Modular classrooms voted down

MILFORD – The town might have to offer kindergarten but doesn’t have to build permanent classrooms for it, voters seemed to say Tuesday, as they narrowly rejected a plan to construct four modular classrooms to accommodate the additional students.

The vote for a $1.7 million construction bond for a four-classroom addition to Jacques Memorial School missed getting its 60 percent majority by 51 votes.

Out of a total of 1,656 votes, it received 943 but needed 994.

That means the School District will make do with portable classrooms in September for the state-mandated half-day kindergarten program.

“I’m disappointed,” said Paul Dargie, a School Board member and kindergarten advocate. “But the main thing is, there is going to be kindergarten.”

A state grant would have paid for 75 percent of the $1.7 million kindergarten bond, or $1.27 million. The state will pay 100 percent of the cost of portables for three years.

The School District’s $33.8 million operating budget passed. It includes $470,000 for kindergarten staffing and supplies, half of which will be reimbursed by the state.

Collective-bargaining agreements for teachers and support staff were easily approved, but the town’s agreement with the Teamsters Union, which affects about 24 employees in the Public Works, Water and Sewer departments, went down with a vote of 1,114 to 504.

Also on the town side of the ballot, voters elected Gary Daniels to his third term on the Board of Selectmen, with 1,128 votes and mortgage banker Nathaniel Carmen to a three-year selectman’s seat with 637. Jim Dannis is leaving the board after one term.

In the only other contested race in Milford, Brad Chappell won another three-year term as a trustee of the trust funds over Kevin Taylor.

The town’s $11.5 million operating budget passed. It includes $25,000 for an SUV for the Fire Department that voters added during the Deliberative Session in February.

Voters said no to an article asking for $10,000 for Fourth of July fireworks, but overwhelmingly approved a $20,000 petition article for non-emergency medical transportation.

They also said yes to reinstating hours at the public library and to funding summer band concerts, the town’s three annual parades, and Pumpkin Festival and holiday decorations and plantings.

Voter turnout was light. Out of 10,800 registered voters, 1,682 people voted, or 16 percent.