Canterbury residents vote to research withdrawal from Shaker Regional School District

  • Nancy Flagg leaves the Canterbury Town Hall after voting on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 3/12/2022 10:43:54 AM
Modified: 3/12/2022 10:43:40 AM

Canterbury residents agreed at their annual town meeting Friday night to research whether they want to take the first steps to withdraw from the Shaker Regional School District.

The majority of of those meeting voted in favor of a petitioned warrant article that instructs the school board to evaluate the feasibility and sustainability of the move.

“Canterbury has a small student population and is surrounded by towns that offer more options … within a closer proximity and at a potentially lower cost,” the article read.

Kaylee Shepard, who grew up in Canterbury and is now raising her own children in the town, spoke in support of the warrant article, noting that her home was a two-hour bus ride to some of the Belmont schools.

“I would appreciate some different choices,” she said.

Similarly, Loudon, which borders Canterbury to the north is considering a similar warrant article to leave Merrimack Valley Regional School District. Both towns have their own elementary schools, but bus their children to other towns for middle and high school.

A similar effort to pose the question at the Shaker Regional District meeting failed to make it on the ballot in February.

Residents also approved a $3,105,381 operating budget, which along with the warrant articles translates to an additional $267 in taxes a year for a Canterbury resident living in a $300,000 home.

Whether the town’s $1.2 million reserve is used to minimize tax hikes will be determined by the Board of Selectmen later this year.

One resident raised an amendment to the budget, that would raise the salary of Town Treasurer Albert Edelstein by 6%. Proponents of the amendment noted that he was paid $15 an hour for a job he had dutifully performed for more than a decade.

Selectmen bristled with the amendment, noting that they didn’t believe Edelstein was performing his duties completely.

The amendment passed anyway, 62-48, adding $300 to the operating budget.

Another proposed amendment to prevent Town Administrator Ken Folsom from receiving a salary increase in the budget did not receive enough votes to pass. Folsom will still receive a $3,300 boost in salary from the 2021 budget. 

In 2016, one Canterbury resident unsuccessfully petitioned to eliminate the town administrator altogether. 

The operating budget is about $200,000 more than the town’s 2021 budget, with increases in funding for the library, Fourth of July celebrations and town loan payments, among other things.

Residents voted to replace a 25-year-old fire engine and to spend about $41,000 on paying off a bond.

Canterbury took out the bond in 2005 to purchase a property that once belonged to a struggling sod farm and prevent developers from transforming the land, with important conservation properties, into a housing development. The town resold the property to Brookford Farm and will finish paying the bond in 2025.

Residents also voted to appropriate $173,000 to fund town maintenance. The money will help pay for highway equipment, fire truck maintenance, among other things. 

Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.

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