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School Board Narrowly Votes To Move $84 Million Referendum To December

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School board member Christine Danielsen, seen in this file photo, changed her mind at the June 26 Board of Education meeting and voted to move the $84 million referendum to December.

It took a last-minute change of heart on the part of one member, but the Board of Education June 26 decided to move the $84 million referendum vote from September 30 to December 9.

The move had been requested by Nick Demeglio, head of “One Less Move,” the grassroots citizens’ committee that is trying to build support for the issue.

Demeglio has said that his committee needs more time to educate Franklin residents about the referendum, and that there are too many unresolved issues in the district – such as the need for a new schools Superintendent and high school principal – for attention to be focused on the referendum.

The referendum, if fully funded, would provide for a new elementary school on Claremont Road, renovations and additions to the other district buildings and a re-configuration of the Pre-K to 8th Grade schools in the district.

For a while at the June 26 meeting, it looked as though a majority of the board members present would not vote for the move. Members Nancy LaCorte, Christine Danielsen, Edward Potosnak and Keisha Smith-Carrington spoke against the move.

The three said they weren’t convinced that three months would make much of a difference, and that people would be more focused on school issue in September.

“I would hope people would support the school regardless of what time of year it is,” Smith-Carrington said. “Whether the election were tomorrow or September or December, it shouldn’t be a matter of the season, it should be a matter of what’s good for our children.”

Recalling last year’s brutal winter, Potosnak said that in December, “if we have a snow storm, it changes everything.”

Noting that the district needs the help of “One Less Move” to get the referendum passed, board vice president Eva Nagy said that committee may not exist if the date isn’t changed.

“Referenda do not pass in districts unless there’s a grassroots group working for it,” she said. “It needs a grassroots group of individuals to go out and work and garner votes.”

“we have a major challenge facing us,” she said.

“If we keep it where it is, we stand a really good chance of losing that committee,” said interim schools Superintendent Leroy Seitz.

Danielsen finally relented, after she was told that the district wouldn’t lose the $4 million already promised by the state to offset the cost if the referendum is held in December and defeated, and that the project’s architect, SSP, is not concerned about the delay.

“I don’t often change my mind,” she said, “but I think I’m going to.”

Voting against the measure were LaCorte, Smith-Carrington and Delvin Burton. Potosnak abstained, and Danielsen, Nagy, Betty Whalen and Richard Arline voted for it.

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