Andover school officials won’t h
ave to wait for a special town meeting this fall to gain $608,000 more for the schools.
When the town received an extra $608,000 in state aid for the current fiscal year, school officials asked that it be dedicated for school use, which would have required a special town meeting vote.
But town leaders have agreed to give the schools another $608,000 now rather than wait for a special meeting that could be months away. The $608,000 will come from “unexpended funds” rather than from state aid.
In a letter to the editor in last week’s Townsman, the School Committee announced that the heads of the School Committee, Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee had agreed to the arrangement.
“We thought it was a good idea that the money was available immediately so we could make investments in the schools in the fall,” said Paula Colby-Clements, School Committee chairwoman, this week.
It will be up to School Superintendent Marinel McGrath’s leadership team to decide how to spend the extra money. The team includes other administrators and all of the town’s school principals.
While Colby-Clements said it’s not up to the School Committee to decide how to spend money, she said she personally hopes the schools will consider “looking at the high school class size and trying to reduce it.”
“I’m sure there are many other priorities throughout the district at many different levels,” said Colby-Clements. “For us, we want it to be invested so it moves (McGrath’s) strategic plan forward.”
Colby-Clements expects the additional state aid will be sustained in future years, if not increased, which could give the community more room to grow in the coming years, she said.
The $608,000 in additional state aid could be used for another purpose if a special town meeting is called, Finance Committee Chairman Jon Stumpf said. It could also be used by the town to reduce the tax rate.
A resident could request a special town meeting by submitting 200 voter signatures. A private article earmarking the money for a specific purpose could then be submitted by petition of 100 voters.
For feedback on this story, or for other story-related inquiries, please email dluca@andovertownsman.