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Bow voters approve first phase of partnership with Dunbarton School District

  • Bow town clerk Cate De Vasto stamps voters hands as they turned in their ballots on Article 4 during the Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bow town clerk Cate De Vasto stamps voters hands as they turned in their ballots on Article 4 during the Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bryan Westover casts his vote during the secret ballot vote on Article 4 Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bryan Westover casts his vote during the secret ballot vote on Article 4 Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Keith Kuenning carries one of the ballot boxes down to the front of the auditorium after votes were cast in a secret ballot for Article 4 at the Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Keith Kuenning carries one of the ballot boxes down to the front of the auditorium after votes were cast in a secret ballot for Article 4 at the Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bow town clerk Cate De Vasto stamps voters hands as they turned in their ballots on Article 4 during the Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Bryan Westover casts his vote during the secret ballot vote on Article 4 Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Keith Kuenning carries one of the ballot boxes down to the front of the auditorium after votes were cast in a secret ballot for Article 4 at the Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. The article proposed bringing together Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade to keep numbers at the Bow schools high enough to maintain the quality. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Bow School District meeting at Bow High School on March 8, 2013. Among the issues up for vote was Article 4, which will bring Bow and Dunbarton students together starting in seventh grade.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Residents in Bow voted overwhelmingly last night to take in Dunbarton middle and high school students beginning next year in an effort to bolster their district’s sagging enrollment.

The vote, which passed 301-10 through secret ballot, marks the first step in what could become a 10-year area agreement between the towns. Dunbarton currently sends its seventh through 12th grade students to Goffstown but has been considering other arrangements for when its contract ends in 2014. The pact, which has to be approved by Dunbarton residents at their annual district meeting next Saturday, would provide Bow’s student population with a sizable boost; projections indicate the high school could return to roughly its 2010 size – about 600 students – in the first year.

“I think this was a very important night because it pretty much shows that the full Bow community is behind us,” said Superintendent Dean Cascadden. “Someone mentioned earlier that this is not just about the monetary benefits, but also about building a collaboration between towns, and I’m really glad that was the tenor of the evening.”

During the comment period prior to the vote a handful of residents asked questions about what the deal could mean for Bow students, teachers and residents.

“Everyone is talking about the benefits, and that’s great,” said resident Tom Duval. “But I wonder if you can talk about what some of the downsides are with the agreement.”

Cascadden responded that the biggest downside was uncertainty over whether students from both towns would mesh. “We can look at test scores and compare things like that, but there just some things you can’t predict,” he said.

Pansy Bloomfield, a school board member, said she thought the only downside “would be if we didn’t do this.”

“If we can’t keep the quality (of our schools) high, your housing values will go down,” she told the crowd.

The district predicts the deal could bring in $1.8 million in revenue in the first year, a figure its business administrator, Duane Ford, said “there is no source of revenue that would match or even come close to.”

The Dunbarton vote came after the district’s proposed $25 million operating budget, which is up some $97,000 from this year’s, received overwhelming support from those in attendance.

The district said beforehand that it had been dealt a difficult hand in crafting the budget due to rising pension and health care costs and the loss of about $560,000 in grant funding tied to enrollment. The district has lost 21.7 percent of its total student population over the last decade.

There had been some talk in the weeks leading up to the meeting about concern over cuts in the budget to special education spending. In a public hearing last month, Cascadden said earlier this week, several residents voiced concern that the quality of care and instruction for students with special needs would be compromised through the cuts – about $156,000 from the current budget.

But in a presentation last night, Bow budget committee chair Kally Abrams assured everyone that “special education is not being jeopardized by this budget.”

“There are cuts that can be made without lessening the quality of the program,” she said. “I firmly believe that the budget brought before you is a responsible budget.”

Those in the crowd appeared to agree. When moderator Jim Hatem opened the floor for comments there were none. When he asked for a show of all those in favor of the budget the room filled with raised arms.

The town also voted to draw $60,000 from its capital reserve fund to replace a 39-year-old gas boiler with one that runs on natural gas. The initiative received no voiced opposition from those in attendance.

Legacy Comments1

I continue to be immensely proud of my town, it's residents and it's commitment to education. I cannot remember a year in the past ten where the budget passed without a single question. The presentation was thoughtful and thorough. As far as Articles 4 & 5, the chance to welcome Dunbarton to SAU 67 was overwhelmingly supported. Although not written per se in the Area agreement, I feel that the negotiations our committees participated in clearly showed that we are not looking for tenants, we are truly looking for a partnership with Dunbarton. The ultimate goal for me was to have these agreements pass, open the doors to Dunbarton students in Sept of 2014 and NOT be able to tell the difference between a Bow and Dunbarton student shortly thereafter. Dr. Cascadden mentioned that one of the "unknowns" is if and how well the kids will integrate socially. I'm totally confident they've got that covered.....we've laid the groundwork, the kids will take over from here. Thank you Bow voters!

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