AYER — While a desire to support the schools with additional rainy-day funds in fiscal 2007 has been subscribed to by the Board of Selectmen, an ongoing disagreement over the best way to do that resurfaced at town meeting.

At issue was whether the town should increase the $130,000 reserve fund by $108,161 in the coming year to better support the schools.

While a majority of the board voted in April to put that recommendation on the warrant, others favored putting that money into the stabilization fund.

The debate resurfaced when Selectman Pauline Conley proposed the article be amended back down to its traditional level, with the $108,161 deposited into the stabilization fund instead.

She said the House version of the state budget carries a $137,000 cut in school aid, which the town will have to account for unless that money is restored by the Senate.

Conley spoke about the limitations of the reserve fund itself, saying it can only be granted by the Finance Committee for unanticipated expenses, not to cover a budget deficit. Finally, she said, the reserve fund could be depleted by other requests before the schools come forward.

Conley said the stabilization fund has no such limitations, outside of the fact it can only be accessed by a two-thirds majority town meeting vote, which she said could take place at the fall town meeting.

That amendment was opposed by Selectman Cornelius “Connie” Sullivan, who said the idea was to provide leeway for the school district on unanticipated items such as special education costs.

”It’s not to support a budget deficit by the school department, but to provide a cushion for unanticipated expenses,” he said.

Sullivan has advocated since early in the budget process for the reserve to be increased, citing the good-faith effort by the school committee in recent years to draw on its school choice and tuition reserves before seeking additional funds from the town.

As one of the state’s leading enrollers in school choice students, the district had built up substantial reserves, but those resources have been heavily depleted due to state aid cuts starting in 2004. Those reserves were zeroed-out to balance the budget for fiscal 2007 and Sullivan has maintained the schools will not be able to cover shortfalls as they’ve done in the past. He said the additional support should come from the town.

Others got involved with the debate as well. Former FinCom member William Oelfke noted that the annual $130,000 allocation to the reserve fund had never been depleted and said it was inappropriate to increase it so greatly. He said the reserve fund was only for unexpected expenses, and that there were other places to put reserves.

For his own part, current FinCom Chairman James Stephen said the increased reserve fund allocation met that criterion, saying if they knew the schools needed more money, they would budget it.

After some 20 minutes of debate, resident Charles Miller chided Conley for suggesting the amendment.

”We have a board that can’t work together,” he said. “I’d suggest you get your act together and work together.”

The comment was met with some applause, but moderator Charles Horgan told Miller he was out of order.

Nevertheless, the amendment was voted down 26-60 soon after and the larger reserve fund figure was adopted.