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Lexington's magic number: $4.6 million

Posted by Your Town  March 22, 2007 12:39 PM

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After a School Committee vote last night, the size of Lexington's override has come into focus at $4.6 million.

The school department's $69.8 million budget is well above the $65.1 million cap under Proposition 2 , a state law that limits budget increases to 2 percent a year.

The vote for a meatier budget comes a year after voters defeated a $3.2 million tax increase. That defeat forced the schools to make major cuts that left students with higher activity fees, elimination of elementary school language classes and fewer honors physics classes at the high school level. The reverberations of that override defeat can be felt today, and school officials warn that without additional funds, many school programs will be decimated.

-- Melissa Beecher

"There is no place left for us to go at this point,'' said School
Committee chairman Thomas Diaz at budget hearing on Monday. "At
this point, we need to go to the voters for an override."

In a series of budget meetings this week, students, parents and
teachers pleaded with the School Committee to stop cutting personnel or programs.

Town Meeting member and parent Deborah Strod questioned how the
schools could continue if librarians are among the issues on the
chopping black.

"What are we cutting towards?'' asked Strod at a public hearing on
Monday. "If we are down to cutting literacy, how can we do anything
else?''

John Moriarty is one person who voted against the override last year. Still advocating for fiscal responsibility, Moriarty said unless the schools make a strong case, he would vote against an override again.

"We need to hear all the facts,'' said Moriarty. "But there are a lot
of issues not being raised. It's important that everybody in town
administration has a better understanding of long-term issues. The way the town has been run is year to year. We need to hear some
alternatives.''


Moriarty said reevaluation of METCO funding and increases to the
commercial tax rate may be some ways the town can find additional
revenue without placing the burden on homeowners.

The School Committee will continue to fine-tune their budget over the next month. Town Meeting is scheduled to take up budget issues on April 23.

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About override central Coverage of Prop 21/2 override campaigns in more than 30 communities in Greater Boston.
Christine Wallgren is a correspondent in the Globe South bureau.
David Dahl is the Globe's regional editor.
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