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Allenstown voters reject $1 million school district budget cut

  • From left, Lori Roy, a guidance counselor, Kim Clark, a third grade teacher, Kim Foss, a kindergarten teacher, and Phyllis Irzyk, a physical education teacher, all at Allenstown Elementary School, speak with voters about voting down Article 1 which would cut $1 million from the district's school budget. "I would lose everything, said Irzyk who has been with the district for 26 years.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    From left, Lori Roy, a guidance counselor, Kim Clark, a third grade teacher, Kim Foss, a kindergarten teacher, and Phyllis Irzyk, a physical education teacher, all at Allenstown Elementary School, speak with voters about voting down Article 1 which would cut $1 million from the district's school budget. "I would lose everything, said Irzyk who has been with the district for 26 years.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Jody Moore, second from left, is congratulated by her husband Craig, friend Kim Clark, a third grade teacher in Allenstown, and other teachers, friends and supporters after she was elected to the Allenstown school board for one year through a write-in on the ballot. Moore also worked to spread the word about voting down a budget cut of $1 million dollars that would have eliminated school programs and jobs.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Jody Moore, second from left, is congratulated by her husband Craig, friend Kim Clark, a third grade teacher in Allenstown, and other teachers, friends and supporters after she was elected to the Allenstown school board for one year through a write-in on the ballot. Moore also worked to spread the word about voting down a budget cut of $1 million dollars that would have eliminated school programs and jobs.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • From left, Lori Roy, a guidance counselor, Kim Clark, a third grade teacher, Kim Foss, a kindergarten teacher, and Phyllis Irzyk, a physical education teacher, all at Allenstown Elementary School, speak with voters about voting down Article 1 which would cut $1 million from the district's school budget. "I would lose everything, said Irzyk who has been with the district for 26 years.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    From left, Lori Roy, a guidance counselor, Kim Clark, a third grade teacher, Kim Foss, a kindergarten teacher, and Phyllis Irzyk, a physical education teacher, all at Allenstown Elementary School, speak with voters about voting down Article 1 which would cut $1 million from the district's school budget. "I would lose everything, said Irzyk who has been with the district for 26 years.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • From left, Lori Roy, a guidance counselor, Kim Clark, a third grade teacher, Kim Foss, a kindergarten teacher, and Phyllis Irzyk, a physical education teacher, all at Allenstown Elementary School, speak with voters about voting down Article 1 which would cut $1 million from the district's school budget. "I would lose everything, said Irzyk who has been with the district for 26 years.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Jody Moore, second from left, is congratulated by her husband Craig, friend Kim Clark, a third grade teacher in Allenstown, and other teachers, friends and supporters after she was elected to the Allenstown school board for one year through a write-in on the ballot. Moore also worked to spread the word about voting down a budget cut of $1 million dollars that would have eliminated school programs and jobs.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • From left, Lori Roy, a guidance counselor, Kim Clark, a third grade teacher, Kim Foss, a kindergarten teacher, and Phyllis Irzyk, a physical education teacher, all at Allenstown Elementary School, speak with voters about voting down Article 1 which would cut $1 million from the district's school budget. "I would lose everything, said Irzyk who has been with the district for 26 years.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Allenstown residents widely rejected a plan to cut $1 million from the school district budget in a vote that has reshaped town politics.

Voters yesterday chose the higher default school budget of $9.7 million by a margin of 2-to-1, and removed Larry Anderson, the primary promoter of the cuts, from the budget committee. Meanwhile Jody Moore, who helped spearhead the grassroots effort to vote down the budget cut, was elected to the school board as a write-in candidate.

The proposed school budget of $8.8 million was voted down, 634-306. Voter turnout was 50 percent higher than last year.

The vote ended five weeks of worry and advocacy from school board members, educators, parents and students that began when a surprise amendment to cut $1 million from the budget was made at the deliberative session Feb. 1. Anderson, a town budget committee member, proposed the cuts that were approved, 35-33.

Anderson ran for re-election to the budget committee yesterday as one of five candidates for four positions. He received 303 votes. His closest contender, Michael Frascinella, received 380.

“People really stood up for those children who didn’t have the ability to do so themselves. I will sleep easy tonight,” said Moore, a mother of two.

Superintendent Helene Bickford shared Moore’s enthusiasm for the results.

“I’m thrilled,” Bickford said. “I credit the parents. They really did it. Clearly, it was an effort by a lot of people.”

Anderson did not return phone calls seeking comment late last night.

Children from Allenstown Elementary School and Armand R. Dupont Middle School spent their day off yesterday holding signs outside of the town’s one polling location on School Street.

“We’re worried,” said 11-year-old D’Andre Mitchell, a fifth-grader who plays soccer and basketball. Sports programs faced cuts if the lower budget had been chosen by voters yesterday.

Like most children at the polls, D’Andre held a handwritten sign that read, “Save My School.”

“They probably know a little bit too much,” D’Andre’s mother, Jennifer Letendre, said of the children’s worries over their school before the election returns. “But I think they do have to worry. They’re not going to have art, they’re not going to have gym, they’re not going to have sports. It’s a big deal.”

After the election results were known last night, Letendre said, “He’s happy now. We’re relieved.”

Moore had felt so moved by the proposed budget cuts that she helped organize a campaign that mimicked the feel of those in much larger elections. She and dozens of supporters put up signs, placed bumper stickers on their vehicles, and went door to door in the cold and snow to tell residents what would happen if the proposed cuts became reality.

Moore and her team’s efforts paid off not only in total voter turnout, but also in the number of voters who registered at the polls. A supervisor for the checklist, Kris Fowler, said about 100 residents registered to vote yesterday at the polls.

“It’s been fantastic,” Fowler said.

Deb Carney was re-elected to the town’s budget committee for a second term. She first ran for a committee seat when she heard some of its members wanted to remove $1.5 million from the school budget in 2012.

“I felt like the kids didn’t have a vote, so that’s why I got onto the committee,” Carney said.

Anderson will remain active in the town, serving as a trustee of trust funds and the trustee of the cemeteries fund. He was elected to those positions last night in uncontested races. Anderson also ran for library trustee, but was defeated, 678-148, by Kimberly Carbonneau.

Moore said she felt it spoke volumes that Anderson was not re-elected to the budget committee.

“It’s terrible that this got this far. I mean, these are children’s lives that are going to be disrupted,” Moore said. “Hopefully, people have learned their lesson and will come to the deliberative sessions in the future.”

(Daira Cline can be reached at 369-3306 or dcline@cmonitor.com.)

Legacy Comments2

Alright! Allenstown gets it. Cutting spending on things that have a huge, but not immediately quantifiable, impact on the future is foolish. Banking on education is better than saving pennies on your taxes.

How much "banking" do we have to keep on doing until we see some results like our students being the top learners in the world. I don't thing our investment has paid off very well.

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