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Before getting down to business, Merrimack Valley voters had to decide whether to postpone the annual meeting

Monitor staff
Published: 3/9/2021 3:04:00 PM

Voters at the Merrimack Valley School District’s annual meeting almost had to wait two more months to get down to business.

Friday night’s meeting began with a motion to postpone the meeting until May 8, in order to “plan a safer outdoor alternative to allow more people to participate in this democratic process.”

After what moderator Charles Niebling called “considerable effort and discussion,” the meeting took place with COVID-19 guidelines in place such as social distancing and mask-wearing. The procedural effort to postpone the meeting required a two-thirds majority to be upheld, and failed via card vote with eight total votes for the motion.

District Superintendent Mark MacLean said the meeting went smoothly with approximately 120 voters in attendance. MacLean said the district saw an increase to the number of residents voting on the official ballot compared to previous years, as a consequence of the availability of absentee balloting.

The district’s $42 million operating budget, the Merrimack Valley Administrators Association’s collective bargaining agreement and the article to reserve funds for the Maintenance Expendable Trust, were all “overwhelmingly approved,” MacLean said.

Public discussion, aside from the procedural matter of postponing the meeting entirely, was limited to clarifying questions about budget allocations.

The school district covers the towns of Andover, Boscawen, Loudon, Salisbury, and Webster as well as the village of Penacook.

The school board and moderator election results were also read at the meeting, with Seelye Longnecker winning Salisbury’s three-year seat, Laura Vincent winning Louden’s three-year seat and Owen Harrington winning Boscawen’s one-year term in three unopposed races. Incumbent Melissa Muzzy won her contested race for Webster’s three-year seat, and incumbent Jessica Wheeler Russell winning her contested race for the at-large seat. Peggy Jones-Blanchard won the one-year Salisbury term, and incumbent Niebling won his unopposed race for district moderator.

MacLean said that everyone from the moderator to the ballot clerks, “did a terrific job” and “the district is extremely appreciative of all their efforts.”

“A special note of thanks to the MVSD custodial and maintenance crews as well,” MacLean said. “They worked diligently to set up the Merrimack Valley High School for safe ballot voting and for a safe and physically-distanced annual meeting in the evening.”




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