Town surveying parents of kids in spring sports on interest in attending Annual Town Meeting

by beth on January 14, 2022

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A quick survey launched this week is targeted at learning more about how youth sports this spring might conflict with voter participation in Annual Town Meeting.

As I posted earlier this month, the Town is preparing to delay Annual Town Meeting. Selectmen discussed the desire to find a date that allows holding the meeting outdoors to give voters comfort that they can safely participate. But they also wanted to find a date that doesn’t discourage participation for voters due to conflicts with their children’s spring sports.

In 2018, voters passed a bylaw to schedule Town Meeting to open on a Saturday in March to encourage participation of parents with young children.* Selectmen and the Town Moderator wanted to honor the spirit of the bylaw and its concerns, while still addressing safety concerns.

This week, the Town launched a survey to get feedback from the community. Based on the questions it appears they are looking to find out how much sports schedule conflicts really do factor into parents’ participation. Rather than asking for schedule feedback, they are researching the voter group’s decision process.

The survey announcement reads:

Due to continued COVID-19 precautions, The Town of Southborough is weighing its options of holding Spring Town Meeting 2022 outdoors. The meeting would be held on a weekend (Saturday with a Sunday rain date), potentially interrupting spring sport practices/games.

The purpose of this survey is to gauge interest of Spring Town Meeting for parents of youth sports participants so the least conflicting decision can be made. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback.

Please take the survey here: https://bit.ly/3qj9o56

The survey asks questions of parents to find out if they were planning to attend Annual Town Meeting, and whether sports conflicts would impact the decision. They also ask if free childcare services was on site would make a difference.

In addition, the survey seeks to find out which Articles those voters are interested in:

Thinking about Spring Town Meeting – which article(s) are you most concern about?

  • Public School Budget or School Related Articles
  • Town Budget
  • Noise Bylaw
  • All of the Above
  • None of the above
  • Other (please specify)

The sixth and final question is just a chance for participants to share any thoughts on the matter.

*In 2019, the bylaw was modified to allow that while the first day would be a Saturday in March, any needed subsequent days could run into April. That was to avoid a repeat of requiring that the meeting open as early as that year – March 23rd- to ensure that the Warrant was completed before the end of the month.

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