Special Town Meeting Postponed to Feb. 22

| February 14, 2016

By Cyndy Bremer
Bolton voters will be asked to decide on two warrant articles presented at a Special Town Meeting now scheduled for Monday, Feb. 22, at Nashoba Regional High School at 7:00pm. The meeting was postponed from Feb. 8 due to inclement weather.

Article 1 asks voters to approve the payment of an unpaid bill from fiscal year 2015 in the amount of $727.17 for services rendered.

Article 2 asks voters to approve amendments to the Minuteman Regional Vocational School District’s Regional Agreement. Amending the agreement will, among other things, change the way towns can leave the district and the way in which costs are shared among the district towns and non-district users.

Minuteman is looking to undertake a new building project with Mass. School Building Association funding. Receiving positive votes on the amended agreement from all current district towns will, according to the District, assist in seeing the building project to fruition with funding reimbursement from the MSBA.The MSBA recently issued their approval for funding, contingent on the town-side debt being supported by all member towns and voted in by June, 2016.

The school building has not undergone any significant renovations since it opened in the early 1970s. There are currently maintenance and building code issues which need to be addressed – and supported financially by member towns -.with or without MSBA funding.  With the current agreement, all 16 member towns must vote in favor of the building project. With a new agreement, towns that wish to withdraw from the district prior to the building project will be more easily able to do so, increasing the likelihood of project approval.

Minuteman District officials say that the percentage of cost impact for remaining towns would be minimal, partially due to changes in the agreement for tuition costs for non-member towns and because the new agreement will make it more attractive for new towns to join the district.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Revised Regional Agreement
Excerpts from a document posted by the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District. The full FAQ can be found at www.Minuteman.org

Question #1: What’s a Regional Agreement?
A Regional Agreement – also known as a District Agreement or Regional District Agreement – is the document that establishes a Massachusetts regional vocational-technical school district and outlines how the District will be governed.

Question #6: How many towns must approve changes in the Regional Agreement?
Changes in the Minuteman Regional Agreement require the approval of every member town. That means that Town Meetings in all 16 towns must vote “yes.”

Question #8: Is the new Regional Agreement linked to the Minuteman building project?
Technically speaking, there is no link between the Regional Agreement and Minuteman’s plans to build a new school with financial help from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). The MSBA is not requiring Minuteman to secure a new Agreement. Practically and politically speaking, however, there is direct link. Several town officials have said they could not support the Minuteman project in their towns until a new Regional Agreement is approved by all 16 towns.

Question #9: Is that why there’s such a sense of urgency?
Yes. The Minuteman building project is certainly a big part of it. The MSBA has given Minuteman only until June 30, 2016, to secure local approval for the building project, which includes bonding.

Question #10: What are some of the key reasons to support the new Agreement?
There are several reasons. Ratification of the Agreement will:
• End years of dispute among member towns over Minuteman governance
issues…and create a more unified District
• Help the District proceed with its long-planned, state funded construction project
• Protect a roughly $45 million reimbursement from MSBA
• Establish a tone of cooperation among member communities, paving the way
for a brighter future for vocational-technical education in the region
• Make it more attractive for other cities or towns to join the District

Question #11: How would approving the new Regional Agreement make it more attractive for new member towns (or cities) to join the Minuteman District?
The new Regional Agreement will strengthen Minuteman’s governance structure and quickly clarify District membership (i.e., identify which towns are staying in the District and which ones, if any, are leaving). While a number of communities have expressed interest in possibly joining the Minuteman District, community leaders have also indicated they would be more inclined to join once all of these issues have been resolved.

Question #22: What would be the financial impact of the new Regional Agreement on the District as it is currently comprised with 16 towns?
Appendix A of the revised Regional Agreement outlines the financial impact of the revised Capital Assessment model. There is a link on the front page of the Minuteman website that includes information about “The Regional Agreement and Proposed Amendments,” including Appendix A.

Question #25: Where could I get more information about the Regional Agreement?
Go to the “Quick Link” titled “The Regional Agreement and Proposed Amendments” on the main page of the Minuteman website, www.minuteman.org

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