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Bridport to vote on revised school budget, renovation bond

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By JOHN FLOWERS

BRIDPORT — Bridport voters on Tuesday, May 5, will vote on a trimmed-down 2009-2010 budget and a renovation bond for their local elementary school.

Town school directors last week OK’d both measures for Australian ballot voting that will be preceded by an informational meeting on Monday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. at Bridport Central School.

Residents will be asked to approve a revised, 2009-2010 Bridport Central spending plan of $1,324,666, which represents a 2.12-percent decrease compared to this year’s budget.

The revised budget is roughly $32,000 less than the $1,356,398 proposal that voters rejected by a 188-184 tally on Town Meeting Day. That version represented a 0.17-percent decrease in spending compared to this year.

Addison Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Lee Sease explained school directors were able to find some anticipated savings in the special education category. That savings was somewhat offset by an increase in the budget amount for school maintenance costs. School board member Sharon Kohler said the amount requested for a renovation bond was reduced, meaning some upgrades would not be done and maintenance costs would be a bit higher.

Sease noted that if a new budget is not adopted by July 1, Bridport will begin the new fiscal year under the terms of its current, 2008-2009 spending plan.

Also on the ballot will be a request to float a $550,000 bond to pay for a new school roof and upgrades to Bridport Central’s electrical and ventilation systems.

This will be the fifth time a school renovation bond is served up to voters in a little more than a year.

An initial, $1.25-million expansion-and-renovation project earned a narrow go-ahead from voters on Town Meeting Day in 2008 but was quickly petitioned for a revote and summarily defeated. It was defeated again on Nov. 4. School officials went back to the drawing board and drafted a scaled-down plan that would have provided for, among other things, a new roof with added insulation, updates to the school’s ventilation and electrical systems, removal of asbestos tiling in the hallway, installation of new drop-ceilings with new lighting, and a simplified entryway project (compared to what had been originally proposed) calling for double doors.

Residents rejected that scaled-down $800,000 plan by a 190-184 tally on Town Meeting Day.

Bridport’s building committee reconvened after the defeat and focused on trimming more from the project. They ultimately recommended that the school board, at a minimum, push for the roof, ventilation and electrical upgrades.

“Everything else has been scratched right now,” said Leonard Barrett, chairman of the building committee.

But Barrett and other town officials hope those scratched items will come back into play in short order. That’s because the school has applied for $1.3 million in federal stimulus money that officials are seeking to underwrite the entire original project.

“If we could get the whole job done, that would be great,” Barrett said. “We have put in the (stimulus application) and are waiting to hear back. It is a wait-and-see deal right now.”

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