Croydon residents are seeking a chance to undo the school budget cuts

CROIDON – Residents have submitted a petition to the school board in a long-term proposal to return nearly $ 1 million to the town’s school budget for 2022-23, which was cut to $ 800,000 in an annual school meeting that was low earlier this month.

The petition, which had 145 signatures, calls on management to hold a special session and vote on the school budget, but the process comes with a big catch: the vote is valid only if at least 50% of registered voters in the city attend. For a personal meeting.

With 565 registered voters on the list, 283 Croydon voters will have to come to get the budget back. Only about 6% of voters came to the school meeting where the budget was cut.

On Wednesday, in the second of two emergency meetings this week, Superintendent Frank Protea described the rationale of residents who want the expenses reimbursed to the $ 1.7 million level presented to voters by the school council.

“People are asking for the status quo because the school council has gone through a budget-building process,” Proti said. “The budget the board worked on was a reasonable and very tight budget that met the needs of this community. Twenty people made a wrong decision. The budget recommended for the town was a good budget.”

There are verbal indications that the drastically reduced budget has created popular opposition. Yard signs began to pop up across the city that read, “We stand for the Croydon students.”

Another sign announcing the time and date of the special meeting was placed at the intersection of Route 10 and Croydon Brook Road. (State law also requires the school council to hold a public hearing at least two weeks before the special session.)

Amy Nolan is one of several residents leading the signage effort.

“We received an anonymous donation to start the purchase, and then our team here at Croydon matched it,” Nolan said. “So we have more than $ 1,300 to support the purchase.”

Nolan said the original order of 30 signs passed quickly, and a second order of 40 also almost disappeared.

However, it is unclear whether supporters of fired schools will be able to raise enough support to recoup the expenses.

In three public meetings to discuss the budget crisis, 75 to 100 people attended.

Meanwhile, the school council has until April 1 to submit a $ 800,000 budget commensurate with the school board’s vote for the state’s revenue administration, and residents and board members clashed at meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays as we discussed how to proceed.

The annual budget pays for about two dozen students attending the K-4 Croydon Village School and tuition for about 50 fifth- through twelfth-grade students attending schools in other Upper Valley communities.

This week there was general agreement that if the $ 1.7 million budget repayment effort fails, the school district will have to resort to deficit spending, with taxpayers likely to raise the gate next year.

On Wednesday, the school board chairman, Judy Underwood, suggested it might reach a school district that would not pay its bills and then complete the arrears in the following budget year.

The deputy chairman of the board, Aaron Macion, said he sees the budget explosion as inevitable.

“There will be some deficit spending,” Macion said. “The question is how many.”

At this week’s meeting, a line-by-line review of spending quickly found that the only services the school district is required by law to provide amounted to about $ 480,000, not counting teachers’ salaries, leaving only about $ 6,100 per student.

About 40 percent of Croydon students in fifth-twelfth grades attend Newport School, which charges more than $ 17,800 per student, and the original school budget offered to voters called for allocating nearly $ 1 million in tuition alone.

“Philosophical debates have no meaning tonight,” Proti said Wednesday. “There are rules and we have duties.”

The three school board members went on to discuss options for the actual implementation of a $ 800,000 budget that included closing schools in Croydon Village in favor of “microscopic schools” with remote teachers, negotiating lower tuition fees for school admission and cutting spending.

Many in attendance were reluctant to talk about unpaid online schools with names like Prenda and KaiPod offering remote “tutorials” to help students.

Lisa colleagues received applause when she told management she was not interested.

“You do not listen to parents and what they say,” colleagues said. “This is your agenda, and we do not want it. You are not listening to us.”

Underwood responded: “You want the status quo.”

Former School Board Chairman Angie Bolio described the board’s approach to emergency meetings as “frustrating.”

“We may not get (what we want) because we can not get enough people here,” Bolio said on Wednesday, referring to the 50% threshold for the special session. “The frustrating part is that this whole conversation is about the things we told you on Monday that we don’t want.”

Another former council member present, Thomas Moore, said the current board members would do well to pay attention to residents’ concerns.

“In four years on the board, most of the people I saw coming out were maybe five,” Moore said. “I’ve never seen Croydon come out like that.”

The school board is scheduled to hold a regular meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Darren Mercy can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

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