Lebanon School Board set to OK budget proposal, other warrant articles

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 1/24/2022 9:37:09 PM
Modified: 1/25/2022 11:01:00 AM

LEBANON — The School Board is scheduled on Wednesday to finalize a 2022-23 budget proposal and other warrant articles that will go before votes in March.

The six draft articles include approval of a bond to modernize school buildings, a collective bargaining agreement and a petitioned article concerning the discontinuation of the School Resource Officer program.

The board had been ready to approve the warrant at a meeting earlier this month.

Instead, members in attendance voted 4-3 to vote on the articles at their meeting set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The motion to delay the vote was made due to the absence of two board members, who would have counted as abstentions in the final tally if the vote had taken place on Jan. 12.

The School Board’s vote tally for each article appears alongside the articles on the ballot. Chairman Richard Milius expressed concern that it would not be “accurate or even fair” to have vote tallies that were misleading.

“I think it conveys a rather different message to say the School Board recommends an article 8 to 1, which is what the real support is, (than) to say the school board recommends this by a vote of … 5 to 1 to 2,” he said during the meeting.

Milius, for example, was the only board member to oppose the Lebanon Educators Association Collective Bargaining Agreement at the board’s Dec. 8 meeting.

Article 2, if approved by voters, will authorize the issuance of $14,341,000 in bonds in order to raise money for modernization at Hanover Street School and Lebanon High School.

It will also authorize the raising of $358,525 in taxes for first-year debt service payments on the bond. The article requires a 60% threshold to pass, whereas others require a majority vote only.

Article 3, if adopted, would authorize a yearly operating budget of about $48 million.

If the article is defeated, the default budget will be nearly $47.5 — the same as the current school year’s spending.

According to district business administrator Tim Ball, the proposed budget would have a tax impact of 67 cents per $1,000, or $200.99 for a home valued at $300,000.

The first year of the modernization bond would have an impact of 16 cents per $1,000.

Article 6, which was added to the ballot by citizen petition, concerns the discontinuation of the School Resource Officer program.

The article comes nearly a year after residents voted 1,011- 1,006 to discontinue the program in March 2021, but were overruled by the School Board in a 5- 4 vote held in May.

Attorney Steven Whitley explained during the meeting that even if the article is adopted, it will be an advisory only, as the School Board has the authority to “take appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of the people that are in school buildings” under state law.

The annual School District Meeting, at which city residents will be allowed to vote on the articles, will be held in two parts: a deliberative session on Feb. 5 and official ballot voting on March 8.

To be eligible to be discussed at the deliberative session, a petitioned article must be filed by Jan. 31.

Lauren Adler can be reached at ladler19@gmail.com.

Valley News

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