Voters Narrowly Approve Plan for $117 Million Dennis-Yarmouth Intermediate School

YARMOUTH – Voters in the Dennis-Yarmouth School District narrowly approved a nearly $117 million ballot question to build a new school that would house grades 4-through-7.

The vote was 1,955 to 1,502 against in Yarmouth and 1,361 to 876 in favor in Dennis.

The margin of victory according to unofficial results when combining the two town’s totals was 32 votes.

The plan calls for closing the Mattacheese Middle School in Yarmouth and Wixon School in Dennis.

The new school would be located in Yarmouth next to the Station Ave. Elementary School.

On the separate question of funding the project, Dennis voters approved a debt exclusion, while Yarmouth voters rejected the one on their ballot.

That means Yarmouth voters will likely face another debt exclusion election in the spring. If it fails again, the whole cost of the project would likely have to come out of Yarmouth’s operating budget.

Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School Committee Chairman Jeni Landers said she was pleased with the result, but cautious about the margin of victory.

“Often when you have a small margin like this, people tend to question the validity and ask for a recount. I have no idea if that will happen here, but if it does we’ll just have to see that through,” she said.

Landers said the plan approved Tuesday night will give the district flexibility in terms of shifting enrollment and makes sense economically because of the state reimbursement.

“With the state reimbursement, it is cheaper to build a state-of-the-art school than it is to repair these two extremely old and outdated buildings,” said Landers.

The debate over the proposal became contentious in recent weeks, with some opponents criticizing the decision by the regional school committee to bypass town meeting.

Most members of the Yarmouth Board of Selectmen and the Yarmouth and Dennis finance committees went on record against the plan.

Supporters said it was critical to approve the project now as the state school building authority had already approved a 57 percent reimbursement for the total cost to the district.

Many in Yarmouth who opposed the project remain concerned about the lack of a new regional school agreement.

They say the current arrangement benefits Dennis at the expense of Yarmouth taxpayers.

If the vote had failed, the district would have had 120 days to come up with a new plan or risk losing the state reimbursement altogether.

By MATT PITTA, News Director

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