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Breakdown Of Oct. 7 STM Warrant: Common Core Debate, Millions In Spending Items

Oct 03, 2014 11:19AM ● Published by Bill Gilman

(Editor's note: Attached to this story you will find a PDF file of the the warrant for the Oct. 7 Special Town Meeting. You will also find a breakdown of that warrant put together by Town Moderator Jerry Selissen. His chart includes explanations of the warrant articles, who each is sponsored by and recommendations by town boards.)

Voters gathered at next week's Special Town Meeting (Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. at Tewksbury Memorial High School) will be asked to spend millions of dollars and change certain zoning bylaws.
But the article likely to generate the most debate won't cost taxpayers a dime, nor will it alter the bylaws in any way. In fact, it's not even binding.
Article 17 is a citizens' petition, authored by Ruth Chou of the Tewksbury Town Republican Committee. It asks the School Administration to reject the national Common Core education standards and curriculum. In a recent Letter To The Editor, Chou said Common Core is costly to implement, lowers achievement standards and strips decision making power from local schools and parents.
Earlier this year, the Tewksbury School Committee voted, 3-2, to agree to be a test district for the PARCC testing, which goes hand-in-hand with the Common Core Curriculum and Standards. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brenda Theriault-Regan says the demands and standards of Common Core are actually more rigorous than the current MCAS-driven curriculum and testing in Massachusetts.
Several articles include expenditures from the town's $4.6 million in certified free cash, $600,000 of which is being earmarked for snow and ice removal for the upcoming winter. Another $1,538,579 is proposed to be transferred into the stabilization fund.
Recommended expenditures include:
  • $110,420 for police equipment, including TASERs and a new unmarked vehicle.
  • $397,590 for for DPW equipment, including a new tractor and a loader.
  • $485,000 for capitol expenditures for the School Department, including painting and other needed maintenance.
  • $40,000 for a Town Center Master Plan consultant
  • $1,000,000 for the Town Health Insurance budget. Montuori said he is looking to "get ahead of the game" on this line item.
  • $350,000 for the past employment benefit account.  The town has a $160 million liability in this area. The town manager said this is a small amount to start addressing the issue.

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