Belmont Voters Reject Minuteman Funding As District Passes New School Plan

Photo: Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman reading the results from the special district referendum.

It wasn’t even close.

Belmont voters rejected by a near three-to-one margin a $100 million-plus funding plan for the construction of a new $145 million Minuteman Tech Regional High School on Tuesday, Sept. 20, part of a special district-wide referendum held in the 16 member communities which make up the Minuteman School district.

The “Minutexit” decision by Belmont residents now clears the way for a Special Town Meeting in October where the legislative body will decide whether or not Belmont remains in the newly constituted 10 member district.

For one of the leading “no” proponents, the vote total spoke volumes on Belmont residents reluctance to pay for what many believe is far too big a building to house the 33o student who attend from district cities and towns.

“I was not expecting such a large margin [of victory],” said Belmont Selectmen Chair Mark Paolillo, who arrived at Belmont Town Hall Tuesday night to hear the results announced.

According to Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, Belmont resident voted down the funding measure 2,327 to 901, 72 percent to 28 percent.

While Belmont said no, an almost equal majority of district voters came out for the plan of borrowing $101 million to build a modern structure house 635 students. 

The final vote in the district’s 16 communities was 12,158 in favor and 5,320 against. 

The special district-wide referendum was called by the Minuteman School Committee after Belmont’s annual Town Meeting rejected the funding proposal, the only district community to do so. 

Paolillo said he and the selectmen will issue a warrant for a special town meeting, already penciled in for Oct. 19, to vote on remaining or exiting the district. Advocates for leaving will need to garner a 2/3 margin to formally break ties with Minuteman. 

“I never wanted to leave the district, but when we could not convince the Minuteman leadership to revisit the size of the school and the long-term funding formula, we had no other choice but to reject this plan,” said Paolillo.

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