PLAINVILLE - Following a second budget vote, the reduced Board of Education budget passed by a wide margin Tuesday.
Over 1,200 residents turned out to vote - an 11 percent turnout of eligible voters - with 863 supporting the budget and 369 opposing it.
Dan Kulas, who was working the polls Tuesday, said 995 residents cast their vote as of approximately 6 p.m. This was already higher than the total turnout during the last budget vote, which was 768 people.
Board of Education member Nicole Palmieri and Town Councilor Jesse Gnazzo were at the fire station when the votes came in.
Palmieri said she was thrilled that it passed.
“Now we can get back to learning and focusing on children enjoying the last six weeks of school,” she said. “I thank the citizens for coming out and voting.”
Gnazzo said he is happy that the education budget passed but wishes it passed the first time.
“The voters came out in force,” he said. “It was a great turn out and they made their voices known. It was the right thing to do.”
During the first budget vote, which was held April 30, voters narrowly rejected the $38.33 million education budget, which was a $1.01 million or $2.7 percent increase over last year’s budget; 384 people voted against it and 372 were in favor.
Then, at a May 7 meeting, the council voted to reduce $100,000 from the budget. This number was a compromise to a previously floated $200,000 reduction after numerous parents, teachers and education leaders spoke against the more drastic cut. According to the town charter, a reduction is required after a budget fails.
However, at that meeting, Superintendent of Schools Maureen Brummett said she was disappointed in the decision because the cuts to the budget were significant.
Brummett said that some of the things affected by the $100,000 cut include the elimination of an autism specialist position, a service re-allocation for sign-language courses, elimination of a social studies teacher, elimination of a literacy tutor position at Wheeler School, elimination of benefits for eliminated positions, cuts to textbooks and elementary supplies, and a partial reduction in middle school sports.
In the event that a budget fails twice, it comes back to the council, which is then required to make an additional reduction. That number is then adopted without a public vote.
Voters heading into the fire station spoke mostly in favor of the education budget.
Gertrude Lacombe said that although she didn’t vote the first time around, she was motivated to “make sure that the schools got what was needed” this time.
Joyce Hardisty said that she was also voting in favor of the education budget in support of her grandson, who has Down syndrome.
Debbie Nelson said voting yes on the education budget now is better than the council “taking a hatchet to it” without a public vote should it fail a second time.
“I voted no the first time because I’m living on a budget and I thought it could be lower,” she said.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.