RAYNHAM — From yard signs to the Internet, information is flooding all channels of communication in anticipation of Saturday’s override vote in Raynham.
From yard signs to the Internet, information is flooding all channels of communication in anticipation of Saturday’s override vote in Raynham.
“The soul of the community is at stake,” said Town Selectman John Donahue during the taping of a local cable show at town hall this week. “The quality of life [in Raynham] is all about education.”
In case you missed the e-mails and newspaper reports, Saturday is Election Day in Raynham. Although no politicians are running for office, the school department is asking for an additional $874,317 in taxes to help pay for education.
“We urge everyone to please vote,” said Selectman Donald L. McKinnon at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen. McKinnon wants to see a strong turnout at the polls, regardless of the outcome, so the intent of the community can be acknowledged.
Bridgewater-Raynham School Committee member, Stephen Donohue, attended the last two selectmen’s meeting to marshal support for the override.
“It’s not a pretty picture,” warned Donohue about the consequences of losing the vote and school funds.
“All students in Raynham would have one less hour of education,” Donohue said. A defeated override would also force the school committee to choose between eliminating departments such as music, art, foreign language and physical education, or to keep the classes, referred to as specials, and increase class sizes to as many as 46 students.
“We’re in a situation where we’ll be, essentially, debating bad decisions,” Donohue said.
Selectman Joseph Pacheco, a 2007 graduate of Bridgewater State College, said he chose classes in college with the fewest number of students.
“I loved smaller class sizes,” he said. “To take that opportunity away from kids is really unacceptable.”
After Donohue spoke, the three Raynham selectmen took turns attesting to the need for boosting school funds.
Donahue explained in terms of relative cost to taxpayers. He said the $874,317 was fairly small; the average cost for taxpayers would be $164 per year, or 45 cents per day.
“It’s an acknowledgment that expenses have exceeded our ability to raise revenues,” he said.
McKinnon responded to reports of an anonymous flyer discouraging seniors citizens in Raynham of voting in favor of the measure.
“It’s a little bit disheartening that someone singled us out as a weak link,” said McKinnon, 74.
“There’s still a lot of misinformation,” said school committee member Pat Riley, who has been discussing the override vote on her weekly Raynham cable show “Inside Scoop.”
Riley said many voters are calling and e-mailing with questions about the vote. “There’s been an increase in awareness and interest. It’s all we can ask for,” Riley said.
Riley is also coordinating pro-override rallies at the Four Corners intersection Thursday and Friday afternoon and outside the polling stations on Saturday.
Although voters are only being asked to approve or reject one item on the ballot, several scenarios could take place depending on Saturday’s outcome.
If taxpayers in Raynham approve a contribution of $12.4 million to the joint district budget, a district meeting between Raynham and Bridgewater voters would be held in August to restore the full $55.7 school department budget.
If voters approve the full $55.7 million at joint district meeting, the entire budget is adopted.
If voters deny the school budget at the joint district meeting, the $874,000 is returned to the Raynham Board of Selectmen, which has the option of calling for a special town meeting to decide to grant all or a portion of the funds to Raynham students in grades k-8.
If the Raynham override vote is defeated, but the entire budget is approved at the joint district meeting, each town would schedule separate public meetings to fulfill the requirement of the full budget, most likely at the expense of other town services.
If the override is defeated in Raynham and at the district meeting, the budget defaults to $53.4 million and the cuts in services and staff commence.
The voters are already lining up in Raynham.
At town hall, voting by absentee ballot is setting a record.
“It’s unbelievable, they’ve been coming in steadily,” said Marsha Silvia, who said over 200 absentee ballots — a record for Raynham — have been cast as of Thursday afternoon.
She expects many of Raynham’s 8,775 registered voters to cast ballots on Saturday.
Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Residents from precincts 1 and 3 vote at the Merrill School on Pleasant Street. Voters in precincts 2 vote at the senior center on King Philip Street.