Dracut's upcoming town election for both Board of Selectmen and School Committee has been dominated by money -- specifically, a proposed $2.9 million Proposition 2 1/2 override to fund the school district's 2014 budget.
The three candidates vying for two School Committee seats -- incumbents Michael McNamara, Mike Miles and challenger Betsy Murphy -- have declared their intention to vigorously campaign in support of the override at Town Meeting in June and in the July special election.
There's no doubt funding for education has taken a back seat for years, but just how much -- if any -- can the town afford at this time to rectify the situation?
We would expect School Committee candidates to stand up for education, and we see no reason to change the makeup of that board at this time.
The Dispatch endorses returning incumbents Michael McNamara and Mike Miles to the School Committee.
In addition to dealing with the schools' financial situation, the next Board of Selectmen will be working with a different town manager for the first time in more than 25 years.
There appears to be a distinct difference between the challengers and incumbents when it comes to school funding.
The three selectmen challengers -- Tony Archinski, Tami Dristiliaris and Gil Nason -- may have different opinions on the override, but they all believe the voters should have the final say if all other negotiations fail.
However, both incumbents -- Chairwoman Cathy Richardson and George Malliaros -- say while they value education, they don't believe Dracut taxpayers can afford an extra $300 or so on their tax bill.
With the contentious question of the override and the dawn of a new town administration, Dracut is indeed in the throes of a watershed moment, a time for change with new approaches to the community's problems.
That why The Dispatch believes the town would best be served by electing Tony Archinski, a retired 32-year Dracut police officer, and Tami Dristiliaris, a registered nurse, attorney and parent of schoolchildren making making her first run for office, to the Board of Selectmen.
The Dispatch also urges Dracut residents to make their wishes known by voting on election day, April 30.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.