TRENTON — The Board of Selectmen reversed course Tuesday night and voted unanimously to hold a town meeting before the November election to pass the Trenton Elementary School budget for the current year.
The special town meeting, which will deal only with the school budget, will be held Saturday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. on the ball field at the school.
One condition that the selectmen attached to their vote was that the school provide and set up the chairs, lectern and sound system, as it typically does when the town meeting is held in the gym. That won’t be a problem, Principal Mike Zboray said Wednesday.
“I’m relieved,” he said of the board’s decision to schedule a vote on the school budget in a little over a week. “And I’m happy to do my part, as I have been all along, to facilitate a town meeting.”
The selectmen also asked that the school provide volunteers to assist the election clerks. Trenton resident Tony McKim has offered to help recruit and coordinate volunteers from the community.
Town Clerk Carol Walsh said the warrant for the special town meeting on the school budget would be posted this Friday.
She said another town meeting would be scheduled for later this year to vote on the municipal budget and other items on the warrant.
The annual town meeting, originally scheduled for May 19, was postponed due to restrictions on large gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Town officials said as recently as two weeks ago that trying to hold the town meeting while the three-person town staff was preparing for the Nov. 3 election would place too great a burden on them.
But school officials have said that if the town meeting were not held soon so that a school budget could be passed, some Trenton Elementary programs and possibly staff positions would be in jeopardy.
On Tuesday evening, prior to the selectmen’s meeting, about 10 Trenton residents stood outside the town offices holding signs urging the selectmen to schedule the town meeting as soon as possible. One of those holding a sign was Daniel Monahan, who has two children at Trenton Elementary.
“We want the town meeting so the town can pass a budget in support of the school, so we can avoid a financial crisis with budget cuts and layoffs and reduced programming at the school,” he said.
Courtney Monahan added, “Of all times, this is the time when our kids need to be able to count on having their music classes, their art classes, their phys–ed, because so much has changed in their world, and they really need a little bit of normality.”
Daniel Monahan said the group holding signs got a lot of encouragement from people passing by on the road in front of the town offices.
“We got a lot of beeps, a lot of people cheering us on,” he said. “We felt we got our message across to folks coming into the meeting and the [Board of Selectmen] coming into the meeting.”
Monahan said that in recent days there have been a lot of conversations on social media about the need to hold a town meeting and people asking their friends to call the selectmen.