Who runs the town?

By Andrea Smith | Apr 23, 2018

Who runs the town?

Seriously, who does run Wareham? Is it town officials, or is the school department?

The school department wants $600,000 more in its budget than the town can afford to allot. The school department doesn’t seem to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees and that it certainly doesn’t multiply in tax payer pockets.

Word around town is that the school department is going to “stack” tonight’s Town Meeting in an effort to add $600,000 to its budget. If the school department’s effort is successful, the town’s budget will have to be reduced $600,000. That’s a huge chunk of money, to be reduced from somewhere. But where? Reduce the Library hours even more? Or maybe close Town Hall a second day each week? Lay off a few police officers? Reduce the already understaffed highway department to one or two people?

Think about it. You pay taxes, what town services would you like to see further reduced?

And then there’s the $86 million Minot Forest School “renovation” (brand new school) proposal. That’s not due to be voted on until next fall. No one knows if the town, given its economic climate, will vote to build an $86 million school. But the school department is considering closing Minot Forest School at the end of June, several months before voters even have an opportunity to decide if they are willing to fund the $86 million new school. They say closing the school will save money.

But wait, there’s more. The school department wants voters tonight to approve $800,000 in funding for portable classrooms, “in case” they do decide to close Minot Forest at the end of June. The school department saves money by closing the school, tax payers fund $800,000 because the school department closed the school.

Why close Minot Forest School before anyone knows if voters will fund a new school? Vacant buildings deteriorate faster than occupied buildings and they are much more prone to vandalism to fires.

Town Meeting tonight isn’t just about what the school department wants: it’s about the Town’s budget request of $62.2 million, which reflects a 5 percent increase over the current year’s budget.

Tonight, Wareham High School Auditorium, 7 p.m., your town, your schools, your pocket….your vote is needed.

Comments (12)
Posted by: Curiouscat | Apr 23, 2018 12:11

Andrea, I guess we'll know the answer to your question in a few hours.  I would still like to know why Ms. Pratt abstained from voting at the last school committee meeting.  Should be a most interesting night.

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Apr 23, 2018 14:09

Andrea the simple and quick answer to your first question is, the typical 150-200 people that show up to Town Meeting to vote on the budget. If the folks vote to support the Town Budget then this request by the School Department is dead on arrival.

However your second point, is more the clue to the answer. As history has proven, whether it's the sewer, Police, schools, etc. folks that have a personal interest show up and vote their interest then leave the meeting. You and I have both witnessed this.

Claire and group tried to slow that down by using the bingo balls to select the order of the items. However I do believe that the budget falls outside those rules.

It will be an interesting watch.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Apr 23, 2018 17:28

The correct answer should be: the citizens. Bingo!


Posted by: Curiouscat | Apr 23, 2018 19:49

How sad that only a handful of people showed up at the school committee meeting tonight.

Posted by: Curiouscat | Apr 23, 2018 19:52

Oh for those interested it was decided to close Minot.  Very disappointing, especially not knowing if voters will approve a new school.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 24, 2018 09:56

Stacking town meeting? Well like most of the other rumors being spread about the schools this one is also just like the rest of them......garbage.

The school department is well aware of the financial crisis in this town. It's been clear for years that many citizens of this town put the schools last on their list, hence the closing of East, West, Hammond and now Minot. I'm personally disgusted because our kids deserve better.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 24, 2018 11:52

Peaches - The auditorium was pretty much packed last night, an incredible attendance considering the fact that the town no longer requires a quorum in order for town meeting to be held. A large portion of those attending left together at 9:55 p.m. as a vote was being taken to extend Town Meeting beyond the normal ending hour of 10 p.m. I didn't take a poll at the beginning of the evening or at any other time to determine if any of the voters that essentially filled the auditorium had/had not come as part of a possible organized effort to "stack" Town Meeting for the purpose of protecting 30+ teaching positions. How about you, did you take any polls to back up your "garbage" assertion?

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 24, 2018 12:24

What's garbage is spreading a rumor that they were coming to turn town meeting upside down. Why people spread such nonsense is beyond me. The school budget was supposed to voted on weeks ago. Two new members were not ready because they had just been elected. There was no conspiracy as you were insinuating. They just wanted to be sure that they were doing the right thing.

Posted by: Curiouscat | Apr 24, 2018 15:39

I just don't understand how you can close Minot without knowing for a fact that a new school will be approved.  Flaherty and Pratt seemed to be on the fence until Shaver-Hood mentioned having fewer kids per classroom.  Of course there will be fewer kids because parents are going to send their kids out of town.  I'd like to see enrollment figures from five years ago as well as what they are current.  Then let's compare those to the beginning of the school year.  Geez, why am I so concerned?  I don't even have kids in the school system anymore. (Thank god).

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 24, 2018 20:37

Curious, there will be fewer kids because they won't have to cut as many teachers. If they kept Minot open class sizes would be huge! Upwards of 30 kids in a class. I hate the idea of closing Minot but the schools were allotted so much money. The revenues in this town are WAY down. We need to solve the revenue problem and the rest should solve itself. Not sure how with all of the new industry in town our revenues can be as awful as they are.

Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Apr 25, 2018 14:00

Peaches , we have been asking that question for a couple years now .. all these plaza’s being built company’s moving in how in gods name is there a money problem ? Something doesn’t smell right ...

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Apr 25, 2018 14:51

All that is public record.  You should be able to go to the Town Hall or somewhere on the website and see a spreadsheet indicating where all the money goes from the new stores, businesses, mall, etc.  I'm not saying it won't be confusing.  I'm just saying that is is available. If it is not readily available, it needs to be.

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