Open discussion for important issues in Brookline

To the Editor:

The voters of the Hollis Brookline Cooperative School District met on March 3 and 6 in record turnouts – great for our democratic process. After presentations by the school board and budget committee, and very short discussion, the $5.52M high school expansion and athletic complex bond (Article 2) was defeated in ballot vote, 361 Yes to 727 No, far short of the 2/3 supermajority needed to approve. After a very brief discussion, we also voted to table and limit reconsideration on Article 15, the proposal to change apportionment to 50% Average Daily Membership and 50% Equalized Valuation. We also voted to table and limit reconsideration on Article 12, the proposal to require a supermajority for amendments to the Articles of Agreement, without any discussion or even a presentation. It is clear from discussions with many fellow voters during and after both meetings that many citizens wanted to hear more about Articles 2, 12, and 15, and to express either their support or concerns on these articles. By prematurely limiting debate and/or tabling these articles, we short circuited our democratic process and lost the opportunity to hear from all viewpoints and to make progress in deciding these important issues.

During the March 6 meeting, we voted to reconsider Article 2—effectively nullifying the ballot “No” vote of 727 citizens. Many voted for this reconsideration hoping that a lower and more cost effective solution could be proposed, and also that Article 15 would also be brought off the table for consideration. Unfortunately, the voters defeated a motion to bring Article 15 off the table for discussion, leaving many voters from Brookline disenfranchised. Without properly addressing and modifying the apportionment formula to be more balanced, it will be a significant challenge for any Article 2 bond proposal to achieve the 2/3 supermajority required for approval. Many voters, especially those from Brookline, want the apportionment formula to be fair before making any long term bond commitments.

When the district meeting resumes, we also have several other important articles to debate including recommending higher academic standards versus adopting Common Core, adoption of a 2.5% tax cap, and full disclosure on tax impacts in future warrant articles. It is in the best interest of the Coop to allow discussion and debate on these important issues, instead of prematurely tabling or shutting down debate. For more taxpayer information, please visit http://www.sau41.org and the citizen website http://www.sau41.com .

Eric Pauer

Brookline