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Bridgewater voters to decide on school study

BRIDGEWATER — When residents convene for Town Meeting next Tuesday, they will be asked if they want to study the idea of withdrawing from the Newfound Area School District.

The polls will be open in Town Hall from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and Town Meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m., also at Town Hall.

Voters will be asked to approve a $1.38 million budget, excluding warrant articles.

Article 3 asks residents for $90,000 for the following capital improvements and investments: replacing Town Hall and highway building roofs; buying a new highway sander and snow plow; painting two town buildings; supplemental road surfacing; and upgrading ambulances. By approving this article, voters would authorize the transfer of $90,000 from the 2013 fund balance.

Article 4 asks voters to authorize the selectmen to serve as the cemetery trustees indefinitely, leaving the option for voters to change the positions at a future town meeting.

School withdrawal study

Article 5, which is also on the Hebron town warrant, asks voters in Hebron and Bridgewater to direct the school board of the Newfound Area School District to complete “a study of the feasibility and suitability of the withdrawal of the towns of Hebron and Bridgewater from the cooperative district.”

By state rules, the study would be conducted by a committee composed of at least one member of the school board from each town, one selectman from each town, and other members that may be appointed by the committee.

If approved by voters, the committee would report its findings to the state’s Board of Education within 180 days after the date of formation. The article stipulates that there would be no cost for the study. The article is recommended by the selectmen of Hebron and Bridgewater.

Town officials said the withdrawal study has been requested by many residents in both towns who would like to have their students educated closer to home. A similar study was completed this fall by the board after Danbury residents passed a similar article last year. The study concluded that the district was better off remaining in the district for the immediate future.

Last spring, Danbury residents were told they would owe the school district an initial payment of $129,000 for investments the district had made in Danbury Elementary School. Residents would also owe about $35,000 a year for the remainder of a 13-year district improvements bond that the town approved while part of the district.

School Board Chairman Vincent Paul Migliore said other towns in the seven-town district would likely face a similar debt to withdraw.

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