Croydon Parents Petition for Full-Day Kindergarten

Voting to elect town and school officials will be held on Tuesday, March 11, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Croydon Town Hall on Route 10. The remaining town warning articles will be voted on at Town Meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at the town hall. Croydon’s annual school district meeting will follow at 1 p.m.

Croydon — Other than dips in the town and school budgets, this year’s town and school warnings are not yielding too many major changes for voters.

But voters are being asked to support a petitioned article from a group of parents seeking full-day kindergarten in Croydon.

The proposed town operating budget is $387,400, down $16,250 from last year’s budget of $403,650. Town officials could not be reached for interviews on the change, but Town Clerk/Tax Collector Charleen Little said in an email that the decrease was due to changes in health insurance and highway projects, but did not give specifics.

It’s unclear at this point what impact the reduction will have on the current municipal tax rate, which is $2.59 per $1,000 of valuation. Among other articles on the warrant are $20,000 for the Highway Equipment Capital Reserve Fund; $10,000 for the Town Revaluation Capital Reserve Fund; $22,70 for the yearly payment on the note for the Samuel Morse Property purchased by the town in 2006; $8,000 for general cemetery maintenance for the 2014 season; and $40,523 for the Croydon Police Department.

As for the school district, officials this year have proposed a budget of $1.2 million, which is down $107,000, or 7.7 percent, from last year’s budget, said Chuck Stuart, business administrator for SAU 43.

This will impact the current tax rate of $18 by about $1 and change it to $17 per $1,000 of valuation, Stuart said.

Stuart said the reduction is due to the district having fewer students to tuition out to Newport High School.

Two petitioned warrant articles will also be up for discussion. The first asks voters to rescind the School Board’s authority to spend money from the Special Education capital reserve fund.

The School Board is against this measure, Stuart said, mainly because if the school board had to wait to pay special education expenses until the annual meeting each year, the district couldn’t pay its special education bills for services on time.

“As it is, the board has to have a public meeting whenever it spends money from the trust fund,” Stuart said.

Voters are also being asked to expand the operation of the school district to include full-day kindergarten beginning in school year 2014-2015. The measure was added by petition.

Stuart said that at this time the board is not in favor of expanding kindergarten because the budget includes funds to keep a class of fourth grade students at the Croydon Village School instead of tuitioning them to Newport. Although it costs money to keep the class, he said, the move saves money in the long run.

Stuart said that he thinks if the measure fails at the meeting it will continue to be a topic of discussion going forward. There are no contested school races this year.