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SHIRLEY — Selectman Enrico C. “Rico” Cappucci claimed fiscal policies are what separate him and challenger David Swain, when they met at the candidates forum held at Shirley Middle School Tuesday.

The eight candidates for the three available seats on the regional School Committee also tried to separate themselves from the pack, touting their beliefs in fiscal responsibility and improved education for students.

Cappucci said he and the current board have eliminated rollover contracts for town employees so they must earn their positions, and brought back the personnel board to develop job descriptions for department heads and assistants.

The current board initiated a taxation committee to chase past-due taxes which he credited with bringing in $114,000 in additional tax revenue.

“The board I presently serve on, operates it as a business and that is what it is, a business with a $14 million budget,” Cappucci said.

Swain boasted a long history of service to the town but challenged Cappucci’s dealings with town employees and said bashing of the school system led to a 50 percent increase in choice-out money in three years.

“We do not need this type of agenda, we need to work together as one,” Swain said.

Swain said he wants to develop long-range planning for the town to work on issues such as regional transportation and future uses for the Lura A. White School as well as sell excess town land to raise money.

Joyce L. Reischutz, James D. Quinty, Robert E. Prescott Jr., Kevin C. Hayes Sr., Karyn A. Baldino, David Baumritter, Deborah A. Delaite, and Bryan Dumont are challenging for the regional School Committee.

Baumritter and Prescott already serve on the town School Committee. Prescott is also running for reelection on the town school committee which will disband when the regional district starts July 1, 2011.

The candidates touted their experiences in business and town government as preparation for leading the fledgling regional school district.

Dumont and Hayes opposed regionalization but want to make it a successful venture since it is being enacted.

“Now that the voters have spoken, it’s time for all of us who were against regionalization to unite,” Hayes said. “We must embrace this new path we are taking for our children.”

Dumont struck a conciliatory tone.

“I will work to end division and restore trust with taxpaying citizens,” he said.

Baumritter said the new board must be flexible to evaluate situations and modify the course and developments occur

“I think it’s going to be really important we build relationships with other committees in town and folks in town so we can start to have conversations about finances, services … in context,” he said.

Baldino said she is running because she supports regionalization. She wants to build a strong leadership team, develop common curriculum, and put in place teachers and staff who will encourage students to reach their potential.

The town was facing financial armageddon without regionalization, Quinty said.

Prescott said he wants to make sure promises made about the quality of education in a regional school district are fulfilled.

“If this plan is implemented correctly, we will reverse the choice-out numbers that are the number one threat to the town at this time, and improve the education for the kids,” he said.

The election is scheduled for May 11, Town Clerk Amy McDougall said. Polls at Town Offices will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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