Marblehead voters turn down $3M permanent override for schools

In their annual election on Tuesday, Marblehead voters tuned down a proposed $3 million permanent override that sought to supplement the town’s $43 million education budget.

According to preliminary machine and hand counted results, the Proposition 2 1/2 override was defeated by a vote of 3,921 “no” votes – or by 67 percent – to 1,798 “yes” votes. A total of 5,845 ballots were cast in a turnout that depleted the town’s stockpile of ballots.

The measure would have raised Marblehead’s levy limit and would have filled what Marblehead Superintendent John Buckey said was a $3 million funding gap.

The override would have increased the tax bill of the owner of a median single-family home assessed at $738,000 by $310.53 annually, but the voters did not have an appetite for such an increase.

In advance of the vote, the district had created a list of recurring and one-time priorities that the $3 million would have covered. In Fiscal Year 2023, items would have included the following: 

  • Safety: $343,000 in one-time costs and $32,000 in recurring costs 
  • Technology: $21,000 in one-time costs and $35,000 in recurring costs 
  • Personnel: $1,066,281 in recurring costs
  • Curriculum: $184,564 in one-time costs and $70,341 in recurring costs 
  • Free full-day kindergarten: $375,000 recurring cost

Marblehead is one of the few remaining districts in Massachusetts without tuition-free kindergarten. 

“A the end of the day, it’s the kids who will lose,” said School Committee member Sarah Fox. “The vote is a referendum that people want change.”

Officials argued the need for a supplemental budget emerged from a succession of level-funded budgets, as well as the deferral of service and educational programs.

“There was a lot of misinformation out there,” said School Committee Chair Sarah Gould. “It’s disappointing that people would lie out there. We put these forward as needs, and [these needs] only get more expensive.”

She added, “It’s a new committee every year, and we will work together.”

Marblehead last adopted a permanent override in 2005.

Marblehead News staff

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