Note: This article relative to the 2012 school budget is reprinted due to its relevance to the ongoing budget difficulties experienced by our school district.
On Wednesday, March 2, the second of two open public hearings was held regarding the FY 2012 AWRSD budget. There was almost full attendance from both towns’ Boards of Selectmen and Advisory Boards but I believe I was the only Westminster taxpayer (not on an attending board) in the audience. The reason the Overlook Middle School Library was packed with town officials from Ashburnham and Westminster was that there is a new funding mechanism that, if implemented, will likely alter the state of relations between the two towns and severely affect school funding for our school district. Unfortunately it is now the 11th hour and even the best case scenario is not good.
Before going into the details of the meeting (which decided nothing about how to fund the schools), here is an overview of how we got into this funding mess, from the 20,000 foot view. This is best seen from a few graphs. Note that data for the current school year, fiscal year 2011, is incomplete at this point.