AUGUSTA — Most school district budgets on the ballot Tuesday passed muster with voters, some by wide margins.
The outcome was different, however, in Winthrop and in Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18, which also includes Belgrade, Sidney, China and Rome. Those school districts must schedule new referendums to seek budget approval.
Vassalboro also has yet to approve a school budget because town officials inadvertently omitted it from Tuesday’s ballot. A special election has been scheduled for June 28.
If a school district does not have a budget in place when the new fiscal year starts July 1, state law instructs it to operate with the budget approved at its most recent budget meeting, according to Department of Education spokesman David Connerty-Marin.

Superintendent Virgel Hammond’s nervousness before the RSU 2 budget referendum proved unfounded when the Hallowell-based district’s five communities all voted to pass it, with a large margin in favor.
The vote was 1,570 to 747 for the $23.1 million budget, which passed 174–99 in Dresden, 324–110 in Farmingdale, 438–95 in Hallowell, 361–271 in Monmouth and 280–172 in Richmond.
The last budget also passed on the first vote, but Dresden split evenly on it, and Monmouth rejected it. This year, Monmouth approved the budget even while voting to explore withdrawal from RSU 2.
Hammonds attributed the passage of the 2012-13 budget to communication efforts by district officials, starting with meetings in each community to explain the budget situation and seek feedback.
“A lot of factors were taken into consideration, and feedback was accepted from all angles,” Hammonds said. “I think people really appreciated that.”

A $17.6 million budget for the 2012–13 school year budget won approval 438–376 in RSU 4, despite being rejected by voters in Wales.
The vote breakdown was 196–190 approval in Litchfield, 178–115 approval in Sabattus and 71–64 rejection in Wales.
Superintendent James Hodgkin said Wednesday he wasn’t surprised and was happy, adding that the close vote in two towns “does speak to the fact that we have more work to do.”

RSU 11
A year ago, RSU 11’s budget passed by only 14 votes. On Tuesday, the budget won the approval of 73.2 percent of voters, with a total vote of 1,436 to 525 to approve.
The $21.4 million budget saves $500,000, mostly by cutting seven teaching positions and decreases taxes in Gardiner, while raising them only slightly in West Gardiner and Pittston and causing a more significant increase in Randolph.
Voters approved the budget by 629–186 in Gardiner, 230–87 in Pittston, 257–104 in Randolph and 320–148 in West Gardiner.

RSU 12
The $25.7 million budget for RSU 12 received 55.8 percent approval on Tuesday, passing 1,227 to 972.
Of the district’s eight towns, only Somerville rejected the budget, voting 38-36 against it.
Superintendent Greg Potter said he doesn’t know if Somerville voted that way because the school board decided to send the town’s elementary students to Windsor and move district offices and high school alternative education into the Somerville school building.
“You get certain folks that come out to your public meetings and certain folks who don’t,” Potter said Wednesday. “I really haven’t heard any negativity at all regarding the changes.”
Two towns, Westport Island and Wiscasset, approved the budget while also voting to form committees that will create proposals to withdraw from RSU 12. Wiscasset, where some residents are concerned about costs and local control, voted against the 2011-12 budget.
The 2012–13 budget vote garnered approval in the other towns: 60–50 in Alna; 242–164 in Chelsea; 91–73 in Palermo; 114–98 in Westport Island; 175–95 against in Whitefield; 176–128 in Windsor; and 333–326 in Wiscasset.

RSU 18
In Regional School Unit 18, three district communities backed the $33 million budget and two rejected it.
Voters approved the request in Belgrade, 274–206; China, 315–306; and Rome, 81–44. Voters rejected it in Oakland by a vote of 417–309 and in Sidney by 236–192.
The budget, approved by voters who attended a regional meeting on May 23, raises school district spending by 3.5 percent.
RSU 18 Superintendent Gary Smith said school administrators will ask school board members what changes, if any, they want to make to the budget at a meeting June 20.
Given legal posting requirements and the July 4 holiday, Smith said the earliest another validation vote would be held is the week of July 9.
Smith said he was disappointed an automated call that contained information that “didn’t present the whole picture” was placed to district households the night before the vote.


RSU 38
The 2012–13 budget for RSU 38 passed easily overall and in each of the district’s four towns.
Voters approved the $15.2 million budget by 1,389 to 389, or 78.1 percent in favor. The budget increases district spending by 1.8 percent compared to this year.
The vote was 385-125 in favor of the budget in Manchester, 607–95 in Readfield, 208–116 in Mount Vernon and 189–53 in Wayne.

Voters rejected the $10.2 million school budget at the polls Tuesday by 32 votes.
Unofficial tallies showed 712 people voted against affirming the 2012–13 budget, which was a $365,000 increase over the current year, while 680 people voted in favor of it.
The rejection will be the topic of an emergency meeting school board meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at the Town Office.
Superintendent Gary Rosenthal said he was surprised at the defeat.
“No individuals at our public hearing expressed any concerns, so we felt very comfortable with what we were bringing to voters,” Rosenthal said. “It was an increase, but wholly on the special education side.”
He said he expects the dollar figures to get reaffirmed Thursday night for a referendum the last week in June.
“The key is to do a better job of educating the public,” he said.

Staff reporters Betty Adams and Beth Staples contributed reporting.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

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