A close vote got a little closer Monday night after a recount of the Derry School District vote on a paraprofessional union contract.
But the end result was the same. Voters approved a three-year contract by a final three-vote margin.
After rejecting a proposed contract in March, some voters went back to the polls last month to consider a new proposal, some $27,000 less. The contract was approved in an abysmal turnout, 356-352.
Some thought that was too close to call and requested a recount. That’s fair enough. Recounts are available for good reason and voters deserve the right to call for a second tally.
But a couple of things about this situation are troubling.
First of all, just 3.5 percent of the town’s 20,202 registered voters took the time to cast ballots June 25. That number is an embarrassment and a true shame.
Derry has one of the state’s highest tax rates, due, in large part, to its school budget. That alone, plus the initial contract rejection, should have brought out the naysayers.
The paraprofessionals covered by this contract — educational assistants, special education assistants, kindergarten aides, and library, computer and reading assistants — are some of the hardest working and lowest paid school district employees. That fact should have brought out those who appreciate all they do for so little.
Also troubling is the fact that two town councilors spearheaded the recount petition effort. They are, of course, entitled to make the same request as any other registered voter. But it doesn’t smell just right.
Town Councilors Mark Osborne and Tom Cardon were elected on promises of fiscal responsibility and some serious belt-tightening. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that; goodness knows, Derry clearly needs some.
They have brought a new perspective to the council and have made the board more representative of the town’s population and diverse opinions. That’s a good thing.