AYER/SHIRLEY – Ayer and Shirley voters overwhelmingly approved a pair of ballots on Saturday that green-lights a $56.6 million renovation and addition for Ayer-Shirley Regional High School.

For the project to proceed, each town needed to approve separate debt exclusion questions (Question 1 in each town). Also, a blended two-town ‘yes’ vote was needed on a second ballot on the merits of the project itself (Question 2 in each town).

Those approvals came by comfortable margins – Ayer (10-to-1) and Shirley (2-to-1) approved of Question 1. And 78 percent of the blended Ayer and Shirley vote approved of the school project (2,053 of 2,633 voters casting ballots between Ayer and Shirley).

The approval authorizes the Ayer Shirley Regional School District to borrow up to $56.6 million for the high school overhaul. Of that sum, the Massachusetts School Building Authority will reimburse 70 percent ($37 million) of the project costs.

The towns will split the $19 million local share, funded by a debt exclusion measure – a specific type of Proposition 2 ½ override – that temporarily raises taxes until the debt is paid.

The Ayer tallies came in first and reflected a clear voter mandate. School supporters then shuttled to Shirley Town Offices where the paper ballots were hand counted. Hoots and hollers of glee erupted when the Shirley figures were announced, erasing any doubt over community consensus for the project.

“I am more than excited,” said School

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