Orange voters to head back to polls
ORANGE — Voters who narrowly, but repeatedly, refused to approve a $2.7 million school budget during their traditional town meeting earlier this month will be given another chance next month.
School directors, who were on the wrong side of three excruciatingly close votes on the floor of Orange’s evening town meeting, have reserved Town Hall for April 30 at 7 p.m. for a soon-to-be-warned special school district meeting.
The only order of business that night is expected to be the only unfinished business from Town Meeting Day: how much to spend on the operation of the town’s pre-K-8 elementary school and to cover the tuition of its high school-age students.
The School Board has decided to stand by its $2,728,875 budget request – a budget that calls for spending $8,875, or .33 percent more than the $2,720,000 budget that was approved by voters a year ago.
The proposed budget includes $1,817,935 to finance the operation of Orange Center School and $910,940 in high school tuition costs.
“They feel like they have a good budget, it’s an appropriate budget, and it’s the budget they need to support the school district,” Superintendent Susette Bollard said of the board’s unanimous decision to bring back the same budget that divided those who attended town meeting.
Voters initially rejected the board’s budget request, 35-39, setting the stage for two votes that were even closer.
An amendment to trim $8,875 from the budget — essentially level-funding the request at $2,720,000 – failed by just one vote, 37-38, and a subsequent amendment to return to the School Board’s original request, was defeated, 37-39.
That’s when Town Moderator Adrian Otterman decided to abandon the town’s past practice of voting until a budget is finally approved and to defer action on the school spending plan until a future meeting.
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