WINDHAM — A majority of School Board members do not want to ask the public in March to vote on a $30 million bond to build a new middle school.
Board members staked out their positions last night without taking a vote. That is expected on Jan. 5.
Meanwhile, three of the five members said they recognized the need for a new school, but argued that taxpayers would not support the proposal at the polls in this tough economy. Furthermore, members argued that putting a $30 million proposal on the warrant might result in voter backlash, leading them to nix all spending items, such as the operating budget.
Member Ed Gallagher said that is where the board's focus should be, on the operating budget, since its funding reallocates teachers to relieve overcrowding.
"If we pass the school budget, we can lower class size," Gallagher said.
Vice Chairman Mike Hatem said the board would be remiss in its duties if it failed to at least give voters a chance to vote on the proposal.
He said indications from lawmakers point to an end or reduction in state building aid for property-rich communities like Windham in the coming years.
Windham risks losing as much as $10 million in state building aid for new school construction.
"I'm not going to walk away from $10 million without giving voters a chance to vote on this," he said.
The other members, however, argued that the Legislature has taken no action adverse to Windham on building aid and to assume they will is speculative.