Category Archives: Updates

School Override Vote June 20th

Can you bring friends and family with you to the polls on the June 20th? If every SOCS member brings 10 “yes” votes with them, then we can pass the override.

Thanks so much for your help.
Tiffany, Holly, Lori and Natalie

Update: Thanks and Next Steps

Dear SOCS members,

We took a big step forward last week, with both towns voting at town meeting to send an override to a ballot vote in June. Thank you to everyone who posted on Facebook, talked with friends and family, and attended town meeting to support more funding for the schools.

Our work is not done—turning out supporters for the ballot vote in June is the next step. We will let you know the date of that vote as soon as the towns decide. In the meantime …

Help Us Get the Word Out on the Tax Impact

Final numbers for the tax impact in both towns are now available.

  • In Ashburnham, the operating budget for the town that was approved at town meeting will mean a $141 increase in taxes for the average household and the override that is on the ballot in June will mean an additional $222 ($18.50 per month) increase in taxes for the average household for a total of $363. Note: numbers based on average home value of $204,109.
  • In Westminster, the operating budget for the town that was approved at town meeting will mean a $138 increase in taxes for the average household and the override that is on the ballot in June will mean an additional $162 ($13.50 per month) increase in taxes for the average household for a total of $300. Note: numbers based on average home value of $250,448.

SOCS webmaster Jonathan Tegg is working on a website widget that will allow residents to plug in the assessed value of their homes and calculate their estimated tax increase for next year, with and without the override. Stay tuned!

Register to Vote!

If you haven’t already, register to vote so that you can support the schools in June. Click here to learn how!

We Need Your Help

  • Do your have a core group of friends and family that you can “shepherd” to the ballot in June?
  • Can you spare two hours a week to look up phone numbers or make phone calls?
  • Are there family events or community organizations where you could hand out flyers?

Contact a member of the SOCS planning committee to let us know how you can help.

Natalie, ncoggeshall@yahoo.com
Holly, hollyhgarlock@yahoo.com
Lori,  mslorileclair@gmail.com
Tiffany, tiffanydavis80@comcast.net

Latest Info on School Funding

Dear SOCS members,

Spring is here, which means town elections and town meetings are upon us. SOCS has been working hard to get information about school funding out to parents and community members, to help them make informed decisions in the coming weeks. Let one of the planning committee members know if you would like copies of our flyers to share with community groups you are part of–churches, preschools, sports teams, scouting groups, etc. We would love to have help in getting the word out!

Town Meetings

There are only seven days until the first town meeting! SOCS needs you there and we need your help getting out the vote. Please spread the word on social media, by email, and most importantly, in personal conversations, that we need parents to attend town meetings and vote to bring an override to ballot in June.

Ashburnham’s town meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2nd at 7:00 PM in the Oakmont auditorium. Westminster’s town meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th at 1:00 PM in the Westminster Elementary cafeteria. SOCS has arranged for Oakmont Peer Leaders to provide childcare onsite for both meetings. Please contact Natalie Nelson if you will need childcare either day.

Local Updates

Westminster’s Advisory Board and Board of Selectmen voted to:

  • Include level services funding for the schools in the town’s operating budget, which is Article 6 on the warrant for town meeting. (Note: a specific number has not been added to the warrant yet. The Board of Selectmen has talked about lowering the number, based on what happens at Ashburnham’s town meeting. We believe the Advisory Board, the body that makes the final decision on the number for the warrant, will stick with the level services funding number no matter what happens in Ashburnham.)
  • Put additional funding for the prioritized budget to an override vote. Article 7 on the warrant for town meeting asks voters to send the override to a ballot vote in June.

Asbhurnham’s Advisory Board and Board of Selectmen voted to:

  • Include $185,000 above last year’s school budget in the town’s operating budget, which is Article 9 on the warrant for town meeting. Note: this number is between level funding and level services funding, which means more cuts.
  • Put additional funding for the prioritized budget to an override vote. Article 10 on the warrant for town meeting asks voters to send the override to a ballot vote in June.

Advocating at the State Level

We mailed our letter of support for H252, the bill that mandates increased state funding for school districts to offset rising health insurance costs for employees and retirees, to the Education Committee this past week. Thanks to everyone who signed in person or online. We collected 319 signatures from parents and community members, in addition to letters of support from the School Committee, and Advisory Boards and Boards of Selectmen in both towns.

SOCS is now working to collect signatures in support of another bill before the MA legislature. S.223 — An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century — would implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Committee with a multi-year phase-in.

Click here to get more information and sign or copy and paste this URL into your web browser: https://goo.gl/forms/5sadz50kgMlstSrR2

Don’t Forget to Vote

Remember to vote today in the annual town elections! Polls are open between 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. at Westminster Elementary School and 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. at Briggs Elementary School. A number of town officer positions are on the ballot, including school committee.

