GM and Ludlow-Mount Holly districts pass budgets with higher turnout

Representatives of the four Green Mountain District towns gather at Chester Town Hall to count the votes on Tuesday evening Photos by Shawn Cunningham

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Residents in the two school districts that comprise the Two Rivers Supervisory Union went to the polls for the third time in as many months on Tuesday, this time passing their much-downsized budgets to run  four elementary schools and one high school, with a much higher turnout.

While polling places seemed quiet, voters turned out in much higher numbers than in April

Ludlow Mount Holly voters passed that district’s $8.8 million budget and residents of Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester approved the Green Mountain district’s $16.6 million spending plan. Both districts’ original spending plans were cut after being rejected by voters in two earlier votes The original LMH budget proposal was cut by nearly $322,000, bringing the spending plan voters finally approved to $8,812,561. The GM board cut nearly $900,000 from its original proposal to bring the budget voters saw on Tuesday down to $16,576,477.

The results showed a large increase in turnout from the April vote when only 560 Green Mountain voters and 517 LMH residents came out to vote. By contrast, Tuesday’s vote drew 901 people to cast ballots in the GM district while 766 voted in Ludlow and Mount Holly.

Miranda McNamara casts her vote in Cavendish Tuesday afternoon

GM votes are “co-mingled” before they are counted so there are no totals by town, but the final numbers were 535 yes and 365 no. One ballot was “spoiled” and therefore could not be counted when a Chester voter wrote a comment on it. A sign at the polling place warns voters that writing extraneous comments on a ballot will invalidate their vote.

Representatives of the GM district’s four towns gathered at Chester Town Hall after the 7 p.m. deadline for voting passed, then counted the ballots together.

The overall totals in the LMH district were 468 yes to 298 no. It was a 248 to 126 blowout in Ludlow, but Mount Holly was closer with 270 voting yes and 172 voting no.

Those numbers are in sharp contrast the April 23 vote, where 220 voted yes to 340 no votes with two blank ballots in the GM district while in Ludlow Mount Holly  245 voted yes to 272 no.

The town-by-town comparison of turnout June vs. April for the GM district were:

  • Andover 125 up from 99
  • Baltimore 19 up from 13
  • Cavendish 261 up from 149 and
  • Chester 496 up from 299.

On Tuesday night, Two Rivers Superintendent Lauren Fierman told The Telegraph, “We are delighted that both Ludlow/Mount Holly and Green Mountain budgets passed by significant margins. There was a dramatic increase in the number of people voting compared to the number back in April.”

Fierman said she believed that the increase was due to the efforts of the schools – parents, teachers, staff and board members – to make people aware of the vote. That included yard signs reminding residents of the date of the vote along with postcards that gave the location and opening times for polling places in the six towns. That effort failed to land completely with two Chester residents who showed up to vote after the polls were closed and counting was underway.

“We look forward to a smooth transition to a new superintendent and the work begins almost immediately on next year’s budget,” said Fierman. The Telegraph emailed incoming Superintendent Layne Millington to set up a call for comment on Tuesday night but had not heard back from him by publication time.

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