Jaffrey-Rindge budget goes down to defeat

  • Peterborough voters in the community center during the town election. —STAFF PHOTO BY JULIA STINNEFORD

  • Serena Berube and Tori Haring-Smith support School Board candidate Greg Kriebel in Peterborough. —STAFF PHOTO BY JULIA STINNEFORD

  • Paul O'Malley and Kim Aucoin campaign outside the Rindge polls. —STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/9/2022 1:12:02 PM

Although ConVal’s and Mascenic’s budgets were both approved, Jaffrey-Rindge’s $27.5 million budget was defeated by a margin of 937-709 Tuesday, with the district to move to the $26.9 million default budget.

Voters in Jaffrey-Rindge had previously expressed concerns about the budget, with an amendment introduced during the deliberative session to cut it to the default budget figure, although the amendment was defeated.

Paul O’Malley, who won the Rindge seat on the School Board, said he ran to bring change to the district, particularly as it related to the budget.

“I don’t like the direction the school is heading in,” he said. “The budget is astoundingly high for the education we’re getting. And I don’t think the views of the public are being adequately represented. I think it’s important for someone to get on there and represent what the people in town actually want.”

In spite of the budget defeat, Rindge voter David Belliveau supported the spending plan.

“I’m personally in support of making sure the schools and the kids get the best possible education,” he said. “That’s what’s going to end up strengthening our schools.”

Nancy Bonell shared similar sentiments.

“I’m in favor of funding our schools, for sure,” she said. “Public schools funded me, I need to give back.”

In Jaffrey-Rindge School Board races, challenger Kim Aucoin won the at-large seat over Rindge incumbent Alicia Stenersen by a margin of 799-709, and O’Malley beat out Jonathan Caruana and Anna Taylor in a three-way race for the three-year Rindge seat. Caruana had publicly thrown his support behind O’Malley at the Rindge Candidates’ Night. 

Incumbent district Moderator Robert Schaumann won his position back by 23 votes, narrowly defeating challenger Shauna O’Malley. 

The Jaffrey School Board seat went to Daisy Hawlk over Justen Nagle by 330 to 216 votes.

“The people I’m supporting make good decisions based on facts, not ideology,” said Rindge voter DeniDickler, speaking in support of incumbents Stenersen and Schaumann. “They’re sound people who aren’t going to the extreme end.”

Aucoin said she ran to create change.

“A voice to be heard for the students, parents and teachers,” she said. “They are speaking loudly and not getting heard.”

Voters who supported her said much the same, with Stacy Sepalla of Rindge saying that the needs of teachers “are often unheard and unappreciated.”

“We want Kim in there,” she said. “She’s a teacher and a parent, and she understands the needs from both sides.”

Voters speaking in support of both Aucoin and Paul  O’Malley said they believed the candidates could make the change they promised in the district.

“I support conservatives who will listen to parents, and support the basics of reading, mathematics and English, and give a good education to our kids,” said Gordon Olin of Rindge.

While the budget was defeated in Jaffrey-Rindge, all other articles on the warrant were approved, including the new collective bargaining agreements with teachers and staff, as well as a 15-year lease purchase agreement for $4.4 million to upgrade the HVAC system at the district’s middle and high schools. 

Voters also approved a petition warrant article that initially called for the district to place all learning materials in town libraries on the basis of “full transparency” in education, although the article was rendered ineffective at the district’s deliberative session when it was amended to remove the language related to those actions and was left with only the article’s introduction explaining the reasoning behind the petition. 

ConVal

ConVal’s $53.7 million budget passed by a margin of 2,308-1,326, and the petition warrant article calling for the district to make all learning materials available in town libraries was defeated.

“Hell no to those idiots,” said Dewitt Clark of Peterborough of the petition article. “It’s just a way to cause trouble; there’s no rationale for it.”

“It looked suspicious,” said Barbara Jo Kingsley of Peterborough. “It looked like parent control over what teachers teach.”

Judy Heddy of Bennington said making materials available in the libraries likely wasn’t feasible due to space constraints and cost, and that she was more concerned with making sure the school district had enough funding to keep up essential programs.

“I always support the schools,” she said.

Another key ConVal issue was the article for preschool, which asked for $744,112 to expand the district’s pre-K program from five to eight classrooms. This was approved by voters by a margin of 2,173-1,453.

Amanda Hinton of Bennington, who is also a teacher in the district, said her daughter is in the pre-K program and that expanding it would be beneficial for the community.

“It’s really important to me that other kids get that opportunity,” she said.

In the race for the one-year ConVal’s School Board seat for Peterborough, incumbent Greg Kriebel won over challenger Greg Carter a count of 806-108.

“He’s got the experience,” said Serene Berube, who was holding signs in support of Kriebel outside the Peterborough Community Center. “He’s lived in town, he was the pediatrician for many district children. He’s got a good base of knowledge.”

The district’s other contested race, for the three-year Dublin seat, was won by incumbent Alan Edelkind over challenger Emily Primrose by a 325-110 margin.

The rest of the district’s School Board races were uncontested, with incumbents Tom Burgess and Richard Dunning winning back their two three-year Peterborough seats and Chair Tim Theberge being re-elected by Hancock. In Antrim, where Rich Cahoon did not run for re-election and nobody met the filing deadline to run in his place, Crista Salamy won in a write-in campaign with 99 votes.

All of ConVal’s other articles were approved, including the district’s collective bargaining agreement and the establishment of a new technology trust fund and energy trust fund with $100,000 each. 

Mascenic

In Mascenic, the $19 million budget was approved with a vote of 551 to 398.

The contested School Board race was decided in favor of incumbent and current Chair Rachel Anderson, who defeated challenger Philip Damiani New Ipswich by a vote of 600-137.

New Ipswich voter Jessica Haavisto spoke in support of Anderson’s re-election.

“I think she’s done a wonderful job in her last two terms, listening to parents and advocating for us and our kids,” she said. “And I think she’s a great representative for New Ipswich.”

Anderson herself spoke in support of the district’s warrant articles.

“I support both the budget and the teacher contracts, and I hope the townspeople will as well,” she said.

The district’s other School Board race for Greenville was uncontested, with Eric Neilson being elected for the three-year term.

Masenic’s other warrant articles were all approved, including the district’s new collective bargaining agreement and funding to food service and health care capital reserve funds. 

WLC

In Wilton-Lyndeborough’s School Board races, Wilton’s two seats were filled by unopposed incumbents Dennis Golding and Tiffany Cloutier-Cabral. In another unopposed race, the at-large Lyndeborough seat went to Darlene Anzalone.

Incumbent district Moderator Walter Holland was re-elected without opposition, and incumbent budget committee Chair Jeff Jones was re-elected in another uncontested race.

The district’s budget and other warrant items were already voted on and approved at the district meeting on March 5.

Mason

The Mason School District approved its $3.2 million budget by a margin of 332 to 209. 

Colin Robinson and Christopher Guiry won the two open School Board seats in a three-way race, defeating Sean Irlbacher with 277 and 282 votes, respectively, to Irlbacher’s 168.

Christine Irlbacher was elected as the district’s treasurer in an uncontested race.

Mason’s warrant articles were all approved, including appropriations to the building and grounds maintenance capital reserve fund and the district’s health care fund. 

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript staff reporter Ashley Saari contributed to this story.


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