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Dunstable GDRSD Rep Explains Town's Decision to Forgo Override

The following letter was submitted by Ryan McLane, Dunstable representaive to the Groton-Dunstable School Committee and Vice Chair, discussing his views on Dunstable’s decsion to forgo an override to meet the full School District budget.
To My Fellow School Committee Peers,
     I am sorry not to be there to advocate for my community. I am currently serving and do not believe I will able to log in to the meeting. I am writing these thoughts to weigh in on the budget discussion.
     I believe we as a school committee have done a tremendous job properly allocating resources, finding efficiencies and providing the means to allow our school staff to create a great school district. I also believe we need to continue to fund our school budget at a level that allows for continued academic success and invests in the 25 percent of our community that cannot vote for themselves. Finally, I think we have done a great job of planning for the future, communicating with our member towns, and serving as a collaborative board.
     In meeting with Dunstable reps, I find a large contingent of folks looking to steward Dunstable properly into an era of financial solvency and future planning. As I have discussed with the committee before, this takes time and if we were not faced with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, I believe we would have seen a fully supported override, providing the necessary resources to carry our school district for the next 5-10 years (personal opinion).
     There is still support in Dunstable for this long-term plan, however, because of revenues lost and challenges presented by COVID, FY21 is not the year to implement this plan as many residents are hurting financially or fearful of the financial future. The Dunstable Finance Committee is asking for an additional $75,000 reduction in their assessment to bridge FY21 and prevent strong cuts to municipal services. I support this request and ask that you do too.
     I understand the Board of Selectmen in Dunstable has taken a different stance, but frankly, I agree with the Finance Committee's actual assessment of our budget situation that requests a reasonable reduction that shares burdens between town and school. I believe by deferring capital, prepaying costs or finding savings in areas of the budget that have come in less than budgeted, we can provide for this $75,000 ask and still retain the type of budget resilience that allows us to absorb the coming financial challenges.
     We have a strong plan, a strong reserve and strong ability to overcome challenges. Anything challenging that comes forth will required more than this asked reduction and a partnership with our peer towns...this is a tough ask, but one we should accommodate for the long-term future of our district and students. Better things are coming in FY22, let us get through FY21 together and move towards building the future.
Thanks for listening,
Ryan McLane
School Committee Vice Chairman, District Member From Town of Dunstable
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