The council chamber was filled to overflowing when the public hearing on the proposed schools budget began.
Every seat was filled, about 70 people were standing in the council chamber, and more were spilling out into the hallway, 10 minutes or so later, when Fire Marshal Ray Occhialini arrived and called a halt to the meeting.
The room was overcrowded, Occhialini said. Beyond capacity. A fire danger. Everyone who was standing would have to leave - and wait outside the building. The hall outside the council chamber would not be enough.
Superintendent Pamela Aubin stopped her Powerpoint presentation about the school system and its goals and achievements. The council gathered together at one end of the dais. The lights came on. Conversation began.
School board members in the audience got up to leave. Aubin asked any school staff members to vacate their seats.
But in the end, there were just too many people passionate about the schools, and Town Council Chairwoman Candy Buebendorf announced that the meeting would be rescheduled for next Tuesday, a week from today, at 7 p.m. in the Montville High School auditorium.
The general tone of the audience was approval. The citizens had come to speak their minds, Occhialini had showed up to do his job, and rescheduling was the best option.
Aubin’s proposed 2012-2013 budget is $37,627,497. That's $994,762, or 2.72 percent, higher than the current year’s budget. To read the details about the superintendent's proposed budget, click here.
Mayor Ron McDaniel, in his proposed budget for 2012-2013, set the school department at a zero percent increase from the current year.
Holly and Vincent Steinke don't have a child in the Montville school system right now, but two of their daughters went through the system when they were younger.
Vincent coaches soccer in town now, and Holly works as a speech/language pathologist in Oakdale Elementary.
"I love our community," she said, after the meeting, and she and Vince had come out to support the school system and the proposed budget, even with the increase.
"These kids try hard," Vincent says. "They deserve decent teaching."
Jeff Cregeur, 15; Marisa Florio, 16; and Kristen Lemieux, 15, came to the meeting to show support for the music department at Montville High School. They said that many other kids from choir came in support, as well.
They've heard rumors that the music department could be cut, they said, and "we're all a huge part of it," Lemieux said. They're planning on coming to the meeting next Tuesday, and wearing orange and black in support of the proposed school budget.
Music is "a way to express ourselves," Cregeur said. "It's one of the real reasons we come to school every day."
"It's one of the things we look forward to," said Florio.
The public hearing on the general government portion of the proposed budget is tonight at 7 p.m. in the town council chamber.