ATHENS — What promises to be the most discussed question Saturday at the annual Town Meeting — whether the town should look into seceding from the school district — won’t come until the end.

The second-to-last article on the 22-article town warrant asks residents if they want to form a committee to explore options concerning the town’s relationship with School Administrative District 59.

Tempers flared in January with a proposal to move about 35 Athens junior high students to Madison next year in an attempt to save money.

The district was trying to fill a $400,000-to-$600,000 gap left by the recent secession of Starks. The school board in February unanimously voted not to move the students, but with the town’s share of school district spending continuing to rise, residents may want to look at other alternatives.

An Athens fact-finding group already is gathering information about the town’s options if it were to secede from the district.

David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said if Athens decided to withdraw from the district, Madison would remain one. There are provisions in state law for withdrawing from a school district, but none for dissolving one, he said.

In elections on Friday, there is rematch of the 2011 elections when Timothy Small defeated then-incumbent Road Commissioner John Barron 70-66. Small, 48, is seeking re-election for a one-year term and is being challenged by Barron, 59.

Barron served as road commissioner for 12 years. There are no other contested races.

In money matters Saturday, First Selectman Bruce Clavette said the proposed budget for 2012 comes in at $414,715, up $2,717 from last year’s budget.

Of that, $247,585 is to come from taxation if all of the articles are passed as written. The rest will come from excise tax and from surplus accounts.

Big ticket items for the coming year include $165,00 for road maintenance, $71,000 for solid waste disposal, $5,000 for improvements to the transfer station, $7,000 toward the purchase of a fire truck and $80,000 for a used grader and used loader.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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