WINTHROP — The third time proved the charm.

The school budget got a 535-367 thumbs-up from voters on Tuesday, ending a series of meetings that occasionally turned rancorous as school board members and voters tried to come up with an acceptable bottom line.

“I’m ecstatic,” said School Board Chairman Ike Dyer after hearing the vote totals late Tuesday. “And now we can get moving on some of the hiring that we held off on and we can get moving on some of the plans that we’ve made.”

The next school board meeting is 6 p.m. today in the all-purpose room of the Town Office.

The budget validated in the referendum is just over $9.9 million and requires $152,000 more in local tax dollars to support it than last year’s budget.

On June 12, the budget was rejected 712-680. On July 10, it was defeated in a 410-281 vote.

After each defeat, the school board trimmed the budget proposal by about $120,000. The budget that went to the polls Tuesday was approved Aug. 15.

On Tuesday, a steady stream of voters came to the polls just down the hall from the superintendent’s office in the Town Office.

“I’m hoping we got the sports-oriented folks out,” said Gary Rosenthal, school superintendent. Next on the chopping block, he had warned, would be personnel and middle school sports.

“You get to this point, and you’re looking at big ticket items,” he said.

Winthrop schools started the year with 856 students and several unfilled posts — a half-time physical education instructor, a half-time English instructor and a full-time behavioral strategist for special education. Rosenthal said he wouldn’t advertise the jobs until a budget passed.

Rosenthal had joined Dyer at the town’s transfer station on Saturday to talk to residents.

“We had a lot of good conversations,” Rosenthal said. “For some people, their (voting) decision was validated by the conversation with me.”

Town Manager Jeffrey Woolston said midway through Tuesday that he hoped the advertising and special signs about the election would bring more people to the polls.

“We’re hoping to get 1,000 people to have a representative sample, so when this comes back yes or know, we know where we have to go.”

The town’s municipal budget approved by town council is up $69,000 this year.

Woolston estimated the new tax rate at $13.86 for each $1,000 of property value. The current tax rate is $13.68 per $1,000 worth of property.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]