Best-
Lori, Natalie, Holly & Tiffany
Support Our Children & Schools

How You Can Support Our Children & Schools

Dear SOCS members,

This weekend showcased our community at its best. The high school play and Community Benefit Road Race & Walk were powerful examples of what we can accomplish when everyone in the community comes together around a common cause. Here’s how you can help with the effort to support our children and schools.

The Westminster Board of Selectmen will finalize budget numbers this Monday, April 10th at 6:00 PM in Town Hall, room 205. Thanks to everyone who turned out last week. We hope to have another strong showing of parents to speak in support of the prioritized budget. You can also email the board at: wwalker

Volunteers needed! We are looking for help educating members of the community and getting out the vote for town meeting. Contact a member of the SOCS planning committee for more details.

Town meetings are less than a month away. Save these dates on your calendar:

  • Ashburnham: Tuesday, May 2nd, 7:00 PM at Oakmont Regional High School (NOT at Briggs Elementary)
  • Westminster: Saturday, May 6th, 1:00 PM at Westminster Elementary

Thanks as always for your commitment.

Tiffany Davis (tiffanydavis80)
Lori Leclair (mslorileclair)
Holly Garlock (hollyhgarlock)
Natalie Nelson (ncoggeshall)

Latest School Funding Update

Dear SOCS member,

The SOCS meeting originally scheduled for March 27th has been pushed back to Thursday, April 6th. At that point we should have better numbers from the towns, and will spend most of the meeting working in small groups.

Working at the Local Level

The March 28th school committee meeting may include a re-vote on the school budget, but we believe their support for Dr. Mazzola’s prioritized budget will not change.

We are looking for SOCS members to attend Advisory Board and Board of Selectmen meetings in both towns over the next two weeks.

  • Westminster, March 27th: the Advisory Board and Board of Selectmen have meetings posted, but both committee chairs will be away so we don’t think either board will make decisions this week.
  • Westminster, April 3rd: the Board of Selectmen meets at 6:00 and the Advisory Board meets at 7:00. These will be an important meetings for Westminster residents to attend to express their support for the prioritized budget.
  • Ashburnham, April 3rd: we believe the Board of Selectmen will meet at 6:30 (not yet posted).
  • Ashburnham, April 5th: we believe the Advisory Board will meet at 6:00 (not yet posted).

Working at the State Level

Tuesday’s Information Session on School Funding offered an overview of state funding for education from Jeff Wulfson of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and an update on the state budget from our legislative team.

Keep those letters coming! Based on conversations with our legislators, we are focusing our efforts on Governor Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and the Chairs of the Education and Appropriations committees.

April 25th, Commonwealth Conversations: Town Hall Forum with MA State Senators at the Seven Hills Foundation in Worcester from 6:30-8:30pm. We would love to have a good turnout by SOCS members to raise the issue of school funding.

Thank you for all your efforts!
Natalie, Holly, Lori and Tiffany

Correct Link to Sign Letter of Support for H252

Dear SOCS supporters,

Thanks to everyone who tried to sign our online letter of support for H252, the bill currently before the MA legislature that mandates increased funding for school districts to offset rising health insurance costs for employees and retirees.

If you encountered difficulties, please know that you were not alone. The link we sent with our last email did not work correctly. The problem has now been fixed. Click here to submit your signature, or copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://goo.gl/forms/OcdtR68dgxmGpdLU2

If you plan to attend Tuesday’s Information Session on School Funding—6:30 PM at Oakmont—you can just sign in person. We will have a table in the lobby with copies of the bill, our letter of support, and the signature page. Remember you should only sign once, either in person or online, not both.

Our sincerest apologies for the confusion.

Best-
Tiffany, Lori, Holly and Natalie
AWRSD Support Our Children & Schools
http://ashwestsocs.org

School Funding Update

Dear SOCS supporter,

Thanks to everyone who attended Monday’s school committee meeting or emailed members of the school committee to give your input on the FY18 school budget. The committee voted unanimously to support Dr. Mazzola’s prioritized budget. Our efforts to advocate for more funding at both the state and local levels will continue in the next few weeks.

Working at the State Level

March 21st Information Session on School Funding, 6:30 PM in the Oakmont auditorium: Deputy Education Commissioner Jeff Wulfson will give a presentation on Chapter 70 and other state education funding sources. Click here for a flyer with more information.

Letter of Support for H252: we are collecting signatures in support of a bill sponsored by one of our local state legislators, Kim Ferguson, to mandate increases in state funding for school districts to offset rising health insurance costs for employees and retirees.

Working at the Local Level

March 20th Ashburnham Board of Selectmen Meeting, 6:30 PM in the Training Room at the Public Safety Building: discussion of the impact per average household of the prioritized budget number certified by the school committee.

March 28th AWRSD School Committee Meeting, 7:00 PM in the Overlook Middle School library: school committee members will re-visit the budget number certified at their last meeting, based on numbers from the two towns.

Working together, we are making an impact!

