By Katina Caraganis
TOWNSEND — The North Middlesex Regional School Committee is hoping for a successful second attempt at passing a Proposition 2 1/2 override later this month that would help fund the district’s operating budget.
Committee members voted this summer to approve a budget that is $1,994,291 less than the district’s needs budget, and contains $200,000 from the district’s reserves.
This is the district’s second attempt at an override for the current fiscal year. An override would permanently raise the tax base more than the 2.5 percent allowed by state law.
An override failed earlier this summer, and if this override fails, the School Committee will have to make more cuts to an already meager budget, Superintendent of Schools Joan Landers said.
If a budget is not in place by Dec. 1, state officials will set the budget for the district, and member towns will not have a say in the amount of their assessment to fund their portions.
Committee member Ken Brown, of Ashby, said it’s never a good thing to begin a school year without a budget.
“We’re always concerned about the possibility of voters rejecting an override. We’ve had to deal with that,” he said Tuesday. “We’re trying to avoid the state coming in. I have apprehension about starting the school year without a budget. That’s the most immediate concern I have.”
In preparation for the first failed override, Brown said the committee cut nearly $2 million from the budget, and has cut another $300,000 on top of that.
“We cut close to $2 million out of the budget already for the first override and some of that was things we had added based on identified needs for the district, but quite a bit of that is cuts provided last year,” he said. “We’re pretty stressed right now. If we can’t get this approved, I don’t know where this will go. I feel it’s a very challenging budget.”
Each member town will have a Town Meeting next week to approve putting the override to a ballot vote, which would then be held Aug. 28.