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Nashoba Publishing/John Love
Election warden Carl Ablett goes over the absentee ballots with ballot checker Margie Marcinkewicz during TuesdayÕs Special Election.
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SHIRLEY — Asked to raise their property taxes with a $163,896 Proposition Two and a half override aimed at building a better school system, a majority of voters said no.

A total of 1,330 residents voted in the July 24 Special Town Election, according to Town Clerk Amy MacDougall, and 914 of them voted against the override, which was the only question on the ballot. Less than half that number — 416 — voted for it. The turnout represents 36.9 percent of the town’s 3,609 registered voters, she said, and was the highest in seven years.

The decision voters had to make was whether to approve the requested override to allow the schools to spend more money than the base budget calls for, in part to restore middle-school programs such as foreign language. The added money would also pay to hire new staff and augment the curriculum with added physical-education time and a computer technology coordinator.

School Committee Chairman Robert Schuler explained to voters at the Annual Town Meeting that a key goal of the moves was to stem the costly tide of students attending charter schools or other districts via the state’s school-choice program. — M.E. Jones

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