Residents in Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales will see another round of school budget votes next month.

The Regional School Unit 4 school board voted 6-3 Wednesday to adopt a $17.6 million proposed budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

The proposal is about $55,000 less than the budget rejected by voters, 331-292, on June 11. In addition, the district’s business manager, Scott Eldridge, said Friday, “Based on a conversation with the Department of Education, we’re anticipating an additional $175,000 in revenue.”

That would reduce the impact on local taxpayers.

While Sabattus was the only town to reject the proposal, the votes there were enough to send it to an overall defeat.

The school board met Wednesday and set a regional school budget meeting for 6:30 p.m. July 10 at Oak Hill High School and a validation vote at the polls in the three towns on July 16.

“When the budget is set in May, there are some unknown factors — new teachers, insurance adjustments,” Eldridge said. “We are not hiring any new staff and there are some staff changes. These are primarily internal savings. The longer you go, the more accurate you can be.”

Robert Gayton Jr., board chairman, who is from Sabattus, said questions were raised at Wednesday night’s board meeting concerning the school’s email alert system — which was used to remind students’ families about the vote — and whether families without children in the schools could be added. Everyone in the towns received a budget book in the mail, Gayton said.

Other people questioned the structure of the administration, claiming it was top-heavy, as well as the district’s technology spending, which puts either a laptop or an iPad in the hands of all students, kindergarten through 12th grade.

Gayton said that the computer program carries the same cost as it did last year and is in line with the district’s customized instruction.

“What company do you know that could put a tool in their employees’ hands that would make them more effective and efficient and then allow the public or their customers to tell them they couldn’t do it?” Gayton said.

Here’s what RSU 4 has calculated as the effect on the tax rate in each town:

• Litchfield: a 0.71 mil increase in the tax rate.

• Sabattus: a 1.27 mil increase in the tax rate.

• Wales: a 1.11 mil increase in the tax rate.

Gayton said he supports the revised budget proposal. At Wednesday’s meeting, Rebecca Shedd and Amadeo Lauria of Sabattus and Scott Weeks of Litchfield voted against it, Gayton said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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