SKOWHEGAN — Residents of the six towns of School Administrative District 54 passed the proposed $32,894,711 budget Tuesday night for the coming year, but only after a 45-minute delay in the start of the meeting when one of town clerks was late in showing up.

SAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry said Norridgewock Town Clerk Kerri Everett, newly elected in March, misunderstood the voting process. Colbry said Everett thought her presence to check registered voters would be needed only on June 11 at the budget validation referendum.

The approved budget is $562,114 or 1.74 percent more than the current budget, which expires June 30.

Of the entire school budget, the local share is $13,174,289, while the state share is $17,288,032. The state paid $17,377,136 last year.

The increase in tax assessments to the towns is $479,292, or 3.5 percent more than they were billed for the current budget, according to Colbry.

Sixty-seven people attended the meeting. The moderator was Patrick Elwell.

Colbry said the new budget, which takes effect July 1, includes the elimination of 18 full- and part-time jobs to avoid a double-digit tax increase in district towns.

The cuts will be achieved by not filling vacancies left by retiring teachers and by reducing existing staff positions from full-time to part-time, with no actual layoffs.

Colbry said the school board trimmed about $1 million from the proposed budget in work sessions leading up to Tuesday’s district budget meeting.

No salary increases are in the proposed budget.

Of the $1 million in cuts, $414,427 was found in not replacing staff members who are retiring. Those include three elementary school teachers, an elementary school social worker and a part-time nurse.

Among the articles passed Tuesday night, residents agreed to spend $12,148,539 for regular instruction, $6,699,884 for special education, $1,385,747 for school administration, $657,411 for system administration, $2,636,240 for debt service and $1,966,837 for transportation and buses.

The 2013-2014 tax assessments, including adult education, will increase in all six towns under the proposed budget:

• Canaan: $34,224

• Cornville: $26,681

• Norridgewock: $48,953

• Mercer: $13,638

• Skowhegan: $313,410

• Smithfield: $42,386

A referendum vote on whether to validate the final budget is scheduled for June 11 in each town.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]