July 13, 2020

SOS: Two-Town Meeting


With only one week until the impending Two-Town (Tent) Meeting, it is imperative that all Dighton and Rehoboth residents are aware of the events that have gone on during this Budget Crisis.

Currently, the School Committee has approved its fourth budget assessment for Fiscal Year 2020. The first assessment, which included an increase of just over 2%, was scratched back in March. The next assessment, which failed ultimately at the July 16th Rehoboth Special Town Meeting (having previously failed at the May 13th/28th Annual Town Meeting), was just a mere 1.32% increase of the previous fiscal year. On Tuesday, the Town of Rehoboth will be presented with the third assessment; the so-called "compromised budget" between the Regional School District and the Rehoboth Selectmen. However, if this assessment were to pass as written in the warrant on Tuesday, the vote would again be an effective 'no' vote in accordance with Mass General Laws Part 1, Title XII, Chapter 71, Section 16b.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has recently increased the minimum local contribution to the Regional School District from Rehoboth by $60,000, which in turn makes the number printed in the Special Town Meeting warrant on Tuesday incorrect. When this matter was brought up by School Committee Member Craig Chapman from Rehoboth last Wednesday at a public forum, the Selectmen effectively disregarded DESE's regulations by stating: "We support the passing of the assessment as written in the warrant." And, as a reminder, the Finance Committee has recommended disapproval of the assessment at the Special Town Meeting as articulated repeatedly by Chairman Mike Deignan at last Wednesday's forum.

We at Save Our Schools are preparing for DESE to step in and set the budget for the next two fiscal years starting on December 1st. Even with the scheduling of the Two-Town Meeting, the School Committee has not allowed enough time for the two towns to digest all of the information (and misinformation) being thrown at them. Attached below is a Taunton Gazzette article entitled "Save Our Schools Pins Hopes on D-R Tent Meeting," written back in July. We would like to remind the community that there was a viable solution to this crisis almost 4 months ago with a possible Two-Town Meeting. It was the purely political move of Chairman Gerry Schwall of the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen to offer this non-starter "compromise agreement" that SOS has not stood behind since its proposal. It may be time for a third-party to come in and clean up the mess that Chairman Schwall and Chairman Deignan have made for this community.

It is the hope of all of us at Save Our Schools that an amended Article 2 that includes the $60,000 increase from DESE is passed on Tuesday, eliminating the need for a Two-Town Meeting. We also support the number being presented at the Two-Town Meeting on Saturday and encourage all Dighton-Rehoboth voters to attend this pivotal landmark event. If anyone is interested in any "Vote for Education" signs, comment below and we will reach out to you!

See everyone at the meetings!
SOS Leadership Team


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