CLAREMONT — Voters need to come out again to vote on the $650,000 special education plan after the state deemed the school district failed to properly notify the public of last month’s special district meeting vote.
Claremont School Board Chair Frank Sprague said the district decided to hold the Dec. 12 special school district meeting to re-vote on the plan after hearing from legal counsel about the issue. The original vote last month, where an overwhelming majority backed the special education plan, was deemed legally deficient by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration, Sprague said.
“We were cited for not warning the meeting properly,” he said.
Though the district posted notices of the special meeting in the local newspaper, and placed physical copies at the SAU office and at Stevens High School where the meeting took place, it did not put a notice of the meeting on the district website.
Sprague said the website is for the SAU 6 district, which includes Claremont and Unity, and not specifically for Claremont’s district. The DRA felt it is essentially the Claremont district’s website as well, and as such, the special meeting should have been posted there, Sprague said.
The district had to have the meeting last month in order to deal with the state budget which is sending $1.3 million in stabilization to Claremont. Sprague has long been advocating for the state to reestablish the stabilization fund, and he got his wish in the new state budget.
The plan is to have about half the money go to building up a special education program so that Claremont can keep some special education students in Claremont rather than send them out of the district. This will save the district money, and it could conceivably become a source of revenue for Claremont if it is able to accept special education students from other districts, he said.
“It’s a business plan,” he said.
The remaining half of the stabilization funds will go back to Claremont taxpayers for property tax relief, Sprague said. Without the approval of voters for the special education plan, the entire $1.3 million will become property tax relief, he said.
The new meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Stevens High School Auditorium, according to the notice posted on the SAU 6 website.