Board avoids override for schools

On Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen voted to kill the Spring Street School repaving project and use the money to add $692,713 to the school district’s proposed budget for next fiscal year. The extra money raises the board’s recommendation to a level-service budget of $52.04 million; the figure is still roughly $2.2 million short of the budget that the School Committee proposed last month. The committee said the higher budget request is necessary to alleviate class overcrowding, replace outdated textbooks that threatened state accreditation, and other problems. The selectmen’s recommendation would maintain the district’s staffing, and add teachers only for special education programs to meet state mandates. No new teachers could be hired to reduce the overcrowding. Town Manager Daniel J. Morgado said he hopes additional funds might come from increased aid to schools under the state budget, which is expected to be approved next week. Selectmen also decided not to ask voters to raise property taxes to cover the school budget gap. The selectmen’s recommendation will go to the Finance Committee, which can accept the board’s figures or develop its own spending plan to be presented to Town Meeting.