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Lincoln voters narrowly reject $2M school project

LINCOLN — Lincoln voters on Tuesday narrowly defeated a proposed $2 million bond to fund repairs and upgrades at Lincoln Community School.
Despite the snow and slush that covered county roads on Tuesday, residents came out in large numbers with by some estimates about half of possible voters casting ballots.
The final tally was 222 votes in favor of the bond, and 237 votes against.
With a difference of just 15 votes on a bad weather day, LCS Principal Tory Riley said there is a chance the school board could put the proposal up for a second vote, or warn a revised version of the proposal. Board members did not return calls to the Independent by deadline.
“The board will be meeting in the next couple of days to decide what the next steps will be,” Riley said. “If they do decide to take some action and want it to be voted on at town meeting, they have 30 days to do so.”
Any delay could mean that the school will miss out on the opportunity to tag onto the Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) that another school in the state has already put in a bid for. The board had hoped to tap the fund to shave around $75,000 off the final bill.
“Time getting into that bond was tight, and it may, in fact, be in jeopardy,” Riley said.
An informational meeting was held last Thursday by the LCS building committee, which between 80 and 90 Lincoln residents attended, according to Riley.
“It was a really well-attended meeting,” she said. “The main new question that was raised was whether or not the school had exhausted other funding opportunities.”
Riley explained that she had looked into a number of grants, but that it is difficult to find money for renovations and repairs to a public school.
“Since then, a man who lives in town found some grants that might be applicable for some parts of the project,” Riley said.
Things like fire alarm replacement could be paid for through various grant programs, Riley said.
“We’re obviously going to be looking into any grant possibilities before moving forward,” she said.
According to Riley, the main concerns that residents voiced at the Jan. 13 meeting were not related to the quality of the school, but to the size of the bond.
“I think there was overall support for the school and people just continue to be stuck on the fact that it costs money,” she said. “They think the school is doing a fine job and realize that education costs money, but they don’t necessarily want to pay for it.”
In total, 460 out of 1,032 Lincoln residents on the town grand list came out to vote (one ballot was deemed “defective”). Town Clerk Sally Ober said the grand list has many names on it that it shouldn’t and is in the process of being whittled down to about 950.
“It really was about a 50 percent turnout,” she said.
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].

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