They stood in the sun at Sandy Point Beach with clipboards in hand, waiting for beachgoers. They gathered outside the transfer station off Hedly Street as residents brought in their recyclables Saturday morning. They also teamed up with a congressional candidate to visit residences at Island Park.
It was a busy weekend for the Save Our Schools (SOS) group as they made one final push to reach the 1,400 required signatures needed for a referendum.
"We're still scrambling," said John McCaid, local citizen journalist and candidate for School Committee.
As of Saturday morning, SOS reported collecting a total of 1,100 signatures with an extra 100 or so picked up at the transfer station. They need the names of 1,400 registered voters in order to secure a referendum. Just in case someone is not registered, the group hopes to gather at least 1,500 names.
"I'd say the reaction has been largely positive, but there are always those people against what we are doing," said Leonard B. Katzman, Town Council candidate.
At the transfer station, residents seemed to mosty in favor of a referendum. However, there were some residents against the proposal.
"I support the schools, but I'm not for the tax increase," said one man, who refused to give his name.
"I graduated from Portsmouth High School about four to five years ago. The school was suffering then," said Dan Pierce. "I can't imagine what they are doing with less money."
On July 29, the SOS group submitted an official request for a referendum, asking for an additional $765,301 for the Portsmouth schools.
According to SOS, the amount represents a total school budget request of $36,293,021 or a 1.5 percent increase from fiscal year 2010.
If successful, according to SOS organizers, the referendum would increase taxes $0.204 per thousand or $71.44 annually for a home valued at $350,000.
"We honestly can do this, if we do it together," said David Croston on the SOS blog. "Join me in making this referendum the first positive step."
Croston, who is also running for School Committee this year, is the SOS founder and spearheading the Sign and Drive campaign.
SOS plans to collect signatures at the transfer station until 4 p.m. today, as well as in the Elmtree area and Island Park after 4.
For more information about the Sign and Drive campaign or SOS, visit http://sosportsmouth.blogspot.com.