1. The School Committee first will present its budget, detailing the reasoning behind it and explaining the consequences if its request for funding does not pass.
    2. Because the number printed in the Wenham warrant book is the lower number — meaning it’s the selectmen’s number, not the schools’ — someone on the school committee will next make a motion to amend. He or she will request that the number be increased to $7,503,239, the figure that represents a 0% increase to the towns.
    3. If you agree with the School Committee’s reasoning and want to support its budget, you should VOTE IN FAVOR of this MOTION TO AMEND.
    4. Note that you have to VOTE YES TWICE—once to support the motion to amend, and, if that passes, YES once more to support the budget with the new appropriation.
    5. If the amendment fails, the schools won’t have a budget. After that, the approval of any number other than the one requested by the School Committee will be symbolic only and will not bind the School Committee. No matter what else happens at Wenham Town Meeting, the schools will leave without a budget if the amendment fails.
    6. What happens then? In the week after Wenham Town Meeting, the School Committee will reconvene. They may decide to give Hamilton voters an equal chance to exercise their right to vote on the 0%, level-funded budget, in which case they would not change the amount of their assessment request. Or they could change the figure and present a different assessment to Hamilton. In almost all likely scenarios, this will lead to a second Town Meeting or even a third, district-wide vote. (When you hear people speak of “going to the gym,” it’s this third meeting they’re referring to, which, in 2003, was held in the un-air-conditioned High School gym. In August.)
    7. To avoid any subsequent town meetings, VOTE YES TWICE for the proposed school budget.
    8. For background on the budget battle:
      http://hwsos.org/wordpress/2011/05/03/school-budget-on-the-chopping-block/
      http://hwsos.org/wordpress/2011/05/04/should-the-school-district-spend-down-its-reserves-or-protect-them/
  • Tomorrow, Sat. May 7
    Wenham Town Election, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Buker Gym
    Wenham Town Meeting, 1 p.m., Buker Gym

    Drop-off babysitting available
    Follow the meeting on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hwsos

    As we sometimes forget during the busy budget season, the only entity that decides Wenham’s share of school funding is YOU, the voter.

    This year you have a choice. There are two numbers proposed for Wenham’s share of the school budget.

    You may vote for the assessment that is in the school’s budget, which represents a 0% increase to the town from last year. It does not affect town services, and it maintains level services in the schools.

    Or you may vote for the assessment proposed by Wenham officials, which, when added to Hamilton’s portion, combines to de-fund the school’s proposal by $500,000. (Keep in mind that a third number, or others, could be proposed and voted upon on the floor of Town Meeting as well.)

    Either way, a simple majority of voters is required to approve an assessment number. Here’s how the process will work:

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