A local government activist says he will move to amend the Town’s proposed operating budget at Annual Town Meeting on April 29 as a way of blocking teacher cuts in the Andover Public Schools system.

Mike Meyers (photo, above) has been outlining his plans in a series of emails with Town officials in recent days. The Town is required to have a balanced budget in place by the start of the fiscal year on July 1. Meyers told officials he wants to find a way to add $2.7 million to the school system’s budget, which is the amount of a gap the district said forced it to give pink slips to more than 20 teachers earlier this month. The district said the cuts reflect declining enrollment over the past decade and would not have a significant impact on class size.

The Town’s budget is typically passed as a single article after months of vetting by the select board, school committee, finance committee and other Town departments. But Meyers is weighing several options to protest the cuts through the debate on Article 4, the Town’s operating budget.

Even if Meyers is successful, there’s no guarantee the positions would be saved. Town Meeting can only allocate money; how the money is spent by the school district is up to the school committee.

“We have to be prepared for a number of different scenarios,” Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said in an interview Thursday. During the meeting, Flanagan and Town Chief Financial Office Patrick Lawlor outlined the three most likely scenarios if Meyers musters support for his push at annual town meeting.

  • Under the first scenario, Town Meeting could approve moving $2.7 million from the Town’s $45 million operating budget to the school department’s $103 million budget. Town Meeting would also need to cut portions of the Town budget to make sure it passes a balanced budget.
  • The body could also simply shoot down the budget, which would force the select board to call a special town meeting to consider a new budget. A special town meeting last month cost the Town approximately $45,000 to host.
  • Under the final scenario, Town Meeting could approve a $2.7 million increase to the school budget, contingent on approval of a Proposition 2.5 override in a special election. That special election would be to approve a tax increase and be held within 90 days of town meeting. The election can be held after July 1 without running afoul of the state rule requiring a balanced budget by the start of the fiscal year.

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