Amherst will vote on kindergarten expansion, new sidewalks

AMHERST – Two family-friendly items – full-day kindergarten and new sidewalks – will be on the election day ballot next week for the town and the school districts.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Souhegan High School.

There has been public kindergarten at Clark School since 1997, and this year the School Board is proposing to expand it to all day.

The warrant article is for $620,000 and the money would pay for three more kindergarten teachers, support staff, curriculum materials and equipment. The Ways and Means Committee has split on the issue, 4-3.

Supporters at the school deliberative session last month said all-day schooling is not only good for 5-year-olds, it will also help boost property values by making Amherst more attractive to families.

The district’s $25 million budget shows an increase of 1.2 percent, a little more than $300,000, and the Ways and Means Committee unanimously supports it.

When the budget and three other money articles for the 2015-2016 school year are added together they amount to $25.7 million. That would mean an estimated tax rate of $12.88 per thousand of assessed value for the Amherst School District.

New sidewalks are on the town ballot, and if the article passes they would be built on Jones Road and portions of Mack Hill, Manchester, New Boston and Boston Post roads. Town officials had anticipated federal funding for the $328,000 project but learned recently it won’t be funded

A town operating budget of $12.4 million has an estimated tax impact of 32 cents and is a 5.23 percent increase.

Ways and Means supports in unanimously.

Also on the town ballot will be a $3.3 million bridge replacement bond for the bridges on Mont Vernon Road and Thornton Ferry I.

A non-money article asks the town to give selectmen intervener status when the natural gas pipeline route goes before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Mont Vernon residents will join Amherst residents in voting on the Souhegan Cooperative School District ballot where there is a $18 million operating budget and a proposal to spend $220,000 for a new running tack at the high school.

Running for public offices are David Chen and Dwayne Purvis who are vying for a three-year Amherst seat on the Souhegan School Board. Cynthia Dokmo and Lisa Eastman are running for an open position on the Cemetery Trustee.

Selectmen Brad Galinson and Mike Akillian are stepping down, and Reed Panasiti and Nate Jensen have signed up to take their place.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@cabinet.com.