AYER — Selectman Gary Luca said he hoped the Ayer “Tri-board” will soon convene. Comprised historically of the selectmen, Finance and School committees, the three boards met to plot annual budget strategy.
But this year is the first without a School Committee, which was replaced with elected Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee members. Another change is that the two towns will now receive annual assessments to be paid over to the regional school district to fund its operations, versus having separate School Departments.
Luca said he reviewed the regional school budget on line and said “there’s some things that don’t jive.”
He also reiterated concerns over apparent attrition in the high school population. “They’ve got 13 freshmen from Ayer going to Nashoba Valley Technical High School next year.”
In context with the high school renovation project planned, Luca asked, “So we’re going to spend $30 million on a high school with 340 kids? We need to get together and get a discussion going on what’s what with the schools. Better sooner than later, especially with Shirley saying they’d like to cut back on their assessment.”
Town administrator Robert Pontbriand said the TriBoard, or BiBoard, will likely meet for the first time in the new fiscal year in early August. Selectman Pauline Conley asked whether representatives of the regional School Committee will participate in what had been Ayer’s TriBoard annual budget planning meetings.
“They said they weren’t going to, but hopefully they will,” responded Luca.
Selectman Frank Maxant said the dip in the projected high school population has been framed for him as being temporary until the high school renovation is complete. “When we build it, they will come.”
“I don’t buy that,” said Luca.
“I didn’t say whether I buy it,” said Maxant.