Best-
Natalie Nelson, Lori Leclair, Holly Garlock, & Tiffany Davis
AWRSD Support Our Children & Schools

School Funding Update

Dear parents and community members,

Budget season is upon us! Here are some ways you can be involved in the process.

March 14th School Committee meeting, 7:00 PM in the Overlook library: this is the last public hearing before certifying a budget to send to the towns, and many school committee members remain undecided. Your input could make a difference.

  • If you want to speak, be sure to sign in with Kathi Theriault at the front table.
  • If you can’t attend, school committee members welcome your input by email (click on the green plus sign by each name).
  • We will let you know by email if the meeting is rescheduled due to inclement weather. You can also check the district website.

March 21st Information Session on School Funding, 6:30 PM in the Oakmont auditorium: Deputy Education Commissioner Jeff Wulfson will give a presentation on Chapter 70 and other state education funding sources. Click here for a flyer with more information.

Monday, March 27th SOCS meeting: more information on time, location and agenda to follow.

Thanks, as always for your interest and efforts.

Tiffany Davis, Holly Garlock, Lori Leclair, and Natalie Nelson
AWRSD Support Our Children & Schools
http://ashwestsocs.org

Last chance for input on AWRSD FY18 budget

Calling all SOCS members!

The school committee meeting on Tuesday, March 14th is the last chance to communicate your concerns and wishes regarding staffing, curriculum, and extracurricular activities for the next school year, before the committee certifies a final number for the FY18 budget on Wednesday, March 15th. Chairman Dave Christianson has specifically asked for parent and community member input on the difficult financial choices facing the district. If you can make no other meeting this year, this is the one to attend: 7:00 PM in the Overlook Middle School library.

Here are some resources to help you formulate your questions and/or your position on the budget for next year:

  • Notes from the March 1st school committee meeting, which included a Tri-Board discussion about the budget with school committee members, Town Administrators from both towns, and Board of Selectman and Advisory Board members from both towns. Click here for the notes or copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://goo.gl/sbGLkm
  • The new SOCS website is up and running. Many thanks to SOCS member Jonathan Tegg for creating the site for us. On the site you can find information about our district and state funding for schools, including: Dr. Mazzola’s proposed budgets for next year, an overview of recent cuts in the district, a history of school funding overrides in the two towns, and a link to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s district profile for AWRSD. Click here to visit the SOCS website or copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://ashwestsocs.org

Note: the school committee meeting originally scheduled for March 7th has been canceled, to give the towns and superintendent’s office more time to crunch the numbers on final budget scenarios. We will send out the final budget scenarios once we have them. Also, the date for certifying the budget has been moved up from March 21st to March 15th, to meet a state-imposed deadline.

We hope to see you at the March 14th school committee meeting.

Natalie Nelson, Holly Garlock, Lori Leclair, and Tiffany Davis

AWRSD Support Our Children and Schools

Email: AWRSD SOCS Update

Dear SOCS member,

We hope that everyone had a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather over vacation week. The district and towns are heading into the heart of budget season, so the next few weeks will be busy ones. Below, we have listed some meetings we thought you would want to know about.

Also, minutes from our last meeting are now available. We have included a clickable outline on the left side, because the minutes are SO long. Click here to view the minutes or copy and paste this URL into your web browser: https://goo.gl/xF23cM

Please email Tiffany at tiffanydavis80@comcast.net with corrections or additions to the minutes.

Upcoming Budget Meetings

School Committee: individual department head reports on the FY18 budget will be presented on Tuesday, February 28th. A public hearing with time for parents to give input and ask questions will be held on Wednesday, March 1st (members of town boards will be present as well). The FY18 budget will be certified on Tuesday, March 21st. All meetings start at 7:00 PM in the Overlook Library.

The Ashburnham Board of Selectmen meets on the 1st and 3rd Monday nights at 6:30 PM at the Public Safety Building in the Training Room. On Monday, March 6th Ed Vitone will be presenting on the school budget formula, and we think it is important to have parents turn out and be part of the discussion.

The Westminster Board of Selectmen meets at 6:00 PM on Mondays at Town Hall in Room 205: February 27, March 13, March 27, April 10, April 24, and May 1. The town budget for next year will be discussed at every meeting between now and May, and the school budget could come up at any time.

Senators from Central MA are hosting a town hall-style public forum at the Seven Hills Foundation (81 Hope Avenue, Worcester, MA 01603) from 6:30-8:30PM on Tuesday, March 14th. All residents of the Central MA region are encouraged to attend and share their needs and concerns. Sign-up sheets will be available at the forum for attendees who wish to speak. In an effort to accommodate all speakers, comments will be limited to no more than 2 minutes per person.

If you are unable to attend any of the meetings, remember that we are always looking for more parents to contact state officials: write a letter, or make a phone call. Click here for the folder with contact information and model letters or copy and paste this address into your web browser: https://goo.gl/nZ6cdW

Thanks as always for your support!

Lori Leclair, Tiffany Davis, Holly Garlock, and Natalie Nelson