get out by a vote at Town Meeting which left Granville with the choice of tuitioning students or trying to do it alone. As for what Hancock voters vote on, we need to review the legal language. Since Hancock broke the contract, voters might revote that. Hancock voters could affirm the Town Meeting vote, or vote to continue with the contract with Granville, or they could run their own school," Allen said.

He did point out that Hancock's ability to continue the contract may become moot once Granville voters cast ballots on Monday.

At Town Meeting, Hancock residents, by a vote of 41 to 23, voted to shut the school and tuition students to other schools. Hancock has 252 registered voters.  Hancock's cost to run the joint schools was $773,188 and the cost to tuition those students elsewhere is $774,769.

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