D-Y School District Granted Another Extension for New School Funding

Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School.

YARMOUTH – The Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District has been granted another extension by the state to secure funding for a new regional middle school.

An original deadline in April for the school district to sign a letter of commitment to receive $44 million in funding was extended until the end of June due to pending legal action from Yarmouth.

Yarmouth selectmen voted in January to sue the school district over the process used to win approval for the proposed $117 million regional middle school, which bypassed town meetings and passed by just 25 votes during a district-wide vote.

The letter of commitment would require no pending legal action or a threat of a lawsuit related to the project.

The Yarmouth lawsuit was dismissed this month by a Barnstable Superior Court judge. The town has until July 12 to file an appeal.

Regional School Committee member Brian Carey said the Massachusetts School Building Authority has extended the deadline another 30 days.

Yarmouth Selectmen have stated that they would drop the lawsuit if a new regional school agreement was approved by both towns.

A proposed new agreement was approved by town meeting voters in Yarmouth this spring, but failed in Dennis.

The proposed new regional school agreement would have lessened the burden for Yarmouth and increased costs for Dennis.

The major changes were made to how the communities share operating and capital costs.

The proposal would have Dennis cover 35 percent of the costs of the proposed new regional middle school and gradually increase the town’s share of operating costs over the next five years to a fixed 65-35 split.

Discussions between the two towns on a new agreement have warmed up recently.

Yarmouth Selectmen voted unanimously last week to support mediation between the two communities.

The vote followed a meeting on June 13 with officials from both towns and the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Dennis submitted a five-point offer to Yarmouth for an agreement early this month and Yarmouth selectmen made public it’s response and counter offer to Dennis last week.

Dennis offered to place an article on a special town meeting warrant to fund the Fiscal Year 2020 regional school budget at the town’s foundation enrollment of more than 31 percent.

The foundation enrollment counts all school-eligible children in a town and not just the number of students who attend the schools from each town. The current agreement enrollment numbers are not calculated with foundation enrollment.

The Yarmouth counter offer includes the addition of fixed district costs open to further negotiation.

Dennis also offered to fund the new middle school based on the same foundation enrollment percentage and Yarmouth countered with using the same capital share of the costs that was used for the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, which was the most recent significant capital improvement in the district.

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