Yarmouth & Dennis Talks Over New Agreement Warming Up

Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School.

YARMOUTH – Yarmouth and Dennis may be getting closer to a deal for a new regional school district agreement.

Yarmouth Selectmen voted unanimously last week to support mediation between the two communities and to seek an extension for the state deadline to secure nearly $43 million in funding towards the proposed regional middle school.

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

“Of course it was good to talk, and we did talk, and we agreed to continue to talk,’ said Tracy Post, a Yarmouth Selectman and one of the town’s representatives during the meeting.

Both towns are supporting an effort to seek an extension for signing a letter of commitment with the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The deadline is June 30. The agreement would help secure $44 million in funding for the $117 million middle school, which was approved by a regionwide vote.

Legal action taken by Yarmouth challenging the process of approving the school continues to threaten the state funding.

A Barnstable Superior Court judge has dismissed Yarmouth’s lawsuit, but the town has until July 12 to file an appeal.

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.

“We look forward to hearing from them, I think at this point in time, about either the offer we put on the table or the response from their board about entering into formal mediation,” Post said.

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