LITTLETON — The Littleton School District is getting $477,138 in supplemental adequacy aid.
Every cent will go to tax relief.
A school district plan to spend $255,000 of the funds on building maintenance projects was defeated 15-10 at a special meeting on Monday.
As a result the full amount will be returned to taxpayers. It will lower the projected 2021 tax rate by $1.13 per $100,000, from $14.38 to $13.25.
Supporters said the school district plan would have addressed safety concerns.
It included a fire alarm system replacement ($150,000) at Lakeway Elementary, gym sprinkler system ($8,000) and security system upgrade ($19,000) at Littleton Academy, and additional card readers ($6,000), sprinkler head cover replacements ($2,000), and asbestos removal ($70,000) at Littleton High.
But many in attendance on Monday questioned the necessity of the projects, and challenged the cost estimates provided by the school district.
Heidi Hurley, a parent, opposed spending additional money on Littleton Academy (the former Daisy Bronson Middle School) without a long-term plan for the aging, out-of-compliance structure.
Bill Gendreau, facilities manager for commercial printer, Sheridan NH in Hanover, disagreed with the price quotes included in the plan, calling some “ridiculously high” and others “ridiculously low.”
Meanwhile, the School Board was split on what to do with the extra adequacy aid, which corrects funding shortfalls tied to COVID undercounts of average daily membership and free-and-reduced lunch recipients.
Board members have narrowly recommended the $255,000 building maintenance plan 3-2, with Matthew St. John and Erica Antonucci dissenting.
St. John and Antonucci agreed the projects were worthy, but felt the school district had disproportionately benefited from state and federal COVID relief programs — and taxpayers had not.
They recommended the funds go to tax relief, and St. John proposed that the building maintenance projects be placed in the school budget or submitted as a separate warrant article for Town Meeting approval in March.
“We think the taxpayers should also benefit from the excess COVID funds that have been going around,” he said.
Following the vote, School Board Chair Greg Cook said the board would take the feedback they received on Monday and reassess the future of the maintenance projects moving forward.
“I think that the board, in having this meeting, we wanted the community to give us their opinion of what to do with these funds. It was clear this evening that they want the funds returned to the community,” he said.