LONDONDERRY — When the Charter Commission voted, 6-3, to ask voters if they want to go to ballot voting as the school district already does, the question of a quorum at the deliberative session came up.
During a deliberative session prior to ballot voting, registered voters have the opportunity to raise questions and vote on budget changes, which would ultimately be decided by the Town Council.
The School District requires a quorum of 500 registered voters be present at its deliberative session in order to make any changes on the ballot.
Town attorney Bart Mayer told Charter Commissioners requiring a quorum at the town's deliberative session is not legal, according to the state. That raised the question of the legality of a quorum on the school's side, too. The school district has required a quorum at its deliberative sessions since 1999.
Charter Commissioner and state representative Al Baldasaro said some constituents approached him about the constitutionality of the school district's quorum requirement. They suggested getting an opinion from the attorney general's office.
Baldasaro wrote a letter Aug. 17 to Attorney General Michael Delaney, asking about the legality and/or constitutionality of the Londonderry School District's charter.
Delaney responded Sept. 9 and said if the town moved to ballot voting, a quorum requirement would be improper.
School Board member Steve Young said Delaney "declined to address the school issue and focused completely on the town," in his response to Baldasaro.
Young, also a member of the Charter Commission, said the School Board has presented its charter three times to the state for review since 1999, starting with the original submission in 1999.
"The quorum was never challenged or even addressed," Young said.
In the March election, the school district proposed reducing the quorum needed from 500 to 300 registered voters, since it's rare for more than 200 voters to attend. The proposal was rejected, 1,629-1,384.
In August, school district attorney Gordon Graham said the school's quorum requirement is legal.
"We are not an SB2 town, where quorums are illegal," Superintendent Nate Greenberg said Tuesday. "A quorum provision in our charter makes it perfectly legal."
An option for those opposed to the school quorum is to initiate a citizen petition to remove the requirement from the charter, Young said.
"Everything depends on what the constituents want," Baldasaro said. "A citizen petition is a long, drawn-out process that is designed to stifle people from getting involved."
Baldasaro said it would be "easier for me just to file a motion in court to eliminate the quorum requirement, if there is enough support from constituents."
"I don't want to charge the taxpayers though," he said. "If I have to, I'd pay for it myself."
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